While not many politicians have limits, some do. The limits of Israeli officialdom was reached last week, as the so-called “peace negotiations” were finally suspended. The expected by-product of the nine months of negotiation did not come forth. Instead, the blame game has started in earnest, with both sides accusing the other of being responsible for the breakdown of the talks. Each side has demands, which, at this juncture, the other side is not prepared to meet. While the politicians did what politicians do, at the beginning of last week, we paused as a nation to remember those who were slaughtered in the Holocaust, simply because they were Jews. Yet, despite tragedies from one generation to the next, we are a nation that chooses life and does what it can to improve, encourage and extend it. So, to the many developments and discoveries that Israel has achieved, it added yet another, by developing a blood test to detect breast cancer.
And, as promised, this post includes a discussion about “blood moons”, a series of total lunar eclipses, the first of which took place on the evening of Passover. As this is being written, Israel remembers the 23,169 of her sons and daughters, fathers and mother, brothers and sisters, who have fallen in all of her wars, or who were victims of terror, the latest of which was a 19-year old, who was stabbed to death only days ago. When this day of remembrance is over, it will be immediately followed Monday evening with the the celebration of Israel’s 66th anniversary of independence.
A lot occurred here in recent days. Some things will have to wait a little while to see what direction they will take.
Breaking Up is Hard to do.
Mahmoud Abbas, acting as a rejected suitor, threatened to collapse the P.A. if the “peace negotiations” would fail. This did not win him browny points with the West and, particularly, not with the U.S., who indicated that it was considering withholding funds from the P.A. Abbas then tried to strengthen the position of the “Palestinians” by affiliating with certain U.N. organizations, which brought about strong condemnation from Israel. Abbas needed to present himself as someone who did not fail to bring about an agreement, he acted “on the rebound” and sought to “patch up” the P.A.’s relations with the terrorist organization, Hamas. When the Fatah faction of the “Palestinians” (represented by Abbas in Ramallah) and the Hamas faction of the “Palestinians” (represented by Ismail Haniya in Gaza) came to an agreement to establish a unity government, that move sounded the death knell to the negotiations with Israel.
Abbas tried his hand at the tactics of dilly, dally, delay and stall. But, when these tactics failed, he needed to “save face”. So, refusing to commit to extending the talks, he did an about face and said that he was willing to extend the negotiations – on certain conditions, which he knew would be unacceptable to Israel. Then, only a few hours before the commencement of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel this past Monday, he tried to ingratiate himself to Israel, by saying: “What happened to the Jews in the Holocaust is the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era”. This statement appears to fly in the face of his 1982 doctoral dissertation, in which he reportedly claimed that the accepted figure of six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust was exaggerated, “that the interest of the Zionist movement … is to inflate this figure so that their gains will be greater” and that the number could have been only a few hundred thousand. Only! Then, after making the above “heinous crime” statement, he added: “On the incredibly sad commemoration of Holocaust Day, we call on the Israeli government to seize the current opportunity to conclude a just and comprehensive peace in the region, based on the two-states vision, Israel and ‘Palestine’ living side by side in peace and security”.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not moved by Abbas’s conciliatory statement and accused him of dishonesty in his dealing with both the Holocaust and his present threats against Israel. Then, referring to the reconciliation agreement entered into between the Fatah and Hamas factions of the “Palestinians” only a few days earlier, he said that Abbas “last week chose to forge a pact with Hamas… a terror organization that calls for the destruction of Israel and denies the Holocaust…[and which] attempts to achieve another Holocaust through the destruction of the State of Israel.”
Abbas later said that the unity government that would be led by him would recognise Israel (not as the State of the Jewish people), adding statements of similar import regarding Hamas. But, Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the Hamas movement, clarified the matter, while belittling Abbas in the process: “We acknowledge that Abbas’s recognition of the occupation is his traditional position, nothing new. The [Hamas] movement position is unwavering in not recognizing the occupation in any form. In any event, negotiations are the task of the PLO [i.e., the Fatah faction headed up by Abbas]; the government [i.e., of Hamas] has no part in them…The question of recognition is non-debatable as long as [Israel] occupies our land.”
The intention of Hamas in making official statements like the one in the last sentence quoted above is that “our land”, according to the “Palestinians”, includes ALL of Israel, as being land sacred to Islam. That is why Israeli does not appear on the map in “Palestinian” schools, but the whole country is referred to as “Palestine”. So, in reality, their statement regarding non-recognition of Israel “as long as [Israel] occupies our land” is equivalent to an absolute statement of non-recognition at any time. If, in the warped, anti-Jewish, anti-Israel mindset of Hamas and the “Palestinians”, Israel ceases to “occupy [their] land”, then, in their perverted understanding, Israel would cease to exist and, therefore, there would be nothing to recognize. Fortunately, our existence here is a matter that was settled long before there was ever a PLO or a Hamas (Jeremiah 31:35-37).
One final note: The idea of “occupying” Arab land is a modern adaptation of the argument made during the time of the Judges of Israel. The king of the sons of Ammon made the argument against Jephthah. Note Jephthah’s response and the consequences of failing to listen to him (Judges 11:11-33):
“Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the LORD at Mizpah. Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the sons of Ammon, saying, ‘What is between you and me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?’ The king of the sons of Ammon said to the messengers of Jephthah, ‘Because Israel took away my land when they came up from Egypt, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok and the Jordan; therefore, return them peaceably now.’ But Jephthah sent messengers again to the king of the sons of Ammon, 15 and they said to him, ‘Thus says Jephthah, “Israel did not take away the land of Moab nor the land of the sons of Ammon. For when they came up from Egypt, …and Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, ‘Please let us pass through your land to our place.’ But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory; so Sihon gathered all his people and camped in Jahaz and fought with Israel. The LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them; so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. So they possessed all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok, and from the wilderness as far as the Jordan. Since now the LORD, the God of Israel, drove out the Amorites from before His people Israel, are you then to possess it?…So whatever the LORD our God has driven out before us, we will possess it…I therefore have not sinned against you, but you are doing me wrong by making war against me; may the LORD, the Judge, judge today between the sons of Israel and the sons of Ammon”.’ But the king of the sons of Ammon disregarded the message which Jephthah sent him…So Jephthah crossed over to the sons of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD gave them into his hand. 33 He struck them with a very great slaughter from Aroer to the entrance of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim. So the sons of Ammon were subdued before the sons of Israel.” (italics mine)
Does John Kerry really understand “apartheid”?
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned last week that “a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens – or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.” That comment was so outrageous, the denial of it should have been obvious by anyone with half a brain. So, who tried to hitch a ride on that statement? Mahmoud Abbas and those who support the “Palestinian” narrative. Ask anyone who came from South Africa and lived under an apartheid regime, who also spent any time living in Israel whether there is any comparison between the two countries in this regard. Even though Kerry subsequently apologized, but the statement was already made spread around the world like wild fire. For some, the apology was seen only as a move for political expediency.
Israel Remembers the Holocaust – How Can We Ever Forget?
Most of Israel came to a standstill at 10:00 a.m. this past Monday, as sirens sounded throughout the country and we observed two minutes of silence in memory and respect for six million Jews, who were killed during the Holocaust. The number boggles the mind, which still tries to fathom the depth of evil that pursued the “final solution” plan to rid the world of the Jewish people.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is not only a national tragedy. It is a personal one, as well, as I considered my aunts, uncles and cousins, along with other members of our extended family, who fell victim to the Nazi plan to exterminate European Jewry.
At the opening ceremony, which took place at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem on Sunday evening, President Shimon Peres focused attention on the growing anti-Semitism, stating: “We must not ignore any occurrence of anti-Semitism, any desecration of a synagogue, any tombstone smashed in a cemetery in which our families are buried. We must not ignore the rise of extreme right-wing parties with neo-Nazi tendencies who are a danger to each of us and a threat to every nation.”
At the same ceremony, P.M. Netanyahu again warned that the world was ignoring the lessons of the Shoah (the Holocaust) by turning its back on the continued development of nuclear capability by Iran: “I hope that the lessons of the past will be learned and that the desire to avoid confrontation at any cost will not lead to a deal that will exact a much heavier price in the future”, which was a clear reference to the on-going negotiations between Tehran and P5+1 world powers over uranium enrichment levels. He added: “I call on the leaders of the world powers to insist on a full dismantling of Iran’s capability to manufacture nuclear weapons, and to persist until this goal is achieved.” The world learns slowly, if at all. Usually, it learns after the fact and then wonders “how could this have happened”?
As in the past, the speeches emphasised Israel’s ability to deal with threats against it. God was left out of the picture. Only one of the Holocaust survivors who lit memorial candles during the ceremony expressed his thanks to God, for allowing him not only to survive, but to marry, have children, grandchildren and to see his great-grandchildren.
It is difficult in a column like this to relate the stories of those who survived the Holocaust and are still alive to tell the world what happened. The number of survivors dwindles significantly each year and efforts are being made to keep their stories alive. Some of those who suffered through the nightmare have dedicated their lives to instructing the generations who came after them of the realities of anti-Semitism and the horrors of life in a Nazi death camp or ghetto. The numbers tattooed on their arms attest to their personal experiences with the Nazi death machine and their audiences tend to give full attention to what is being shared with them.
But, the death camps were not the only places during World War II where Jews were killed just because they were Jews. The Nazis had plenty of help from willing anti-Semites in different countries. Among the multitude of incidents that I read or heard about, I never heard the story of the Jedwabne (Poland) massacre. A documentary was shown on prime-time TV here about that event and non-Jewish octogenarians related how the local council gave the go-ahead for the townspeople to do to the Jews whatever they wanted. I won’t describe some of the events here, as it may cause sleepless nights for some, even as it did for me. Just when I thought that my tears were finished, another well of tears swelled up and overflowed. To the extent that it will depend upon the arm of the flesh, our national prayer will be that which was leading headline of one of the major dailies here: “Never Again!”
With all of the difficult stories about the Holocaust that are related each year, there is another story, which did not receive much press. It is a story about the saving of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews, who would have been among the victims of the gas chambers, or death marches, or shooting squads, were it not for the concerted efforts of an unsung hero. The story can be viewed here.
Blood Test for Breast Cancer Developed by Israeli Lab
Among the many medical and technological breakthroughs that have been made in Israel among scientists and medical researchers, a new technology was developed that allows for non-invasive, non-radiological detection of breast cancer early on. The means? A blood test.
The test was developed by the Israeli R & D subsidiary of Eventus Diagnostics, whose website states that the “technology has the unique ability to accurately determine whether cancer is present” and the findings of the scientists enable them to “accurately identify … breast cancer-specific autoantibodies that could be used for early detection of the disease”. The company reported that it was seeking to develop similar, diagnostic methods for other forms of cancer.
“Blood Moons” – Natural Lunar Line-Up or Supernatural Celestial Signs?
For the past year or so, I’ve been asked time and time again what I think about the 4 so-called “blood moon”, total eclipses that were to take place on the Jewish Festivals of Pesach (Passover – 15 April, 2014), on Succot (Tabernacles – 8 October, 2014), Pesach (Passover – 4 April, 2015) and Succot (Tabernacles – 28 September, 2015). Some see these eclipses as a sign and warning from God, while others see the repeat of an astronomical event that has occurred at various times in recorded history.
Those who contend that such “blood moons” are intended as signs by God, signalling the coming of significant events that will affect Israel and have worldwide consequences, usually refer to the passages in both the Old and New Testaments (Genesis 1:14, Joel 2:30-31, Acts 2:19-20, Matthew 24:14 and Luke 21:25 – see the whole passage in verses 25-28) to justify their conclusions.
On April 15, 2014, on Pesach (Passover), there was a total lunar eclipse. This was the first of four scheduled total lunar eclipses that are to occur in a series, that is called a “tetrad”. According to Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd of EarthSky, a tetrad is “four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons)”.
The expression “blood moon tetrad” is of recent vintage and was made popular by Christian Pastors Mark Biltz and John Hagee. Biltz believed that the final lunar eclipse of this tetrad will usher in the Second Coming of Yeshua. Hagee, on the other hand, was of the opinion that the “rarity” of the tetrad, combined with its occurrence on the above-mentioned prophetic Feasts of Israel (see Leviticus 23), constitute a “sign” of significant changes that will occur regarding Israel and affecting the future of the world. His published his ideas in a book, Four Blood Moons: Something is about to change, which became a best seller. Biltz published his own book, Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs. A third book on the subject was published by Pastor Mark Hitchcock, Blood Moons Rising: Bible Prophecy, Israel, and the Four Blood Moons.
It didn’t take too long before the idea was picked up by religious, as well as secular, media and the line began to be drawn between those who saw the coming “blood moons” as a sign in the heavens and those who ridiculed and even joked about the astronomical event.
Both Hagee and Biltz linked the occurrence of such Passover/Tabernacles tetrads in history to major events affecting Jewish people and the State of Israel. For example:
1493-1494 A.D. – expulsion of Jews from Spain
1949-1950 A.D. – establishment of the State of Israel
1967-1968 A.D. – Six-Day War
2014-2015 A.D. – ?
In order to get a proper perspective on what is referred to as a “blood moon”, we need to understand what happens during a lunar eclipse. Dr. Danny R. Faulkner, writing for the apologetic website Answers in Genesis, responding to Biltz’s ideas, stated, in part:
“Because total lunar eclipses often appear red, people sometimes call a totally eclipsed moon a ‘blood moon.’…A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth’s shadow (the umbra) falls on the moon. If the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon, it is a total eclipse. But a partial lunar eclipse happens if the earth’s umbra only partially covers the moon. Because the earth has an atmosphere that bends light around its edge, the earth’s umbra is not completely dark. So, the totally eclipsed moon will reflect the color of the light contained in the earth’s shadow. The earth’s atmosphere scatters out shorter-wavelength light (green through violet) leaving mostly longer-wavelength light (red, orange, and yellow) in the earth’s umbra. This is why sunsets and sunrises generally are red, and why most lunar eclipses are red.
“However, a wide range of color and brightness can be found in lunar eclipses. This is based on atmospheric conditions at the time including dust and humidity levels. While the color of some total lunar eclipses could be compared to blood, others are more orange, similar to a pumpkin. Still other eclipses look yellow, and some are very dark—virtually black…In short, most lunar eclipses don’t appear blood-like, so it is a bit presumptuous to assume that any particular future eclipse—or, in this case, four eclipses—must of necessity be ‘blood moons’.”
It should also be pointed out that there have been 62 tetrads since the first century A.D., of which 8 tetrads coincided with both Jewish Feasts of Passover and Tabernacles. In addition, the 2014-2015 tetrad is one of 8 tetrads that will occur during the 21st century, if the world continues to exist to the year 2100. Moreover, inasmuch as the Jewish calendar is based on a lunar cycle and the two feasts mentioned always fall on the 15th day of the lunar month, namely, always when there is a full moon. A lunar eclipse must fall on or within a day of the 15th of the lunar month. As noted in Lev. 23, God commanded that these two festivals would occur six months apart from one another. Faulkner, as well as McClure and Byrd (Earth & Sky, above), notes that one sixth (1/6) of all lunar eclipses occur on Passover or Sukkot.
But, the spiritual argument, relying on the same verses, continues that the sun will be darkened, which is claimed to be a reference to a solar eclipse that is scheduled to take place in 2015. Nevertheless, here too, Faulkner (Answers in Genesis) points out that one twelfth (1/12) of all solar eclipses coincide with the first day of Nisan, the beginning of the Jewish civil year. Moreover, the path of that eclipse (in 2015) is such that it will be seen by almost no one.
So, how are we supposed to relate to these phenomena? We should begin by measuring our response according to what appears in Scripture. The apocalyptic events are supposed to occur “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31); “before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord” (Acts 2:20). When will the sun be turned to darkness and the moon to blood? According to Matthew 24:29, it will be “immediately after the distress of those days”, which refers to the 7-year period of travail known as the Great Tribulation. Moreover, according to Luke 21:25-28, there will not only be “signs” relating to the sun and the moon, but also to the stars. It will be a time when “nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea [and men] will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken”. It will be a time that “they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory”.
The lunar eclipses, even if they appear red in colour, and the partial solar eclipse, taken together, still fall short of the type of apocalyptic events that will cause the heavens to shake and cause men to faint from fear, which will precede the Second Coming of Yeshua.
But, the argument continues, what about those events in Jewish and Israeli history, which have corresponded with the lunar tetrads? A careful analysis of those events that were referred to reveal that the tetrads occurred after the historical events cited and, therefore, they cannot validate the conclusions reached. As such they could not be used as “signs” of coming events, but rather attempts to relate later celestial happenings to those prior events and attach spiritual importance to them.
Moreover, a “sign”, in order to have validity as a warning or a wake-up call, needs to be seen. Inasmuch as the anticipated “blood moon” total eclipses are to relate to and concerning Israel, it would stand to reason that such “signs” would be seen by Israel. However, three of the four eclipses in the tetrad will not even be visible here.
A further argument is advanced, referring to what is stated in the Jewish Talmud (the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law containing Rabbinical commentaries and arguments, which is a central text for Rabbinic Judaism), Tractate Sukkah 29a, which indicates that if the moon is in an eclipse, it is a bad sign for the Jewish people and Israel. If the sun is in an eclipse, it is a bad omen for the world. If the face of the moon “is as red as blood”, it is a sign that “the sword is coming to the world”. These are not statements from either the Old or the New Testaments and, as such, should not be relied upon as indicators of God’s intentions towards His creation. Moreover, Jewish tradition makes clear that astronomical “signs” do not affect the Jewish people, because of their relationship with God. It is not my intention here to argue the right or wrong of Talmud pronouncements, but to set forth what appears in both Testaments and apply them to the claims regarding “blood moons”.
While I do not see the coming total lunar eclipses as a fulfilment of Biblical prophecy, there are those who do and who will continue to interpret them as such. To them, the questions must be asked: “What will you do with such knowledge?” and “How and concerning what will Israel and the rest of the world be warned?” What can Israel, or the world, do in the light of such celestial warnings?
For those wanting to pursue this matter further, I am listing a few sites for your consideration. The inclusion of the sites below is not intended as an endorsement of any of the materials contained in those sites:
The Washington Post carried an article on April 15th entitled “Blood moon” sets off apocalyptic debate among some Christians.
Favoring an interpretation that something major (but not specified) will occur regarding Israel in 2014-2015 and having worldwide consequences:
http://www.pray4zion.org/TheComingBloodMoons.html (analysis, with dates of events affecting Jews and Israel)
http://www.jesusonmymind.com/services (detailed, with maps and interviews)
http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/lunar/2014-april-15 (shows where the eclipse would be seen)
http://www.wnd.com/2013/10/blood-moons-expert-watch-2014-and-2015/ (World Net Daily, with a list of related stories)
The contrary position is also presented: http://www.thepropheticyears.com/wordpress/blood-moon-of-joel-and-revelation-not-about-eclipses-of-2014-2015.html
http://www.thejerusalemconnection.us/blog/2014/04/10/blood-moons-and-prophetic-confusion.html (discussion of Biblical perspectives on the moon)
Over 8 million people now live in Israel.
As we are about to celebrate our 66th Independence Day, the Central Bureau of Statistics reports that 8.18 million people now live in this tiny stretch of desert sand. The breakdown is as follows:
75.0% of the population is Jewish, about 6,135,000 people
20.7% of the population is Arab, about 1,694,000 people
4.3% of the population, about 351,000 people, is made up of non-Arab Christians and other religions or with no religious affiliation.
The percentage of the Jewish population actually dropped about 0.3% from last year.
In the 66 years of our existence, the population has grown to 10 times of its original size of 806,000. But, more than that, swamps were drained, the desert has been turned green, cities were built, industry was encouraged and thrived and our currency is getting stronger (well, at least against the weakening U.S. Dollar). That all happened while we are still officially in a “state of war”. Imagine what life would be like here, as well as for our neighbors, as well as for the world as a whole, if we were living in peace.
Israel Remembers Her Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror.
Tonight, almost an hour and a half ago, another siren sounded throughout the land, as we began the Day of Remembrance for our fallen soldiers and victims of terror. Speeches were made in Jerusalem, as bereaved relatives gathered for the annual ceremony marking this day when the nation remembers and honours those who gave their lives that we might live in freedom. The last speaker was a rabbi, who quoted Psalm 83 in its entirety, part of which is as follows:
“O God, do not remain quiet; do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. For behold, Your enemies make an uproar and those who hate you have exalted themselves. They make shrewd plans against Your people and conspire together against Your treasured ones. They have said, ‘Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.’ For they have conspired together with one mind; against You they make a covenant…So pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with Your storm. Fill their faces with dishonour, that they may seek Your name, O LORD. Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever and let them be humiliated and perish, that they may know that You alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.” (Ps. 83:1-5, 15-18 – underscoring mine)
When this day of national remembrance and mourning is over, it will be immediately followed with celebrations of our independence. “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
And That was the week that was.
“We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” (Golda Meir)
Be blessed and be a blessing. And don’t forget to have a Great week.