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Monday, Aug. 31 '15, Elul 16, 5775


by Gil Ronen

Reggae artist and former hassidic Jew Matisyahu has opened up in an interview about his experience at the Rototom Sunsplash festival Spain last week – and he says was not a pleasant one.
The singer-songwriter has been hailed as a Jewish hero since the festival, in which he faced down a hostile, PLO-flag-waving audience and even sang his song "Jerusalem."
He told The Daily Beast in a phone interview that when he stood back stage, he noticed a PLO flag in the audience, but when he stepped on stage "about 20 flags came out."
"People were standing on each other’s shoulders with flags giving me the middle finger. It was intense. It was not peaceful. It was like ‘F*** you, Matisyahu.’ I’ve never had the experience of anything like that, as a Jew or anything in my life."
He said that the performance was one of the only times he’s ever felt unsafe onstage.
"I just assumed everyone in the festival was going to be regular reggae festival-goers, so I got really nervous. I felt totally open and that anyone could do whatever they want," he said.
His performance followed pressure from anti-Israel forces that led to the cancellation of his invitation, international controversy, and then to a last-minute apology and re-invitation.
While his performance was seen by Jews as an in-your-face affirmation of his Judaism and Zionism, Matisyahu made no such statement in the interview. "I’m not a political scientist, and I don’t claim to know all the details and the facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I haven’t chosen a side," he told The Daily Beast.

by Ari Soffer

When it comes to Christian Zionism, most people think of the United States - and with good cause. Groups like Christians United For Israel (CUFI) have been among the leading lights in Israel advocacy, with a highly motivated and active grassroots base and support from a diverse range of senior clergymen and women. In terms of numbers, they outstrip even their Jewish pro-Israel counterparts, and in terms of commitment and activism, they often put them to shame.

Less well-known are the Christian Zionist movements outside of the US, for example in Europe. This fact is also, to an extent, not without good cause: for a variety of reasons, Christian Zionists in Europe, while certainly active, have never managed to emulate the success of their American counterparts.

But that could be about to change. In the UK, something of a revolution is brewing, thanks to the vision and tireless efforts of one quietly-determined pastor in reaching out to both Christian and Jewish communities alike.

Dr. Oliver Manyemba is a Pentecostal Christian pastor, as well as a trained investment banker and lecturer at a top London university. He is also a one-man powerhouse who is shaking up the face of UK Christian Zionism - and, by extension, both wider Israel activism and Jewish-Christian community relations.

Born in Zimbabwe, Manyemba was active for several years in some of the more established Christian Zionist organizations in London, but noticed a frustrating trend: while longstanding groups were indeed working hard to fight Israel's corner, they were doing so without reaching beyond a very narrow demographic base of white, middle-aged (or older) Church of England Christians. Millions of potentially sympathetic Christians, most notably among Black and Asian communities, were not being reached, and Manyemba resolved to fix that.

It was at that point that our paths first crossed, some three years ago. At the time, this author was also on the London pro-Israel activist scene, and as part of efforts to cultivate ties with non-Jewish allies I was introduced to Oliver, who was looking to study the Bible's authentic Jewish interpretations. Apart from becoming my first (and so far only) Christian Bible-study partner, he shared with me his incredibly ambitious vision to mobilize hundreds of thousands of previously un-engaged Christians nationwide to the cause of Israel - a vision which at the time appeared a thousand miles away.

Today, he leads Christian Watchmen over Zion (CWZ), a group that most British Jews will have never heard of, but which is now rapidly realizing that vision by emerging as the fastest-growing pro-Israel movement in the country.

CWZ is mobilizing Christians nationwide Credit: Christian Watchmen over Zion

It is nondenominational, with members spanning the gamut of the confusing mesh of Christian denominations in Britain; from Roman Catholics to Church of England and Eastern Christians. But CWZ's core constituency and driving force is the rapidly-growing Pentecostal movement, particularly among the African and Afro-Caribbean communities.

Its objective is to reconnect Christians to authentic Biblical teachings - most importantly, the place of the cause of Israel or "Zion" and Jerusalem as a central focus of Christian belief. 

And its success in just two years has been staggering, drawing in thousands of grassroots members along with an ever-increasing number of churches and a diverse range Christian leaders.

Dispelling ignorance, standing with Zion

One of them, Archbishop Dr. Abraham C. C. Evangelou, was present along with a larger CWZ delegation at a farewell party for the outgoing Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub last month. It was the largest and most diverse Christian group present, and the only one to include such senior clergy, underlining the central position the group has already taken on the pro-Israel scene.

Evangelou, who started his ministerial career in the Greek Orthodox Church, now heads the Apostolic Christian Church and Ixthus Church Council, the latter of which boasts some two million members worldwide, including 1,500 ordained ministers, and has 40 churches in England alone.

CWZ's core message, he explained, is summed up by the Psalmist: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."

"Our aim is to educate the Christian world as to the relationship we should be having with Israel, and to build a relationship with our Israeli and Hebrew brethren who are the foundational background to our Christian roots and Christian faith. We feel indebted to them for preserving the Scriptures for us to benefit from."

Archbishop Dr. Abraham Evangelou (C) and Pastor Oliver Manyemba (L) led a delegation to outgoing Israeli Ambassador Taub's farewell dinner Credit: Ari Soffer

"CWZ has been received very warmly in my churches, and many of our members have already joined. Many of my bishops who I consecrated have become prominent members of CWZ," he said. "​We also have a good relationship with Christian Friends of Israel, and I work with them too - anything positive, pro-Israel, we support that."

But why, given the prominence of the Land of Israel and its connection to the Jewish people in the Bible, do Christians need educating about it at all?

"Ignorance, misconceptions and also sometimes anti-Semitism," answers Dr. Evangelou.

"The early church had a negative perception of Judaism and the Jewish people," he notes, rejecting out of hand the replacement theology still found in some corners today, including most of those which gravitate towards the anti-Israel movement. "We're disqualifying that perception and showcasing all the good things about Israel and the Jewish people. I believe education is the most important thing, and that discredits any prejudice, racism or anti-Semitism."

That message - reconnecting to the Bible's "Hebrew roots," rejecting replacement theology (and with it the imperative to proselytize Jews), and focusing on the centrality of the Holy Land in Christian doctrine - is to a great extent the driving-force of contemporary Christian Zionism, from major groups such as CUFI to emerging innovators like Hayovel. 

Oliver Manyemba's vision for CWZ is to be the doctrinal or ideological powerhouse of that movement. 

What that requires, first and foremost, is to "open Christians' eyes" to the real-life application of the Bible. It might sound strange, but even many church-going, Bible-believing Christians often fail to associate the "Israel" of the Bible with the real thing. 

"In Zimbabwe, when we prayed for the peace of Jerusalem, we thought of our families or our village. But that's not what God had in mind - He was talking about the real, physical Jerusalem!" Manyemba explains.

It's a message echoed by another prominent CWZ leader, Bishop E. O’Reilly Buchanan - one of the most senior Christian clergy involved in the movement. A charismatic speaker and humanitarian activist, he oversees churches from the UK to Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Bishop E. O’Reilly Buchanan Credit: Ari Soffer

He describes CWZ as a movement whose emergence is long overdue. "It's like an oasis, a glass of cool water after journeying in the desert."

But Bishop Buchanan also emphasizes that the potential was always there. Quoting the Biblical Prophet Hosea ("My people perish for lack of knowledge") he too insisted that ignorance, rather than hatred or conscious anti-Israel sentiment, was responsible for the lack of active support for Israel among many Christians.

CWZ's rapid success (their bi-annual conferences attract thousands already, including both Jewish and Christian community figures) is merely the logical result of opening people's eyes to the truth, he said. "It's like a spring that comes up from the ground - even if you block it, it will always find a way to burst forth."

In just 2 years of activity, CWZ conferences already attract thousands Credit: Christian Watchmen over Zion

Another key to their success is a focus on young blood. Reverend Jacqueline Brown, a pastor of Jamaican origin, runs CWZ's Youth Program.

She also regularly takes Christian groups to visit Israel - something she believes is a must for any self-respecting Christian supporter of Israel.

"Standing with Israel means physically going there as well, to experience the holy sites, the people, the land, and to connect with them," she explained.

That includes places like Shiloh, Bet El, Har Grizim and other key Biblical sites in Judea and Samaria. One thing all the CWZ activists I met had in common was their rejection of efforts to delegitimize Israel's presence in those areas, particularly given its centrality in the Biblical - and Jewish-historical - narrative.

A grassroots revolution?
While CWZ's efforts are largely education, the groundswell of pro-Israel sentiment it is fomenting is encouraging an emerging grassroots movement of Christian activists on the ground.

Pastor Tim Gutman founded "Mordecai Voice" several years ago, with the single aim of "standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel and the Jewish community." His inspiration for the movement - as its name hints - is the Biblical Mordechai's fateful words to Queen Esther, which he says underlines the role Christians should take in supporting Israel: "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"

Like CWZ it seemed to emerge out of nowhere, and its first event (in 2011) saw an eclectic mix of Christians joined by a handful of curious Jewish activists at a solidarity rally for Israel outside the British parliament.

Mordecai Voice rally outside UK parliament Credit: Mordecai Voice

Gutman - whose father was a Jewish refugee from Europe - says he's greatly encouraged by the sudden invigoration of the UK Christian-Zionist scene. While not formally linked, his group now works closely with CWZ, and he hopes the movement will swell in numbers, giving a sometimes embattled, demoralized Jewish community (at least vis-a-vis Israel activism) a much-needed boost.

"I feel the work of groups like CWZ and the Israel Key conference [another emerging Christian pro-Israel group - ed.] are seeing a groundswell of unprecedented support for Israel and there is a real sense of optimism that this will translate into a louder and louder voice of love for Israel - the kind America enjoys today," he said.

"We have a real sense of excitement at the growing love and understanding among the Christian Community for the importance of Israel and our passion is to see us proclaim this publicly, so the Jewish community will know and of course Israel will know: we stand with you shoulder to shoulder."

As part of those efforts, Mordecai Voice holding a solidarity rally in Golders Green, the heart of London's Jewish community, on September 20. The date was picked to coincide with the latest planned installment of neo-Nazi activities targeting British Jews. Although previous far-right efforts flopped spectacularly, Gutman says it's clear British Jewry is under attack, usually from the same people who constantly vilify the Jewish state.

"Our aim is to show the Jewish community both in the UK and of course Israel that there are thousands upon thousands of Christians who support, love and believe in them," he said. "We want to see Christian and Jewish groups united to proclaim publicly that Israel is not alone and the Jewish community are not alone in the face of increasing anti-Israel rhetoric and blatant anti-Semitism."

To his fellow Christians his message is simple: put your money where your mouth is and be active.

"Lots of Christians say 'Yeah, we love Israel,' so we're telling them: Come out and show your love!"

by Yaakov Levi 

While President Barack H. Obama tries to sell his Iran deal to the American people, he is having some trouble selling it to members of his own party. In what political pundits termed an "embarrassment" for the president, a resolution supporting the deal was suppressed over the weekend at the summer meeting of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The resolution was halted by none other than the chairperson of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, normally a strong supporter of Obama's policies. The intent of the resolution had been to express official DNC support for the Iran deal. A party spokesperson said that the failure of the resolution to be brought up for a vote was due not to politics, but to "procedural issues."
As a fallback, the chairman of the Resolution Committee, James Zogby – the well-known Arab lobbyist and head of the Arab American Institute – drafted a letter declaring the DNC's support for the Iran deal. Zogby said that as far as he was concerned, this was an acceptable substitute.
"We found that the best way to show support was a letter that members would sign on to, and the overwhelming majority of DNC members signed onto the letter," the Post quoted Zogby as saying. "This is the President Obama we elected in 2008 who said, ‘I choose diplomacy over conflict,’ and he did it."
Wasserman Schultz, whose Florida district has a large Jewish population, has not announced whether or not she herself supports the deal.

by Gil Ronen

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu acknowledged on Monday the surging terror wave that Israeli citizens have been subjected to in recent months and years but appeared to offer little in terms of concrete action to thwart it.
"I held a special discussion this morning with the Minister of Defense, the Minister for Internal Security and the Minister of Transportation, in order to deal with what is looking like a growing trend of terror attacks, in Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria," he said at the opening of the cabinet session. "We will beef up forces and increase vehicular protection to safeguard the security of the citizens of Israel."
The term "migun," which Netanyahu used, usually refers to installing rock-proof windshields in cars, and other forms of passive defense.
"The Israel Police has an important role in this, as it does in preserving law and order in general. I give full backing to the Minister for Internal Security, and his efforts to appoint the best man for the post of Israel Police Commissioner.
"Gal Hirsch is the right man in the right place," Netanyahu added, regarding the nominee for commissioner, who has come under fire from various circles. "He is an officer with values, dedicated, he has great capabilities to create changes and contribute to the strengthening of the Israel Police and the rule of law in Israel."

Massive terror onslaught

Jerusalem is under a full-blown massive terror onslaught – or "intifada," as Arabs call it, according to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, which operates a security service in the area known as the "Old City Basin." The area includes the Old City quarters inside the city's ancient walls, as well as the Mount of Olives, the Silwan (Shiloah) neigborhood and the City of David.
The numbers for June and July indicate an average of close to ten terror attacks per day in this part of the city.
The statistics, which were published in Yediot Aharonot Wednesday, do not include terror attacks in the city's eastern villages and neighborhoods, and this means that the full numbers for Jerusalem are much worse.
In June and July, a total of 580 terror attacks were documented, against both civilians and security forces. These included 477 rock attacks, as well as 28 firebomb attacks against vehicles and homes in which Jews reside. Additional incidents involved throwing empty glass bottles, firing fireworks and damaging property.
The terror attacks in June peaked at 359, of which 213 were in the City of David sector, 125 at the Mount of Olives and the mountain ridge, and 21 in the Old City. They include 307 rock attacks, 12 firebombs, four cases of grave vandalization at the Mount of Olives, and six attacks against Jews in the Old City, five of them against civilians and one aimed at a Border Police warrior.
The total of recorded terror events was down slightly in July, at 221. They included 170 rock attacks, 16 firebombs, one grave desecration, four incidents in which Arabs threw glass bottles at Jews, and several fireworks attacks.
The Jerusalem Police said in response that its "resolute" actions against terrorism led to a decline in terror attacks in the last few months, noting that most of the attacks are carried out against security forces, because of the ongoing friction between them and lawbreakers in eastern Jerusalem. 

by Arutz Sheva staff

An intriguing find consisting of an impressive pyramid-shaped staircase constructed of large ashlar stones was uncovered, in an archaeological excavation still being conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The excavation is located in the Jerusalem Walls National Park in the City of David, site of ancient Jerusalem, and is being carried out in cooperation with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the City of David Foundation.
This structure is situated alongside the 2,000-year-old Second Temple stepped street, which carried pilgrims on their way from the Shiloah (Siloam) Pool to the Temple, which stood atop the Temple Mount.
The street, a section of which was excavated in the past, is remarkably well-preserved and is built of enormous stone slabs. The street most likely runs above the 2,000-year-old drainage channel, discovered a number of years ago, which carried rain water out of the city. It was constructed sometime in the fourth decade of the first century CE, and was one of the largest construction projects undertaken in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period.

Dozens of whole pottery vessels, stone vessels and glassware were found at the foot of the pyramid-shaped staircase.
According to archaeologists Nahshon Szanton and Dr. Joe Uziel, who direct of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "The structure exposed is unique."

"To date such a structure has yet to be found along the stepped street in the numerous excavations that have taken place in Jerusalem and to the best of our knowledge outside of it," they said in a joint statement announcing the discovery. "For this reason, its exact use remains enigmatic. The structure is built along the street in a place that is clearly visible from afar by passers-by making their way to the Temple.

"We believe the structure was a kind of monumental podium that attracted the public’s attention when walking on the city’s main street," they added. "It would be very interesting to know what was said there 2,000 years ago. Were messages announced here on behalf of the government? Perhaps news or gossip, or admonitions and street preaching – unfortunately we do not know.

"Bliss and Dickie, two British archaeologists who discovered a small portion of this structure about 100 years ago, mistakenly thought these were steps that led into a house that was destroyed. They would certainly be excited if they could come back today and see it completely revealed."

'Stone of Claims'
"We know from rabbinic sources there were 'stones' that were used for public purposes during the Second Temple period," the statement continued.

"For example, one source cites the 'auction block' in connection with the street: '[a master] will not set up a market stand and put them (slaves) on the auction block' (Sifra, BeHar 6). In the Mishnah and Talmud the 'Stone of Claims' is mentioned as a place that existed in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period: 'Our Rabbis taught: There was a Stone of Claims in Jerusalem: whoever lost an article repaired thither, and whoever found an article did likewise. The latter stood and proclaimed, and the former submitted his identification marks and received it back. And in reference to this we learnt: Go forth and see whether the Stone of Claims is covered' (Bava Metzia 28:B)."
This Thursday, at the City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem’s 16th Annual Conference that will be open to the public, Szanton and Dr. Uziel will present their findings from the excavation and the different interpretations regarding the nature of the podium.

"Given the lack of a clear archaeological parallel to the stepped-structure, the purpose of the staircase remains a mystery. It is certainly possible the rabbinical sources provide valuable information about structures, such as this, although for the time being there is no definitive proof."

by Eliran Aharon

The viral video of an IDF soldier being attacked by Palestinian villagers has once again shone a spotlight on the Arab village of Nabi Salah, a hotbed of anti-Israeli violence and provocations.

Local Arabs from the Tamimi clan, together with a permanent contingent of foreign left-wing extremists based at the village, clash with Israeli security forces every Friday, as they attempt to attack neighboring Jewish villages such a Neve Tzuf and Halamish.

The controversial footage - in which a soldier is forced to abandon an arrest of a rock-thrower - has caused a storm of controversy in Israel. Many right-wing legislators, such as Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, see it as proof of how the army's hands have been tied by the political echelons and called for an urgent review of the IDF's rules of engagement in dealing with rioters.

But others have questioned why authorities are not being more proactive in tackling what are essentially staged provocations, in Nabi Salah and elsewhere, many of which happen like clockwork each and every week.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, David Bedein of the Center for Near-East Policy Research explained that the clashes are part of a longstanding attempt by Palestinians to seize control of a well owned by the Jewish village of Halamish.

Since losing a legal battle in the Israeli High Court, the Arab villagers - led by the notoriously violent Tamimi clan - have staged weekly attempts to take the well by force. Each time the IDF turns up to repel them, in what has become a weekly ritual involving anarchists and left-wing activists from both Israel and abroad.

"They notify the media ahead of time, every Wednesday, that Friday they will be there," Bedein said. The "memo" is rgularly communicated via Gush Shalom, a left-wing NGO that receives significant foreign funding.

"What's amazing is our agency for the last five years have asked the police: 'If you know ahead of time they are going to be violent, why don't you stop them?' And they say, 'Well this is a matter for the general security services or for the Israeli security establishment.'

"So we turn to the Israeli  defense establishment and they send us back to the police. This has been going on for five years now, this ping-pong between the security establishment and the police.

"It's about time the people throughout Israel make this demand of the army and of the police, that they stop these guys before they conduct their demonstrations - because they're not demonstrations, they're riots - and anyone who doesn't believe it, just look at the YouTube (videos) they put out."

by Gil Ronen

Outgoing chief military censor Sima Vaknin-Gil has accused Israel's most widely viewed television channel, Channel 2, and its diplomatic reporter, Udi Segal, of harming national security by divulging a top military secret during wartime. She also made similarly harsh accusations against ultra-leftist newspaper Haaretz.

In an interview published by media monitoring website The Seventh Eye Sunday as she prepared to end her term as censor, Vaknin-Gil cited two cases in which she filed criminal complaints against news media and expects to be able to prove her cases against them in court.
Vaknin-Gil said Segal reported live, during Operation Protective Edge, that the military top brass had showed ministers a presentation in which they estimated that hundreds of soldiers would be killed if the IDF launched an all-out offensive to topple Hamas. In addition, according to the presentation as cited by Segal, the peace accords with Egypt and Jordan would be endangered and the costs incurred would reach $10 billion annually.
The information was not presented to the censor before being broadcasted, accused Vaknin-Gil. She said that the report caused actual damage to the security of Israel and that she will be able to prove it in court.
The leaked presentation let Hamas know that Israel did not intend to crush it – and thus greatly reduced the pressure on it to reach any kind of ceasefire.
Another serious violation of censorship laws was committed by Haaretz, said Vaknin-Gil, when it made public that Israel and Iran had entered a secret process of international arbitration over the Trans-Israel Pipeline, which was a joint Iranian-Israeli project before the islamist revolution in Tehran in 1979. The story was exposed in the aftermath of the large oil spill from the pipeline last year.
Haaretz editor Aluf Benn told the Seventh Eye that the censor "continues to hide from the public the real discussion between Israel and Iran, and to cover for financial improprieties in the Trans-Israel Pipeline, using baseless excuses regarding security and threats of a criminal investigation against a journalist."
A Channel 2 source told the Seventh Eye that "there is no doubt that the publication [regarding the IDF presentation] was of primary public importance. That is the main role of journalism, during wartime as well."

by Yoni Kempinski


Ronen Edri, 46, who was wounded in a shooting attack on Sunday as he drove past the Jit intersection, near Kedumim in Samaria, spoke to Channel 20 and recalled the ordeal.

Edri was lightly wounded by shrapnel in his hand, but managed to continue driving to a nearby IDF base, where he was treated by the Ephraim Brigade's medics.

"I got up for a normal work day. I was driving to work and in front of me was a vehicle that was traveling relatively slowly. I kept driving until the intersection, I turned right and the second after I turned right, I heard a tremendous noise. A volley of gunfire destroyed the window to the left. I made a preliminary assessment that I can respond, I stepped on the gas and got away as fast as possible," Edri recalled.

"I was wounded in the hand, shrapnel in the back. All in all, thank G-d, it was a very, very big miracle. I am grateful for the miracle, I could have been in quite a different place right now," he added.

The attack joins a long list of terrorist incidents that have occurred recently on the roads of Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem. 

Last Wednesday, Arab terrorists threw a firebomb at a Border Police vehicle in the A-Tur neighborhood of Jerusalem. 

Border Police officers inside the car managed to extricate themselves from the vehicle before it caught on fire and burned down. A 23-year-old officer sustained minor smoke inhalation in the incident and was brought to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the capital. 

On Saturday night, an Arab driver tried to run over a group of soldiers who were standing at the Hakvasim junction on Mount Hevron. One of the soldiers was lightly injured in his foot.

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