To fill the hole inside of us
Fifteen years ago one of the major newspapers in Israel published an article about a group of Israeli young people that had banded together to throw off the malaise of material prosperity and meaninglessness, and to renew the “halutz” (pioneering) spirit in Israel by creating a new village of college students in the Negev desert of southern Israel (HaAretz supplement April 23, 2004). The article offered a thrilling glimpse into the soul of the modern young Israelis.
A summary of the Israeli newspaper article
These new “pioneers” saw that Israelis serve in the army for 2 to 3 years and are then thrust into a world that doesn’t give them any further challenge for self-sacrifice. In the absence of a compelling external cause, most of them get mired in the unending cycle of trying to satisfy their own needs and desires. Such an existence is lacking any absolute value framework, and is a dead end street.
These young people saw clearly that their parents and grandparents had worked so hard and fought so sacrificially to protect and build the state of Israel. Yet many ended up telling their children not to “go overboard,” not to be someone else’s fool, but rather to think of their own good, since the country has already been built. However, “when everything is directed only internally, for my own self, there is no happiness.”
After their parents “solved” the immense challenges of protecting and building the state, the young Israelis of our day have largely gone after the Western dream of immediate satisfaction, name brands and image. This band of pioneers in the desert says that such an existence will never bring true satisfaction.
This group also saw the essence of the modern Israeli experience as the Renewal of the people in their land – with their own language, their own right to self defense, freedom and dignity. After that had been achieved to a certain degree, people began wanting to become like any other nation under the sun, like all the other “normal” enlightened and privileged people in the West. These pioneers invited Israeli college students from the Ben Gurion Universtiy in Beer Sheva to join their desert pioneering village, and saw an overwhelming response. Hundreds signed up to join, confirming that all these elements of yearning for struggle, meaning and renewal are pervasive in the young people and simply unrealized.
In the ideology of these pioneers, enjoying some of the finer things in life is not forbidden, but simply part of the path to the destination. When asked what this destination is, the reply was deafening: “A great vacuum has been created, and we are proposing a way TO FILL THE HOLE INSIDE OF US.“
This article in HaAretz provided great encouragement to the Revive Israel team, both in seeing the acknowledged need for meaning on the part of Israeli young people, and in seeing a kind of parallel physical track to what we see as a need in the realm of spiritual pioneering.
Also, the Discipleship Training Center that we formed speaks to the very same needs and goals:
- renewing the pioneering spirit in Israel,
- equipping young people spiritually,
- enhancing connectedness to the land.
Please pray with us that the people of Israel not become “fat and lazy” or “comfortable in Zion,” but rather be continuously provoked to walk into their prophetic calling. This calling includes physically making the desert bloom but certainly does not end there. “For you are a people holy unto the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a treasured nation among all the peoples on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6, NKJV).
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, February 17, 2019, and reposted with permission.
David is on the Editorial Staff for the Tents of Mercy Network.
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The Netanyahu charges – character, hypocrisy and a million paper-cuts
Israel’s Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has just announced his intention to indict Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu on three charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. His intention to indict kicks off a process which could last for years in the courts. Mandelblit’s announcement is not a declaration that Netanyahu is guilty, though Bibi’s enemies at the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot (‘Latest News’) crowed with satisfaction in screaming headlines with extra-large fonts declaring ‘Ne’esham’ (which can mean ‘accused,’ ‘charged’ or ‘defendant’ in Hebrew).
According to Israeli law, anyone accused in a court of law is innocent until proven guilty. However, the overwhelming majority of Israel’s media (which has attacked and castigated Bibi and his family for over two decades) assumes as a given that Netanyahu is already guilty. For them, any trial would only be window dressing on a foregone conclusion.
Mandelblit’s announcement of intent to indict is only a first step in a drawn-out legal procedure.No actual indictment can happen until after the April 9, 2019 Israeli elections. After the elections (according to Israeli law) Bibi’s lawyers will ask for and receive a hearing to respond to the Attorney General’s charges, where they will present Netanyahu’s perspectives and counter-challenges. After that point (which could take up to one full year), the Attorney General may decide drop charges, modify them or formally file an indictment.
In light of all this,
- what can be said and understood here from both an on-site and a biblical perspective?
- what are the ramifications of this announcement of an intention to indict?
- how can we pray about this situation?
Where’s the beef?
In 1984 the hamburger chain Wendy’s presented a TV ad using a crotchety older woman who constantly asked, “Where’s the beef?” During the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates’ debate of that year, Walter Mondale drilled Gary Hart with the same question. The point behind both soundbites was to question whether or not an event or a person’s agenda has substance.
World-respected and prominent lawyer Alan Dershowitz (Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard University) has stated recently that there is no legal substance to the charges against Netanyahu. He “strongly believes that the appropriate criteria for criminal prosecution have not been met” in these cases, and that the “clear and unambiguous (evidence of) financial corruption” needed for solid conviction here is “well beyond what is alleged in the current cases.”
His arguments and those of other legal minds can be found in the above articles. If Dershowitz’s statement is valid (that there is not sufficient legal evidence to attempt a conviction), why then is the Attorney General moving forward with this very damaging gambit only 40 days before Israel’s next general elections?
Clash of the titans
Power politics is a way of life in most countries of the world, and certainly in Israel. Powerful businessmen attempt to influence political decisions in ways which will be advantageous to their own economic interests. In Israel each major political party is financed and influenced by specific tycoons (www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/which-tycoon-to-vote-for-in-the-election-1.6955379):
Property developer Alfred Akirov supports Benny Gantz and his Israel Resilience Party (Hosen L’Yisrael, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Resilience_Party). In the past he was a main contributor to Prime Ministers Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert.
Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissenkorn and his government monopolies (Israel Electric Corporation, the Ports Authority, the Israel Airports Authority and other powerful unions, all organized under the Histadrut Labor Federation) also support Gantz.
Koby Maimon (natural gas and real estate magnate) backs Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and his Kulanu party.
Business magnate Arnon Mozes backs Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid who worked for years as a journalist at Mozes’ Yediot Achronot. Mozes controls Israel’s biggest media conglomerate Yediot Tikshoret; Channel 2, one of the top TV channels; HOT Cable TV company (second largest); Vesti, Israel’s largest Russian-language daily; La’Isha, the Israeli women’s magazine; Rosh 1, a teenager weekly; the Internet portal Ynet; the men’s magazine Blazer; print houses; voice data providers, music distributors, information services and a plethora of real estate properties.
The Labor Party is headed by Avi Gabbay and seconded by Knesset Member Itzik Shmueli. Nochi Dankner the former Chairman of Israel’s biggest conglomerate IDB has contributed handsomely to Shmueli, as has Arnon Mozes.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Party are heavily supported by casino baronSheldon Adelson, owner of the freely distributed newspaper Israel Hayom (in active competition with Mozes’ Yediot Achronot).
Adelson is also a major supporter of Naftali Bennett and his Hayamin Hehadash (New Right) party (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Right_(Israel)).
Most of Israel’s political maneuverings, machinations and headlines reflect the jockeying between these ‘Power Rangers.’ Charges and counter-charges against top politicians continue to be the daily bread of Israeli media for the past 20 years, with much of the bile directed against Netanyahu and the Likud Party – who nevertheless seem to continually win in election after election.
- Two of the three main charges against Bibi concern clashes between him and some of the above-mentioned power magnates. The technicalities of the legal charges are to a large extent wallpaper covering other deeper holes and struggles.
Dershowitz notes in the above-mentioned article that “these media companies will seek to influence the political discourse that affects their bottom line, as they simultaneously report on it.”
The Hypocritical oath
Professor Avi Bell (Professor of Law at Bar Ilan University and the University of San Diego, Senior Fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum, and Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Project on the Foundations of Private Law) comments concerning one of the bribery charges – Hollywood magnate Arnon Milchan’s personal gifts of champagne and cigars to Bibi and his wife Sara.
Bell points out that Milchan is on public record as having expressed similar friendship and largesse to Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon and Shimon Peres, as well as to Deputy Prime Ministers Tzipi Livni and Silvan Shalom, Defense and Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Liberman, Finance Minister Yair Lapid etc. Yet no charges on these matters have been or will be filed against Lapid, Livni, Olmert, Peres, Shalom or Sharon.
The laser-like focus on bringing down Netanyahu by any means necessary has been the agenda of much of the media (and the power brokers behind them) for decades.
Years ago, just before Ariel Sharon’s pullout from Gaza (the ‘disengagement’ of 2005), one top Israeli commentator Amnon Abramovich called on his colleagues to go easy on Sharon over possible involvement in a questionable Greek land deal – to treat Sharon “like an etrog” – i.e., to treat him ‘with kid gloves’ – so long as Sharon withdrew unilaterally from the Gaza Strip. The left-leaning media in Israel has treated Bibi in the exactly opposite way.
Judicial overreach and black-robe fever
Dershowitz has noted, “No one should be charged with a crime unless he has willfully crossed a bright line and plainly violated a serious criminal statute. To bring down a duly elected prime minister on the basis of an expansive and unprecedented application of a broad and expandable criminal statute endangers democracy.”
Bell notes that Mandelblit has moved beyond issues of evidence to the probing of the motives of the accused: “The danger in the novel legal theories introduced by Mandelblit is stark. The criminal charges against the prime minister lack legal substance, and they threaten both the rule of law in Israel and the health of its democracy… Mandelblit’s announcement heralds a crisis for Israel’s democracy and the public image of its legal system.”
The challenges in this case bear some resemblance to U.S. constitutional issues today. Should the U.S. Constitution be interpreted in light of what the Constitutional Fathers intended the Constitution to mean, or should the Constitution be re-interpreted anew in every generation, even if that does violence to the Constitution’s original meaning and authorial intent.
A lawyer friend of mine once explained a legal concept known as ‘black robe fever’ – sometimes a judge, after putting on his black robe, begins to think that he is God, “able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
The present charges against Netanyahu shy away from solid and actionable evidence which is necessary for the case to stand up in court. They focus instead on psychological motives. This is seen by a significant amount of Israelis as a politically motivated partisan vendetta. The Attorney General’s actions have the potential to alienate many Israelis’ trust in their own legal system. They also throw a significant curve at the electorate and at the ruling Likud party immediately preceding a significant Israeli election. Mandelblit’s decision has oversized power to shape the election’s result. His move has the potential to move Israel’s judiciary away from its traditionally understood role into greater authority over the legislative and executive branches of government, simultaneously weakening the democratic power of the state.
Character and kings
Regardless of the outcome of the elections, the judicial hearing and any subsequent legal developments, the Scriptures give us some meat to chew on about such matters.
Solomon warns us all in Proverbs: “When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you and put a knife to your throat if you are a man of great appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for it is deceptive food” (Proverbs 23:1-3). All of us need to rein in our appetites, especially around people who would manipulate us for their own gain. Wisdom exhorts us to be extra careful in the face of such temptations.
Proverbs also cautions us about the cost of accepting generous gifts when there might be strings attached: “Do not eat the bread of a selfish man or desire his delicacies. For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, ‘Eat and drink!’ but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments” (Proverbs 23:6-8). Kings and rulers would do well to follow the advice of the wisest king who ever lived.
How should we then pray?
- Pray for Prime Minister Netanyahu to receive God’s heart and perspective about his present situation and his spiritual state
- Pray for God’s justice, righteousness and balance to be done regarding these issues
- Pray for the foiling of wicked machinations on the part of ungodly businessmen
- Pray for God to establish leadership in Israel after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Jeremiah 3:15)
This article originally appeared on David’s Tent, March 2, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Avner and his wife, Rachel, live in the Beersheva region of Israel and are dedicated to stirring up the creative arts, worship, intercession, evangelism and the prophetic gifts within a Jewish and Israeli matrix. They oversee Final Frontier Ministries.
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[Israel 101] US embassy in Israel closes Palestinian affairs unit
Is the closing of the Palestinian affairs unit in the U.S. embassy really the “final nail in the coffin” for US peacemaking efforts as stated by Palestinian official Saeb Erekat? Or is it an attempt at trying to combine diplomatic efforts into a more efficient operation?
It probably depends on your personally invested opinion concerning the motives of the U.S. embassy and American policy towards Palestinians.
The U.S. State Department spokesman, Robert Palladino claims that the “decision was driven by their global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their diplomatic engagements and operations and does not signal a change in U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank or the Gaza Strip” while some Palestinians see the move as a “downgrading” of the way their diplomatic concerns are considered. In fact, for them, it is tantamount to a death knell towards the goal of a two-state solution.
But the merger of the U.S. Jerusalem consulate and embassy into one diplomatic entity will result in issues emanating from Gaza and the West Bank falling into the jurisdiction of U.S. Ambassador David Friedman who is seen as being a long-time supporter of Judea and Samarian settlers. Friedman has also been a vocal, harsh critic of the Palestinian leadership.
However, it should be noted that since there is no formal recognition of Palestine as an independent, self-governing country, there, then, has never been a separate formal Palestinian embassy. Its matters and concerns were always handled by a separate Palestinian affairs unit which was part of the U.S. embassy, and so it’s possible to look at this new outrage as much ado about nothing.
In fact, President Trump has stated that “the U.S. continues to take no position on final status issues, including borders or boundaries and that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties” while assuring both sides that “his administration remains fully committed to efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future to Israel and the Palestinians.”
What is clear is that this new move is seen as yet another deligitimization of Palestinian rights and jurisdiction following last year’s U.S. decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem, thereby formally recognizing Israel’s capital, something which no previous American president ever dared to do. First the embassy move and then the merging of the Palestinian affairs unit – both seen as a propping up of Israel’s sovereignty and dominance – has likely caused Palestinian leaders to feel that this is a subtle but pointed way of endorsing their long-term ally who shares their democratic style of governing.
In truth, the Trump administration has continually cited the failure of Palestinian leaders to forge serious peace talks or make any compromises. Consequently, significant sums of American dollars have been cut, stopping the flow of assistance to Palestinian programs. Needless to say, American/Palestinian relations are very strained, but when met with an unyielding desire to make any concessions or find any middle ground, the consequences are going to be felt one way or another, and so it’s entirely possible that “the desire to work more effectively and efficiently” is yet another way to send a strong message to Palestinians that until they’re ready to come to the table with more flexibility, Israel will continue to be supported and sustained by the U.S. government who sees them as the right horse to back.
Chava Stein, the granddaughter of Jewish European immigrants to the U.S., made Aliyah to Israel in 1993. Married to an Israeli, they live in the center of the country.
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Overcoming obstacles to fulfil your potential
Paul Calvert spoke with Jaz Ampaw-Farr, a past contestant on the TV show The Apprentice. She shared about her traumatic past and how she’s overcome it to inspire others in life and in education.
Paul: What are you doing in Israel?
Jaz: I have the honour of working with the Anglican International School in Jerusalem. My day job is a literacy consultant. I am really passionate about reading, writing and spelling and getting as close to brilliant as we can.
They were my own tickets out of poverty; not just physical poverty but mind-set poverty.
If we can get children by the end of primary school really owning the skills they need, then we can make a huge difference.
At the Anglican International School they have a great vision for making sure that every child, no matter which school they come from, or which language they speak, or which year they are in, gets the best that they can give. It’s quality education in English language so that they can use that to go on and fulfil that potential.
I am supporting with some funky ideas and a bit of systematic planning for that.
Paul: Who inspired you? Tell us about your story and childhood.
Jaz: I always think my childhood is a sad story. If I was going on the X-Factor in the UK, all the contestants have really sad back stories, and that’s what makes them great contestants. I don’t want to particularly win a singing competition, but I do have a great back story.
I am mixed race. I lived with my mum who was white and my dad was unknown.
It was quite a turbulent childhood. She married a man who was very violent and abused us, sexually, physically, and verbally.
We were in an out of foster care, myself and my five brothers and sisters. Throughout this time I felt very alone and very afraid for my life. I didn’t believe I was valuable, I felt worthless. I was scared all the time.
Fortunately in school I was completely blessed.
I worked out I had about 100 teachers between attending nursery school and attending teacher training college. Of them, five, I had one in each key stage as I went through, they did the academic stuff, but they connected with me as a person. They were about engagement and believing in me. They valued me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. I would say “I can’t do it” and they would say “What would it look like if you could?” I would say “I am rubbish I am never going to get this right” and they would say “I believe in you and I am right here.”
Because I never had anyone else, the power of someone just standing shoulder to shoulder with you repeatedly, kind of kept that flame of hope burning that one day I would escape my horrible life.
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The secret for success of the Jerusalem Lions
Last Friday I went to the Kraft Family Sports Campus on the Western outskirts of Jerusalem to play my role as an assistant manager for the Jerusalem Lions football team as they attempted to do something no Israeli football club had ever done, win a third consecutive national championship title. The Lions are a sports team which shares many attributes with every assembly of Christians in the world, and that’s why I’m writing this blog post to try and glean some things from what I’ve experienced and observed in the four years I’ve been with this team that can be useful to whoever might be reading this.
The championship game was tough, as we knew it would be, but in the end the Lions were victorious. After the post-game celebrations I overheard a reporter interviewing one of our coaches, asking him what the “secret sauce” was to the Lions success over the last few years. I was in a hurry to catch a ride home so I didn’t stop to listen to his response, but on the way home in the car I thought about it a lot and this is what I came up with.
We’ve got great coaches and some very talented players, but other teams also have those elements. There’s other things we have that give us some advantages over other teams, but they mostly help on the margins.
What makes the Lions so special, and so successful, can be stated in one word, “love”, kind of like what someone once said Believers should have for each other (John 13:34-35).
The players, coaches, managers and trainers which make up the Lions organization are men and women from many different backgrounds. It’s likely that many, perhaps most of us, would never have met each other, much less become friends, if it wasn’t for the team. I’m the only Jewish Believer on the team (I’m pretty sure there’s at least one on every other IFL team) and there’s one Arab guy who’s kind of a nominal Catholic. The rest of the guys have various levels of Jewish religious observance, from a few who are Orthodox rabbis to others who are pretty secular or “traditional.”
We all have different professions and vastly different political views, so much so that at team barbecues or on the bus when we’re travelling for an away game the discussions about politics and social issues can get quite rowdy.
But we all love the game of football, the city of Jerusalem that we’re all VERY proud to represent, and most of all each other. That love is a powerful glue which holds everything together despite our differences and gives us the strength and motivation to play our individual roles which are meant to contribute, in big and small ways, towards the goals and purposes our leaders tell us we’re all aiming for.
Now, wouldn’t it be simply MARVELLOUS if all the congregational fellowships we attend worked like that?
Believers have the first part. We’re all from different backgrounds, nationalities, tribes, professions, political persuasions, etc. Now we need to work on loving each other enough to unite our efforts towards the goal we’re all supposed to be agreed upon and working towards. It might help to keep in mind that although very few of us live and work in the earthly, temporal city of Jerusalem, in chapter 12 of Hebrews it speaks of a “heavenly Jerusalem” which all Believers should love.
Brothers and sisters, I consider myself tremendously blessed to be part of a sports team which has the kind of brotherly love, dedication, motivation, drive and success that EVERY organization, religious, secular or whatever, would like to have. The leadership of this team often encourages everyone to think about what they can do to help the team accomplish its goals, and that’s what I will close by asking of you, beloved readers.
Think about what you can do today, tomorrow and every day, to help your congregation and by extension the corporate Body of Christ worldwide, to bring us all closer to the plans, purposes and goals that the Bible tells us our King has for us to accomplish. The best place to start (I’m saying this to myself even as I’m saying it to you) is by following Jesus’ command to “love your neighbour as yourself.”
It works really good when people do that. Just ask the Jerusalem Lions.
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.