Israel & Christians Today: Weekly Update (July 19)

editor - 19 July 2019

“I will cause many people to live on you—yes, all of Israel” (Ezekiel 36:10)

It is important to remember that Israel is a multi-cultural and very diverse society. There is perhaps no other country in the world that has been faced with the challenging of absorbing so many people from so many countries and cultural backgrounds in such a short period of time. In many ways, Israel is a modern miracle, and one of the ways it is a miracle is the way it has managed to absorb so many different ethnic, religious and national groups.

Of course, Israel is far from perfect, and as the story of Ethiopian Jews shows (below), there are many problems on the ground. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget the big picture.

The total population in Israel today is about 8 million people. About 75% are Jews, who can be roughly divided into “Ashkenazi” and “Sephardic” Jews.  They or their ancestors came to Israel over the last 100 years or so from about 100 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Oceania.

About 25% are often referred to as “Arabs”, but many of these are neither Arabs nor Muslims: the total number includes many different nationalities and religions including: Arab Muslims, Bedouin, Druze, and Ahmadiyya.

Some who live in Israel who are neither Jews nor Arabs. These include: Samaritans, Circassians, Armenians, Germans, Dutch, Finns, Russians, Bahais, Thai and Vietnamese, and refugees from Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Turkey and Africa.

According to Wikipedia, about 170,000 Israeli citizens practice Christianity, together comprising about 2% of the total population. The largest group consists of Melkites (about 60% of Israel’s Christians), followed by the Greek Orthodox (about 30%), with the remaining 10% comprises Roman Catholic (Latin), Maronite, Anglican, Lutheran, Armenian, Syriac, Ethiopian, Coptic and other denominations.


Challenges for Ethiopian Jews in Israel

19-year-old Solomon Tekah was killed on 30thJune in Haifa, when he was hit by a bullet fired by an off-duty police officer.

According to Times of Israel, ‘the officer has claimed that he was trying to break up a street fight and was set upon by three youths who hurled stones at him, endangering his life. The officer said he did not target Tekah, and instead fired at the ground. A Police Internal Investigations Department probe found that the bullet ricocheted on the ground and hit Tekah, fatally wounding him.’

The youth’s death has sparked off protests by Israel’s Ethiopian community, which feels it has been the subject of prejudice and discrimination. The government has announced the formation of a task force to tackle complaints of police violence against members of the community.

There are about 150,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Most are immigrants and descendants of the immigrants from the Beta Israel communities in Ethiopia. Some are “Falash Mura” – a community of Beta Israel who had converted to Christianity on the course of past two centuries, but were permitted to immigrate to Israel upon returning to Judaism.

Most of the community made Aliyah to Israel in two waves of mass immigration assisted by the Israeli government: Operation Moses (1984) and Operation Solomon (1991).

Shahar Golan reports: ‘The new arrivals from a rural, developing African country struggled to find their footing in an increasingly high-tech Israel. Throughout the decades, Ethiopians have suffered discrimination. In the late 1990s, it was discovered that Israel’s health services were throwing out Ethiopian blood donations over fears of diseases contracted in Africa. Accusations have also been raised that Israel has deliberately tried to curb Israeli-Ethiopian birth rates.

Today, Israel’s Ethiopian community numbers about 150,000 people, some 2 percent of the country’s 9 million citizens. While some Israelis of Ethiopian descent have made gains in areas like the military, the police force and politics, the community continues to struggle with a lack of opportunity and high poverty rates.’

pic1 - PrayingLet us pray for the Ethiopian Jews in Israel. It is a miracle that they have returned. Pray that they will become well-established and rooted in Israeli society, and that the Israeli government will do all possible to ensure their integration and absorption into Israel.


The “March of Return” is not about refugees, but about destroying Israel

Arab Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh reports that the Hamas “March of Return” that was in the headlines last March has not ceased to exist.

On July 12, the weekly protests along the Gaza border with Israel were held under the banner of “No to negotiations [with Israel], no to reconciliation [with Israel] and no to recognizing the [Israeli] entity.”

‘By choosing to hold the protests under the banner of the “Three No’s,” the organizers of the “Great March of Return” have again proven that the weekly demonstrations are not about improving the living conditions of Palestinians or easing restrictions imposed on the Gaza Strip. Instead, the message the organizers are sending to the Palestinians and the rest of the world is: “We don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist and therefore we will never make negotiate or make peace with it.”’

pic1 - PrayingLet us pray for the people of Gaza. Pray that they will be released from the anti-Semitic hared of Hamas, and will be able to build better and dignified lives. Pray for the government of Israel – they they will have wisdom and compassion in dealing with the enormous challenges of meeting the  threats emanating from Gaza, which are supported and stimulated by Iran.

Rise of Islamic anti-Semitism in Germany

In this important article Soeren Kern at Gatestone Institute reports on a disturbing report published late June by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV).

‘Foreign intelligence services, especially those from Turkey, Syria and Iran, have increased their activities in Germany during the past 12 months, according to Germany’s BfV domestic intelligence agency. The foreign intelligence services are not only pursuing dissidents among the large diasporas in Germany, they are also targeting Jewish and Israeli interests in the country.’

‘At the same time, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood appear to be operating with impunity in Germany, while, according to the BfV, the number of Salafists in the country has tripled in recent years and now exceeds 11,000. Overall, the BfV estimates that Germany is home to more than 26,000 Islamists, an unknown number of whom pose an immediate threat of attack.’

‘The BfV has found that all Islamist organizations active in Germany harbor anti-Semitic ideas and disseminate them in various ways. These ideas represent a considerable challenge for peaceful and tolerant coexistence in Germany.’

pic1 - Praying
Pray against the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany and other countries in Europe.


Further reading/viewing:

Andrew Tucker
Editor-in-Chief – Israel & Christians Today


Scripture for the week:

“Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, ‘Mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord. 2 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: The enemy said of you, “Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession.”’3 Therefore prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because they ravaged and crushed you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people’s malicious talk and slander,4 therefore, mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign Lord: This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, to the desolate ruins and the deserted towns that have been plundered and ridiculed by the rest of the nations around you— 5 this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my burning zeal I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, for with glee and with malice in their hearts they made my land their own possession so that they might plunder its pastureland.’ 6 Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I speak in my jealous wrath because you have suffered the scorn of the nations. 7 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I swear with uplifted hand that the nations around you will also suffer scorn.
8 “‘But you, mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. 9 I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, 10 and I will cause many people to live on you—yes, all of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. 11 I will increase the number of people and animals living on you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 12 I will cause people, my people Israel, to live on you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children.
13 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because some say to you, “You devour people and deprive your nation of its children,” 14 therefore you will no longer devour people or make your nation childless, declares the Sovereign Lord. 15 No longer will I make you hear the taunts of the nations, and no longer will you suffer the scorn of the peoples or cause your nation to fall, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
(Ezekiel 36:1-13)


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