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Saturday, December 18, 2010
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Oil in Israel Newsletter
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December 17, 2010
1. US Mideast Envoy Meets with Netanyahu2. Hamas: We Won't Recognize Israel3. Asad Warns against Interference in Lebanon Tribunal4. Israel's Archeological Sites Get a Battering5. Maldivians: Israeli Doctors Harvest Organs6. International Human Rights Day Remembers Gilad Shalit7. French Diplomat: "France Will Take a Strong Stand against Iran"8. World Jewish Congress Leaders Call on Pope to Reject Assault on Israel9. Israel Sends Help to Colombia Flood Victims
1. US Mideast Envoy Meets with NetanyahuThe American work in the latest approach to Middle East peace process is underway. US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, in the region this week, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday [December 13]. In comments posted on the Prime Minister's office Web site, Netanyahu said prior to the meeting, "We're going to work together to establish a new path to achieve a common goal, which is to get a framework agreement for peace that will ensure both peace and security, and, I may add, prosperity. That's a worthy objective."
The Israeli leader implied the framework agreement, which would set the stage for a permanent deal, could be achieved in the foreseeable future, saying they hope the Palestinians "will participate with us to achieve that in the coming months." In a media note released by the US State Department, Mitchell's meeting with Netanyahu was described as exploring "in a long and positive discussion, the best way to approach the substantive core issues and advance toward our goal of peace."
At a business conference, Netanyahu said that he welcomed the American change in approach away from seeking a settlement freeze as the basis for resuming talks to focusing on the core issues of the conflict. The US has abandoned their previous attempt to convince the Israelis to resume their settlement freeze in an effort to coax the Palestinians back to direct negotiations. The Palestinians suspended direct negotiations after Israel's last freeze (which lasted 10 months) expired.
"I believe that the United States has succeeded in understanding after a year-and-a-half that we were, in fact, on a dead-end road in a discussion that was in great measure unproductive regarding the peripheral issue of additional construction in the settlements," said Netanyahu. "The United States understood that what is important is getting to the important issues, the substantial issues, including the core issues that are at the root of the conflict between us and the Palestinians."
Highlighting some of those core issues, Netanyahu said, "In order to achieve peace, the issues that are truly delaying the peace must be discussed: the question of recognition [of Israel as a Jewish state], the question of security, the question of various arrangements, refugees, etc., and of course many additional issues.
"I welcome the fact that we will begin our discussions on these issues. We will narrow the gaps, and probably later on, when these gaps are narrowed, we will also begin direct negotiations with the goal of reaching a framework peace agreement. What we are doing now, in my opinion, is a necessary condition for genuine, concrete discussions regarding the core questions through which a peace agreement can be reached."
(By Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, December 13, 2010)
Pray that the US and other nations of the world will become true peace partners with Israel, working toward the good of the nation. Pray that the Lord will direct Israel's leaders as they continue to stand against pressure to make unwise decisions.
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye" (Psalm 32:8).
2. Hamas: We Won't Recognize IsraelTens of thousands of Hamas supporters gathered in the Gaza Strip Tuesday [December 14] to celebrate the organization's 23rd anniversary. During the rally, Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh addressed the crowds and declared: "We will not recognize Israel."
Haniyeh urged the Palestinian Authority [PA] to put an end to all negotiations and security cooperation with the Jewish state. He added the group would accept "a Palestinian state with full sovereignty in the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital."
Meanwhile, US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell met in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and presented him with American proposals for advancing the talks with Israel. Mitchell reiterated the US Administration's commitment to the peace process and said that America's goal was to reach an agreement that includes Syria and Lebanon. He is scheduled to return for another round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians in the coming days.
In reference to the Israeli [settlement] moratorium [that has ended], Mitchell said he expected to face many obstacles, but added that the US Administration is determined to achieve its goal-an independent Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel.
After meeting Mitchell, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the Palestinians expressed their demand to "end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital."
Erekat placed full responsibility for the deadlocked talks on Israel, accusing it of undermining the peace process. "When the Israeli government was asked to choose between peace and settlements, it clearly chose the settlements, and therefore, the steps it has taken have sabotaged the peace process," he said. According to Erekat, Israel's settlement policies and unilateral steps in Jerusalem destroyed the two-state solution.
(By Ali Waked, Ynetnews, December 14, 2010)
Editor's Note: The Palestinians effectively suspended direct peace talks with Israel following the end of Israel's unprecedented 10-month settlement construction freeze, demanding it be renewed for talks to resume. The Palestinians did negotiate directly with Israel towards the end of the freeze, but previously refused to advance from indirect to direct negotiations for the majority of the Israeli gesture.
Pray that through these types of activities, the world will recognize that Israel has no reliable peace partner. Pray that the Lord Himself will direct all discussions and negotiations.
"Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth; that Your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand, and hear me (Psalm 108:5-6).
3. Asad Warns against Interference in Lebanon TribunalSyrian President Bashar Al-Asad has warned against interfering with the United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), the body investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al-Hariri. Al-Asad told French television that, "If the decision of the tribunal is based on evidence, everybody will accept its conclusions, not only Syria but also Lebanon."
The Syrian president's warning comes at a time when fears are running high that the Iranian proxy terror group, Hizbullah, could stage a coup when the STL hands down indictments of its members [as is expected]. The indictments are expected as early as the beginning of 2011.
The Syrian statement is somewhat surprising given Syria's close alliance with Tehran and its support for Hizbullah, including its roll in facilitating the transfer of sophisticated weaponry to the Lebanon-based terrorist group.
Meanwhile, Hizbullah-which sits in the Lebanese government-has threatened to withdraw from the ruling coalition if the government provides financial backing for the tribunal.
(By The Media Line, December 12, 2010)
Pray that this volatile situation will not erupt into violence that will threaten the people of Lebanon as well as Israel's northern border.
"Say to those who are fearful-hearted, 'Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you'" (Isaiah 35:4).
4. Israel's Archeological Sites Get a BatteringWinter's belated arrival in Israel brought with it the biggest storm in two decades, wreaking havoc. Ships sank; billboards and power lines fell. Where there wasn't rain, dust storms blanketed the cities and farmland. Coastal regions were pummeled by huge waves lifted by 100-kilometer [62-mile]-an-hour winds.
The storms also caused severe damage to archeological and antiquities sites up and down the country's Mediterranean coast, most seriously at the Herodian port city of Caesarea. Experts say the cost of restoring the sites will be in the millions of shekels, but in many cases, the losses are irretrievable.
"It was the most severe storm we have seen in the last 25 years since we began measuring the waves along the coast of the Mediterranean," Matti Weiss of the Israel Meteorological Service, told The Media Line. Waves reached a height of as much as 13 meters [43 feet] in some areas.
Caesarea, where Herod the Great constructed one of the biggest ports in the ancient world between 22 and 10 BC, was hit particularly hard by the storm. A 1950s-era breakwater built off the coast of the site to protect it from the natural force of the sea broke up into three pieces during the storm, and the result was devastating.
"In all of the ancient city, areas from the Hellenistic period and especially the areas from the Roman and Byzantine times, large parts of it have been destroyed," said Jacob Sharvit, head of the Underwater Archeology unit at Israel Antiquities Authority. "The crusader city wall in the north, part of it fell down. The Herodian wall in the north something like 40 meters [131 feet] was destroyed, and there are a lot of new cracks. Part of the aqueduct and also the coast next to the main aqueduct was washed away and disappeared."
The archeological park, one of Israel's top tourist attractions, is closed for now and the cost of fixing the damage is estimated in the millions of dollars, he told The Media Line.
In the southern city of Ashkelon, a large section of a cliff, over which ancient ruins, including mosaics and a bathhouse sit, was washed away. "Most of the damage that we saw in Ashkelon is from the collapse of the cliff and all of the sites built on top of it. We saw between 5 and 10 meters [16 and 32 feet] of erosion on the cliff, and it has become very dangerous," Sharvit said.
On the other hand, the storm's fury revealed an impressive statue of a toga-wearing woman between 1,650 and 1,800 years old, proving that these sites sill have much more to reveal about the past and merit protection. The statue, which was discovered by someone on a stroll, apparently fell onto the beach when the ancient cliff collapsed in the storm.
In the northern city of Acre [Acco or Akko], Israel's Antiquities Authority had in the last two years begun reconstruction of the southern city [sea] wall. During the recent storm, this proved to be the site's savior. "We were lucky to do it before the storm, otherwise the city wall would have collapsed," Sharvit said. "We built a breakwater along the wall, and most of it washed to the sea. This was supposed to be used for the reconstruction, but it became the breakwater that rescued the main city walls."
Sharvit added that damage was also done to a number of underwater sites located off Israel's coast. He said shipwrecks that had been found in shallow water have been exposed, and some have been entirely destroyed. Most of the damage incurred by the coastal sites was the result of erosion caused by the huge surge of waves whipped up by the storm.
"There's no more line of protection of antiquities on the coast," Zeev Margalit of the Nature and Parks Authority, told The Media Line. "If we want to have them for the next generation, we must bring in more elements of protection to protect for the next storm. This has to be done because as it is now they will not last through the next storm."
Experts said emergency spending to protect Caesarea will reach about NIS 10 million [US $2.8 million]. It will cost another NIS 60 million [US $16.6 million] to make a full restoration. The other sites along the coast, Margalit said, had yet to undergo a full evaluation.
"No one can bring back the original elements of theses sites from 2,000 years, but part of the damage is reversible. Wherever we can do something, we will try," Margalit said. "It's not like a forest, like what happened in the Carmel," Sharvit added, referring to the major forest fire that scorched millions of acres of forest in Israel's Carmel region in the beginning of December. "A forest you can grow again, even if you do nothing. But when talking about antiquities sites, this is something you cannot reconstruct. If something is destroyed then it is destroyed forever."
(By Michael Grubb, The Media Line, December 15, 2010)
Pray that the damage to these archaeological sites will, in fact, be less than originally thought. Pray that restoration will be swift and steps be taken to protect these priceless antiquities in the future, as they are a blessing to all who love the Bible and tangible evidence of Israel's ancient and God-given connection to the Land.
"Remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant, saying, 'To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance'" (1 Chronicles 16:15-18.
5. Maldivians: Israeli Doctors Harvest OrgansThe Republic of Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean and the smallest Muslim country in the world, has been enraged in the past few days due to an Israeli delegation of eye surgeons who arrived to treat locals' eyesight problems. The Eye of Zion organization's delegation was sent on behalf of the Israeli Foreign Ministry to the islands, who renewed diplomatic relations with Israel only about a year ago. The relationship was frozen following the  Yom Kippur War.
The purpose of sending Israeli experts was to improve the relations between the countries. But no one thought the Israeli doctors would be welcomed by raging demonstrations in front of their hotel, including Muslim demonstrators calling to banish the physicians and burning the Israeli flag.
Islamic opposition party Adhaalath and the Islamic Association of the Republic of Maldives officially claimed the Israeli doctors arrived to their country as part of an Israeli-Zionist conspiracy intended to harvest the organs of citizens and then steal them. The association's Web site stated that there was no possible way the Jews came to Maldives without a hidden agenda.
Adhaalath explained that the Israeli physicians are part of an Israel-Jewish organization responsible for sending doctors all over the world to harvest non-Jewish organs and implant them in Jews-claiming it is the same thing Israel had done to Palestinian bodies. The party demanded the government expel the Israeli delegation immediately and not allow them to operate in the country.
The doctors arrived to the islands last Thursday [December 9], but received a permit to operate in the country's capital of Male and in another location only on Saturday [December 11]. Despite demonstrations, hundreds of patients awaited the arrival of the doctors.
On Saturday, the delegation was welcomed by President Mohamed Nasheed who told the physicians that the majority of Maldivian citizen appreciate their humanitarian efforts. The Israeli Delegation Leader and Foreign Minister representative Chaim Shacham said that all in all they received a very warm welcome and that the island residents are lovely people.
"I was surprised by how nice, warm and open they were. They are one of the most wonderful people I've ever met. They welcomed us nicely. I felt we have a lot of friends over here. All of the ministers I've met acknowledge the fact that there are demonstrations and many objections to us coming here, but they don't see it as something of great importance.
"The authorities have made sure to provide us with security, so we feel safe. A few news items were published claiming we're here to steal organs. The amazing thing is that despite the propaganda and blood libels, there is a huge demand for check-ups and surgeries."
(By Itamar Eichner, Ynetnews, December 14, 2010)
Pray for these doctors as they courageously continue to bring assistance to those in need in the face of violent opposition. Pray that these outrageous accusations will be seen as the rank anti-Semitism that they are and brought to an end.
"Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war" (Psalm 140:1-2).
6. International Human Rights Day Remembers Gilad ShalitAs part of International Human Rights Day, thousands of people took part in a protest march in Tel Aviv as part of the Israeli contribution to the international rally. As part of the day of protest, several hundred people took part in a demonstration outside the International Red Cross Office in Tel Aviv to protest the fact that Gilad Shalit was still being held by Hamas in Gaza after more than four-and-a-half years.
Gilad Shalit's father Noam Shalit said, "Holding Gilad as a hostage for extortion and bargaining purposes, without any basic human rights, is a war crime according to the Rome Convention. This is an intolerable war crime which must be loudly and clearly condemned by the entire free world, and especially the European community."
The protest rally in front of Tel Aviv's International Red Cross office was organized by the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ), which is also behind similar protests taking place in main cities across the world.
Attorney Irit Kohn, vice president of the ILJAJ, wondered during the rally what happened to the Red Cross' voice. "The organization helps in different places in the world and does an important job, but where is it when it comes to Gilad Shalit? Where are his human rights? We wanted to hear a condemnation from the International Red Cross of the way Hamas is acting, but if there ever was such a condemnation, it was faint."
(By Edgar Asher, Isranet, December 10, 2010)
Pray that this demonstration and others like it will impact the fate of Gilad Shalit, that "the entire free world" will, in fact, rise to his defense, and the Lord will protect and shield him until his soon release.
"For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly" (Proverbs 2:6-7).
7. French Diplomat: "France Will Take a Strong Stand against Iran"French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie has told a gathering of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) that "France will take a strong stance against Iran." She pledged to take a firm position on Tehran's nuclear ambitions and said all form of economic sanctions would be envisaged if Iran continued to pursue the nuclear program.
Alliot-Marie, a former defense and interior minister who replaced Bernard Kouchner as France's chief diplomat a few weeks ago, spoke at a gala dinner concluding an EJC conference in Paris, which was attended by around 100 European Jewish communal leaders, representing 27 Jewish communities. Alliot-Marie said it was her first speech to an international organization since assuming office.
Alliot-Marie expressed her belief to Jewish leaders from across the continent that European Jewry had enriched European culture and helped to shape the continent's identity. She also addressed the close relationship between France and its Jews and expressed the hope that it would continue to grow stronger.
EJC President Moshe Kantor outlined the threat a nuclear Iran posed to Europe and to world security. "We are getting very close to the tipping point where Iran will reach the point of no return regarding nuclear weapons capability," Kantor said, adding, "France, the EU, and the international community have to make every effort to prevent Iran from reaching this point. We will need to see unified, concerted, and intensive efforts to achieve this aim vital for international security."
Kantor, who hosted the gala dinner, also spoke about contributing to a more tolerant Europe. He declared, "The need to strengthen tolerance in Europe is vital, not only for Jews but for the future of the continent."
(By World Jewish Congress, December 14, 2010)
Pray for the Jewish people of France who have suffered violent anti-Semitism over the past few years. Pray that their relationship with the government will indeed continue to grow stronger, resulting in support and protection. Pray that France and other nations of the world will be unyielding and decisive in their commitment to end Iran's nuclear capability.
"I cry out to the Lord with my voice; with my voice to the Lord I make my supplication…When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk they have secretly set a snare for me. Look on my right hand and see, for there is no one who acknowledges me; refuge has failed me; no one cares for my soul. I cried out to You, O LORD: I said, 'You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living'" (Psalm 142:1, 3-5).
8. World Jewish Congress Leaders Call on Pope to Reject Assault on IsraelThe leadership of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) has been received by Pope Benedict XVI in private audience at the Vatican. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, who was accompanied by WJC Secretary General Designate Daniel Diker and Deputy Secretary General Maram Stern, raised his concern at the growing political assault on Israel's legitimacy.
Lauder asked Benedict to speak out against the delegitimization of Israel and especially the denial of Jewish holy sites such as the Western Wall, as well as the Tomb of Rachel near Bethlehem, which is holy to Jews and also to Christians.
"We discussed critical issues affecting world Jewry," Lauder said, adding, "We expressed to the Pope how much we value the close relationship we have enjoyed with the Vatican over many years in our quest for a secure Israel and a safer future for Jews everywhere."
Pope Benedict emphasized the need to continue to combat anti-Semitism in the Christian world, which he characterized as unacceptable. Diker voiced the deep concern of Jews everywhere, and especially in Israel, about the political assault on Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and asked that the Church take a lead role in speaking out against this new "politically correct" form of anti-Semitism.
"The ongoing assault against the State of Israel has triggered dangerous aftershocks in Jewish communities around the world," explained Diker. Benedict responded that the Church recognized the historical connection of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland, the Holy Land, going back to the time of Abraham. He expressed his commitment to help foster understanding of the bond between the nation of Israel and the land of Israel among people throughout the world.
Lauder also expressed concern that both Christians and Jews in the Middle East face the threat of radical Islam and expressed his sympathies over the murder of Christian leaders in Iraq and Turkey, noting with concern the drop in the number of Christians living in Bethlehem.
The pontiff of the Catholic Church expressed the importance of Jews and Catholics working together to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms, noting again the patrimony of Judaism to Christianity. He indicated that Jews and Christians needed one another. Benedict added that the bonds of brotherhood and goodwill between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people should continue to be strengthened.
In Rome, the WJC leaders also held meetings with senior Italian officials, including Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. Lauder praised Italy's support of Israel and friendship to the Jewish people. Italy, he said, had "a key role in advancing the peace process in the Middle East." Frattini awarded Lauder the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity.
(By World Jewish Congress, December 13, 2010)
Pray that the Catholic church under the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, as well as all other denominations that fall under the banner of Christianity, will recognize their God-given mandate to support Israel and rally to stand against anti-Semitism in all forms.
"I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses" (Isaiah 63:7).
9. Israel Sends Help to Colombia Flood VictimsIsrael has come to the aid of another nation following a natural disaster, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Ministry of Defense on Sunday [December 12] sending a humanitarian aid delegation to flood victims in Colombia. According to an IDF press release, the delegation plans to provide medical care to victims in the South American country, while also bringing dozens of tons of equipment.
Their cargo includes 20 tons of dry foods and thousands of medical kits, as well as blankets, mattresses, panchos, and 100 tents. Deputy General Manager of the Ministry of Defense, Bezalel Treiber, said in the press release, that over a couple of days there was a "rapid deployment, including approximately 50 tons of equipment."
In the press release, Commander of Home Front Command's National Search and Rescue Unit, Brig. Gen. (Res.) Shalom Ben-Arye, said, "The IDF instructed the Home Front Command to send a humanitarian aid delegation to the Columbian flood victims. We are to land in Colombia, distribute the aid, and return only once our mission is completed."
Israel has come to the aid of nations dealing with disasters in a variety of areas around the world, including their relief efforts in Haiti following the 2009 earthquake.
(By Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, December 14, 2010)
Pray for the victims of this disaster as Israel brings relief and assistance. Thank God for Israel's commitment to the injured and suffering no matter who or where they are.
"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" (Psalm 41:1).
Note: All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
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ANTI-SEMITISM GOES MAINSTREAM - NEWS ALERT: SWC Releases its “TOP 10 ANTI-SEMITIC SLURS OF 2010” List