Tag Archives: Israel

Summertime, Freedom and Captivity

Growing up in the United States, summertime equalled freedom. We were free from school, free to play, ride bikes, sit by the lake, free to spend much of our time in our imaginations. Celebration of America’s Independence Day on the 4th of July amplified the focus on freedom.

This year, more than the previous 2 years, my thoughts turned to Gilad Shalit as we celebrated American Independence Day. Gilad Shalit has not known freedom for 3 years. He sits in captivity, captured in a cross-boarder raid by Hamas. None of his family, friends or colleagues have heard from him in years. Hamas, the terrorist government of the Gazan Palestinian Authority does not allow even the Red Crescent, the Muslim version of the Red Cross to see him. This is in violation of international law and practice. (By the way, I wrote Gazan Palestinian Authority because the PA in Gaza does not get along with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank led by Fatah.) While he is not free, none of us are free.

Freedom is precious and cannot be taken for granted. I pray that Gilad will know freedom some day soon.

If you would like to learn more about Gilad Shalit, visit the website HaBanim.

Prayer Placed by Pope in Western Wall

(Quick follow-up to my last post on the Pope’s visit:)

Here is the text of the beautiful prayer he placed in the Western Wall (courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs). View the prayer as well as a photograph of its placement in the wall.

Written prayer by Pope Benedict XVI

God of all the ages,
on my visit to Jerusalem, the “City of Peace”,
spiritual home to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike,
I bring before you the joys, the hopes and the aspirations,
the trials, the suffering and the pain of all your people throughout the world.
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
hear the cry of the afflicted, the fearful, the bereft;
send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East,
upon the entire human family;
stir the hearts of all who call upon your name,
to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion.
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him!” (Lam 3:25)

Pope's Visit to Israel

Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage visit to Israel is creating quite a bit of press coverage. Unlike Pope John Paul II visit a few years ago, Benedict XVI seems to be on a personal/church/religious mission rather than on a mission of interfaith understanding, bridge building and politics.

Many interesting stories accompany his visit:
Trembling Before the Pope (the story of the Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal, and his view of Catholics in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip)

A Muslim cleric and head of the Palestinian Sharia court, Sheikh Taysir al-Tamimi, gave an unscheduled speech today at an interfaith gathering attended by the Pope.  Once the Pope heard a translation of the  Sheikh’s remarks he walked out, perhaps fulfilling one of Patriarch Twal’s concerns. Read another take on this story on CNN.

The Pope’s comments after visiting Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust musuem, instigated many comments.  Read a few in Ha’aretz, al-Jezeera, BBC, the Forward and YNet.

I hope that the Pope’s visit leads to greater respect, understanding and peace between peoples and a willingness of all to turn away from hate and intollerance.

UPDATE:  A Holocaust Survivor says that the criticism of the Pope is exagerated (YNet).

Israel21c Report for CNN on Coexistence Collaboration

Israel21c has been publishing news about Israel that often goes ignored for years. They do amazing work. Recently, two pieces by an Israel21c reporter were on CNN. One is about some inspiring coexistence work in Lod, a city with many struggles. Watch the report here.  The other is about how two scientists in Israel are making all of the world’s flowers more fragrant.

Watch and enjoy.

Remembering Rabin z"l

It is hard for me to believe that it has been 13 years since Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was brutally assassinated.  The irony of the context of the murder hits me every time I go to Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv. [He was killed at the end of an enormous peace rally, during which Rabin z”l sang “Shir L’shalom” a peace song from the 70s.]  News of the assassination shocked me as I tried to balance my own coping and serving my community.

Last week Rabin’s assasin (I am consciously choosing not to say his name) was back in the news when he managed to boost his ego by getting news interviews recorded against the rules of the prison.  Shameful. It shows me that he didn’t do this for the people or for the rabbis who told him to, but for his own ego.  Disgusting.

Tonight I join many in remembering Rabin the warrior, the leader, the hero, the peacemaker. May his courage, hope and strength be an example to all.

Another Vehicle Terror Attack in Jerusalem

It has happened again, a terrorist using a vehicle as a weapon of terror.  As I type this the news is just breaking.  Keep watching for updates.  The attack was at Tzahal Square (very close to Jaffa Gate of the Old City), the means was driving the car into a crowd of people.  Reports list between 10 and 15 injured. Fortunately no one listed as killed (I hope that doesn’t change).

I pray for a day when people love themselves and their children more than they hate others (to paraphrase Golda Meir).

News sites on the attack: Jerusalem Post, Ha’aretz, Y-Net (Hebrew).

Ha’aretz is also reporting about an IDF soldier who was blinded by a Palestinian (UPDATE: woman) throwing acid in the soldier’s eyes.

Praying for a peaceful tomorrow.

Update – Look at pictures from both of today’s attacks posted by J. Richman

Sarah Palin & Jews for Jesus

On August 17, 2008, David Brickner (director of Jews for Jesus) spoke at Sarah Palin’s family church in Wasilla, Alaska.  Govenor Palin was in attendance. Mr. Brickner spoke extensively of his organization’s mission in Israel (they also do extensive work in America – especially with college students) to convert Jews to Christianity.  They call themselves Jews for Jesus, but the religion the practice is Evangelical Christianity.

In his sermon (download/read the entire sermon on the Wasilla Assembly Church website) Brickner details Jews for Jesus’s missions in Israel (and his son’s work in India). He describes the difficulty of converting Jews in Israel and highlights the important work that his group is doing there.

Following the sermon, the Pastor of the church, Pastor Larry Koon, offered a special version of the congregation’s closing prayer. This prayer likely encapsulated the day and focused Koon & Brickner’s messages.  Here is the prayer

Our Father in heaven, We stand before You as a people who’ve experienced Your grace, and we acknowledge that that grace was first extended to our people through Your people, the Jews; that there is not a one here in this room who would know Jesus and serve Him if there had not been a Jew, generations ago, that spoke Jesus’ name to our people.  Father, that comes full circle and we wish to extend Your grace back to Your people.  And we pray and we ask that as a result of this time here, and as a result of this offering, there will be people among the Jews today who come to say the name “Jesus” with faith. In His glorious name we pray, amen.

Governor Palin was there.  Her church advocates for the active conversion of Jews.  Not because the Jewish people are seeking such conversion (we are not), but because her church believes that is what they (good Christians) must do. In the time that she has been known as the nominee, Palin has often spoken of her faith but has never clarified that she differs with her church on this matter.  Even after this sermon got a small bit of press on Politico.com, she did not see a need to say that her views are different from Brickner. All people need to seriously think about whether we really want to vote for someone who believes that Jews need to be converted.  We already know that she doesn’t find any validity in Evolution, believes in (and promotes in her state) abstinence only education – both of which are closely linked to ideologies in the Assembly church movement.  Since she acted on these issues in her state, why would she act differently about Jews being allowed to be Jews as Vice President?  Why not?  Will the Constitution really contain her? The GOP stance on religion in American life is clear – more of it.  The walls separating church/state are already very very low with faith based social services receiving government money.  Jews cannot vote for her without giving serious thought to this issue.

But, you may be thinking, isn’t she okay on Israel?  We don’t really know.  Let’s look to the sermon from her own church, the central focus of her life and her family’s life.  Maybe Brickner’s sermon will give us a clue.  Here is what he says about Israel.

But what we see in Israel, the conflict that is spilled out throughout the Middle East, really which is all about Jerusalem, is an ongoing reflection of the fact that there is judgment.  There is judgment that is going on in the land, and that’s the other part of this Jerusalem Dilemma.

Brickner is blaming the Jews for the terrorist violence and war in Israel.  Why is Israel being judged in his statement above?  As you can see clearly in the full sermon – it is because Jews don’t believe in Jesus.  Really.  Is this the kind of Israel support that Jews need?

I went to the McCain Palin website to research this post and search for any statement put out by the campaign about Palin and her beliefs, her faith, and the role she sees it having in their administration.  I searched “Palin” and “faith” and received an error message for an invalid search.  (Guess McCain’s “I don’t use a computer” is also impacting the usability of their website.  Either that or they don’t want people to know what Palin believes. Hmmm)

Governor Palin supports open, pressured conversion of Jews.  She has said not one word to clarify, distance herself from, nor disagree with Mr. Brickner.  The Israel that some Jews think she supports is one where the violence is destined because Jews believe wrong.

I ask you again, is this the Israel support that the Jews need?


How much does faith inform her decisions?  Take a look at video of Gov. Palin preaching in her church in Wasilla on G-d’s plan for War (since we know that G-d “loves” war – not).

Two other blog posts on this issue: The Israel Situation, Blogs of Zion