Category Archive: Israel

Feb 15

Dispelling the Myth that Israel Is the Largest Beneficiary of US Military Aid

By Prof. Hillel Frisch February 10, 2017

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 410, February 10, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Many American detractors of Israel begin by citing that Israel receives the lion’s share of US military aid. The very suggestion conjures the demon of an all-powerful Israel lobby that has turned the US Congress into its pawn. But these figures, while reflecting official direct US military aid, are almost meaningless in comparison to the real costs and benefits of US military aid – above all, American boots on the ground. In reality, Israel receives only a small fraction of American military aid, and most of that was spent in the US to the benefit of the American economy.

Countless articles discrediting Israel (as well as many other better-intentioned articles) ask how it is that a country as small as Israel receives the bulk of US military aid. Israel receives 55%, or $US3.1 billion per year, followed by Egypt, which receives 23%. This largesse comes at the expense, so it is claimed, of other equal or more important allies, such as Germany, Japan, and South Korea. The complaint conjures the specter of an all-powerful Israel lobby that has turned the US Congress into its pawn.

The response to the charge is simple: Israel is not even a major beneficiary of American military aid. The numerical figure reflects official direct US military aid, but is almost meaningless compared to the real costs and benefits of US military aid – which include, above all, American boots on the ground in the host states.

There are 150,500 American troops stationed in seventy countries around the globe. This costs the American taxpayer an annual $US85-100 billion, according to David Vine, a professor at American University and author of a book on the subject. In other words, 800-1,000 American soldiers stationed abroad represent US$565-665 million of aid to the country in which they are located.

Once the real costs are calculated, the largest aid recipient is revealed to be Japan, where 48,828 US military personnel are stationed. This translates into a US military aid package of over US$27 billion (calculated according to Vine’s lower estimation). Germany, with 37,704 US troops on its soil, receives aid equivalent to around US$21 billion; South Korea, with 27,553 US troops, receives over US$15 billion; and Italy receives at least US$6 billion.

If Vine’s estimate is correct, Japan’s US military aid package is nine times larger than that of Israel, Germany’s is seven times larger, and Italy’s is twice as large. The multipliers are even greater for Egypt. Even the Lilliputian Gulf states, Kuwait and Bahrain, whose American bases are home to over 5,000 US military personnel apiece, receive military aid almost equal to what Israel receives.

Yet even these figures grossly underestimate the total costs of US aid to its allies. The cost of maintaining troops abroad does not reflect the considerable expense, deeply buried in classified US military expenditure figures, of numerous US air and sea patrols. Nor does it reflect the high cost of joint ground, air, and maritime exercises with host countries (events only grudgingly acknowledged on NATO’s official site).

US air and naval forces constantly patrol the Northern, Baltic, and China Seas to protect American allies in Europe and in the Pacific – at American expense. Glimpses of the scale of these operations are afforded by incidents like the shadowing of a Russian ship in the Baltics, near run-ins between Chinese Coast Guard ships and US Navy ships dispatched to challenge Chinese claims in the South China Sea, and near collisions between US Air Force planes and their Chinese counterparts in the same area.

In striking contrast, no US plane has ever flown to protect Israel’s airspace. No US Navy ship patrols to protect Israel’s coast. And most importantly, no US military personnel are put at risk to ensure Israel’s safety.

In Japan, South Korea, Germany, Kuwait, Qatar, the Baltic states, Poland, and elsewhere, US troops are a vulnerable trip-wire. It is hoped that their presence will deter attack, but there is never any assurance that an attack will not take place. Should such an attack occur, it will no doubt cost American lives.

This cannot happen in Israel, which defends its own turf with its own troops. There is no danger that in Israel, the US might find itself embroiled in wars like those it waged in Iraq and Afghanistan at a cost of US$4 trillion, according to Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor and Harvard University researcher.

Japan’s presence at the top of the list of US military aid recipients is both understandable and debatable. It is understandable because Japan is critical to US national security in terms of maintaining freedom of the seas and containing a rising China. It is debatable because Japan is a rich country that ought to pay for the US troops stationed within it – or in lieu of that, to significantly strengthen its own army. At present, the Japanese army numbers close to 250,000, but it is facing the rapidly expanding military power of its main adversary, China. A similar case can be made with regard to Germany, both in terms of its wealth and its contribution towards meeting the Russian threat.

What is incomprehensible is not why Israel receives so much US military aid, but why Japan has received nine times more aid than Israel does. This is a curious proportion given the relative power Israel possesses in the Middle East and its potential to advance vital US security interests in times of crisis, compared to the force maintained by Japan relative to China.

Ever since the Turkish parliament’s decision in March 2003 not to join the US-led coalition, and the Turkish government’s refusal to allow movement of American troops across its borders, Israel has been America’s sole ally between Cyprus and India with a strategic air force and (albeit small) rapid force deployment capabilities to counter major threats to vital US interests.

It takes little imagination to envision these potential threats. Iran might decide to occupy Bahrain, which has a Shiite majority seriously at odds with the ruling Sunni monarchy. It might take over the United Arab Emirates, which plays a major role in the air offensive against the Houthis, Iran’s proxies in the war in Yemen. There might be a combined Syrian and Iraqi bid to destabilize Sunni Jordan, in the event that both states subdue their Sunni rebels. Any of these moves would threaten vital energy supplies to the US and its allies. Only Israel can be depended upon completely to provide bases and utilities for a US response and to participate in the effort if needed.

The politicians, pundits, and IR scholars who attack Israel and the Israeli lobby for extracting the lion’s share of US military aid from a gullible Congress know full well that this is not true. Israel receives a small fraction of the real outlays of military aid the US indirectly gives its allies and other countries. These experts also know that 74% of military aid to Israel was spent on American arms, equipment, and services. Under the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding, that figure will be changed to 100%. The experts simply cite the wrong figures.

The US is now led by a businessman president who knows his dollars and cents. He has been adamant about the need to curb free-riding by the large recipients of real US aid. He will, one hopes, appreciate the security bargain the US has with Israel – a country that not only shares many common values with the US, but can make a meaningful contribution to American vital interests with no trip-wires attached.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8342

Feb 15

Red Heifer Found in West Virginia

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz February 10, 2017 , 11:05 am

“This is the statute of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the people of Israel to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish, and on which a yoke has never come.” Numbers 19:2 (The Israel Bible™)

A retiree in West Virginia has discovered a red heifer, and by all appearances, the young and unique cow is suitable to clear the path for service in the Third Temple to begin.

Bill Shuff, a retired civil engineer from West Virginia, discovered the distinctive calf among a group of three his son had purchased. Two of the calves were young bulls and had ear tags. The third, a young heifer without an identifying ear-tag, caught Shuff’s eye because of its distinctive red coloring. Shuff learned about the Biblical commandment of the red heifer from Bible study at his interdenominational church and he immediately thought of these teachings when he saw the calf.

“I don’t know all the laws, but when I saw the heifer, I remembered it and wondered if this could be it,” Shuff told Breaking Israel News. There are no synagogues in his area and he did not know of any rabbis to consult, so Shuff contacted Breaking Israel News, sending images of the heifer.

“I would be thrilled if this could be used. I hope and pray the Temple will be rebuilt,” Shuff said. “It’s a very Christian thing, a House of Prayer for all Nations.”

The female calf, the product of a union between a female Red Angus and a Red Seminole male, was born last July. No patches of non-red color can be seen nor has she been bred, either of which would have disqualified the heifer. Also, the young bovine does not have an identifying ear-tag. Most calves bred in commercial farms have numbered tags clipped onto their ears in a process similar to the one used on humans for jewelry. This creates a hole in the ear, which is considered a blemish that disqualifies the heifer for Temple service.

The red heifer was used in Temple times to purify Jews from impurity caused by contact with or coming in the vicinity of a dead body. The ritual involved in creating the ashes from the red heifer is considered the most esoteric and inexplicable of all the Torah commandments. Because the elements needed for this ceremony have been lacking since the destruction of the Second Temple, all Jews today are considered ritually impure for this reason, thereby preventing the return of the Temple service. Red Heifer’s that fulfill all of the requirements are exceedingly rare and during the 1,000 years the two Temples stood in Jerusalem, only nine red heifers were used. According to Jewish tradition, the tenth red heifer will be used to usher in the Messiah.

His son was planning on breeding the young heifer, but Huff has urged him to wait until the cow’s status can be ascertained by rabbinic authorities. Breeding the heifer would render it unfit for use in the purification ceremony.

Last week, a similar red heifer was discovered by a Chabad rabbi in Baja, Mexico, though that red heifer had an ear-tag and seemed not to fulfill the requirements for Temple service.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8340

Feb 13

Iran: ‘Only seven minutes needed for the Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv’

ByJPOST.COM STAFF, Michael Wilner

05 February 2017 22:00

Iran’s officials vowed to continue launching “roaring missiles,” which they characterized as defensive in nature.

 

“Only seven minutes is needed for the Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv,” senior member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and former Revolutionary Guard official, Majtaba Zonour, told semi-official Fars News Agency Saturday.

His comments follow days of heated exchanges between US and Iranian officials.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have intensified after the Trump administration announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic-missile program.

The US issued the new penalties in response to several Iranian missile launches that international powers say are in violation of Iran’s obligations.

Iran responded forcefully, proceeding with a military exercise that further tested its missile radar capabilities.

Iran’s officials vowed to continue launching “roaring missiles,” which they characterized as defensive in nature.

And they targeted US President Donald Trump himself calling him “reckless” and inexperienced.

Trump said on Twitter that Iran was “playing with fire.” And, in a statement, US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said Iran’s “belligerent and lawless” behavior across the Middle East had only increased since it agreed to a deal with six foreign nations meant to govern its nuclear program for more than a decade.

“The international community has been too tolerant of Iran’s bad behavior. The ritual of convening a United Nations Security Council in an emergency meeting and issuing a strong statement is not enough,” Flynn said.

Iran last Saturday condemned the US visa ban against Tehran and six other majority-Muslim countries as an “open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation” and vowed to retaliate.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8335

Feb 06

Lost City of Atlantis Has Been Found – And it’s Connected to Jewish Temple in Most Incredible Way

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz February 2, 2017 , 1:30 pm

“Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kinds of riches; with silver iron tin and lead they traded for thy wares.” Ezekiel 27:12 (The Israel Bible™)

Illustrative: underwater ruins. (Shutterstock)

The lost city of Atlantis has been found, and it’s straight out of the Bible – at least according to a stunning new National Geographic documentary which follows a high-tech, wide-ranging search for the mythical city with incredible results.

The documentary, Atlantis Rising, released last Sunday, features Oscar-winning Titanic director James Cameron and Emmy-winning journalist Simcha Jacobovici following ancient clues through Greece, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic on a search for Atlantis, a mythical city that allegedly sunk into the sea thousands of years ago. Along the way, they discover mind-blowing Biblical connections to Atlantis, including a 3,000 year old carving that ties the mythical city to the Jewish Temple.

“So often, when you tell people you are looking for Atlantis, they think it is a crazy project because they think it is a thing that was made up by Disney or Hollywood, a city full of mermaids,” Jacobovici told Breaking Israel News in an exclusive interview. Even he was astonished at what they found.

Jacobovici, who describes his recent projects as “investigative archaeology”, admitted that sources are scarce. The only ancient source for Atlantis was the Greek philosopher Plato in the 4th century BCE. In his dialogues, Plato wrote about a traveller, Solon, who learned about a highly advanced, wealthy civilization, described in depth. It was a port city located “past the ‘Pillars of Hercules’”, which Jacobovici explained is known today as the Straits of Gibraltar.

In Plato’s account, Solon describes the destruction of Atlantis by a natural disaster which covered the coastal city with mud and water. According to the story, the city sank into the ground and disappeared. Jacobovici equated this to a tsunami.

“Many people may think this is a fictitious account, but Plato went into a lot of detail,” Jacobovici argued. “More problematic is that no other historical or archaeological source discusses a city named Atlantis.” He pointed out, however, that the Greeks had a habit of renaming people and places.

The team set out to find a city that fit the description of Atlantis. The search eventually led them to the Iberian Peninsula, where they began to make a connection between Atlantis and an ancient city known as Tartessos – which appears, amazingly, in the Bible.

“There are many artifacts and ancient writings that show that 3,000 years ago there was a great city of Tartessos, very wealthy and with a powerful navy,”Jacobovici described. “Though we don’t know exactly where it was, it was purported to be somewhere in Southern Iberia, Spain or Portugal, precisely the area that Plato gives for Atlantis.”

The research led Jacobovici to believe there is a link between Plato’s fabled city of Atlantis, which he believes is Tartessos, and the oft-mentioned Biblical city of Tarshish, citing an unmistakably Atlantis-like reference in Psalms.

For, lo, the kings assembled themselves, they came onward together..Trembling took hold of them there, pangs, as of a woman in travail…With the east wind Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish. Psalms 48:5-8

The Bible speaks many times about a city called Tarshish. King Solomon fought naval battles with the wealthy city, an ally of Israel.

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall render tribute. Psalms 72:10

Tarshish is also mentioned as the city that Jonah chose to flee to rather than go to evil Nineveh.

But Yonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of Hashem; and he went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare thereof and went down into it to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of Hashem. Jonah 1:3

In Tarshish, “Jonah encountered a fierce storm,” noted Jacobovici. “This is very characteristic of the area around the Straits of Gibraltar.”

The fact that the city of Tarshish is mentioned throughout the Bible seems to contradict a connection with an Atlantis that was destroyed well before Plato’s account. Jacobovici had an explanation.

“I think there were several stages in the destruction of Tarshish,” he said. “One was during the Exodus, and the final one was after King Solomon.”

The mysterious carving. (Facebook of George Diaz-Montexano)

Perhaps the most shocking revelation came when Jacobovici interviewed Spanish researcher Georgeos Diaz Montexano.

“He showed me Bronze Age symbols, 3,500 years old, carved into ancient shrines,” Jacobovici told Breaking Israel News. “Montexano believes that after the tsunami destroyed Atlantis, or Tarshish, the refugees made these shrines to commemorate the destruction of their city and to pray to their gods that Atlantis should rise again.”

The symbols carved into the walls had distinct design resembling a bull’s eye standing on a stick with three legs. The ancient stone carvings in the Spanish shrines are strongly reminiscent of Plato’s description of the port of Atlantis: three concentric circular docks with a central rectangular temple to Poseidon, with a canal connecting out to the sea.

Symbol of the Temple Menorah (Photo: Eilat Mazar/City of David Foundation)

“The symbol carved into the walls in Spain was an aerial view of the port Plato described, but with the canal depicted as Poseidon’s three-pronged trident,” Jacobovici explained.

Then Montexano showed him something even more remarkable. “In one of these of these shrines in Spain, the 3,000 year old carving is missing the top half of the bull’s eye. Montexano theorized that this symbolizes the refugees were praying for a restored Atlantis.

“But that symbol, as everyone knows, is the Menorah in the Jewish Temple,” said Jacobovici.

Jacobovici relates Montexano’s theory for the remarkable similarity between the ancient symbol found in Spain and the Jewish Temple.

“Montexan believes that when God told the Jews to make the Menorah, he gave them a symbol they already understood, already recognized from the Atlanteans.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8333

Feb 02

Rare Red Heifer Eligible for Third Temple Offering Found, And You Won’t Believe Where

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz February 1, 2017 , 12:30 pm

“This is the statute of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the people of Israel to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish, and on which a yoke has never come.” Numbers 19:2 (The Israel Bible™)

Rabbi Benny Hershcovich discovered a purely red heifer on a farm in Baja, Mexico. (Facebook, Benny Hershcovich)

A rabbi in a remote region of Mexico he went to a dairy farm to purchase milk, and was shocked when he saw a vital element of the Third Temple right in front of his eyes: a red heifer calmly chewing its cud under the Baja sun.

“I’ve grown up with the stories, so I know how rare and valuable the red heifer is,” Rabbi Benny “Bentsion” Hershcovich told Breaking Israel News. “I’ve never seen a red heifer and I never expected to see one. My heart literally jumped when I saw it.”

The red heifer, one of the most perplexing Torah commandments, is a necessary element for purifying Jews in order to enable them to do the service in the Temple.

And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of B’nei Yisrael for a water of sprinkling; it is a purification from sin. Numbers 19:9

Over the course of the approximately one thousand years the First and Second Temple stood, only nine Red Heifers were used in preparing the waters used to purify Jews. According to Jewish tradition, the tenth one will be used by the Messiah.

Rabbi Hershcovich is the emissary to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for Chabad, a branch of Hasidic Judaism which emphasizes the role of the Messiah. He works hard to serve the spiritual needs of the small Jewish community in Baja, but adhering to the extra-stringent Chabad customs regarding the preparation of food presents a challenge in the exotic locale.

“Even though we are in this far-flung region, we decided not to compromise on any of the kosher standards we held in Brooklyn,” Rabbi Hershcovich explained to Breaking Israel News. This adherence to ritual led him to a remarkable discovery illustrating that the Third Temple is very close indeed.

Rabbi Hershcovich’s kosher stringencies require that he personally oversee the milking for making his own dairy products. While visiting a Mexican farm, the rabbi looked up from the milking and was shocked to see a distinctively colored cow wandering among the herd: one which appeared completely red, without a blemish or spot.

Rabbi Hershcovich asked the farmer about the calf. The perplexed Mexican farmer explained that it had been born several months earlier, and that while the color was odd, he considered it to be “just another cow”. The farmer had never heard of the Biblical commandment and did not understand why the rabbi was so excited.

Though familiar with the concept of the red heifer – or para adumah in Hebrew – Rabbi Hershcovich felt unqualified to determine whether this particular cow fulfilled the Torah requirements. The laws pertaining to the red heifer are complex and a tiny blemish or a hair of the wrong color can render the cow unfit.

This is the statute of the law which Hashem hath commanded, saying: Speak unto B’nei Yisrael, that they bring thee a red heifer, faultless, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke. Numbers 19:2

“Regardless of its status, just seeing something that was an integral part of the Temple and Jewish history, was really magnificent,” the rabbi said. “I was mesmerized by this simple cow.”

A very few candidates for the red heifer have been found. Most have been disqualified due to blemishes or pregnancies. In an effort to reinstate the mitzvah (Torah commandment) of purifying with the red heifer’s ashes, the Temple Institute in Jerusalem last year imported embryos of red angus, a distinctly red breed of cow, and implanted them in Israeli cows at a farm in the Negev. Though several male cows were born, no reports of pure red heifers have been forthcoming.

Though it is unlikely the Baja bovine will become part of the Jewish Third Temple service, the random encounter had deeply spiritual meaning for Rabbi Hershcovich.

“It’s part of who we are and represents an important part of our future. Seeing it shows that our hope can be realized,” Rabbi Hershcovich said. “We always wonder if something we read in the news is the thing that will bring Moshiach. Seeing this red heifer in front of my eyes shows that it can indeed happen at any moment, in any location.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8328

Feb 02

New UN Chief Believes Temples Were Jewish, Blasts Anti-Semitism

By JNI Media January 30, 2017 , 7:30 am

“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8 (The Israel Bible™)

António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, formerly the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told Israel Radio on Sunday that it is clear the Jerusalem temple destroyed by the Romans was Jewish. This only a few months following a shameful statement by UNESCO that ignored any connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem.

Guterres served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and was the Secretary-General of the Socialist Party from 1992 to 2002. He also served as President of Socialist International from 1999 to 2005. In 2012, Guterres appointed American actress Angelina Jolie as his Special Envoy to represent UNHCR and himself at the diplomatic level.

Speaking to Israel radio in New York, Secretary-General Guterres said no one today can deny that Jerusalem is sacred to the world’s three monotheistic religions.

The new UN Secretary-General also said he was not planning to initiate a political move between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, even though he does believe in a two-state solution and will help the two sides should they request it. He also stressed that he intends to insist on an equal treatment of all the UN member states.

During the UN General Assembly’s special session in honor of International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust Friday, Guterres said the world has a duty to remember that the Holocaust was a systematic attempt to eliminate the Jewish people and so many others, noting that building a future of dignity and equality for all will honor the victims of this “incomparable tragedy in human history […] who we will never allow to be forgotten.”

Guterres said in video message that it would be a dangerous error to think of the Holocaust as simply the result of the insanity of a group of criminal Nazis.

“On the contrary, the Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of hatred, scapegoating and discrimination targeting the Jews, what we now call anti-Semitism,” he emphasized, adding that tragically and contrary to the international community’s resolve, anti-Semitism continues to thrive.

Moreover, the world is also witnessing a “deeply troubling” rise in extremism, xenophobia, racism and anti-Muslim hatred. “Irrationality and intolerance are back,” said the new UN chief.

Stressing that this is in complete contrast to the universal values enshrined in the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Guterres said: “We can never remain silent or indifferent when human beings are suffering. We must always defend the vulnerable and bring tormentors to justice. And as the theme of this year’s observance highlights, a better future depends on education.”

“After the horrors of the 20th century, there should be no room for intolerance in the 21st. I guarantee you that as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I will be in the frontline of the battle against anti-Semitism and all other forms of hatred,” Guterres said.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8322

Jan 27

Is the New Star Really a Sign of a Messiah for Israel?

Humans across the world will get to see a star born in 2022, and one rabbi says it’s a sign from the Bible of a new military leader for Israel.

Candida Moss

 

01.22.17 12:01 AM ET

In 2022, approximately five years from now, a new star will appear in the night sky. Scientifically speaking, the appearance of this nova is the product of the collision of two other astral bodies. And for six months this new star will—to the naked eye—be the brightest in the heavens. Given that this is the first time that people will be able to witness a moment like this without technology, it’s a significant event in human history, but it may be much more than that. According to one rabbi, this new star is a sign of the coming of the Messiah.

Rabbi Yosef Berger, a rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, has proposed that the star is a fulfillment of a Biblical prophecy from the book of Numbers, in which a star precedes the arrival of an important military leader: “a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the borderlands of Moab, and the territory of all the Sethites” (NRSV Num 24:17)

The prophecy itself is significant because the speaker is not Moses, the Bible’s quintessential prophet, but Balaam, a historically attested outsider and foreigner. Jacqueline Vayntrub, a biblical studies professor at Brandeis University, told me, “The inclusion of a foreign prophet, Balaam, in a narrative history of Israel is puzzling. But when you realize that the story is about an important, well known foreign prophet who is blessing Israel, it makes a whole lot more sense. Moses, as Israel’s insider, of course wants the best for Israel; but even a famous foreign prophet blessing Israel, now that’s interesting.”

Rabbi Berger is not the only scholar to read Numbers 24 as a prediction of the Messiah. Berger quotes the preeminent 12th-century Jewish philosopher and commentator Maimonides, who connects this passage to the arrival of the Messiah and uses it as evidence that the Messiah would come from Judah. He also points to the Jewish mystical text the Zohar, which goes into some depth describing the astrological events that would surround the arrival of the Messiah.

The idea that important events would correspond to shifts in the heavens was a commonplace in the ancient world. The Roman historian Suetonius reports in his life of Nero that comets were “commonly believed to portend the death of great rulers.” Coins minted in honor of Alexander the Great, Augustus, and even King Herod sometimes used a star as a symbol of the king. And there was a popular idea among ancient Romans that every person was born under a star, which came into existence at their birth and was extinguished at their death.

Arguably the most famous example that connects the appearance of a star to the arrival of a messianic leader is found in the Christian New Testament. According to the Gospel of Matthew the magi find their way to the newborn Jesus by following a particularly noteworthy star. Historians have tried in vain to connect the nativity story star to an astrological event, but the story is evidence of the general ancient idea that births of historical significance would be written in the stars and of the ancient Jewish belief that the birth of the messiah would be foretold by a star.

With respect to the arrival of this new star in 2022, there is no doubt that it is a significant moment for astronomers and physicists. As far as Berger’s prediction’s go, other scholars are unconvinced. Joel Baden, a professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale Divinity School, told me that this interpretation of the prophecy from Numbers is problematic because, grammatically speaking, the star doesn’t “rise”—it literally “treads,” as one would when crushing grapes. Furthermore, while Berger is in good company, it’s unclear why he thinks that the star in this verse is a literal star while the scepter is a symbol for a ruler. The two images are parallel to one another, Baden told The Daily Beast, so why not read them in the same way?

For some, this comes as good news. After all, Numbers 24 prophesies the destruction of the Sethites, which is pretty much everyone outside of the nation of Israel. For most of us, that’s not good news.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8313

Jan 27

Trump, Netanyahu Plan First Meeting to Cement New, Stronger Ties

By Valerie Locke January 22, 2017 , 10:30 am

“And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they.” Numbers 22:15 (The Israel Bible™)

The first official state meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and newly-inaugurated US President Donald Trump could take place as early as next month, Ynet reported on Sunday.

Government officials say that the meeting may happen in the first week of February. Netanyahu is also expected to meet with Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, whom Trump has said will head peace efforts in the Middle East during his administration.

His pro-Israel stance was a basic tenet of Trump’s campaign platform, and meeting with the Israeli premiere has been a priority for the president since his election in November. When Netanyahu called Trump to congratulate him following his victory, Trump took the opportunity to invite Netanyahu to meet at the “first opportunity.”

The Trump team also reportedly extended an invitation to the January 20 inauguration, giving rise to speculation that Netanyahu would be the first Israeli prime minister ever present at an American inauguration. However, Netanyahu did not attend, though several leaders of Israel’s settler movement did.

Now, both leaders are eager to cement what Israel expects will be a close and fruitful relationship, firmly closing the door on eight years of strained personal relations between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama.

The two will likely discuss big issues such as construction in Judea and Samaria, the Iranian nuclear deal, and the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israeli leaders anticipate that Trump’s stances on the issues will align much more closely with Israeli interests than Obama’s policies ever did.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8311

Jan 18

70 Nations Gathered In Paris Unanimously Call For The Creation Of A Palestinian State

By Michael Snyder, on January 15th, 2017

On Sunday, the 70 nations that gathered in Paris for a conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unanimously agreed to call for the creation of a Palestinian state. The joint declaration that was issued at the conclusion of the conference also endorsed UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which was adopted on December 23rd and the six principles that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry laid out in his 71 minute speech on December 28th. If you would like to read the final draft of the joint declaration, you can do so right here. The good news is that this conference did not immediately recognize a Palestinian state, nor does it appear that additional action will be taken at the UN Security Council before Donald Trump is inaugurated on Friday.

It had been feared that this conference may attempt to impose some sort of a solution on the Israelis and the Palestinians, but that didn’t come to pass. Instead, the conference participants agreed to work toward “a negotiated solution with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security“.

So the global community has clearly reaffirmed their commitment to a Palestinian state, but the outcome of this conference was not nearly as bad for Israel as many had been anticipating.

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council will meet to further discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the Jerusalem Post is reporting that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has promised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that there will not be any more UN Security Council resolutions regarding Israel before Trump takes office…

Israeli sources said Kerry called Netanyahu from the conference to brief him on the efforts the US was taking there to soften the language of the final statement.

According to the sources, Netanyahu told Kerry that damage had already been done to Israel by the anti-settlement resolution that the US allowed to pass in the Security Council last month, and that no more harm should be allowed to be caused from the Paris summit.

Kerry assured Netanyahu that there would be no follow-up to the Paris conference in the Security Council, according to the sources.

Even though that bullet has been dodged, we should still acknowledge that what just happened in Paris, France was extremely significant.

It seems a very odd coincidence that exactly 70 nations gathered in Paris. It could have easily been 69 nations or 71 nations, but instead it was precisely 70.

According to Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, the author of The Harbinger and The Book of Mysteries, the number 70 represents all the nations of the world in ancient Jewish tradition…

“It is interesting to note that the rabbis spoke of the world consisting of 70 nations,” he observed. “This is linked to the 70 sacrifices offered in the Feast of Tabernacles. So now to have the nations of the world, specifically 70 nations, gather together over the issue of Jerusalem, is most striking. One could say that the 70 nations are a representation of all nations, and coming together clearly set against the word of God which clearly ordains that Jerusalem is given by God to only one nation – Israel.

“As to the Abrahamic Covenant, that what a nation does to Israel will be done to that nation, what America under Obama did to Israel at the United Nations – namely abandon it – was significant,” he said.

Without a doubt, all of the largest and most powerful countries were represented at the conference. So what we just witnessed in Paris was essentially the whole world coming together to decide what should be done with the land of Israel.

And by unanimously agreeing that the land of Israel should be divided and that a Palestinian state should be created, these global leaders are in great danger of literally cursing the entire planet.

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote an entire article about how those that bless Israel will be blessed and those that curse Israel will be cursed. I would venture to say that now the entire world is on the wrong side of that equation as a result of this conference in Paris.

The good news for the U.S. is that Barack Obama is on his way out the door and Donald Trump is about to become president.

In a previous article I detailed 10 specific steps that Trump should immediately take to try to reverse the curse that Obama has put on America. One of the steps that I recommended was moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and this is something that Trump’s team is actively talking about.

However, other global leaders are warning Trump not to do this. For example, on Sunday French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told the press that such a move would have “very serious consequences”

A “stubborn” proposal by President-elect Donald Trump to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would involve “very serious consequences” and damage efforts for peace in the Middle East, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Sunday.

And of course the Palestinians are threatening widespread violence if the U.S. embassy is moved to Jerusalem, but meanwhile the Palestinians have no problem opening up new embassies of their own. In fact, on Saturday the Palestinians just opened up a brand new embassy at the Vatican.

Donald Trump may never have anticipated this, but the truth is that the relationship between the United States and Israel is likely to be one of the defining issues of his presidency.

Allowing UN Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass without a veto was the worst decision that Barack Obama made during his entire time in the White House, and it represented the greatest betrayal of Israel in the history of the United States.

In just a few days, Donald Trump will have an opportunity to begin repairing the immense damage that was done by that resolution, and it sounds like he wants to have a very positive relationship with Israel.

But it can’t just be words. Politicians have a habit of telling us what we want to hear, and now Donald Trump will get his chance to show the world that he is not just another typical politician.

My hope is that Donald Trump will truly be a friend to Israel in both word and deed, because that is what is desperately needed at this moment in history

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8306

Jan 17

Secular Minister in Hebron: Abraham, Our Father, Bought This Place

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz January 12, 2017 , 1:30 pm

“For Hashem loveth justice, and forsaketh not His saints; they are preserved for ever; but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.” Psalms 37:28 (The Israel Bible™)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks outside the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Courtesy Hebron Spokesperson)

A secular Israeli minister toured Hebron two days ago and gave a surprisingly Biblical response to the recent UN resolution outlawing the Jewish community living in the City of the Patriarchs: Abraham bought this land and it belongs to the Jews.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Likud) visited Hebron on Tuesday to discuss several legal dilemmas facing the Jewish community. After visiting the Cave of the Patriarchs, Shaked addressed the representatives of the community, and in no uncertain terms stated the source of Jewish ownership of the city.

“Lately, much has been said regarding our rights to this land,” Shaked said, referring to the recent UN Security Council Resolution declaring the Jewish presence in Hebron to be illegal.

“Let us teach to those who do not know: Abraham our father, bought this place paying full price and a written deed, maybe the first of its kind in the world, and therefore it is obvious the Jewish community has every right to be here, including the right of ownership.”

Yishai Fleisher, international spokesman for the Jewish community in Hebron, told Breaking Israel News that Shaked’s statement took him by surprise.

“I almost didn’t catch what she was saying,” Fleisher said. “She said it so naturally, as if it was an obvious and a simple fact.”

Shaked self-identifies as non-religious, so her Biblical justification for Jewish Hebron was uncharacteristic. Fleisher believes this to be a sign that the political atmosphere in Israel is changing.

“I think the recent UN resolutions have forced the Israeli politicians to realize that there is no point in trying to soft-talk the issue of our right to the land. It is all out in the open,” Fleisher said.

Fleisher and the Jews of Hebron are optimistic, seeing the UN resolution as a move forward.

“The UN and the Palestinians have taken it so far that they look ridiculous,” Fleisher said. “They’ve discredited themselves. It is preposterous to come out with a resolution that there is no connection between the Jews and the land of Israel.

“The UN has declared our living here to be illegal,” he continued. “The building over the Machpela (the Cave of the Patriarchs) was built by Herod and conquered by Israel in 1967. But it is in the Waqf’s trust. Now that the UN has declared Jewish Hebron to be illegal, things are changing and they think they own it.”

Shaked addressed that issue, reassuring Hebron representatives that the Israeli government supported the Jewish community in Hebron.

“It is specifically at this time, when the UN condemns Israel’s right to build in Judea and Samaria, it is important to come here,” Shaked told the representatives. “To strengthen the Jewish community in Hebron and to proclaim that we will indeed hold the right to keep building in Judea and Samaria.”

Fleisher noted that one of the more disturbing problems facing the Jewish community is from radical left-wing non-governmental organizations (NGO).

“We are plagued by criminal activity disguised as humanitarian rights activity,” Fleisher said. One example he described was a group called Youth Against Settlements, an NGO recognized by the UN Human Rights Council and headed by Issa Amro, an Arab activist from Hebron who claims to advocate nonviolence. The Jewish residents of Hebron have witnessed something else entirely.

“He instigates violence between the Jews and Arabs, making sure the press is there to get it all on video,” said Fleisher. “Arabs have approached us, asking that we get him out of Hebron. But because he is recognized by the UN as a humanitarian activist, there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do. We asked the minister to help us with this.”

Fleisher explained that the left-wing NGOs are using Hebron as the focus for their anti-Israel narrative.

“They bring groups, including international diplomats, to Hebron and lie to them about the Jewish community,” he said. “These people are pushing for lawlessness. This is something the Justice Minister needs to address.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8302

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