Thursday, February 28, 2013

'The Bible' TV show headed to History Channel

'The Bible' TV show headed to History Channel

It’s a story that’s been told many times before. But Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey hope special effects and epic story lines will bring their series “The Bible” to life.

In a 10-part miniseries, airing on The History Channel beginning March 3, the couple told Fox they aimed to retell the stories of the Bible in a way that appeals to a young audience.

“It really is family programming,” Burnett said. “It’s for young. It’s for old. And equally importantly it’s for teenagers.”

He said their three teenage children advised them not to “make the special effects lame.” The “Survivor” producer added he hopes the effects for the series will be comparable to those seen in films like “The Hobbit,” and “Lord of the Rings.”

Downey explained that the series would contain five episodes that focus on the Old Testament and five episodes about the New Testament.

Burnett said he expects the series will be the first of many upcoming biblical-themed projects to hit Hollywood.

“I think we’re ahead of the game,” he said. “Next year, the Bible will be really popular in Hollywood. I mean, the first one that’s coming out is ‘Noah,’ with Russell Crowe, [and] Spielberg is working on ‘Moses.’”

But the power couple said regardless, they felt it was important to do the series to combat the “biblical illiteracy” they feel plagues the U.S.

“I think people are hungry for hope,” Downey said. “People are hungry for God, and this series presents the Bible in fresh, visual ways, but I think ultimately it will really connect in their hearts.”

“The Bible” premieres Sunday, March 3, at 8 p.m. ET on The History Channel.

Read more:

Randy Spencer playing the Shofar - Song 2 - Savannah, Georgia

Pat Boone Gives 'Exodus' Song to Holocaust Memorial

Pat Boone Gives 'Exodus' Song to Holocaust Memorial

JERUSALEM, Israel -- In 1960, the movie "Exodus" told millions around the world about the birth of the modern Jewish state.

The film's Academy Award-winning score had no words because no one's lyrics could satisfy the composer, director and producer -- that is until Christmas 1961.

"I put the needle on the record and I hear buum, buum and the words 'this land is mine' came into my mind, and I said that's the story, the whole story of Exodus!" Pat Boone told CBN News during a recent trip to Israel.

Boone said he picked up the nearest thing he could find, a Christmas card, and began to write.

"The first words were, 'This land is mine' and by the time I got those words written, the next words came, 'God gave this land to me,'" he explained.

The words of "Exodus" spread throughout Israel and gave hope to young boys like Shaya Ben-Yehuda, the son of Holocaust survivors.

"We grew up very much in the feeling that during the Holocaust our people were abandoned," Ben-Yehuda told CBN News. "But listening to this song and understanding we were not alone any more, that was something that was very special for me.  And since I first heard it I kept listening to it all the years."

Years later, he became international director of Yad Vashem, Israel's renowned Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Ben-Yehuda asked Boone for a copy of the words to "Exodus." Boone went a step further, giving Yad Vashem the original.

"Connecting those words with the story of the survivors who came and built this country despite what happened to them and [to] have these words in Yad Vashem, I think it's something that will give a message to future generations," he said.

For Boone, the moment was profound.

"To me, this is one of those moments, one of those two or three moments in my life I consider the reason that I'm alive, and I think God's purpose for me to be here on the earth," Boone said.

The Christmas card will become part of Yad Vashem's permanent collection.

During the ceremony, organizers played a version of "Exodus," sung by Boone years ago at Masada, the ancient desert fortress that overlooks the Dead Sea.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oxford students overwhelmingly vote down Israel boycott

Oxford students overwhelmingly vote down Israel boycott

Jewish groups hail 69-10 tally, but motion will still likely appear on agenda at national student union confab next month

February 27, 2013
The Times of Israel
Oxford students voting Wednesday evening.
(photo credit: courtesy Eylan Aslan-Levy)
LONDON – The Oxford University Student Union voted decisively Wednesday night to reject a motion backing a boycott of Israel, by a margin of 7:1. The final vote showed 69 against, 10 in favor and 15 abstentions.
Had it passed, the motion would have committed the student union to advocate for a Boycott Divestment Sanctions campaign at the annual conference of the National Union of Students, the umbrella body for student unions at UK universities, which takes place in March.
It would not have committed the university itself, or its students, to implementing a boycott.
Despite the success at Oxford, it seems likely that a BDS motion will still be on the agenda of the NUS conference next month. Oxford students told The Times of Israel that an identical motion was distributed by the BDS movement to other universities, although it is unclear how many are going to debate it.
The Oxford result, meanwhile, was welcomed by Israel supporters. A spokesman at the Israeli Embassy said that “there is no doubt that it was a crushing answer to a delusional suggestion that deserved to be binned. At the same time, it is still amazing that there were found even 10 strange people in Oxford who think there is a place for boycotts and 15 confused people who are still hesitant on the subject.”
The Union of Jewish Students said that it was “delighted to see that students took the decision to constructively engage with Israel, its ideas and people, rather than choosing to boycott.”
According to UJS Campaigns Director Judith Flacks, “It’s encouraging to see that this vote reflects a student body who are willing to discuss the complexities that exist within Israel and do not see boycotting it as a viable option or avenue to discuss the conflict.”
One Oxford student who had campaigned against the motion described the atmosphere on campus as “tense” in the run-up to the vote, which individual college student unions (known as “common rooms”) had two weeks to consider.
Henry Watson, a third-year Philosophy, Politics and Economics student at Magdalen College, said that the motion’s sponsors had initially presented their agenda as “pro-peace, while Israel was against peace, and that this would try and get peace through placing economic pressure on Israel.”
As the motion was discussed by the common rooms, he said, students found out that the motion would also have promoted an academic boycott, that the BDS movement “was against the two-state solution” and that the movement’s founder, Omar Barghouti, had made “racist remarks.”
As a result, opposition grew, particularly after Member of Parliament George Galloway walked out of a student debate on Israel last week after discovering that his opponent, Eylon Aslan-Levy, was Israeli.
“People were saying that if this was an argument over whether we should affiliate with a movement that was misogynistic or homophobic, we wouldn’t have been discussing it for two weeks,” he said.
On Wednesday night, the motion went straight to a vote without a debate as the delegates were bound by the decision of their common rooms over which way to vote.
The motion declared that the OUSU and the NUS “have a moral responsibility to fight injustice”, demanded that Israel “end its occupation of all Arab lands” and called on the union to “conduct research into higher education institutions’ contacts, relations, investment and commercial relationships that may be implicated in violating Palestinian human rights as stated by the BDS movement.”
Aslan-Levy, who was also present at the vote Wednesday night, said he hoped that other British universities would follow Oxford in voting down BDS measures.
“Tonight Oxford students showed that their commitment to intellectual freedom is unshakeable. In rejecting calls for a boycott against Israel by a seven-to-one margin, we demonstrated resoundingly that we want Oxford to continue to cooperate with Israeli academics, trade with Israeli businesses and — yes — debate with Israeli debating societies,” he said.
He told The Times of Israel that students had been puzzled about why they were being asked to support a motion promoting an academic boycott.
“Students don’t think the role of a student union is to be making foreign policy,” he said. “They were confused why they were asked to embrace a boycott of Israeli universities – they were confused about the point. There was a strong belief that such motions are divisive.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oxford University Students to Vote on Israel Boycott

Oxford University Students to Vote on Israel Boycott

By Arutz Sheva staff
First Publish: 2/25/2013, 2:38 PM

posters calling to boycott Israel
Posters calling to boycott Israel

Students at Britain’s prestigious Oxford University will vote this week on a highly controversial motion to boycott Israel.

The Oxford University Student’s Union (OUSU) is set to meet Wednesday to decide on a motion to join the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement “in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and its hindrance of attempts to create a Palestinian state,” The Guardian reported. 

The vote comes following increased tensions on campus last week as British lawmaker George Galloway walked out of a lecture hall during a debate with an Israeli student, saying “I don’t recognize Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis,” after becoming aware of his opponent’s nationality.

“I refused this evening at Oxford University to debate with an Israeli, a supporter of the apartheid state of Israel,” Galloway posted on his Facebook page following the incident.

One of the constitute colleges of Oxford University, Magdalen College, voted 39-3 against the motion.

“The boycott goes against everything the university stands for. The idea that we are not going to read your books or articles or hear your arguments on the basis of your nationality is ridiculous,” Henry Watson, a student at Magdalen College, told The Guardian.

Israel successfully tests shield against Iran missiles

Israel successfully tests shield against Iran missiles
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 | Israel Today Staff
Israel on Monday celebrated the successful test of its new Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system.

The Arrow 3 is being jointly developed with the American Defense Department, and US officials were said to be shocked that the Israeli-built system lodged a perfect score on its very first test.

The Arrow 3 is capable of reaching the upper atmosphere and intercepting long-range ballistic missiles long before they have a chance to strike Israel. It is primarily seen as a shield against an Iranian missile threat.

While the existing Arrow anti-missile system is a highly praised and effective defense, the Arrow 3 will enable Israel to destroy non-conventional enemy warhead at such an altitude that any biological, chemical or nuclear material would disintegrate safely before reaching earth.

The Arrow 3 "demonstrates the State of Israel's high technological capability, the State of Israel's high defense capability … and our cooperation with the US," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stressed that "Israel's hand is always extended in peace, but we are also always prepared for other possibilities."

Israeli media noted that the Arrow 3 will not be fully operations for another three years.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Sen. Marco Rubio: Jerusalem is Israel's Capital

Sen. Marco Rubio: Jerusalem is Israel's Capital

     Senator Marco Rubio & Benjamin Netanyahu

JERUSALEM, Israel -- Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is taking a stand to support Israel's right to Jerusalem.
The fate of Jerusalem is one of the most divisive issues in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Obama administration has refused to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

But in his first official visit to Israel, Sen. Rubio affirmed his belief that Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish state.

"It's wonderful to be here in such a city (Jerusalem) which is of course the capital of your country but the spiritual capital of millions of people around the world," Rubio told Israeli President Shimon Peres.

When he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Rubio reiterated America's bipartisan support for Israel.

"Well, you live in a challenging neighborhood, but the Israeli-American relationship is one of the most important ones we have," Rubio said.

"And certainly our commitment to that partnership is bipartisan and it should remain that way, and that's why I'm pleased the president is coming here in March," he continued.

After four years in office, President Obama will make his first visit to Israel in March.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Purim, Obama and the Jews

Purim, Obama and the Jews

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 |  David Lazarus 
Israel Today 

Once again, another inexplicable, perhaps even divine spin of events, will bring President Obama to Israel around Purim. Some see this is an opportunity for Obama to press for a renewed peace initiative on the newly elected Knesset. Others, a politicized Obama trying to get himself into the spotlight for some lame foreign policy legacy.

Whatever the reason, the timing of this sudden and rushed decision of the American leadership to visit Israel cannot be ignored. Who can forget their meeting on Purim one year ago when Prime Minister Netanyahu put a magnificent, hand-written manuscript of the Scroll of Esther into the hands of President Obama? With Mordechai-like clarity, Netanyahu declared to Obama, “Mr. President, we must stop Iran, before they destroy us!”

For the Jewish Prime Minister, it is a no-brainer; Israel is facing a modern-day Haman. In his speech to the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobbying group, Netanyahu described Haman as "a Persian anti-Semite who tried to annihilate the Jewish people."

Netanyahu explained that “In every generation, there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people. In this generation, we are blessed to live in an age when there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people.”

This time, even more than ever, Netanyahu’s message must remain clear, and not only to Obama. Purim must be a reminder to all of us, women and men, that we must take action to save ourselves. It is not enough to just allow events to take their course. We must not wait passively for some divine intervention.

That is the message in Esther’s Scroll. Purim is the assurance that the divine hand of intervention will turn the tables on Israel’s enemies, when someone is willing to stand up for what is right.

The hero of Purim is neither fate nor consequence. It is the young girl, who with a good sense of woman’s intuition and gentle feminine persuasion convinces a King listen to her plea. It is about the “coincidences” that happen when a faithful Uncle risks everything to stand up for what he believes and does not hesitate to warn his people of impending danger.

While Purim is a constant reminder that Jews have enemies dedicated to our destruction, we learn from the Scroll of Esther that we also can, and should, do something about it. When the chips are down, and it seems like the cards are stacked against us, it is not time to sit around and brood. It is time to remember Purim, a celebration to shake us out of our apathy. It is a call to do something, something we can do, something we should do. Something that could turn the tables on an enemy, foil a foe by his own foolishness, or hang a Haman on his own hemp.

While Netanyahu is said to be considering military action against Iran, Israeli Author Yossi Klein Halevi believes that Netanyahu’s reading of the Purim story is understandable. “Tradition emphasizes that the Book of Esther is the only sacred text in the Hebrew Bible without God’s name in it, and that’s understood as an indication that this is a story that requires human initiative, that saving oneself requires human initiative, and that God’s help is implicit,” he said. In that sense, Netanyahu is reading the Purim story correctly when he calls for active Israeli self-defense against our existential threats.

This year as we approach Purim with a nuclear Iran ticking, killer chemicals floating over the Syrian border, Hezbollah missiles stockpiled in Lebanon, Al Qaida wannabes tunneling under Gaza’s sand hills and civil wars raging on our doorsteps, the stakes have been raised. Long ago the die was cast in the Middle East and we have long since crossed the Rubicon of diplomatic solutions for Israel’s security. Israel cannot and will not risk her survival to rhetoric and wishful thinking.

The only question remaining is whether or not President Obama and the United States of America will cast their lot in time to make a difference.

Perhaps this Purim Netanyahu should highlight with a yellow marker for President Obama the passage in Esther that reads, “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place… And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jewish owners of Nazi-looted art sought by France

Jewish owners of Nazi-looted art sought by France

02/19/2013, Jerusalem Post

France launches search for Jewish owners of some 2,000 pieces of Nazi-plundered art that hang in museums such as Louvre.

Alexander Archipenko painting stolen by Nazis
Alexander Archipenko painting stolen by Nazis Photo: REUTERS
France launched a search for the Jewish owners of about 2,000 pieces of Nazi-plundered art, from Monets and Rubens to Renoirs, that hang in museums such as the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.
Almost 70 years after World War II, France is making one of its biggest efforts to trace the Jewish owners of artworks stolen by the Nazis, recovered by the Allies and sent to the country after the war. President Francois Hollande’s government is setting up a group of historians, regulators, archivists and curators to actively track down families, instead of waiting for claimants to come forward. The group starts working in March.

“It may be one of our last chances to find the owners,” said Jean-Pierre Bady, a former director at the culture ministry, who’s a member of a 1999-created Commission for the Compensation of Spoliation Victims and who was instrumental in the formation of the group. “Seventy years is a long time, but it’s never too late to make things right.”

The Nazis seized hundreds of thousands of works of art from Jewish private collections between 1933 and 1945 as part of their policy of racial persecution in what has been seen as the biggest such heist in history. Much of the art was returned to national governments, with unclaimed pieces landing in museums.

In France, the Hollande government’s plan would mark the first effort to reach out to victims of the Nazis since 1995 when former President Jacques Chirac for the first time recognized France’s responsibility for collaborating in anti- Semitic persecutions during the country’s occupation by the Germans, acknowledging the deportation of Jewish people.

Latest push follows Senate Report

The new push follows a French Senate report last month that called on the government to be more proactive and transparent.

The report also calls for the government to make the archives on looted art at the foreign ministry and the Louvre museum more accessible, including the scanning of thousands of relevant documents still sitting in cartons.

Corinne Bouchoux, a Green Party senator and the author of the report, said museums should also provide more information on the origin of art they’ve added since the war.

Recent research by an art historian showed three paintings at the modern art museum Centre Pompidou in Paris came from a looted collection and were marked as being “anonymous gifts.” They’ve since been re-classified.

Following the Chirac speech, France set up a group in 1997 called the Matteoli Mission, which created the Commission for the Compensation of Spoliation Victims for all sorts of casualties of Nazi excesses. The mission searched for owners of looted goods for about two years.

Latest return

“It was too short but it was a start, especially after decades of nearly no work,” Muriel de Bastier, the art historian member of the Commission.

Restitutions have not halted in the past decades. Victims or their relatives have contacted the Commission or France’s museums to recover their paintings.

The culture ministry will soon be returning seven paintings looted by the Nazis from two Jewish families.

Bruno Saunier, who heads the art collections at the National Museums’ Agency said on Feb. 14 that it was “the largest number of paintings returned to Jewish families in over a decade.” He said the state returns about one painting on average every year.

The artworks by painters including by Alessandro Longhi, Gaspare Diziani and Pieter Jansz van Asch were to have been displayed in the private museum Adolf Hitler had planned with looted art from great European collections. The two families had been demanding their restitution for several years.

Special list

The paintings are part of the 2,000 artworks that France wants to return to victims. The Pieter van Asch painting once belonged to Josef Wiener, a banker from the former Czechoslovakia.

The six Italian art pieces were from Richard Neumann’s collection in Vienna. With Nazi troops advancing, Neumann moved with his art collection and family to France. He sold much of his art at fire-sale prices to be able to leave France, demanding aid from the French government after the war to get them back. He failed. His octogenarian grandson, Thomas Selldorff, took over the effort in 2001.

The seven paintings were on a special list of 163 pieces considered to be “with certainty or with strong belief” among Nazi-looted art objects. They’re on the ministry’s website.

The list will be the priority of Hollande’s new group searching for descendants of victims.

Most work believed to belong to families in central Europe

“We believe that most of the major works that we will seek to return belong to families from Central and Eastern Europe, like Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, Austria or Hungary,” Saunier said in an interview.
The Nazis looted art across occupied Europe as well as from Germany. The Allies assembled the plundered objects they found at the end of World War II at central collecting points in Germany, and sent artworks whose owners couldn’t immediately be found to the national government of their origin. It was up to governments to trace the owners of the works and return them.

Four years after the end of the war, the French government had returned three-quarters of the 61,233 art pieces that had been sent to the country. Of the remaining 15,792 pieces whose owners hadn’t been tracked down, about 13,500 with little art value were auctioned off while about 2,000 have exhibited in France’s 57 museums since the 1950s.

After 1954, the search for the rightful owners of the art came to a near standstill with only 79 restitutions between then and 1999. The Commission has since 1999 returned nine artworks and handed out 33 million euros ($44 million) in compensation for lost pieces. Its compensation is based on the estimated value of the paintings during the war.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Israeli hospital treats Syrian rebel fighters

Israeli hospital treats Syrian rebel fighters
Sunday, February 17, 2013 | Israel Today Staff
  Israel on Saturday came to the rescue of seven Syrian nationals found wounded along the border fence in the Golan Heights. The men turned out to be Syrian rebel fighters who were injured in clashes with government forces.

One of the men was found in critical condition with shrapnel wounds to his abdomen. He and several of the others underwent surgery at Ziv Hospital in the northern Israel city of Safed overnight. All seven are listed in stable condition, though the most badly wounded is still in the Intensive Care Ward.

An Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman said that despite the official state of war between Israel and Syria, "these men asked for humanitarian aid, and we provided it."

While it is still unclear how long their treatment will last, once the seven Syrians are well, protocol dictates that they be returned to Syria via a UN-staff border crossing.

But, local Druze leaders in the northern Golan are urging Israel not to send the men back to face what they said would be certain death.

Village leaders and local attorneys from the larger Druze towns in the Golan sent a letter on Sunday to Defense Minister Ehud Barak requesting that they be allowed to "adopt" the seven Syrians.

"I hope the Israeli authorities will act according to the values of the Jewish people in this matter," attorney Fuad Safdi told Israel's Ma'ariv daily newspaper.

Another likely outcome of this episode is that the regime of embattled Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will play even harder on the unsubstantiated angle that the rebellion in his country is a "Zionist plot."


Japan: Hitler comics OUT, Bible comics IN

Japan: Hitler comics OUT, Bible comics IN
Sunday, February 17, 2013 | Yossi Aloni
Israel Today magazine            
Israeli Ambassador to Japan Nissim Ben Shetreet was recently shocked to find the shelves of a popular bookstore at a Tokyo subway station stocked with comic books (Manga) providing an illustrated look at the life and actions of Adolf Hitler.

After doing some minor investigating, Ben Shetreet found that the book was actually a version of Hitler's Mein Kampf illustrated for children as a comic book.

Ben Shetreet immediately set a meeting with the book's local publisher and the two illustrators. The Israeli explained why the book was so offensive, and both the publisher and illustrators apologized profusely.

[Ed. Note - We have reported before on how in many Asian nations Hitler is still viewed with great respect for being a strong leader, while most are unaware of the enormous tragedies he visited on the Jews and other minorities.]

The publisher informed Ben Shetreet that the comic version of Mein Kampf had already sold tens of thousands of copies. Given that it was already too late to prevent its distribution, Ben Shetreet asked for an opportunity to "even the odds."

After discussing several options, the Israeli ambassador, the publisher and his two illustrators agreed that the comic version of Mein Kampf would be discontinued and in its place would be distributed illustrated stories from the Bible.

It was agreed that the first trio of Japanese-language Bible comics would be "Genesis", "Kings", and "Prophets (Messengers)". These comics featuring heroes of the Bible recently made their first appearance on Japanese bookshelves.

"When I first saw those illustrations of Hitler and his swastika I was enraged. It is inconceivable that young, impressionable minds be exposed to the story of Hitler," said Ben Shetreet. "Fortunately, the book was discovered and can now no longer be found in bookstores. I hope that now Japanese youth will seek out the heroes of the Bible."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

St. Valentine, The Real Story

St. Valentine, The Real Story
By David Kithcart
The 700 Club

Flowers, candy, red hearts and romance. That's what Valentine's day is all about, right? Well, maybe not.

The origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn't romantic at all -- at least not in the traditional sense. Father Frank O'Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, tells the real story of the man behind the holiday -- St. Valentine.

"He was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an emperor called Claudias who persecuted the church at that particular time," Father O'Gara explains. " He also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people.

This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died."

"I think we must bear in mind that it was a very permissive society in which Valentine lived," says Father O'Gara. "Polygamy would have been much more popular than just one woman and one man living together.

And yet some of them seemed to be attracted to Christian faith. But obviously the church thought that marriage was very sacred between one man and one woman for their life and that it was to be encouraged.

And so it immediately presented the problem to the Christian church of what to do about this."

"The idea of encouraging them to marry within the Christian church was what Valentine was about. And he secretly married them because of the edict."

Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius the second. There are legends surrounding Valentine's actions while in prison.

"One of the men who was to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, who's daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result."

In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius' daughter. He inspired today's romantic missives by signing it, "from your Valentine."

"What Valentine means to me as a priest," explains Father O'Gara, "is that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that -- even to the point of death."

Valentine's martyrdom has not gone unnoticed by the general public. In fact, Whitefriars Street Church is one of three churches that claim to house the remains of Valentine. Today, many people make the pilgrimage to the church to honor the courage and memory of this Christian saint.

"Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers. Before you enter into a Christian marriage you want some sense of God in your life -- some great need of God in your life. And we know, particularly in the modern world, many people are meeting God through his Son, Jesus Christ."

"If Valentine were here today, he would say to married couples that there comes a time where you're going to have to suffer. It's not going to be easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage. Don't be surprised if the 'gushing' love that you have for someone changes to something less "gushing" but maybe much more mature. And the question is, is that young person ready for that?"

"So on the day of the marriage they have to take that into context," Father O'Gara says. "Love -- human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God -- but also the shadow of the cross. That's what Valentine means to me."

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Understanding the Threat to Israel's Biblical Heartland

Understanding the Threat to Israel's Biblical Heartland

According to a recent United Nations report, international law calls for Israel to evacuate all existing settlements and dismantle Jewish communities in the eastern half of Jerusalem.

The U.N. considers all the neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria "illegal" settlements that will one day be included in a Palestinian state.

Global pressure to hand this territory over to the Palestinians is mounting against Israel by the day, including tough words from the Obama administration.

A Thriving Community

Yet on a recent tour of Judea and Samaria, CBN News found a much different picture than what is often portrayed in the media and world forums.

"The Jewish communities here in the Shomron are thriving, are building, are growing," David Ha'ivri, spokesman for the Shomron Regional Council in Samaria, told CBN News.

"The population is growing. We're growing at four times greater, five times greater, than the national average in Israel," he said.

Haivri said a growing number of Israelis are relocating to the area for the same reasons Americans move from the city to the suburbs: family friendly communities, fresh air, and land at affordable prices.

"Young families who wish to establish themselves and raise children look around and say, 'Where are we going to get a good standard of living?'" Ha'ivri said. "It's beautiful scenery. We're out here on the mountains. It's great weather. It's cool in the summer."

"But aside from that, and even more important, there's a godly process of fulfilling prophecy that's beyond explanation," Ha'ivri told CBN News. "The prophets promised that the children of Israel would return to these mountains and rebuild these Jewish cities and Jewish towns. And that's what happening."

While Ha'ivri, like many here, is an observant Jew, 60 percent of those living in Samaria are secular.
Ariel University is the region's educational hub and its 16,000 students come from all backgrounds. Arab students here are free to wear Muslim religious attire and they study alongside Jews.

CBN News found a similar story at the nearby Barkan Industrial Park, home to some 150 businesses where Israelis work side-by-side with their Palestinian neighbors.

An Arab working in these businesses makes double or three times as much, in some cases, as he would make working for the Palestinian Authority in the Palestinian areas.

Palestinian workers at Barkan also receive full benefits, full vacation time and the ability to move up the ladder into a supervisory or management position.

Targets for Terror

Life here is not without its challenges. The Jewish communities of Samaria are frequent targets for Palestinian terror attacks.

The 2011 massacre of Udi and Ruth Fogel and three of their small children in the Samarian town of Itamar was one horrific example. They were murdered in their sleep by two local Palestinians.

Further south, in the Judean city of Hebron, the situation is also difficult.

"There are security threats, security problems we have to deal with here," David Wilder, spokesman for Hebron's small Jewish community, told CBN News.

"During the second intifada [armed Palestinian uprising], we were shot at for two and half years here. There are still terrorist attacks here," he said.

Hebron, which is mostly Palestinian Arab, is home to Judaism's second holiest site: the Cave of the Patriarchs, also known as the Cave of Machpela. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca, Sarah, and Leah -- the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Land of Israel and of the Bible -- are all buried in Hebron.

It was also the city where King David ruled for seven years before moving his kingdom to Jerusalem.

"You cannot let terrorism determine how you live and where you live if you know that this is your home and this is where you are supposed to be. What can be more normal for a Jew than living in the city of Hebron?" Wilder said.

In withdrawing from Judea and Samaria, Israel would not only be giving up a huge part of its past, it could be harming its future.

"God forbid, Palestinian terrorists, Hamas terrorists, would be standing here," Yuli Edelstein, Israel's minister of Public Diplomacy, said. "They would basically be in total control. And they won't need long-range missiles. They could reach basically to every town and city in this area."

Edelstein, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, lives not far from Jerusalem in the Judean town of Gush Etzion, another area the U.N. wants cleared of Jews.

"I know that strategically, many things have changed in modern war," Edelstein told CBN News. "But on the other hand, without our total control here in these areas, I don't think we'd be able even to run a normal country."

A Warning for the US

Edelstein told CBN News some of the same forces that oppose Israel's presence in these areas are also hostile to the United States.

"If the bad guys can do it to Israel as a democracy and turn us into demons and apartheid and fascists, you name it -- basically, they can do it to every democracy, United States included," Edelstein said.

President Obama will make his first presidential visit to Israel in March. Discussions over the future of Judea and Samaria are sure to be on his agenda with Israel's prime minister.

Israeli flag will be planted on moon, company vows

Israeli flag will be planted on moon, company vows

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff  
SpaceIL, an Israeli foundation established in response to a contest Google started two years ago to challenge innovators around the world to advance private space exploration, is coming very close to meeting its goal of landing a craft on the moon.

The founders and directors of SpaceIL told The Times of Israel that they intend to launch a pod and land it on the moon in 2015.

Once there, the Israeli craft will explore the moon's surface and plant an Israeli flag. The means of transmitting its mission in high definition video, as well as the flag, are contributions made toward the project by Bezeq, Israel's national phone company.

SpaceIL hopes the entire exercise will encourage a fresh wave of enthusiasm for science among Israeli children, as well as advance Google's goal of ushering in a new era of space exploration led not by governments, but by private ventures.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Israelis, Palestinians sorry to see Pope Benedict XVI go

Israelis, Palestinians sorry to see Pope Benedict XVI go

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff  
Israelis and Palestinians were united on Monday in lamenting the announced resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

The 85-year-old pontiff stated that after eight years at the helm of the Catholic Church, his deteriorating physical condition simply would not permit him to adequately continue performing his duties.

Born Joseph Ratzinger of Bavaria, Germany, Israelis and Jews worldwide were initially wary of his adolescent Nazi affiliations.

But Israeli political and religious leaders on Monday hailed Benedict XVI for having faithfully continued efforts toward Jewish-Christian reconciliations began in earnest by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

"I greatly appreciate him for his immense activity to interfaith connection that has contributed greatly to the reduction of anti-Semitism in the world," said Israeli Chief Rabbi (Ashkenazi) Yona Metzger.

President Shimon Peres added that under Benedict XVI's leadership, "the Vatican has been a clear voice against racism and anti-Semitism and a clear voice for peace. Relations between Israel and the Vatican are the best they have ever been and the positive dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people is a testament to his belief in dialogue and cooperation."

Palestinians, too, were sorry to see Pope Benedict XVI go, but for different reasons.

"We want the representative of the Holy See to be supportive of the marginalised, of the downtrodden and in this case, the Palestinians who are living under a brutal Israeli occupation [sic]," a Palestinian Christian political activist told The Sydney Morning Herald.

For most Palestinians, Benedict XVI was that pope. Especially after the Vatican openly supported last November's bid by the Palestinian Authority to upgrade its status at the UN to that of a non-member observer state, the same status enjoyed by the Holy See.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict to become first pontiff in 600 years to resign

Pope Benedict to become first pontiff in 600 years to resign

In a sudden announcement that caught Catholics around the world off guard, Pope Benedict XVI said he will resign at the end of February, becoming the first pontiff to step down in nearly 600 years.

The 85-year-old pontiff made the announcement Monday, saying he no longer had the strength to carry out his papal duties.

"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," the pope said according to a statement released by the Vatican.

"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry."
- Pope Benedict XVI

He said he is aware of the "seriousness" of his resignation, but that he did so in "full freedom." He will live out his days on Vatican grounds, according to officials.

The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal claimants. The sudden announcement sets the stage for the Vatican to hold a conclave to elect a new pope by mid-March, since the traditional mourning time that would follow the death of a pope doesn't have to be observed.

There are several papal contenders in the wings, but no obvious front-runner, according to Vatican watchers.

A Vatican spokesperson told "Fox & Friends" that Pope Benedict "will not take part in conclave" to choose his successor. Officials hope to have a new pope in place in time for the start of Holy Week, on March 14. Although there has been much speculation about Pope Benedict's health, a Vatican spokesman said he is not in any immediate danger.

"There's nothing immediately serious or grave," the Vatican spokesman told ABC.

The pope's 89-year-old brother, Georg Ratzinger, told a German news agency that the pope has had difficulty walking recently and has considered stepping down for months.

“His age is weighing on him,” Georg Ratzinger said. “At this age my brother wants more rest.”

Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, Pope Benedict became the 265th pope after being elected by his fellow cardinals on April 19, 2005, at the age of 78 following the death of the popular John Paul II. The ninth German pope and first in nearly 500 years, Benedict was ordained in 1951 and was a major figure at the Vatican stage for decades before his ascension.

Ratzinger chose the name Benedict, which comes from the Latin word meaning "the blessed," in homage to Pope Benedict XV, who was pope during World War I, and Saint Benedict of Nursia, who established the Benedictine monasteries.

During his papacy and in the years prior, Benedict was a key figure in the church's efforts to address widespread instances of sexual abuse of children by priests. In 2001, then-Cardinal Ratzinger convinced John Paul II to put the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which he led, in charge of investigating cases and setting policy regarding what he termed "filth" in the church.

As a cardinal, Ratzinger pushed through important reforms, including making Internet offenses against children a violation covered by canon law, extending child abuse offenses to include the sexual abuse of all under 18, waiving of the statute of limitation and speeding the process of dismissing guilty priests.

Even before becoming pope, Ratzinger had experienced health problems and attempted to resign from his role as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith several times, only to stay on at the behest of Pope John Paul II. In 1991, Ratzinger suffered a stroke, according to reports.

After becoming pope, Benedict, who predicted a short tenure for himself, suffered another stroke in May 2005, according to the Vatican. He is also believed to suffer from a heart condition.

As pope, Benedict embraced technology. In December, he began using Twitter, wher
e he has 1.5 million followers.

"We must trust in the mighty power of God’s mercy," read his most recent tweet, posted yesterday. "We are all sinners, but His grace transforms us and makes us new."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read more:

Get it straight: Hamas does NOT accept Israel!

Get it straight: Hamas does NOT accept Israel!

Friday, February 08, 2013 |  Ryan Jones  
Israel Today
Every once in a while, world leaders and diplomats try to spin a certain piece of news to make it appear that even Hamas is willing to compromise and accept Israel's existence for the sake of peace.

The goal is obvious - to paint Israel and its policies as the sole obstacle to peace.

But every time, Hamas wastes no time clarifying what everyone already knows: that it, the group which won the last Palestinian general election, does not and never will accept Israel's right to exist in this region.

The most recent example of this phenomenon took place late last month when Jordan's King Abdullah reportedly informed US President Barack Obama that Hamas was ready to accept a two-state solution that guaranteed Israel's future existence.

Abdullah met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in Damascus, where the latter was said to have expressed a sincere change of attitude toward the peace process.

It took no time at all, and zero fact checking, for Western media, Israeli liberals, and international diplomats to adopt the story and begin shouting for Israel to return to peace talks with concessions in hand.

Two days later, Hamas put the lies to rest. The reports of Mashal making peace overtures in his meeting with King Abdullah were completely baseless, Hamas officials said in a statement released to Palestinian media.

"Hamas will not change its position" regarding Israel's existence, senior Hamas official Yahya Moussa told Bethlehem's Ma'an news agency. "We will never agree to giving the Zionist state one inch of the land of Palestine."

Moussa stressed that Hamas remains committed to the "liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea."

Unlikely Library Archive Contains Rare Pictures from the Galilee

Unlikely Library Archive Contains Rare Pictures from the Galilee
In the near future we hope to publish newly found antique photos and details of a collection of pictures we found in a European archive.  The pictures show another aspect of Jewish life in the Holy Land over 100 years ago.

Meanwhile, here's a tasty morsel from the collection, a picture taken almost 120 years ago.

The caption reads "Sea of Galilee [Scots] Mission Hospital. A peek at a corner of the Male Ward 1894." 

The picture shows care being given to Jewish and Arab patients. The orderly (?) on the right appears to be a religious Jew.

The Palestinians and The Middle East Conflict (THE TRUTH)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Love For His People - our new blog header

    LOVE FOR HIS PEOPLE - our new blog header
    (designed by Ben Martin)

Obama Planning First Visit to Israel as President

Obama Planning First Visit to Israel as President

President Obama is planning his first trip to Israel since taking office in 2008.
The visit is planned for this spring but the White House hasn't released the dates or itinerary.

Obama last visited Israel when during his 2008 campaign. But his lack of visiting the Jewish state during his first term as president has drawn criticism from some pro-Israel groups who say the administration isn't supportive of the United States' closest ally in the Middle East.

The president did visit Arab countries in the region during his first term, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sample Reel for 'Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force' - Playmount Productions

Sample Reel for 'Above and Beyond: The Birth of the Israeli Air Force' - Playmount Productions

To see full video "Above and Beyond - The Birth of the Israeli Air Force:

Hungarian Jews flee to Austria

Hungarian Jews flee to Austria

Leader of Vienna's Jewish community says anti-Semitism in Hungary is causing influx of Jewish immigrants
Published: 02.05.13, 14:51 / Israel Jewish Scene

VIDEO - The leader of Vienna’s Jewish community says anti-Semitism in Hungary is causing an influx of Jewish immigrants to Austria.

Oskar Deutsch said he was pleased people were coming, but that the circumstances forcing Jews to leave Hungary were deeply troubling.

Video courtesy

Austria’s Jewish community numbers approximately 8,000 people and is being joined in recent years by some 150 families annually fleeing from Hungary.

Hungary, which has a Jewish population of approximately 90,000, has been experiencing a wave of anti-Semitism after the ultra-nationalist party Jobbik picked up 47 seats in parliaary elections in 2010.

The party provoked outrage when it recently called for a list of the country’s Jews to be drawn up as a matter of national security.

The party has also labeled Israel a "Nazi state" and accused Jews of controlling Hungary’s media and being responsible for the central European country’s economic woes.,7340,L-4341151,00.html