Thursday, January 31, 2013

Expert: Netanyahu in good strategic position

Expert: Netanyahu in good strategic position

Thursday, January 31, 2013 |  Ryan Jones 
Israel today 
Professor Gideon Rahat
The right-wing powerhouses of the Israeli political scene might not have done as well as many hoped in the recent election, but that doesn't mean Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to achieve his goal by calling an early vote.

Professor Gideon Rahat, an expert on Israeli politics at the Israel Democracy Institute and the Hebrew University, told Israel Today that "Likud lost the election, but Netanyahu won."

Asked why Likud and its partner Israel Beiteinu Party lost so many mandates, Prof. Rahat said Israelis have been searching for a viable centrist option since at least 1977.

That's why Yair Lapid's centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) did so well, at the expense of both the right and left.

When it comes to economics, "most Israelis want socialism over capitalism," said Rahat. But Israelis also realize that unrestrained socialism means most of their taxes go to support sectors of society that largely fail to contribute - namely the ultra-Orthodox Jews and the Arabs.

When it comes to security and the peace process, "most Israelis see that [the Palestinians] don't want real peace, but Israelis also don't want to rule over the Palestinians," Rahat continued.

These two factors drive voters to centrist options like Yesh Atid, which ran on a platform of sensible socialist economic policies and a cautious approach to peace-making with the Palestinians.

All that said, Netanyahu still came out as "the only real option for prime minister," explained the professor.

"Netanyahu is in a very good strategic position," said Rahat. "He can make a coalition with Yesh Atid and the center, but threaten to pull out and form a new coalition with the right if his partners don't go along with him.He has several options."


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Evangelical leader: Israel is safest place on earth

Evangelical leader: Israel is safest place on earth

Jerusalem Post
Apostle Renê Terra Nova
Apostle Renê Terra Nova Photo: Sam Sokol
Apostolate Renê Terra Nova, the head of the International Restoration Ministries in Manaus, Brazil, has brought tens of thousands of Christians to Israel over the past 10 years and says that his followers “leave this country in love and become ambassadors of Israel.”

Terra Nova, who is the leader of one of the largest Evangelical communities in South America, has been coming to Israel since 1991.

Visiting Jerusalem to accept an award for his activism by the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and the World Jewish Congress- Israel, the preacher sat down with The Jerusalem Post on Monday to explain what motivated him to bring so many of his followers to Israel.

After hearing a lecture many years ago on the theological importance of the Jews and the “Holy Land,” he said, he became convinced that the Jewish community has “a fundamental role on this planet.”

After his first visit to Israel, Terra Nova began bringing groups of pilgrims to the country.

“First of all, I became a Joshua, like in the biblical account. I came to know the land and I came through the land and I discovered that the fruits of the land were very good,” he said. “Israel is the safest place on earth.”

By 2008, he said, he was leading as many as 2,500 people on pilgrimages. The other pastors in his extensive network also began leading groups.

“It is difficult to measure how many people I have brought here,” he said. “All of the pastors and apostles under me also bring thousands of people to Israel. My followers talk about Israel with a lot of love and they have a passion for the Holy Land and the Jewish people.”

The Evangelical community, he continued, is “willing to be an army to fight for Israel.”

Like many Christian Zionist leaders around the globe, Terra Nova is hawkish on issues related to the peace process and territorial concessions.

Israel has enemies, he ventured, in order to give the Jewish people an opportunity to control more land.

 “Every war is a seed for a new territory,” he believes.

While there have been anti-Semitic incidents reported in his home country, including the use of stereotypes of Jews as misers on television, Terra Nova said he believes most Brazilians to be supporters of Israel and that “in Brazil you have more friends than enemies.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ariel Sharon shows significant neural activity

Ariel Sharon shows significant neural activity

01/27/2013, Jerusalem Post

Brain of former PM - in coma for 7 years - shows "surprisingly significant activity,"; no indication he'll ever wake up.

Ariel Sharon.
Ariel Sharon. Photo: Marc Israel Sellem

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the activity in the brain of former prime minister Ariel Sharon – who has lain in a deep vegetative state for the last seven years – has been shown to be “surprisingly significant,” according to a team of brain researchers at Beersheba’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center on Sunday.

However, that does not mean that he will ever regain consciousness, or that he feels anything, other fMRI experts said.

The special scanner measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow and is used to map neural activity in the brain and the spinal cord. It does not require people to undergo shots, surgery, ingest substances or be exposed to radiation.

The procedure is similar to MRI, but uses the change in magnetization between oxygen- rich and oxygen-poor blood as its basic measure.

The BGU-Soroka team said the results “show the existence of sensory information processing” in Sharon’s brain, which suffered severe damage as a result of his second stroke at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem when he was prime minister.

The scan was conducted on Thursday by BGU nerve scientist Prof. Alon Friedman and his colleagues. Family friends made comments to Yediot Aharonot on Sunday about the test.

Although the 85-year-old former prime minister has been taken care of at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer – which has its own fMRI scanner – for most of the time since he was felled by two strokes, he was brought by ambulance to Beersheba for the tests.

Soroka said they were conducted there because “advanced new imaging techniques” were recently made available to the Beersheba hospital team by Prof. Martin Monti of the neurosurgery and psychology departments at the University of California at Los Angeles. They wanted to determine the “amount and quality of activity” in Sharon’s brain, Soroka said.

During the two-hour test, researchers “showed” Sharon photos of his family, played his son Gilad’s voice and presented stimulation by touch.

To their surprise, Soroka said, “significant brain activity was found in each test and in suitable brain areas. This demonstrates the existence of sensory data processing” by his brain.

They then conducted some tests aimed at estimating Sharon’s “level of consciousness,” and that despite the existence of “several encouraging” results, “they were still too weak to reach clear conclusions,” the team said.

Monti said that “information from the external environment reaches suitable brain centers in Mr. Sharon’s brain. Nevertheless, the evidence is not clear cut on how much he is aware of his environment.”

Dr. Ilan Shelef, head of Soroka’s imaging center, said that “this kind of research, which is at the forefront of science today, was the main motivation for the purchase of the advanced fMRI by Soroka and BGU.”

Dr. Tzvi Ganel, of BGU’s Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, who initiated the tests, said the Sharon family was pleased that the advanced techniques were used, and they could be useful for other families.

BGU’s Dr. Galia Avidan added: “This is the kind of research that opens a window on the understanding of basic questions connected to deeper understand of the basis of human consciousness.”

Soroka’s fMRI model is Philips’ 3T Ingenia.

“This important test expressed the great effort and cooperation between BGU and Soroka. There is no doubt that we wouldn’t have been able to reach the necessary level of execution without it,” said Soroka imaging center director Dr. Ilan Shelef.

BGU president Prof. Rivka Carmi said the cost of the device was about $3 million, and it is “regarded as the most advanced of its kind in Israel.” The cost was covered not only by Soroka and BGU but by Soroka owner Clalit Health Services and US donors.

“The new system,” said Carmi, “makes possible the immediate conversion of the analog signals that the body releases to digital signals and greatly improves the quality of the picture and the speed of the scanning compared to analog systems.”

Meanwhile, researchers at other fMRI centers, who did not want to be quoted because they have not examined Sharon nor seen his medical file, noted that they too have studied reactions in patients who are in deep comas.

Patients who have been in such a coma for a shorter period may come out of it, they said. Patients without severe brain injuries could react through an fMRI scan, not if asked yes or no questions, but if told to think of a specific object, or if they could answer a particular question. A familiar piece of music or odor could also trigger a reaction.

But reacting to stimuli via fMRI does not mean the patient has awareness, they added, or that the patient really can communicate.

However, brain research on patients in a deep vegetative state could, they agreed, have the potential to help patients in the future, as they could learn how to awaken patients. The actual chances of recovery for a person who has been in a deep vegetative state for seven years is virtually nil, they concluded.

Israeli Source Confirms Iran’s Fordow Nuclear Plant Exploded

Israeli Source Confirms Iran’s Fordow Nuclear Plant Exploded

Israeli intelligence source confirms underground nuclear facility sustained major damage in a “mega explosion” last week.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 1/28/2013
Israel National News

Qoms Nuclear Site
Qoms Nuclear Site
An Israeli intelligence source has confirmed Iran’s Fordow underground nuclear uranium enrichment facility sustained major damage in a “mega explosion” that occurred last week.

Fordow, which contains at least 2,700 centrifuges for uranium enrichment, is located deep beneath a mountain near the Iranian city of Qom.

Some 200 workers were trapped inside the facility at the time, according to a report published Monday by The Times, a UK-based newspaper.

The report quoted an Israeli official as saying “We’re still in the early stages of trying to comprehend what happened and the extend of its significance.” The source added that it was not yet known whether the explosion was “an act of sabotage or incidental.”

The official declined to reveal whether Israeli aircraft had been in the vicinity at the time of the explosion.
Iran has denied that any explosion occurred at the facility, claiming in a statement to the official IRNA news agency that reports of the blast were nothing more than “Western propaganda.”

News of the explosion was reported Friday by the U.S.-based WND website.

Reports: Iran nuclear facility destroyed

Reports: Iran nuclear facility destroyed

Sunday, January 27, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff  

Reports are circulating that an important nuclear facility in Iran has been at least partially destroyed in a massive explosion.

The news comes just days after an ex-Iranian diplomat who defected to the West warned that if Iran obtained a nuclear weapon, it would use that weapon against Israel.

The explosion reportedly took place at the Fordo nuclear facility near the city of Qom. Fordo is buried deep under a mountain, making it nearly immune to aerial assault, and therefore a perfect location for a significant portion of Iran's uranium enrichment activities.

According to reports in the American news website WorldNetDaily, which cited a former Iranian defense official who fled to the West, the explosion caused a collapse of the elevators that descend nearly 300 feet into the mountain facility, trapping some 240 personnel inside.

Tehran is said to be blaming the explosion on sabotage. Both Israel and the US are known to have taken various measures against Iran's defiant nuclear program over the past several years.

Though Israel did not officially respond to speculation that it was behind the blast, Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter told Yediot Ahronot that "any explosion in Iran that doesn't hurt people but hurts its assets is welcome."

The debate over whether or not to take decisive action against Iran's nuclear program has been intensifying, especially after Iran's former consul in Oslo, Mohammed Reza Hedyari, told Israel's Channel 2 News that Iran is only one year away from fielding a nuclear weapon, which it will turn on Israel.

"If Iran is given more time, it will acquire the knowledge necessary to build a nuclear bomb within a year," Heydari told Israeli television viewers last Friday. "If Iran gets to the point where it has an atomic bomb, it will certainly use it, against Israel or any other enemy state."

The former diplomat suggested that it was a grave mistake for Western leaders to think that the Iranian leadership will be pragmatic with its nuclear weapons, in the way former Soviet leaders were.

Iran's leaders "are busying themselves with ideological preparations for the arrival of the 'hidden Imam' (a kind of Muslim messiah)," he said. "For this purpose, they are willing to spill much blood and destroy many countries."

Heydari defected to Norway in 2010.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tu B'Shvat, the Jewish New Year for Trees

Tu B'Shvat
, the Jewish New Year for Trees, Is Celebrated on Saturday
Reforested hills along the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, near Bab
el-Wad, or Sha'ar HaGuy (circa 1930)
The Jewish National Fund was established in 1901 to purchase and develop land in the Holy Land.

Planting trees on the barren hills on the
way to Jerusalem (circa 1930)

A government tree nursery on Mt.
Scopus, Jerusalem (circa 1930)
One major activity of the JNF, or in Hebrew the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael, was the planting of trees on Jewish-owned land in Palestine. Many a Jewish home had the iconic JNF blue charity box, or pushke, in order to buy trees.  In its history, the JNF is responsible for planting almost a quarter of a billion trees.

The photographers of the American Colony recorded the JNF's efforts.
"Afforestation sponsored by Keren
Kayemeth" (circa 1935)

Reforested hillside along the road to
Jerusalem. "Demonstrating reforestation
possibilities" (circa 1930)
The day chosen for school children and volunteers to go out to the fields and barren hilltops to plant trees was Tu B'Shvat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat, a date assigned thousands of years ago in the Mishna for the purposes of determining the age of a tree and its tithing requirements. 

Indeed, the date usually coincides with the first blossoms on the almond trees in Israel. 

Today, Tu B'Shvat is commemorated as a combination of Arbor Day, environment-protection day, a kibbutz agricultural holiday, and, of course, a day for school outings and plantings.


Ceremony of planting the King's tree (1935) at Nahalal
In 1935, the Jews of Britain and the JNF established a "Jubilee Forest" near Nazareth.  According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency'saccount at the time, an "oriental cypress tree presented by King George V of England to the Jubilee Forest in the hills of Nazareth will be formally planted by High Commissioner Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope on December 19."

"The Jubilee Forest is British Jewry's mark of loyalty and devotion to the throne, expressed on the occasion of the royal couple's twenty-fifth jubilee. It will cover a large area of desolate and barren land on the hills of Nazareth which in ancient times were famed for their forest beauty. The forest constitutes the most important effort in reforestation of the Holy Land."

Tomorrow, the trees of Eretz Yisrael
"The tree shipped by King George was removed from Windsor Great Park in London, where it was the only one of its kind. It is the first ever to have been shipped from England to Palestine."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

'Disgusting Defacement' by Arabs of Tomb of Yosef

'Disgusting Defacement' by Arabs of Tomb of Yosef

Visitors to the Tomb of Yosef in Shechem were shocked to discover yet another instance of major Arab vandalism to the holy site
 By David Lev
First Publish: 1/24/2013
Israel National News
Prayers at Joseph's Tomb (archive)
Prayers at Joseph's Tomb (archive)
Flash 90
Visitors to the Tomb of Yosef in Shechem were shocked to discover Wednesday night yet another instance of major Arab vandalism to the holy site. Arabs trashed furniture, destroyed books, and defaced the site with anti-Semitic graffiti, and there was evidence that they had tried to burn the structure down.

In addition, human and animal waste was found all over the floor of the site.

Mesika joined with more than 2,500 other people Wednesday night who visited the site.

The visit was organized by the Samaria Regional Council and the Shechem Echad organization, and the visitors were accompanied by IDF soldiers and police. Accompanying Mesika to the site was the Admor m'Rachlov.

Samaria Council Chairman Gershon Mesika called IDF officials to express his shock at the damage. “Only barbarians are capable of doing terrible things like this, destroying a holy place,” said Mesika.

The State of Israel must reclaim the Tomb of Yosef, as described in the Oslo Accords. We must return with strength and faith and reestablish our presence, and that yeshiva, at the Tomb,” he said.

Deputy Council Director Yossi Dagan pointed a finger of blame at the PA police who are supposed to be guarding the site. “The Palestinian terrorist police are responsible for the site when IDF soldiers are not present. They have proven a long time ago that they have lost all semblance of humanity. These are the terrorists in uniforms who murdered Yosef Ben Livnat h”yd, and now they dump their waste and try to burn down the Tomb.”

The large crowd of Jews that had arrived to worship were forced to wait outside for long minutes as soldiers and police cleaned up the site.

Speaking at the event, the Admor m'Rachlov spoke to the crowd, saying that those who merited praying at the site should merit “to serve G-d fully, with all our beings, and to be a merit for the success of those who are ensuring the safety of this site.”

What are Netanyahu's options after poor election showing?

What are Netanyahu's options after poor election showing?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff  

Israel's election is over, and the final tally is more or less known. Now starts the real struggle over forging a stable governing coalition, and with the relatively poor showing by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu's Likud Party, that's going to be no easy task.

In the previous Knesset, Likud had 27 seats and allied right-wing party Israel Beiteinu had another 15. The two parties decided to merge for the current election, but the scheme didn't pay off. Early polls predicted the combined Likud-Beiteinu would take 45 seats, but exit polls on Wednesday showed it had won just 31 mandates.

On top of that, the right-wing Jewish Home and the Orthodox Shas parties were less successful than predicted, winning just 11 seats apiece. That means the religious-right of the Israeli political spectrum will control just 60 out of 120 seats in the 19th Knesset, and Netanyahu will be unable to form a stable right-wing coalition.

The easiest option for Netanyahu will be to form a coalition with Jewish Home, a natural partner, and the surprise winner in this election, the centrist Yesh Atid party of former news anchor Yair Lapid, which became the second largest Knesset faction with 19 seats.

A Likud-Jewish Home-Yesh Atid coalition would have at least 61 seats when the final results are in, and any smaller parties added to the list would only bolster the government's stability.

Lapid has signaled his readiness to join a Netanyahu government. But, Yesh Atid is against continued government payouts to the Orthodox sector, which doesn't pay taxes or serve in the army, and therefore would be unlikely to sit in a coalition with Shas.

Netanyahu can form a stable government without Shas, but doing so would likely result in the Orthodox party doing all it could to help the left-wing factions stymie and ultimately bring down the new government.
Netanyahu would prefer to form as broad a coalition as possible, but Labor Party leader Shelley Yechimovich previously insisted that she would not sit in a unity government.

Hours after the polls closed on Tuesday, Yechimovich stated that there was still a very good chance of preventing Netanyahu from becoming the next prime minister, and she may be right.

If Lapid can be convinced to not join Netanyahu, that would leave the prime minister nearly unable to form a solid, stable coalition, and President Shimon Peres could opt to give Lapid a shot at the task.

With the backing of all the center and left-wing parties, excluding the three Arab factions and perhaps the extremist Meretz party, and with the support of Jewish Home (which despite being right-wing is capable of working with Yesh Atid), Lapid could potentially form a broader coalition than Netanyahu.

On the other hand, if Netanyahu, who has proved himself to be a skillful political negotiator, can convince Shas and Lapid to sit together, he could potentially form a very stable coalition with as many as 85 seats.
The days to come are certain to be intense, and the final outcome of this election is far from settled at this point.

Messianic schoolkids mark Tu Bishvat with tree planting

Messianic schoolkids mark Tu Bishvat with tree planting

Thursday, January 24, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff  

On Friday Israelis will celebrate Tu Bishvat, the "new year of the trees," and local Messianic schoolkids in Jerusalem got an early start on the tree planting that typically accompanies the holiday.

Dozens of elementary-age kids from Israel's only Messianic day school, Makor Hatikvah, gathered for a time of worship and tree planting in the Messianic village of Yad Hashmonah on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

The event was organized by the Revive Israel ministry.

One of the ministry's leader told the kids that while they get visitors from all over the world, "it is our greatest honor to receive and celebrate with you (the Messianic children of Jerualem)."

Photos of the Makor Hatikvah children planting trees are below.

Would you like to take part in the holy work of planting the Land of Israel?
Click Here to plant a tree in Israel now!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Intercessors Gather in Jerusalem to Pray for Israel

Intercessors Gather in Jerusalem to Pray for Israel

    Chuck Cohen
JERUSALEM, Israel -- Prayer warriors from around the world gathered in Jerusalem to intercede for Israeli elections this week. Their efforts were part of the 29th annual Intercessors for Israel prayer conference.
Ironically, when IFI Chairman Eliyahu Ben Haim scheduled this year's conference a week earlier than usual, he had no idea it would be the week of national elections, Chuck Cohen, director of Intercessors for Israel, told CBN News.

Cohen explained the theme of this year's conference, "A World Turned Upside Down."

"God says the time to favor Zion has come," he said. "In Psalm 102, that comes right after scriptures that relate to the Holocaust and therefore we know that was in 1948 extending on to now."

"But in Isaiah 60, God says to Israel, 'Arise, shine for your light has come, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold the darkness shall cover the earth, gross darkness the peoples.'"

"That's what we see," he said. "We see people calling evil good and good evil. We see people voting for people in Western governments in particular who are absolutely anti-God. And it's a world turned upside down," Cohen said.

On Monday evening, opening night began with an overview of the 30-some political parties vying for seats in the Knesset, followed by a short welcome from IFI board member Lance Lambert. Cohen provided some prayer guidelines, especially for the 50 newcomers.

Nearly 180 intercessors are here from abroad this year to pray with local attendees. Most come from the U.S. and Europe and some from as far away as Hong Kong and South Korea.

It's the seventh prayer conference for Tong Sook Seo from Seoul. She came for the first time in 1990.
"Israel was in my heart a long time ago," Seo told CBN News.

It's the first prayer conference for U.S.-born Pastor Greg Husband, who has called England his home for the past 31 years.

"People from all over the world are coming together for one purpose: to pray for Israel," said Husband, who says his church prays for Israel every Friday.

"We see Israel backed into a corner and we want to see this nation survive in God."

While tiny Israel is faring better economically than many nations during the global financial crisis the last few years, it's still surrounded by a sea of hostile neighbors, making state-of-the-art defenses crucial.

Asked if this year is more critical than past years, Cohen said "We always tend to say that this year's more critical than last year."

"Two years ago [when] we started the prayer conference, the 'Arab spring' broke out. You know that was pretty critical. Everybody in the world was saying 'this is fantastic.' The leadership of the prayer conference very clearly told our people when it started, 'this is going to lead to an Islamic winter.'" And so it seems.

Justin Warren from San Diego said God has given him "an inexpressible desire for the Holy Land."

"The Lord brought me to this prayer conference because through His Word and the heart of His Spirit, and the Jewish blood that was shed for my soul and applied to my life, God has given me a special heart for His chosen people and given me an inexpressible desire for the Holy Land," Warren said, before quoting Psalm 122.

"Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within your walls, and prosperity in your palaces.  For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within you. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good." 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

Qatar Quietly Helping Yemenite Jews Reach Israel?

Qatar Quietly Helping Yemenite Jews Reach Israel?

A Lebanese source says that a group of Jews from Yemen are on their way to Israel – via Qatar.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 1/21/2013
Israel National News

New arrivals from Yemen (file)
New arrivals from Yemen (file)
Flash 90
A Jerusalem source says that a group of of about 60 Jews from Yemen have arrived in Israel from Doha on a Qatari airline.

The operation was carried out under the auspices of the State of Israel and is intended to extract the remaining 400 Jews from Yemen.

The group arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport, according to “informed Israeli sources” quoted by, the website of an Arabic-language newspaper produced in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah (Shimon HaTzaddik) neighborhood and headed by managing editor Ismail Ajwa.

Very little information has been available about the fate of Yemenite Jews over the past year as the country is torn apart in the battle between government troops, tribal factions and terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda.

The Israeli source quoted by the newspaper added that preparations are being made to continue transporting the few remaining Jews from Yemen to Israel in within the coming months.

According to a report published earlier this month in The Yemen Post, just 60 Jews have left Yemen since 2010, complaining of harassment and discrimination.

The non-governmental Yemeni Sawa'a Organization for Anti-Discrimination estimated this week that about 300 Jews are still living in the Riyada area, and 100 in the capital of Sanaa.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the group called a recent decision by the Yemeni government to cut financial aid and other services for Jews in Sana'a "unfortunate and unacceptable."

The Jews have been forced to live in a guarded compound in the capital since they were driven from their homes by the Islamist Al Qaeda terrorists in 2007.

Israeli Cabinet ministers and Knesset members, including a number from the Sephardic hareidi-religious Shas party, have been heavily involved in supervising the project to rescue the Yemenite Jews, along with other institutions.

The widow of Moshe Nahari, who was murdered in Yemen four years ago, has already made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel along with four of her children, having arrived in Tel Aviv late last summer. The family was assisted by the Jewish Agency.

Jerusalem Temple makes appearance as election topic

Jerusalem Temple makes appearance as election topic
Monday, January 21, 2013 | Israel Today Staff

  Amid all the pre-election arguing over diplomatic, security and economic issues, the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem made a brief appearance as a topic of fiery debate between two Israeli candidates.

The episode began when Israel's Channel 2 News in its Friday evening coverage of the election aired a video showing a member of the right-wing Jewish Home party purportedly stating that it "would be incredible" if the Dome of the Rock were to be blown up and a Jewish Temple rebuilt in its place.

The remark was made by American-born Jeremy Gimpel, who places number 14 on Jewish Home's party list, and therefore has a very real shot at becoming a Knesset member.

The way Channel 2 edited the clip made it sound as though Gimpel was calling for someone to blow up the Muslim structure.

But the full statement, which Gimpel delivered to a group of Christian Zionists in 2011, was as follows: "Imagine today if the golden dome, I'm being recorded so I can't say blown up, but let's say it was blown up, right, and we laid the cornerstone of the temple in Jerusalem. Can you imagine what would be. None of you would be here. You would be going to Israel. It would be incredible."

To further put Gimpel's words in context, he had just finished quoting from a passage in the Book of Ezra that deals with Israel's rebuilding of the Temple following the nation's exile in Babylon and Persia.

None of that mattered to Tzipi Livni, head of the new left-wing party The Movement, who immediately demanded Gimpel be disqualified from the election. Livni also used Gimpel's remarks to attack Jewish Home as a party of fanatics.

"The strange list that [Jewish Home] is taking to the Knesset seeks to inflame the Middle East and to bring on a third World War with its crazy visions of building a temple," Livni said.

Livni later displayed overt hostility in a media appearance with Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett.

Gimpel later defended himself by calling his earlier remarks a "parody of the fanatics that want to blow up the Temple Mount. Of course I am against this."

But Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute wrote in an op-ed for the Times of Israel that Gimpel and other Jews longing for the day the Temple will be rebuilt shouldn't have to apologize.

"Isn’t it a shame that an observant, land-of-Israel-loving, enthusiastic candidate for Israel’s Knesset has to quickly explain that whatever reference he made to rebuilding the Holy Temple, was only a joke?" asked Rabbi Richman.

The rabbi went on to note the hypocrisy of Gimpel being harassed by the same leftist leaders who opposed the disqualification of Arab candidates Haneen Zoabi and Ahmed Tibi for their repeated and quite serious efforts to demonize the Jewish state and provide succor to its violent enemies.

Tibi in particular has spent years publicly praising Palestinian terrorists who mercilessly slaughter Jewish men, women and children.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Son of Hamas Leader: Time to Take Down Hamas

Son of Hamas Leader: Time to Take Down Hamas

Mosab Yousef is the son of Hamas leader Sheik Hassan Yousef who did not follow in his father’s footsteps, but rather, condemned Hamas’ terrorist ways and provided Israel with intelligence on the organization. He had to flee to the United States. Who won the latest round of fighting?

Video interview from Channel 2 in Israel:

Israel welcomes 2,000th India Bnei Menashe oleh

Israel welcomes 2,000th India Bnei Menashe oleh

Jerusalem Post
Mirna Singsit
Mirna Singsit Photo: courtesy Shavei Israel
Israel welcomed its 2,000th member of the Bnei Menashe community on Thursday, when a flight carrying 53 of the tribe’s members from Manipur, India, touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport.

The Bnei Menashe claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, sent into exile for more than 27 centuries.

The community has always observed Shabbat and kept kosher.

Today the Bnei Menashe numbers around 7,000 and resides in India’s northeastern border states of Manipur and Mizoram.

Prior to the current aliya, there were 1,725 Bnei Menashe in Israel. Most of the community resides in Acre and Migdal Ha’emek.

“I’m so very happy right now,” said 18-year-old Mirna Singsit, who was presented with a certificate acknowledging her as the 2,000th Bnei Menashe oleh.

“Not only has this been my dream since I was born, but it has been my peoples’ dream for thousands of years.”

Singsit came to Israel with her parents and three brothers, but left behind a grandparent, four uncles and two aunts. She hopes to continue her education in Israel, studying for her bachelors degree in political science.
Singsit wants to live in Jerusalem, “the Holiest place on earth,” she said.

After a five year hiatus, the Bnei Menashe aliya program was restarted following a unanimous decision by the Israeli cabinet last October, a move which was championed by Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, who pushed for its approval.

The aliya program was frozen in 2007 by the Olmert government after members of the cabinet, in particular interior minister Meir Sheetrit, opposed it.

Over the past month, immigrants arrived on five flights facilitated by Shavei Israel, a nonprofit organization aimed at strengthening ties with Jewish descendants around the world.

“This is an emotional day for all of us,” said Shavei Israel chairman Michael Freund.

“But we will not rest until all the remaining Bnei Menashe still in India are able to make aliya as well.”

Danielle Ziri contributed to this report.

Israeli Messianic congregation building burned down

Israeli Messianic congregation building burned down

Friday, January 18, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff  

Earlier this month, the only Messianic congregation in the southern town of Kiryat Gat was burned down by unidentified assailants.

The Kiryat Gat congregation is under the auspices of Beit Hallel Messianic Congregation in the nearby coastal city of Ashdod. Pastor Israel Pochtar of Beit Hallel posted the following message regarding the apparent arson attack:

"A few weeks ago our congregation in Kiryat Gat was burned down. It is the only congregation in the city, has a big vision for the future, involved in helping many people. Evidently, our influence in the city has been a cause of 'concern' to some and they decided to stop our work by setting the building on fire.

"It happened one night after a service; someone threw a gasoline bomb ("Molotov cocktail") through a window and everything caught fire. Arson is a criminal act, so obviously no one owned up or taken responsibility.

"However, the landlord of the building is very connected in Kiryat Gat and has managed to check and see who could be responsible.

It was obvious that it was an attack of a religious nature against us. This was the only gathering place for our Kiryat Gat congregation that now is left without a place to meet and worship.

The damage is not only to the building itself, all the music equipment inside was also destroyed. The landlord is a good friend, so he is willing to cover the costs of repairs, and we would have to come up with our deductible."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pictures Beneath the Temple Mount Now Online

Pictures Beneath the Temple Mount Now Online
The Israel Antiquities Authority Pictures Taken after the 1927 Earthquake
Israel's History - A Picture A Day
Library of Congress caption from the American Colony
Collection: "The Temple area. The Double Gate.
Ancient entrance to Temple beneath al Aqsa." Note the
staircase that apparently led to the surface and the
Temple plaza
In October 2012, we published here "What Is behind the Mysterious Sealed Gates of Jerusalem's Old City?" 

The essay showed two incredible 85-year old photographs of columns and chambers under the Temple Mount from the archives of the Library of Congress/American Colony collection of photographs. The captions under the pictures read "The Temple area, the Double Gate. Ancient entrance to Temple beneath al Aqsa." The pictures were taken between 1920 and 1933, according to the caption.

We theorized in October that the American Colony photographer gained access to the area under the al Aqsa Mosque, partially destroyed in the 1927 earthquake. 

Nadav Shragai, a scholar on Jerusalem sites, reported in a Yisrael HaYom article last year, that Robert Hamilton, director of the British Mandate Antiquities Authority, had explored under the mosque at the time. He "photographed, sketched, excavated and analyzed" what he saw. But he promised the Islamic Authorities, the Waqf, that he would make "no mention of any findings that the Muslims would have found inconvenient" such as findings from the time of the Jewish Temples. 
IAA Hamilton collection. Inside the
"Double Gate Pendenture"

From the IAA Hamilton collection. Inside the "Double Gate" of
the southern wall of the Temple Mount. It is clearly the same arch
in the picture taken by the American Colony photographer.

After 1948 the British Mandate Antiquities Authority became the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and after the 1967 war the old archives in the Rockefeller Museum also came under Israeli control.
Flight of stairs (on the right side) leading into a rock-cut passage
This week, the IAA posted hundreds of photographs online, apparently from Hamilton's collection.  The pictures lack the notations and captions available on the Library of Congress photos, but it is clear that some of the pictures were taken at the same time.  The IAA undertook a painstaking task of digitalizing tens of thousands of documents, maps and photographs from the 1919-1948 period.

More study of the IAA photographs is required, especially to identify some of Hamilton's reported finds, including a Jewish mikve, a ritual bath, under al Aqsa.  The photos show columns, cisterns, passageways, mosaics, arches, timbers, and layers of ruins beneath the al Aqsa flooring.

We anxiously await the commentary of Israeli archaeologists, but we share with readers now some of the amazing pictures.

Click on pictures to enlarge.  Click on caption to see the original.

Vault found. Note pier on left


Trench dug in the flooring. Note levels beneath it

Note the levels
Remains of a mosaic found