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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: The Man Behind the Mask

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Decades before the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world, prompting the widespread use of face masks, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas had twisted together his own version of a mask—one that hid his lifelong motives and remade him into a credible world leader. Abbas controls the PA’s Fatah Movement and political party under the umbrella of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO was led by Yasser Arafat until his death in 2004 when Abbas, an Arafat devotee, took over. 

In his earlier days as a key terror accomplice, Mahmoud Abbas went by another name. His followers called him Abu Mazen, a pseudonym. Whether he goes by Abu Mazen or Mahmoud Abbas, his mask somewhat obscures his past, promotes terror against Israelis, and shapes a presidency that harms the Palestinian population. 

Hostilities against the only Jewish state and the Jewish community worldwide often focus on the “plight” of the Palestinian people. Israel is slandered, berated, and accused of being an apartheid state—a system of segregation or discrimination based on grounds of race. Yet for years, the truth of Israel’s being a parliamentary democracy and having a diverse population has been lost in a wave of supersensitive emotion emanating from Abbas. In reality, the Palestinians live under the 85-year-old’s dictatorship, which is far grimmer than anything the Israelis could devise. 

Abbas, who was elected in 2005 for a four-year term, has since 2009 conveniently delayed new elections. He runs a kleptocracy with multi-billions in international aid donations aimed at helping his Palestinian population. Although some of the money is actually assigned to building civic institutions and aiding other efforts to relieve the growing frustrations of Palestinians on the street, the Abbas-style money management results in benefiting himself and Palestinian terrorists who are considered heroic martyrs. 

In fact, one of his most outrageous policies is to reward the families of dead terrorists or terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails. In 2017, during the Trump administration, Congress passed the Taylor Force Act with robust bipartisan support. The Act halted most U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority—except for water, childhood vaccinations, and East Jerusalem hospital funds—until the PA stopped paying stipends into its “Martyrs’ Fund.” Until it passed, American taxpayers had essentially been funding Palestinian terror. Israel’s i24 news reported that in 2017, for example, that the total budget for “prisoners’ payments” stood at an astonishing $345 million—half of the international contributions to the PA’s budget.

Informally called the “pay-to-slay” act, the Taylor Force Act grew out of its namesake’s death. The young man, an outstanding West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran, was murdered while on a study trip to Israel with Vanderbilt University. On March 9, 2016, Fox News reported that Force was walking on a boardwalk in Jaffa, when a 22-year-old Palestinian terrorist stabbed him to death. It was part of a hideous spree; the terrorist knifed 10 others in three locations during a 20-minute attack. In July 2018, Israel’s Knesset passed its own measures against pay-to-slay. The Biden Administration’s commitment to the Taylor Force Act is somewhat questionable. In May, when Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Abbas in Ramallah, he announced an overall package of more than $360 million for the Palestinian people.  

A glaring example of Abbas’s excesses is the building of his $13-million palace that broke ground in 2015. The oversized palace located near Ramallah—the seat of his government in Samaria, which is part of Israel’s biblical heartland—boasts two helipads. His administration is riddled with corruption; foreign aid footed the bill for the palace and many other luxuries that Abbas believes he’s entitled to.

By his actions, Abbas shows that he doesn’t put his people first. The PA vaccination program has been poorly run. Our World in Data indicates in its July report that only 3.6% of Palestinians had received at least one dose, and less than 1% were fully vaccinated. Israel vaccinated Palestinian workers, and Israeli Arabs got vaccinated months ahead of other Arabs in the Middle East. In addition to rejecting lifesaving vaccines, last year the PA twice refused cargos of medical supplies from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) simply because it was coordinated with Israel rather than with them. 

Abbas presses on with his deceitful mask. In a July 11 call with Israel’s new president, Isaac Herzog, a press statement in the Palestinian official WAFA news agency reported that Abbas “stressed the need to bring about a comprehensive truce in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.” However, Abbas has refused direct negotiations with Israeli leaders since 2009, declaring, “I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land.” Clearly, while anti-Israel hostility brokers are churning out lies, the United Nations, European Union, and growing numbers of anti-Semitic-leaning politicians, anti-Israel Jews, and Christian individuals and institutions are tone-deaf to the facts: the Palestinian Authority is not interested in peace with the Jewish nation. 

Palestinians’ well-documented and well-founded unrest toward Abbas and his corrupt policies is growing. On June 24 Nazar Banat, a brave Palestinian activist and harsh critic of the PA, died at the hands of PA security forces after being arrested. Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in the so-called West Bank demanding Abbas and his cronies to resign. 

Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is an award-winning journalist who has covered Palestinian affairs for nearly 30 years. He is an exceedingly reliable source of journalistic truth. I, along with Christian leaders I have recruited for numerous trips to Israel, have heard Toameh’s excellent briefings in person. I frequently read his articles written for Gatestone Institute and many other media sources. Here’s one of his frequent quotes about the PA: “For many years the foreign media did not pay enough attention to stories about corruption in the Palestinian areas or about abuse of human rights or indeed to what was really happening under the Palestinian Authority. They ignored the growing frustration on the Palestinian street because of mismanagement and abuse by the PLO of its monopoly on power.” 

Khaled Abu Toameh is correct. However, not only have the media not paid attention—they have distorted and disseminated their version of news reported with little to no context. And doubtless you have not read from your news sources most of what I describe here about Abbas, his dictatorial leadership, and his policies. 

The octogenarian who wears a fine western suit, wrote his Holocaust denial PhD in the former Soviet Union, and looks so harmless nevertheless had Yasser Arafat as his mentor. Abbas stood by Yasser Arafat’s side for more than 40 years. A propaganda mastermind, Arafat was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1929. He sat at the feet of his great uncle Amin al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and learned his hateful tradecraft well. The Grand Mufti was a Nazi collaborator committed to Hitler’s “Final Solution.” Arafat went on to form the Palestinian Liberation Organization. 

The Oslo Accords signed in 1993 between Arafat and former Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin allegedly established a way to peace. Arafat, in a clever coup, was then awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with Rabin. Previously, Arafat had been kicked out of Jordan and Lebanon, then Israel allowed Arafat to move to Ramallah after the 1993 Oslo Accords. Arafat got busy creating the nomenclature of “Palestinians” in Israel to promote their victimhood and the “rights” to Israel’s ancient land. 

The peace Israel desperately longed for was not to be. Israeli leadership did not grasp the fact that although Arafat spoke Arabic, Arafat’s native language was deceitfulness and lies. The “peace” eventually erupted into the Second Intifada, which lasted from 2000 to 2005 and snuffed out the lives of more than a thousand Israeli men, women, and children—in restaurants, buses, and along highways. 

Arafat was Abbas’s tutor in terror. Although not on location in Munich, Abbas was nevertheless an accomplice to help fund the Palestinian’s Black September Olympic murders of Israeli athletes in 1972 along with other terror operations. 

Since Abbas took over after Arafat’s death in 2004, he has spoken at the UN General Assembly almost every year to a mostly enthusiastic audience that is primed to hear about Israel’s “mistreatment” of the Palestinians. Unlike his mentor Arafat, he doesn’t carry a gun into the UN. But in 1974, when Yasser Arafat addressed the UN General Assembly he said, “I’m holding an olive branch for peace in one hand and a freedom fighter’s pistol in the other.” Incidentally, he walked into the UN General Assembly with his pistol at his side and was forced to set it aside before mounting the podium. 

Abbas himself makes all manner of statements at the UN and with the undercurrent of cloaked lies and deception. He recently declared that Palestinians “spread a culture of peace … fight violence and terror,” and “are not against Jews.” He added that the PA will “never turn to violence and terror.” In another speech, he vehemently declared, “Even if I’m left with one penny, I’ll pay it to the families of the martyrs, to the prisoners, and to the wounded, and I won’t withhold this from them.”

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), another excellent source of truth about Palestinian leadership, revealed videos of Abbas’s Fatah Movement when they entered the year 2020. They celebrated their Fatah anniversary in West Bank towns. The annual celebration marks January 1, 1965, when Fatah carried out its first terror attack against Israel, attempting to blow up Israel’s National Water Carrier—a vital system of canals and pipes that delivers water to most of the nation. They glorified terror and violence in their rallies with fake suicide belts, assault rifles, and knives. Since 1996, PMW (palwatch.org) has utilized a skilled team of Arabic language researchers who closely monitor, translate, and analyze PA-controlled media. It is important to note that Abbas and other corrupt leaders say one thing in Arabic and another in English for gullible foreign audiences. 

Hopefully, someday the Palestinians will finally have the freedom to vote against an Abu Mazen/Mahmoud Abbas and for a real leader—one who refuses thuggery and helps shape a democracy. 

Please join CBN Israel in prayer for both Israelis and Palestinians:

  • Pray for Palestinians to live in freedom and someday vote in honest elections.
  • Pray that those hostile to Israel will finally understand the facts about Israel’s demonstrated sacrifices for peace, such as its withdrawal of all Jews from Gaza in 2005. 
  • Pray for the thousands of Palestinians demonstrating against Abbas’s corrupt government that positive change will result. 

Jeremiah 22:17 notes, “But your eyes and your heart are intent only upon your own dishonest gain, and on shedding innocent blood and on practicing oppression and extortion.” In our prayers this week, let’s focus on this verse to pray for Palestinian leadership. 

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. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited by Artist Pat Mercer Hutchens and sits 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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Single Mother: Mila’s Story

Less than two years ago, Mila and her husband immigrated to Israel. They brought their five younger children, while their two adult children decided to stay in Ukraine. Just as they were beginning to navigate the challenges of being in a new country, COVID-19 struck. 

For Mila’s husband, the added stress made it too hard for him to cope. He became addicted to alcohol and refused to take care of his family, growing more aggressive and abusive. Finally, the marriage dissolved, leaving her to support and care for the children all alone. 

However, Mila did not give up. As a strong woman of faith, she worked long hours as a caregiver for several elderly women—while also caring for her own family. Yet, she began to grow weary, as she struggled to make ends meet by herself. She admitted, “The low income forced us to cook the simplest food for weeks—and only spend money on the bare necessities.” 

Just as Mila was feeling overwhelmed, friends like you arrived with help. CBN Israel brought her some needed appliances, food packages, and vouchers to buy groceries. “Thank you for all of your kindness… It means the world to me and my kids!” she exclaimed. “I’m so thankful God brought you into my life at this pivotal moment.” 

And your gift to CBN Israel can reach out to other single moms, refugees, Holocaust survivors, and more, who are trying to survive in the Holy Land. 

During this challenging season, you can offer food, supplies, housing, financial assistance, job training, and more to those in need. Plus, you can share vital reports from Jerusalem through CBN News. 

Please help us touch lives in this special land today!

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Biblical Israel: Southern Steps

By Marc Turnage

Pilgrims to Jerusalem in the first century A.D. approached the Temple Mount from the south. After ritually purifying themselves, either in the Pool of Siloam, at the southern end of the City of David, or in one of the ritual immersion baths located along the southern end of the Temple Mount, pilgrims ascended onto the Temple platform via the southern steps that led through two sets of gates referred to as the Huldah Gates. 

Entering through the Huldah Gates, one came into a double-vaulted entrance hall that led into an ascending tunnel that exited onto the Temple Mount platform. Upon exiting the tunnel, the pilgrim found him or herself standing on a pavement of colorful stones on the southern end of the Temple Mount platform facing the sacred precinct and the Temple itself.

Today visitors to the southern steps of the Temple Mount see remnants of the two sets of gates. The western most of the gates preserves the remains of a double gate, which served as the exit for pilgrims to the Temple. The eastern most set of gates is today a triple gate sealed, most likely, during the Crusader period. This gate was also originally a double gate, and through it, pilgrims entered the Temple. If a pilgrim was in mourning, they reversed their course, entering through the exit and exiting through the entrance, so that other pilgrims could comfort them saying, “May He that dwells in this house give you comfort!”

We hear of Jewish Sages sitting on these steps teaching their students and interacting with pilgrims entering and exiting the Temple. Today, most of the steps have been reconstructed, but a few of the original steps remain exposed. The steps leading up to the Huldah Gates follow a pattern of long, short, long, short. This arrangement makes it difficult for the pilgrim to ascend the steps either running or in great haste. Thus, one must approach the sacred Temple, the house of God, in a circumspect manner. 

South and east of the southern steps archaeologists uncovered a large and unique Jewish ritual immersion bath, a mikveh. Its proximity to the Temple, as well as its unique construction, have led some to suggest that this served the priests for their ritual purification. Other ritual immersion baths have been discovered along the southern end of the Temple Mount, which served Jewish pilgrims who immersed and purified themselves prior to entering the Temple (see Acts 21:24).

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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Biblical Israel: Tower of David

By Marc Turnage

The only gate on the western side of the modern Old City of Jerusalem is Jaffa Gate (so named because the road leading to Jaffa goes through this gate). Inside Jaffa Gate stands the Citadel or the Tower of David. This structure has nothing to do with David, which can confuse modern visitors to Jerusalem. 

The buildings and tower that stands today are built upon the highest point of the city at the end of the Old Testament Period and in the first century. In fact, the wall of the city in these periods turned to the east at this point going towards the area of the Temple Mount. The wall followed a shallow ditch that ran west to east along Jerusalem’s northern boundary. This offered the city’s only natural protection on its northern approach. 

In the first century, Herod the Great chose this strategic location to build his palace in Jerusalem. Its elevated position enabled him to look down over the Temple Mount. Because of the city’s vulnerability to the north, he built three large towers on the northern end of his palace. He named them Phasael (after his brother), Mariamme (after his beloved Hasmonean bride), and Hippicus. The base of one of these three towers forms the base of the Tower of David. 

Herod had palaces throughout his kingdom—Jericho, Caesarea, his palace-fortresses at Masada, and Herodium—but his Jerusalem palace was his largest and most splendid. He decorated it with all kinds of colorful, inlaid stones. Remains of two large pools have been excavated. He built two large building complexes within the palace, one he named Caesareum (after Caesar Augustus, his friend and benefactor) and the other Agrippeum (after Marcus Agrippa, Augustus’ number two man). Herod’s palace had its own aqueduct that provided for its water needs. The aqueduct originated south of Bethlehem. In this palace, Herod would have questioned the wise men seeking the baby Jesus (Matthew 2).

After the death of Herod in 4 B.C., his son Archelaus controlled the lands that included Jerusalem, but when Archelaus was removed by Rome at the request of the Jewish people in A.D. 6, his territory came under the direct rule of the Roman governors. The Roman governors lived in Herod’s palace in Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast. Paul was brought into Herod’s palace in Caesarea, into the Roman governor’s residence (Acts 23:35), which Luke refers to as “the praetorium of Herod.” 

The Roman governors resided in Jerusalem during the Jewish festivals to keep civic order, and they stayed at Herod’s palace. Jesus was brought before Pilate in Jerusalem to the praetorium, which Mark’s Gospel refers to as “the palace” (Mark 15:15). The most likely location in Jerusalem for this encounter was in the palace of Herod the Great. The mention in John’s Gospel of the lithostratos, which is a Greek term meaning “an inlaid stone floor,” further suggests Pilate’s location within Herod’s palace, which Herod had decorated with colorful stones. 

The earliest Christian traditions that follow Jesus’ journey from being beaten to his point of execution follow a route that begins in the area of Herod’s palace to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, as attested by the Bordeaux Pilgrim. In this way, Herod’s palace serves as a key location at Jesus’ birth and his death.

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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Weekly Devotional: Be Steadfast

“He gives strength to the weary, and to the one who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:29-31 NASB).

The word “to wait” in Hebrew also means “to hope”—“those wait [hope] for the LORD.” The ability to remain steadfast, unmoved no matter what the circumstances—that’s what the Bible means by faith. Faith in the Bible does not refer to “belief” in the sense of some inward, psychological state; rather, faith is steadfastness. It’s hard to remain steadfast when you’re tired. It’s hard to continue hoping when nothing seems to change, “yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength.” 

One of the reasons athletes train and condition is so that when they call upon their bodies to perform at peak levels during a performance, they can do so without becoming tired. When we are tired, we lose focus; we don’t function well. Tiredness affects mental and physical performance; it impacts our emotional health. It opens us up to giving up. Do we have patience to wait on God? 

That’s becoming increasingly difficult in our world today. We want rapid answers to our questions and prompt solutions to our problems. Waiting is not a part of our 21st-century DNA. Paul spoke about what produces hope in our lives: “Affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5 HCSB). 

Affliction, or suffering, produces endurance, and endurance produces hope. Our waiting and steadfastness produce hope in our lives. We may get tired; everyone does, even the young. We may be weary, life does that. But do we focus on remaining steadfast in our commitment to obey God? That, Paul says, produces hope, and those who hope in God will renew their strength. 

The true test of our faith is not what we say, not what we feel, but how steadfast we remain. Hope does not disappoint because we serve a God who brings rest to the weary, who restores the downtrodden, and who strengthens the weak. Our steadfastness also offers an incredible testimony to a watching world that wants everything now.

PRAYER

Father, renew us, we are weary. May we remain steadfast, hoping in You. Amen.

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The Ice Cream Wars: Will Anti-Israel Hostility Melt?

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

The Vermont-based ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s, has suffered a brain freeze—but not from eating too much ice cream at one time. No, their brain freeze is due to backing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). This campaign is anti-Semitism in another guise, economic warfare against the world’s only Jewish state. Israel’s new president, Isaac Herzog, noted, “The boycott against Israel is a new kind of terror.” President Herzog is correct. Anti-Semitism is the parent of BDS.  

BDS especially targets Judea and Samaria, Israel’s biblical heartland, calling them “occupied” and belonging to Palestinians. The bottom-line motive behind the BDS movement is not peace or even a Palestinian state. It is built upon hatred and destruction. Its goal is to take over Israel and eliminate the Jewish state altogether. Their slogan is clear: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” It is important to emphasize that the BDS movement ignores scriptural truths about the land of Israel. 

BDS is a spear of anti-Semitism aimed into the heart of Israel. Its goal is to render Israel and its supporters disabled or, worse yet, non-existent. BDS proponents utilize intimidation to target corporations, unions, and stores that sell Israeli products. They even intimidate celebrities into canceling their concerts in Israel. 

Nothing is exempt—not even the distribution of ice cream. The Ben & Jerry’s decision shifts this popular sweet delight into an unpalatable mix of BDS economic warfare against Israel. On July 19 they announced that they “will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.” This means that they will no longer be distributing the ice cream in Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem. The decision would end a license agreement with an Israeli franchisee who has made and distributed Ben & Jerry’s in Israel since 1987. 

The company said in a statement on its website, “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).” They are referring to Israel’s so-called West Bank, which is the biblical heartland full of ancient Jewish history, including the patriarchs. Is it possible that Ben and Jerry forgot their Bible history? Some 30 centuries ago, the ancient tabernacle in Shiloh was in the heart of Samaria for 369 years. 

It is an unfortunate wrong turn for the two Jewish pals from Brooklyn who launched their business in 1978. Known not only for their delightful marketing and successful business, this duo holds superb philanthropic values that have helped their own employees in economic downturns as well as many needy people through their foundation. 

However, when it comes to Israel, their uninformed philanthropy is just plain wrong. In their attempt to support the Palestinian cause, they ignore proven ancient history and penalize their 140 employees, some of whom are Palestinians. These individuals will be unemployed, and Israel once again slandered. 

Ben and Jerry have joined up with a growing segment in the American Jewish community who mistakenly view Israel as an apartheid state, along with increasing numbers of mainline Christian denominations like the United Church of Christ (UCC). On July 18, the UCC voted 83% in favor of this statement: “We reject Israel’s apartheid system of laws and legal procedures.” This slander toward Israel is egregious and is a gigantic misrepresentation of the facts on the ground. 

The outright lies, slander, and opposition to the world’s only Jewish state denounce God’s biblical covenants designating the Jews’ right to their 3,000-year-old biblical homeland in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem. When Ben & Jerry’s call Judea and Samaria OPT—the acronym for Occupied Palestinian Territories—it is in fact POT, Palestinian Occupied Territories. Palestinians are occupying ancient Jewish land. Nevertheless, few acknowledge that if Palestinian hatred, hostility, and terror against Israel stopped, there would finally be a real opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians to live side-by-side in peace and freedom.

The firestorm of opposition to Ben & Jerry’s will hopefully thaw and melt their recent decision, since it is swiftly backfiring on numerous fronts. Unilever, the British corporation that bought Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, sells the ice cream in 35 countries. The corporation is now experiencing a sharp decline in the stock market. Moreover, the Hebron Fund, a New York based not-for-profit charitable organization, just launched a petition against Ben & Jerry’s that at this writing has more than 20,000 signatures. 

Shurat HaDin Law Center, an Israeli firm in Tel Aviv, specializes in going after monetary compensation for individuals, families, and companies that have suffered due to anti-Semitism and terrorism. The firm is already organizing legal actions on behalf of one of the Ben & Jerry’s factories located in Israel; it is only one of three outside the United States. The NGO has already applied for trademark rights for “Judea & Samaria’s Ben & Jerry’s.” The law center is also thinking up fun names for new flavors. One of them is “Frozen Chosen People,” with a headshot of Theodore Herzl, the father of Zionism, on the pint box. 

The Jerusalem Post reported that Shurat HaDin founder and president, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, wants to force Unilever to defend its trademark in court and explain why they did business in such locations as Crimea and South Sudan. I agree with Darshan-Leitner, who said, “I don’t think they thought this out very carefully.” When companies like Ben & Jerry’s follow the lead of movements like BDS, they taking part in a movement that is less interested in justice and more interested in singling out the world’s only Jewish state.

In the meantime, Avi Zinger—CEO of the Israeli Ben & Jerry’s plant—announced, “We refuse to stop.” Israelis responded with buying more ice cream, which increased sales by 21%, to show their support for Zinger’s decision.  

The Israel American Council (IAC) denounced the decision, commenting that “Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling its ice cream to certain Israeli populations is a disgraceful surrender to the BDS hate movement, which promotes a culture of fear and violence and seeks to eliminate the Jewish homeland—the only democracy in the Middle East.” On July 23, the IAC took the step of flying a banner over the company’s Vermont headquarters emblazoned with the plea, “Serve Ice Cream, Not Hate.” 

Currently, 35 states in the United States have enacted laws penalizing companies and businesses that boycott Israel. Now, Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois are looking into divesting from Unilever. 

In another tasteless example of anti-Semitism, Vermonters for Justice in Palestine (VTJP) are delighted with the Vermont-based company. They and other pro-Palestinian groups have pushed Ben & Jerry’s for years. In their press release FTJP stated, “We join our fellow activists in the global BDS movement in welcoming Ben & Jerry’s decision to end sales of its ‘peace & love’ ice cream in Israel’s unlawful settlements and to not renew the licensing agreement with the Israeli franchise.” VTJP also thanked “thousands” of BDS activists both in the U.S. and internationally, including the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Movement for Black Lives, and Jewish Voice for Peace. 

A New York Times article in 2010 quoted Jerry Greenfield: “We didn’t go to business school, but we wanted to do ice cream. So, we tried to give people what we wanted—a sense of fun.” The Ben & Jerry’s Israel plant is in Kiryat Malachi near Ashkelon and within rocket range of Palestinian terrorists in northern Gaza. Facing possible unemployment and rockets from Palestinians in Gaza is certainly not what anyone would consider “fun.”

BDS is a misplaced, targeted hatred for the Jewish nation and people. With anti-Semitism on the rise, we must recognize that God has given Christians another mandate, a second chance to overcome apathy and counteract hatred against Jewish people worldwide. 

The Holocaust remains engraved in Jewish hearts that bear the scars of grief and loss. Under Nazi rule, although Yad Vashem recognizes almost 27,000 Righteous Among the Nations as “Drops of Love in an Ocean of Poison,” Christian rescuers were far too few. Today, we must change that, recognizing Judaism as the birthplace of our Christian faith and motivated not just because we want to “be blessed,” as Genesis 12:3 says, but because it’s a tangible way to express our love and gratitude to God’s chosen people. 

We have tools to stop BDS. We can transform BDS—Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions—into Bless, Discover, and Support. Bless Israel with our daily prayers. Discover Israel by traveling there when possible. Support Israel through many wonderful Christian and Jewish organizations while also sharing the true story about Israel on social media and in our spheres of influence. 

In thankfulness to our Jewish Lord, employ these tools to honor Him for redeeming us and giving us a faith legacy through the Old and New Testaments imparted by God through Jewish teachers and scribes. 

Please join CBN Israel in prayer this week as we stand in solidarity with the Jewish nation and people:

  • Pray against the toxic poison of anti-Semitism in all of its forms—particularly the misleading BDS movement. 
  • Pray that the Christian community will be active and vigilant during this time.
  • Pray that Ben & Jerry’s and other misled businesses will reverse their anti-Israel and anti-Semitic decisions.
  • Pray that the Jewish community will receive our encouragement. 

Now more than ever, it is absolutely essential for Christians to stand strong with Israel and the Jewish people as they face a host of enemies: “But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong; and those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied” (Psalm 38:19).

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. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited by Artist Pat Mercer Hutchens and sits 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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Mourning Mother: Zoya’s Story

Zoya is an older widow who had immigrated to Israel in 1995 with her husband, and her son, Pavel. Since her husband’s death several years ago, Pavel, who was 42 and lived at home, was her only family. He was kind, generous, and loved by many—and he was a blessing to Zoya. 

One night at home, Pavel said that something felt wrong physically, but he didn’t know why. When Pavel went to bed, Zoya heard him snoring, and assumed all was well. The next morning, Zoya heard Pavel’s alarm clock, but he had said he might sleep in, and not to worry. 

Still, out of concern, she went to his room. To her shock, Pavel was lying in an odd position. She tried waking him, but he was not breathing, felt cold, and was turning blue. Zoya screamed, and her neighbor, a nurse, rushed in and tried unsuccessfully to revive him. When paramedics came, they declared him dead of a suspected brain hemorrhage.

Zoya felt lost and alone. She lived on very little, and Pavel contributed greatly; yet they had no savings. Now she was unable to pay all the expenses for his burial. But thanks to friends like you, CBN Israel was able to help with the costs—including a tombstone, with carved palm leaves that honored Pavel, Zoya, and her late husband. Despite her grief, she is full of gratitude, saying, “Thank you so much for your generous help—it means the world to me!” 

And your gift to CBN Israel is assisting many in crisis, with food, supplies, housing, and financial aid. You are a godsend to so many. In this season when people are hurting, your ongoing gifts are crucial in reaching Israel’s most vulnerable—including Holocaust survivors, single moms, and refugees. 

Please join us in extending a loving hand to others in the Holy Land!

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Biblical Israel: Damascus Gate

By Marc Turnage

Visitors to the Old City of Jerusalem today can enter the city through seven gates scattered around its eastern, southern, western, and northern sides. These gates, like the walls of the Old City, date to the Ottoman Period (16th-20th centuries). 

Along the northern stretch of the Old City walls are three gates, from west to east, New Gate, Damascus Gate, and the Flower (or Herod’s) Gate. The current Ottoman Damascus Gate stands upon the remains of a triple-arch gate that dates to the Roman remains of Aelia Capitolina, which was the name given to Jerusalem in the 2nd century A.D. by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The center arch was the largest, and the two side arches were lower. 

Gates are named for what lies outside of them; therefore, Damascus Gate gains its name because the northern road towards Damascus leads out of the city from there. In Hebrew, the gate is referred to as Shechem Gate because the road to Shechem (modern day Nabulus) led out of the city from there. 

After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70, the city’s footprint changed due to the damage caused by the Roman forces in certain parts of the city, particularly the southern area of the city. This caused the city to shift north and west in the Late Roman Period. From the 2nd century A.D., Jerusalem began to look like a Roman city, which the Old City of Jerusalem more or less parallels until today. 

The Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem, Aelia Captitolina, and the province Judaea, he changed its name to Palestina. As part of the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Aelia Capitolina), the triple-arch, on which Damascus Gate now stands, was constructed. 

This triple-arch gate marked the northern limit of the city. The triple-arch gate was originally free standing, but in the late 3rd century, it was connected to the city’s wall. Entering through the arches, one encountered a paved plaza (similar to what one does entering through today’s Damascus Gate) in which Jerusalem’s two main north-south roadways came together. It seems that a column stood in this plaza, probably with a statue of the emperor on it. 

A mosaic map of the Holy Land in the floor of a church in Maedaba, Jordan that dates to the 6th century A.D. depicts the column, without the statue, standing in the plaza in front of the Damascus Gate. Until today in Arabic, one refers to Damascus Gate as Bab al-‘Amud, the Gate of the Column, which retains the memory of the column in the plaza. 

The triple-arches of the Later Roman Period were built on a stretch of wall that dates back to the first century.

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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Weekly Devotional: The Path of Wisdom

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:1-5 HCSB).

A key difference between us, as modern readers of the Bible, and the ancient readers of the Bible is that we tend to think and express ourselves and our ideas in more abstract ways. Wisdom for us often refers to a cognitive ability. We may say that wisdom represents our ability to use our knowledge, but in actuality wisdom remains abstract and cognitive. 

Wisdom, in the Bible, is a skill that one learns and can acquire through discipline. In other words, we can train ourselves to be wise—in fact, from the Bible’s point of view, we cannot be wise unless we seek wisdom and train it through discipline. 

Read the passage above (Proverbs 2:1-5). Circle how many times the author said “if.” The “if” statements require action on our part: “If” you will do this, “then” you will understand. So how does one find knowledge? Accept, treasure, seek, and search; cry out for it. Pursue it. This is not something abstract. Rather, it requires our intentional action. 

When the author speaks about “directing your heart,” the heart within the Bible does not refer to the seat of emotions; rather, “heart” refers to what we think of as our cognitive center, our “mind.” Wisdom, then, isn’t something we feel; it’s something we learn, train, and do. 

Accepting, treasuring, and searching does not mean simply learning about the commandments; it means that we internalize them, think about them, meditate on them, and do them. 

Within the Bible, wisdom comes from internalizing the commandments and doing them. One who does this fears the Lord, and that is how one acquires knowledge and wisdom according to the Bible.

PRAYER

Lord, today, let me pursue Your words and learn Your commandments. Let me mediate upon them, so that I might acquire wisdom and fear You. Amen. 

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Israelis and the Summer Olympics: Will Anti-Semitism Compete, Too?

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

Due to COVID-19’s untimely appearance last year, the Tokyo Summer Games are still called the 2020 Olympics. Ninety athletes—55 men and 35 women, Israel’s biggest delegation yet—are vying for medals in 18 sports. The games begin tomorrow, July 23, and last until August 8, offering sports fans worldwide the thrill of watching competition from dedicated, disciplined athletes proudly carrying the flags of their nations. 

For the first time, Israelis are participating in archery, surfing, equestrian, and baseball events. Israel’s 24-member baseball team plays their first game against the United States team! Israel’s fans can choose from a smorgasbord of 18 events that include gymnastics, judo, shooting, surfing, swimming, taekwondo, and triathlon, among others. The Paralympics follow close behind on August 24-September 5, adding to Israel’s inspiration and accomplishments showing their skills in kayaking, power lifting, and wheelchair tennis, among others.

Olympic competitions are often electrifying, and the personal stories of the athletes stir hearts all over the globe. Israeli competitors are no exception. The young athletes are exemplary role models. They press on toward high goals to represent the world’s only Jewish state—despite a backdrop of past Olympic anti-Semitism and terror. 

Indeed, spoken anti-Semitism, the parent of terror acts, is again at work. This, despite the particularly warm welcome from Watari, Japan, as Israelis’ host city. Israeli flags have flown at Watari’s city hall for two years since they signed on as hosts—because Israel was the first country to send medical help following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011. We can only hope and pray that other nations, media, and athletes will follow Watari’s grateful example.

However, anti-Semitism has escalated, infesting the world even further with slander and terror during last May’s Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians. 

Ignoring—or ignorant about—Israel’s humanitarian aid to Watari and many other spots on the globe, Spain’s TV3 sports reporter Clara Basiana slandered Israel. At the June 13 pre-Olympic games in Barcelona, Spain, Israeli swimmers Eden Blecher and Shelly Bobritsky had just won the fourth slot in the Women Duet Artistic Swimming Qualification, earning their ticket to Tokyo. 

The Israeli duo had barely climbed out of the pool and dried off when Basiana said, “Israel’s international presence in the field of sport and culture is another strategy for the laundering of genocide … against the Palestinian people.” Her anti-Semitic comments didn’t end there: “It seems that during these events, the war crimes of the Israeli state disappear. We have to be aware as spectators and make this situation visible so as not to normalize it.” 

Unfortunately, it is anti-Semitism that is normalizing.

In 2016, at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, an Egyptian judo fighter, Islam El Shehaby, refused to shake hands with Israeli competitor Or Sasson, who won the first round. The crowd understood the breach of etiquette and loudly booed Shehaby. In another incident, Lebanese athletes objected to Israelis boarding their bus—unsportsmanlike behavior for which they received just a slap on the wrist. In fact, the following month Jewish Journal noted that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) merely warned the Lebanese delegation that “a similar situation would not be tolerated in the future.” To avoid escalating Lebanese hostility, the Israelis took another bus.

In one of his speeches, current IOC President Thomas Bach mentioned political neutrality and “being an ally to all in promoting peace and human rights” as part of the IOC’s mission. His words are certainly welcome, yet more than words are necessary when one considers the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. 

Forty-nine years ago, Palestinian terrorists calling themselves “Black September” took Israeli athletes and coaches hostage in the Olympic Village on September 5. Not allowing Israeli security members to save their team, Germans bungled the rescue, and Palestinian terrorists murdered the “Munich Eleven.” The murders set off an emotional bomb of grief that exploded among Israelis and the Jewish community worldwide. The memory of this horrific event has not faded. 

On July 19, 2021, Joseph M. Siegman, founder of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, gave a fascinating history of Jewish athleticism with My Jewish Learning. No conversation of Jewish Olympic history can ignore the horrific day when terrorists took the lives of Israel’s nine gifted Olympic athletes and two coaches. And Siegman, author of Jewish Sports Legends, did just that, mentioning a lingering IOC omission. No commemoration or acknowledgement of the murders has officially taken place at the games themselves since the 1972 murders. 

Although private memorials had taken place, it wasn’t until 2016 that the IOC hosted an official memorial—not at the games but in the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Olympic Village. The 11 victims were finally recognized—after decades of appeals and activism—due to the unflagging determination of Ankie Spitzer. Her husband, Andre Spitzer, was one of the Munich Eleven. He had been the Israel team’s fencing coach. Sometime earlier, Mrs. Spitzer had won a case in which the German government was forced to admit their criminal negligence to provide effective security. 

IOC President Bach spoke in the Rio Olympic Village, saying, “We commemorate them because this was an attack not only on our fellow Olympians, but also an assault on the values that the Olympic Village stands for. It was an attack on the universal power of sport to unite all of humanity in peace and solidarity.”

He added, “The Olympic Games are always an affirmation of life, so let our commemoration today also be an affirmation of their lives. Through this act of remembrance, the spirit of those who have departed continues to live on.”

The seeds of the horrific 1972 Munich Eleven massacres were planted during Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, with a stake of anti-Semitism in German soil that would manifest 36 years later in Munich. Hitler’s monstrous fingerprints—and those of his Reich Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels—set an unholy standard in place. Goebbels had made it clear on April 23, 1933: “German sport has only one task: to strengthen the character of the German people, imbuing it with the fighting spirit and steadfast camaraderie necessary in the struggle for its existence.” 

His statement sounds rather innocuous, but its agenda was poisonous. Non-Aryans, meaning Jews, part-Jews, or Gypsies, were excluded from competing. Noticing signs of anti-Semitism, the U.S. and Europe called for boycotts, which failed. Finally, 49 nations including the USA sent their Olympians to compete in Berlin. Goebbels oversaw a dazzling presentation of flags, Richard Wagner’s music, and the building of an impressive stadium. The Berlin Olympics was the grandest propaganda production ever seen, hiding the dark undercurrent of what was to come. Three thousand runners relaying from Greece to Germany lit the Olympic flame in August 1936. Only three years later it grew into the murderous flames of anti-Semitism when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.  

Joseph Siegman hopes that next year, many commemorations will take place on the 50th anniversary of Black September’s deadly assault. He further hopes that additional institutions will follow the Eli Wiesel Foundation and some synagogues to plan commemorations, somberly recalling the athletes whose lives were snuffed out only because they were Jews proudly representing the world’s only Jewish state. For that matter, churches may want to plan commemorations.

If you are watching any part of the upcoming Olympics, remember to pray especially for Israeli athletes. Vigilance against violence is necessary, since anti-Semitism is shockingly spreading as it once did in Nazi Germany. 

Please join CBN Israel in prayer for Israel and her people this week:

  • Pray for Israeli athletes in the coming weeks using Isaiah 40:31, that “They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
  • Pray that security in the Olympic Village and all athletic venues will be tight.
  • Pray that any hidden plans or acts of terror will come to light and be prevented. 
  • Pray that Christians of good will toward Israel and Jewish communities worldwide will clearly take a stand against anti-Semitism wherever it is found. 

Before the 2012 London Games, Ankie Spitzer persisted with IOC President Rogge, asking why the IOC really could not memorialize the murder of the 11 Israeli Olympians. Rogge eventually explained that there were 46 Arab and Muslim countries that would threaten to boycott the Games if the IOC agreed to include such a memorial. 

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. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited by Artist Pat Mercer Hutchens and sits 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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