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Standing with Israel Against Iran: Fact vs. Fiction  

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

It is time to take a factual refresher course using an age-old question asked of children at the dinner table and on playgrounds: Who did what—who started the bullying? It’s time, because violations between nations require the same investigative questions, followed by enacting common-sense consequences.

Here’s a 2005 fact: Israel unilaterally withdrew 8,000 Jewish citizens from Gaza, forcing them to abandon their homes and businesses. This painful but generous decision in effect gave Palestinians land to found a state. In 2007, Palestinians voted in favor of Hamas rule. Instead of creating a Palestinian state, Hamas created the largest terror enclave in the world—constructing 300 miles of tunnels and firing rockets into Israel day and night for years. 

Facts About Hamas Ceasefires

Leading up to October 7, Hamas and Israel had agreed to a ceasefire. However, the terrorists are notorious for their violations. Hamas makes an agreement and then ignores it. Any such promise is nothing but words and lies. In 2014, for example—during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge—Hamas broke the ceasefire by killing two soldiers and kidnapping a third, Hadar Goldin. Hamas still holds the remains of Goldin’s body today, 10 years later! Time has shown that Hamas’s ceasefires with Israel merely set the stage for more violence. For years, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets toward Israelis and attempted to infiltrate and murder them—with body cams triumphantly adding horror to their barbaric resume after the October 7 attacks.  

Hamas is outrageously untrustworthy. Any leader calling for a ceasefire disregards a long resume of evil in hiring Hamas to re-arm and restart its murderous rampages.  

Facts Post-October 7

Beautiful spring flowers still bloom in the land of milk and honey, initially cultivated by Jews more than 100 years ago. Yet the Holy Land—inhabited by its rightful owners and further developed after its 1948 modern founding—is suffering. Non-natives never cared about the land. Although Israelis are amazing and resilient, the deep, ongoing trauma also resides in their minds and hearts.

Jewish traumas stemming from October 7 run as deep as Israelis process the unspeakable barbarity of that day. As they brace for the next ordeal, they cannot forget the hostages imprisoned by violent terrorists. Just the mention of a two-state solution creates even more trauma for Israelis. Israel has been there and done that … many times.  

The solution: Cut off the head of the poisonous Islamic snake—Iran. This serpent and its offspring will keep slithering until this evil is decapitated. The Shi’ite Islamist theocracy poisons its own population, which longs for freedom. If you understand the desperation of the wonderful Persian people also suffering traumas, you can grasp what the world would look like if the Iranian snake ruled the world in an oppressive, reincarnated caliphate.  

Facts About the “Iranian Embassy”

Most world media reported that on April 1, the Israeli Air Force bombed the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria. This is inaccurate. The Iranian Embassy still stands and is open. Instead, the Israelis’ airstrike destroyed another building—an annex next door to the embassy serving as a base for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Iranian leadership called the embassy a consulate, which was also misleading; consulates are branches of an embassy and are located elsewhere. The annex was given a diplomatic name—because if any embassy or consulate is attacked, that strike is considered a direct attack on a country. These deceptive name changes gave the Islamic Regime excuses to avenge seven IRGC members for the Israeli airstrike on Iran’s embassy.

Why did Israel launch an airstrike on Damascus? Israel had accurate intelligence that a senior Quds Force commander of the IRGC, Brigadier General Mohammad Zahedi, was the point-man for Hamas’s October 7 invasion of Israel. Zahedi and seven other IRGC officers were in the annex during the airstrike. In other words, justice was served with accuracy from the nation of Israel defending its people from evil. The Jerusalem Post reported that the Coalition Council of Islamic Revolution Forces, closely aligned with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, praised Zahedi for his “strategic role in forming and strengthening the resistance front as well as in planning and executing the [October 7] Al-Aqsa Storm.” This admission was significant since the Ayatollah had denied any involvement with October 7.

April 14, 2024, is the first time Iran attacked Israel since its modern founding in 1948. In fact, a positive relationship had existed between Iran and Israel until the Shia Islamic Regime took over in 1979. Another first: The entire airspace in the Middle East was empty, allowing Israel’s F-35 aircraft to operate. The U.S. military stated that most of the 100-plus ballistic missiles Iran fired were shot down by Israel.

Former President Trump’s leadership in enacting The Abraham Accords in 2020 increased defense cooperation among partners that help deter enemies of the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Bahrain—Iran key among those enemies. Iran’s attack from its own soil is the first time that the Abraham Accord signatories had an opportunity to cooperate with intelligence, security, and any actions necessary to deter Iran. Former President Trump deserved a Nobel Peace prize. The Times of Israel reported that Iran’s April 14 attack included 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles, and 120 ballistic missiles—99 percent of which were intercepted by air defenses. According to the IDF’s top spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, “All the drones and cruise missiles were downed outside of the country’s airspace by the Israeli Air Force and its allies, including the United States, United Kingdom, Jordan, France, and others.”

Nevertheless, those calling for Israel to use restraint don’t realize that would not be a victorious approach to vanquishing evil. Rather, Israel must behead the Islamic snake. My questions at the beginning were: “Who did what—who started the bullying?” The bully is Iran, the biggest terror bully on the globe. World leaders must back off telling Israel it has won a victory. Israel’s accomplishments thus far are fantastic, yes—but stopping at this point will not stop a bully. At some point, Israel, the United States, and their allies must finish the job and end Iran’s poisonous influence on its citizens, Israel, and the world.

In the meantime, beware. The Islamic Regime’s propaganda spreads into every crevice of naïve minds. At this moment in world history, it is our responsibility to pray and consult trustworthy media sources. Here are a few: The Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, CBN Israel, CBN News, All Israel News, Erick Stakelbeck on TBN, Amir Tsarfati’s Behold Israel on Telegram, and Christian organizations you trust such as The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and Israel Allies Foundation.

Join our CBN Israel team this week to pray using God’s wonderful promise in Isaiah 31:5—“Like flying birds, so the LORD of Hosts will protect Jerusalem. He will protect and deliver it; He will pass over and rescue it.” 

Prayer Points: 

  • Pray that world leaders will respect Israel’s sovereignty for victory over Iran and its surrogates.
  • Pray that the Biden administration will renew sanctions against the Islamic regime.
  • Pray that Israel will eliminate Iranian nuclear and drone sites.
  • Pray that world leaders realize that Israel’s fight for freedom is a fight for all free nations. 
  • Pray for Israel’s victories against Gaza, Iran, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and Iraq.

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 on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. By invitation, Arlene attends Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summits. She also hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

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Single Mother: Valeria’s Story

In 2014, Valeria was living in Ukraine as a single mother of two boys, when her town of Lugansk came under Russian attack. She and her sons fled to Kiev to escape the terror. And then, the entire country was plunged into war. So, the family sought refuge in Israel.

However, after the October 7 Hamas invasion, they were in a war zone again, and their city of Rishon was under massive rocket fire from Gaza. Her sons were afraid, and she couldn’t find work. Any sense of security was gone, and she thought, “Not another war! How can I let my kids go outside?” Desperate, the family evacuated to a friend’s home in Cypress, where Valeria found a place to rent. But soon, her money soon ran out, and they had to return to Israel.

By now, her older son was traumatized by the war, and needed a therapist. He feared leaving the house, and had major anxiety when Valeria left to get groceries. Valeria works from home, but has very few clients due to the war. The bills were piling up, and she said, “It’s just my kids and me. I didn’t have anyone I could ask for help.” Fortunately, friends like you were there for them.

Through CBN Israel’s partnership with a local ministry, donors gave them food packages, along with finances for extra groceries and essentials. And, they paid off their mounting debt due to lost income. Valeria exclaimed, “Your support has made such a difference for my family!”

Your gifts to CBN Israel can extend a hand to many other single moms and war victims with nowhere to turn. With so many struggling to survive in the Holy Land, your support can offer nutritious meals, housing, and hope to those in crisis.

Please help us bless Israel’s people!

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Biblical Israel: Arbel

By Marc Turnage

Arbel sits high upon the sheer limestone cliffs along the northwest corner of the lake of Galilee, northwest of Tiberias, overlooking the fertile plain of Gennesar. The Arbel Cliffs form the southern boundary of the plain of Gennesar and provide a striking visual landmark along the northwest shores of the lake. From here, visitors can see the geography on the northern shores of the lake of Galilee where 95% of Jesus’ ministry recorded in the Gospels took place.

Arbel could be identified with Beth-Arbel mentioned in the prophecy of Hosea (10:14). The current site of Arbel, however, began at the end of the second century B.C. The settlement most likely started as part of Hasmonean settlement of the Galilee when Jewish immigrants from Judea moved into the region. Rabbinic tradition identifies a Sage, Nittai, who lived in the second half of the second century B.C., as from Arbel (m. Avot 1:6-7). He served as the head of the Sanhedrin (m. Hagigah 2:2). His prominent position within Jewish society indicates a significant Jewish religious presence in Galilee at the end of the second century B.C.  

After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in A.D. 70, the priestly division of Yeshua, the ninth priestly division, settled at Arbel. Arbel was principally known for the growing of flax from which the inhabitants produced linen (Genesis Rabbah 19:1). The Arbel Valley was also known for its agricultural fertility, especially the production of grain (y. Peah 7, 4, 20a). Excavations uncovered wine and olive presses, as well as large pools, probably used for the processing of flax.

Arbel was the location of a clash between the Hasmonean forces of Antigonus and Herod (c. 39-38 B.C.). After Herod gained control of Sepphoris, he sent his force “to the village of Arbela,” and after 40 days, Herod’s forces fought the supporters of Antigonus (Josephus, War 1:305-313). Herod’s forces won the battle, and Antigonus’ supporters fled some taking refuge in caves “very near the village” of Arbel (Antiquities 14:415). There are three groups of caves in the cliffs of Mount Arbel, and most likely the rebels sought refuge in the western group of caves, which are the closest to the village of Arbel (approximately 400 meters). 

Herod eventually dealt with the rebels held-up in the caves. His forces could not make a direct assault on the caves due to the sheerness of the cliffs. His engineers constructed baskets to lower soldiers down the cliff face by machines anchored to the summit of the hill. The soldiers, armed with grappling hooks, fished the brigands out of the caves hurling them to the rocks below. Soldiers hurled fire into the caves to force the rebels out of them. Some of the rebels threw themselves along with their families down the cliffs while Herod watched from a fortified position on an opposite hill.

During the First Jewish revolt against Rome, Josephus fortified the “cave of Arbel” (Life 188; see Life 311; and War 2:573). Josephus likely fortified the eastern group of caves on the Arbel Cliffs where there are remains of actual fortifications. He also quite possibly utilized the western group of caves previously used by the supporters of Antigonus against Herod.

Today visitors can hike to the overlook from the cliffs of the Gennesar Valley and the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. They can also see the remains of a limestone synagogue built in the fourth century A.D., which continued in use until the eighth century A.D. Renovations were made in the late sixth or early seventh century A.D. 

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: A Broken Spirit

“My spirit is broken, days are cut short, the grave awaits me. Surely mockers surround me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility” (Job 17:1 NIV).

Despair is a common human emotion. As finite beings, we often struggle to see beyond the moment, and when circumstances overwhelm us, we can all too easily find our emotions swept away. The floodwaters come over us, and we despair. And that’s okay—as long as we don’t stay there.

The dreadful circumstances in Job’s life overwhelmed him. He didn’t feel like being “spiritual”; the reality he was facing was too heavy. Yet, he didn’t try to hide what he felt; he embraced it. He shared it with his friends: “My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me.”

Have you ever been there? Don’t compare yourself to Job or anyone else. Your worst day is your worst day. Have you been there? 

It’s okay. We all have. Having faith does not mean that we do not experience despair. Sometimes the most honest part of our faith can be articulating our despair. Job was done, his spirit broken. He looked toward the grave. He felt he couldn’t do anymore. His friends offered little help. Their comfort did little. 

We need to learn to find God in our despair. That does not mean we ignore it. We can’t assume that if we don’t acknowledge it, it will go away. It won’t. Our despair stems from being overwhelmed in the moment. It’s an easy thing to do when you’re finite. That’s why we need to find God in our despair. The One who is infinite. 

When you experience despair, all feels lost. Our hopes, our dreams, everything seems gone. Job was honest about how he felt. God eventually answered him. God didn’t give him a step-by-step program to get out of his despair. God entered and answered Job in his despair. 

When we find ourselves overwhelmed by despair, we can turn our back on God. It’s easy to do. The challenge is to remain facing toward God even in the midst of our despair and feelings of brokenness. That’s the key—which way we’re facing. 

Our life may be desolate for a time, but if we face God, He can redeem those moments. He can answer us out of eternity. 

PRAYER

Father, even in the midst of our deepest despair and desolation, may we turn our faces toward You. Amen.

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CBN Israel Links Arms with Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund to Provide Trauma Therapy for Terror Victims

By Nicole Jansezian

Trauma was already an issue for residents in the region of Shiloh where terror attacks are all too frequent. 

But since October 7, therapists in the area have seen a major uptick in patients returning for counseling after the Hamas invasion triggered PTSD in some and exacted a different cost altogether from others. 

“Since the October 7th massacre, we have been working 24/7 to meet the skyrocketing demand for our post-trauma therapeutic services,” said Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund founder David Rubin. “We established a mobile therapy team to treat dislocated survivors of the massacre.”

There has been a spike in requests for treatment—75 percent plus a 90 percent surge in requests for children with pre-existing psychological conditions. 

“This refers to those who had concluded previous rounds of treatment, but the horrible massacre and the war have reignited their symptoms,” Rubin said.

Rubin said in that area alone, 80 percent of the fathers have been called up to reserve duty. This has placed families under stress while still dealing with losses from the war and ongoing terrorism locally. 

Judea and Samaria—also known as the West Bank—is a swath of land comprised of separate Israeli and Palestinian communities side by side along in the region. The proximity, many times, makes for high tensions and leaves residents vulnerable to attacks.

On a tour of the facilities, Rubin introduced CBN Israel to the therapists and teachers who are reporting renewed waves of trauma among students and patients. The principal of the girls’ school uses agriculture on the campus grounds to help the children process their emotions.

“A girl who lost a brother or cousin or close relative in a terror attack or in war, or a teacher even, or a neighbor—there are many circles—now she takes a seedling, and she starts to take care of it,” principal Tamar Sela told us. “She discovers strength within herself because she caused something to grow. Because she took care of it, it’s now growing. There’s a sense of satisfaction, responsibility, belonging.”

Working with the plants teaches the girls patience and planning. 

“This gives them something stable and it enables them to make connections,” she said.  

Rubin, the former mayor of Shiloh, knows the need for this kind of support personally. He and his then 3-year-old son, Ruby, were victims of a terror attack in 2001 while driving back to Shiloh from Jerusalem. Ruby sustained a gunshot wound to the head, the bullet missing his brain stem by 1 millimeter. Though he survived, Ruby needed therapy—less readily available at the time—to work through the trauma. 

Since then, Rubin set out to provide help for people that found themselves in the same situation. The goal, he said was to integrate education and therapy at the local schools while also providing individual therapies at the main facility of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund called, The Meeting Place.

The type of therapies—whether with art, music, animals or agriculture—help children process their pain at their level. Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund also sponsors a therapeutic horse farm, using riding therapy as another outlet for children to deal with the ripple effects of trauma and loss.

“CBN Israel’s support of the Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund has been critical in supporting families going through the grief caused by terrorism,” Rubin said. 

The biblical Shiloh was the first capital of Israel and the city where the tabernacle of God was established for 369 years.

Nicole Jansezian is the media coordinator for CBN Israel. A long-time journalist, Nicole was previously the news editor of All Israel News and All Arab News and a journalist at The Associated Press. On her YouTube channel, Nicole gives a platform to the minority communities in Jerusalem and highlights stories of fascinating people in this intense city. Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., she lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Tony, and their three children.

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Israel Defense Forces: Defense is Their Mission, Security is Their Goal

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

After six months of justly defending against Hamas’s barbaric invasion into their homeland on October 7, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been accused of every evil that has been executed by the terrorists themselves. Iran and its terror proxies—Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis—are proficient propagandists.

Note the word “Defense” in the IDF’s official name. Israelis are not warmongers. Indeed, after its modern founding on May 14, 1948, Israel was invaded in 1948–49, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2006, and 2023. Not counting years of unrelenting rocket fire from terrorist enclaves and the two Palestinian-incited Intifadas—one beginning in 1987 and the other in 2000—unrelenting hatred has forced Israel to defend its population and develop into the most powerful, yet moral, military in the world.

Hamas tore pages out of Hitler’s still-popular 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) by using his strategies to murder 1,200 people last October. In this book, Hitler wrote about the “big lie.” He described this propaganda technique as being so “colossal,” no one would believe that his “impudence to distort the truth so infamously” would even be attempted. Re-enacted now by new Nazis copying advice from the almost 100-year-old book, this technique has obviously been successful. The world is easily swayed by twisted headlines and outright lies. The IDF has recently found Arabic copies of Mein Kampf in Gaza and in Lebanon and Palestinian Authority territories during past conflicts. As a guidebook, Mein Kampf points straight at terrorist mindsets based on their devotion to Hitler’s techniques and their implacable hatred of Jews.

Israel now faces the worst and most prolific propaganda I have ever witnessed as an Israel advocate. With Hitler’s demonic book and Holocaust era murders, Hamas and their sympathizers are using the same strategy: “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.” It is inconceivable that much of the world’s mainstream media puts its stamp of approval on terrorist lies that glorify Hitler’s strategies. In addition, the media have chosen to believe the Hamas Ministry of Health’s inflated numbers of civilian deaths. This is journalism? Many within the media have shifted from believing Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) facts to tearing the IDF apart and blaming them for their nation’s existential fight. They have erased truth and wisdom from their pages and broadcasts with the inflammatory, unsubstantiated facts they received from other sources.

Stop for a moment and absorb the following. To mark six months since the Simchat Torah massacre of October 7 and the outbreak of the Hamas War, the National Public Diplomacy Directorate and the GPO have summarized media statistics. In October and November 2023, the largest media events since Israel’s modern founding in 1948 took place. Over 4,000 foreign journalists gathered from all over the world. Five hundred hours of video were broadcast from the destroyed kibbutzim and Sderot. The GPO conducted 60 tours. Screenings of the October 7 “atrocities film” took place with an IDF spokesperson. (As a reminder, this disturbing footage was taken with the body cams and iPhones of the Hamas terrorists themselves.) My friend Nitzan Chen, director of the GPO, has worked in heroic efforts with his staff. Nitzan narrates this YouTube video.

Now, I am highlighting the IDF’s humanitarian policies that conform to the International Laws of War within their moral compass regarding civilians living in enemy territories. Unique to the Israeli military, these foundational policies toward civilians have guided the IDF for decades in defensive wars. However, due to the enormous challenges of urban warfare in Gaza’s crowded locations, the IDF is implementing an even more meticulous set of lifesaving standards to minimize civilian casualties.

The contrasts between Hamas and the IDF are stark. The IDF’s mission is to protect its population and provide security. By contrast, Hamas uses Gazan civilians—including women and children—as human shields. (Their top leaders are multi-millionaires and live safely in Qatar, over 1,000 miles away.) John Spencer, chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, served for 25 years as an infantry soldier with two tours in Iraq. This expert observed, “Israel has taken more measures to avoid needless civilian harm than virtually any other nation that’s fought an urban war. No military has ever implemented any of these practices in war before.”

What follows are some of the IDF’s long-time practices. Before impending strikes, Israel sends texts and pre-recorded phone messages and makes real-time phone calls. The Israel Air Force (IAF) drops leaflets urging civilians to vacate buildings where Hamas weapons are stored, warning them to move away from Hamas. The IAF uses a roof knock—dropping a loud but non-lethal bomb that warns residents to leave the building within the hour.

Another example is simply a comparison, not intended to demean our American forces that fought in the Iraq War. John Spencer reveals that the United States did not alert Iraq before its initial invasion in 2003, despite involving major urban battles in Baghdad, nor an alert for civilians in its first Battle of Fallujah. Before the second Battle of Fallujah, a civilian warning took place.

Hamas terrorists are an army of cowards. Rather than dressing in military uniforms to fight conventional warfare, they wear ordinary civilian attire and hide among the population. Israeli military policies to decrease Gazan civilian deaths via advance warnings increase the possibility of death and injury for Israeli soldiers. Alerted, Hamas terrorists pop up out of tunnel openings in Gaza armed and ready to kill, or to plant IEDs in tunnels where the IDF is searching for hostages or eliminating terrorists. The criticisms from world governments, violent demonstrators, and mainstream media are outrageous and hypocritical. Indeed, we live in a world in which the famous biblical prophet Isaiah wrote in chapter 5, verse 20, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

To expose today’s slanders against the IDF, the Christian community must remember and proactively share IDF policies, abandon apathy, and maintain vigilance. Choose to consult trusted media and organizations like CBN News, Chris Mitchell on Jerusalem Dateline, Stakelbeck Tonight on TBN, All Israel News, Amir Tsarfati’s Telegram, and Israel Defense and Security Forum. Dismiss denial and naivete, and most of all, share the facts.

Our CBN Israel team welcomes you to join in our ongoing prayers for Israel, our spiritual homeland, and to recall John 1:5—The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for all men and women serving in the IDF in all positions for strength and hope.
  • Pray for the families of 604* IDF soldiers who have died defending their nation.
  • Pray for the total of 3,202* IDF soldiers mildly, moderately, or severely wounded.
  • Pray for the soldiers traumatized by the deaths and injuries of their compatriots.
  • Pray for Director Nitzan Chen and his heroic staff at Israel’s Government Press Office.    

*These figures were updated April 7, 2024, by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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 on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. By invitation, Arlene attends Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summits. She also hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

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Helping Young New Immigrants Thrive

It’s a giant leap of faith for a young person to leave their native land and immigrate alone to Israel. Yet, it can be a bigger hurdle becoming a citizen and navigating a new culture and language. And since the October 7 attacks, those now coming from Ukraine’s war to another war in Israel are facing compounded challenges. 

That’s why absorption centers, called ulpans, are critical to helping these new arrivals adjust. And friends like you are a vital part of this effort, through CBN Israel’s partnership with the Jewish Agency.

For example, one absorption center in Haifa serves about 250 lone Russians and Ukrainians. Thanks to faithful donors, these students live in a dorm setting, receive intensive Hebrew lessons, and make new friends and connections through the social programs. And learning Hebrew quickly is vital in helping them enter the job market, or higher education.

Nastia, the director of the program, was once a new immigrant herself. In addition to an education, she says that students receive 24/7 mentoring and ample psychological support. As she puts it, “They come alone; they leave as a community.” 

She observes, “When the war broke out here, immigrants heading to Israel didn’t know how to react, but now we see they still want to come. We also expect more immigrants after the war ends.” These absorption centers are important for the future of the students—as well as for Israel’s future.

Nastia added, “If it wasn’t for CBN’s support, we wouldn’t have been able to continue helping and hosting our immigrants. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

That’s just one way your gifts to CBN Israel can offer a helping hand to new immigrants and to Israel—while also providing nutritious meals, housing, and other necessities to those in crisis.

Please join us in reaching out!

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Biblical Israel: Masada

By Marc Turnage

Masada, a palace-fortress built by Herod the Great (Matthew 2), sits on the south-western shore of the Dead Sea, fifteen and a half miles south of Ein Gedi. The fortress sits atop an isolated rock plateau that overlooks the Dead Sea Valley below. This naturally fortified rock was first built on by the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus (ruled from 103-76 B.C.). Herod the Great made it into a palace fortress that could provide protection if he needed to flee Jerusalem, as well as protecting the balsam industry at Ein Gedi, which provided the cash crop for Herod’s kingdom. 

Herod built two palace complexes on top of Masada, one on the western side (the oldest), and one on the north, which boasted three levels cascading down the northern slope of the rock scarp. Both had functioning Roman style baths, living quarters, storerooms, and decorations fitting for a king. Herod also had a pool on top of Masada, as well as gardens. 

Masada receives on average only an inch to an inch and a half of rainfall annually. The need for water of Herod’s luxuries on Masada required an ingenious water catchment system using gutters, the natural slope of the plateau; he also captured the rainwater that fell to the west of Masada diverting it into channels, which flowed into cisterns along the slopes of Masada. The cisterns on Masada held millions of cubic liters of water ensuring that the residents of Masada could survive along the arid shores of the Dead Sea, as well as enjoying the luxuries of the pool and bathhouses. 

Masada’s popularity derives from the story told by Josephus about the defenders of Masada during the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-73). According to Josephus, a group of Jewish rebels, Sicarii, led by Elezar ben Yair held up in Masada through most of the revolt. A couple of years prior to the fall of Masada, which took place on Passover of A.D. 73, this group of rebels slaughtered the Jewish community at Ein Gedi. 

Josephus tells a tale how the Tenth Roman Legion laid siege to Masada, built a ramp up its western slope (the remains of which visitors can still see), yet when they stormed the mountain, they found that the defenders had killed their families and then themselves instead of facing slavery at the hands of the Romans. Josephus provides our only account of this story, and while it offers a daring and captivating tale, it most likely did not happen in exactly that manner. Nevertheless, visitors to Masada see evidence of the lives of the Jewish rebels. 

Not needing the luxury of Herod’s royal palace-fortress, the rebels converted portions of the palaces into more serviceable and functional purposes. The room that served as the stables for the donkeys used to bring water from the cisterns below, the rebels converted into a synagogue. Archaeologists found ancient scrolls fragments from the remains of the Jewish rebels. Some fragments preserved portions of biblical books, like Ezekiel; other fragments contained portions of other ancient Jewish literature, like Ben Sira. 

Masada offers a fascinating window into the changing political landscape of the land of Israel in the first century. In this way, it enables us to understand themes and trends that we find within the New Testament.

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: Do You Consider the Poor?

“Blessed is he who considers the poor; the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; you will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; you will sustain him on his sickbed” (Psalm 41:1-3 NKJV).

Our Western Christianity often relegates our spirituality solely to our own relationship with God. However, this is not the view of spirituality we find in Scripture. In the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, our path of relationship to God lies through other people, particularly the poor and suffering.

“Blessed is he who considers the poor; the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.” This is a rather challenging and profound statement, because it ties our deliverance from God in the day of trouble to how we serve and take care of the poor.

Our treatment of others, especially the needy, influences God’s reaction to us. According to the psalmist, He protects those who consider the poor, sustaining them on their sickbed, healing them from their illness.

Some want to interpret the “beatitudes” in the Bible—those passages that begin with “blessed” or “happy”—as “I will be blessed and happy” when I do such a thing. However, that is not necessarily the meaning in the Bible. A person who lives as the “beatitudes” instruct walks in the ways of God. This is the path of obedience. That makes them blessed.

We meet God in the poor, needy, suffering, and broken in our world. Loving and caring for them shows that we recognize His image in them. God then responds by protecting and delivering us in our time of need.

Jesus also embraced this worldview. In Matthew 25:35-46, He identified the righteous as those who cared for the poor and suffering; they receive the reward of eternal life because they recognized God’s image in the “least of these.”

One of the hallmarks of the Christian faith since the beginning has been the care for the poor, needy, suffering, and broken. The Roman world of the first century did not care about the poor. Roman society had no moral obligation or mechanism to care for the poor and needy.

But Jesus’ movement did. His followers had a strong sense of obligation as given by their Lord, and they grew because of it.

Do we see God in the poor and suffering of our world? If not, we need to listen more carefully to the psalmist and look a little harder, because those who do are blessed of the Lord.

PRAYER

Father, give us eyes to see the poor and suffering around us. Move us to action because this is where You reside. Amen.

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CBN Israel Supports Christian Citizens Serving in Israel’s Army

By Nicole Jansezian

With new threats from Iran and Hezbollah as Israel’s war in Gaza stretches into its sixth month, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) faces a personnel challenge and has ordered leave to be temporarily paused for all combat soldiers.

While military service is mandatory for all 18-year-old men and women and most Jewish Israelis serve their time after high school, many Arab citizens—both Muslims and Christians—opt not to enlist.

Currently, only 3.5 percent of the Arab population serves in the military, according to the IDF, despite being more than one fifth of the nation’s citizens.

Christians comprise only 2 percent of the country’s population, but one group of Christian Israelis are trying to encourage the young members of their community to play a larger role in serving and defending their nation—and CBN Israel is supporting the cause.  

Arameans are Christian citizens of Israel who have been in the land since the time of Jesus and have recently fought to categorize their identity as separate from Arab citizens.

Many of them also believe that as a minority population in Israel, they must integrate into the nation—and that includes serving in the army.

Dozens of Aramean teens recently took part in a Christian-Jewish military prep course that would not only help them prepare to serve in the military but also to get to know others with whom they wouldn’t have regular interaction.

The graduation, in February, prepared another 48 teens ready to enlist in the IDF. Shadi Khalloul, who founded Kinneret in 2017, said 1,000 students applied.

The program at Kibbutz Beit Zera, near the Sea of Galilee, is called Kinneret and is sponsored through partnership with the Jewish Agency.

After seven months, new batches of teens graduate after learning each other’s languages and cultures and developing relationships and trust that did not previously exist.

Earlier this year, CBN Israel attended the most recent graduation and has joined arms with Khalloul in helping integrate the Christian community better into Israeli society through such a valuable program.

Nicole Jansezian is the media coordinator for CBN Israel. A long-time journalist, Nicole was previously the news editor of All Israel News and All Arab News and a journalist at The Associated Press. On her YouTube channel, Nicole gives a platform to the minority communities in Jerusalem and highlights stories of fascinating people in this intense city. Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., she lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Tony, and their three children.

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