Why missile attacks from Gaza?
It seems incredulous to us that Hamas would start such a confrontation against Israel, in which they can only lose and cause destruction to their own people. I asked a dear Arab friend who responded this way:
“In recent weeks there have been many protests against Hamas among the people of Gaza, under the slogan, “We want to live”. And Hamas has murdered some of the protesters, broke the bones of others, and others were put in jail. The situation is very painful.
As we have seen in the past, when the spotlight gets turned on Hamas, they know how to deflect the spotlight toward Israel, and so they start shooting rockets at Israel.
By shooting the rockets, they cause the attention of the greater Arab world to be taken off Gaza and directed to Israel. It is a diversionary tactic. This happens every time there is criticism against Hamas.
It is so sad. We have many contacts in Gaza; the people have no food to eat. The average salary is about 100 USD per month for those who are blessed enough even get such work.”
Spinning the Narrative
Another viewpoint voiced from a number of news sources in Israel is that behind the scenes Iran is pushing for escalation, to further its agenda for a massive attack to destroy Israel totally, and in the meantime to disrupt any possible compromise peaceful arrangement.
In any case, the people of Gaza, caught between the conflicts of Iran, Hamas, PLO, Jihad, etc. are suffering horribly.
The current situation affects the upcoming political elections in Israel, but it is not clear who will benefit or how. Every group is trying to “spin” the narrative in their own favor.
Please pray fervently!
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, March 27, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.
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Approaching Israeli elections in 2019
As we approach the 2019 elections in Israel, many outside Israel are wondering about how elections work in Israel and what is likely to unfold in the upcoming elections.
ABOUT ISRAEL’S SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT:
- Israel’s government is a “parliamentary democracy”.
- A parliament is a kind of democratic government run by representatives (indirect democracy).
- In Israel, citizens vote for a single political party and not for individual candidates.
- Some parties allow their members to vote in primaries to decide who will lead the party, but other parties simply leave the assignment of roles to the leaders in the party.
- Israel’s parliament is referred to as the Knesset.
- In order for members of a party to secure a place in the Knesset, at least 3.5% of those who vote in the elections must vote for that party.
- There are 120 seats in Israel’s parliament, so if every party received exactly 3.5% of the votes, then there could theoretically be as many as 28 parties in the parliament and each of them would have between 4 & 5 seats.
- In reality, there are typically between 10 and 13 parties that get enough votes to secure a place in the Knesset.
A 2013 Freedom in the World annual survey and report by U.S.-based Freedom House ranked Israel as the Middle East and North Africa’s only free country. Comparing Israel to the rest of the Middle East isn’t saying much, but an impressively high number of parties (over 100) have managed to secure a seat in Israel’s Knesset at some point since 1948. This is huge in terms of representing the great diversity of opinions and concerns of Israel’s voters.
HOW IT WORKS:
The most voted for party gets a number of seats in the Knesset proportional to the percentage of the votes they received in the elections. In this year’s elections, it’s looking like the majority party will attain somewhere between 30 and 40 seats in the Knesset (out of 120). The second most voted for party will likely secure slightly fewer seats, and the remainder of parties will secure between 3 and 10 seats per party in the parliament.
THE CURRENT SITUATION:
The two parties that are ahead in the polls in Israel at this point are the Likud and Blue-White. Blue-White was actually formed in recent weeks almost for the sole purpose of ousting Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister of Israel and is currently ahead in the polls and so possibly capable of replacing Netanyahu as Prime Minister. The Likud on the other hand has been around for quite some time and has a fairly strong and reliable track record on a number of issues.
In addition to the Likud’s strong track record and clear stance on a number of hot topics in Israel, Netanyahu still has greater popularity in Israel than Benny Gantz (the man who will replace Netanyahu as Prime Minister should Blue-White win in the elections). On the other hand, Blue-White boasts numerous members who are especially attractive to a high number of Israeli voters. In addition to representing fairly moderate but favorable stances on key issues in Israel, Blue-White offers leadership by some of the most renowned leaders in Israel today with a strong record of service to Israel in the military who have voiced to varying degrees a willingness to prioritize the “peace” process (something that is especially attractive to many voters in Israel).
There is some concern that Blue-White is more likely to give in to the pressures from the international community to pursue peace through “land-swaps” in Judea and Samaria (referred to by some as “the West Bank”). However, most political commentators assert that any move towards the two-state “solution” is unlikely as the Blue-White party platform as a whole has refused to define their stance on this issue. Furthermore, recent polls show that most of Israel is “right-leaning”, nearly 85% of the population would have an issue with the government agreeing to give up any part of Judea and Samaria. Lastly, Blue-White will need to form a “government” if elected which will likely be comprised of at least 20 people who are not in the Blue-White party, and many of these people would likely oppose any moves towards a two-state solution as well.
THINGS TO PRAY FOR:
That said, it is important that we continue to pray that the Israeli parliament will continue to pursue Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria, especially in accordance to Joel 3:1–3 where God promises judgment to those who divide HIS land. We should pray that the parties that get elected this April 9th will address key issues in Israel such as true freedom for all citizens in Israel, regardless of religious affiliation; the rapidly expanding population and the lack of infrastructure to support such growth; severe traffic congestion; approaches to growing the economy in Israel, and supporting the exporting of Israeli products; and legislation that brings light in dark places with regards to things such as prostitution, human trafficking, caring for orphans, widows, Holocaust survivors, veterans, and all others who are currently oppressed or suffering. Lastly, please pray that the LORD will appoint someone who will fear Him, and have a heart for God’s principles.
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
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PARASHAT SHEMINI (EIGHT)
VAYIKRA (LEVITICUS) 9:1–11:47
Have you ever wondered why God gave Israel laws regarding food in the Bible? In this week’s portion, we read God’s instructions to Israel with regard to the animals that they can eat and cannot eat. I personally find it very compelling, but sadly, it is often a great cause of division among us in the Body of Messiah. But I want to suggest that this does not need to be an issue, if we truly understand why God gave these boundaries to His people. In the end, it’s not really about the food. And let’s remember, Yeshua is the onlyway to salvation; God’s laws are tools for us to live abundantly — they are not in themselves a way for us to earn our salvation.
With that being said, let’s see what our Scripture portion says on this issue:
For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate (or sanctify) yourselves and be holy; for I am holy. And you shall not defile yourselves with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. For I am the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, to be your God; thus you shall be holy for I am holy.
The greater meaning behind the dietary laws is the importance of being holy for the LORD! We are to sanctify and rededicate ourselves to Him. We do this by walking in His ways, which He not only instructed us to walk in, but also demonstrated to us in the person of Yeshua. He also gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us in our walk with Him.
It is very interesting that in the verses above, it is written that He is the LORD that brought Israel from out of Egypt. Why would God remind Israel about this act of redemption in connection to the dietary laws and holiness? We find the answer, actually, in the New Covenant, where a similar concept is found in 1 Peter 1:13–21:
Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all yourbehavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Messiah. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Redemption and holiness go hand in hand! This is God’s economy in His Kingdom.
Yeshua did not redeem us in order for us to say “I am redeemed”, but rather He made us new creations, and lit the fire in our hearts so that we will live a new life in accordance to His ways. His holiness enables us to be holy, which allows us to shine His light to the world!
So, this issue isn’t really about the food in itself. It’s all about God and His holiness. I encourage you to take time to pray about this, and seek His direction in your life.
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.
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Gen 1:14-31 — Days 4-6 of creation
Mk 10:5-6 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
We have seen in the first three days of Creation how God created the heavens and the Earth, at first in a state of darkness and lack of order, and without any gap of time between the first and second verses. Then He began to speak things into existence, and made distinctions: between light and darkness, between waters and waters, between seed and seed, between kinds/species and other life in their own kind. God was forming the Earth for its unique place in His created universe, and for the unique life that He filled on it.
The Son of God came here to live and die as a sacrifice to cleanse all things on the Earth and in the heavenlies. And it is to Earth that He is returning! In God’s plan for eternal life with Him, the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. Redemption has always been the cornerstone of God’s purpose for this creation, in order to create the perfect and eternal new Heavens and new Earth after He fulfills all of His purposes for the present creation. We are all called to make proper distinctions in order to choose wisely, in accord with God’s will and His purpose. This is because He loves us, and it shows that we love Him. The Kingdom of God is light, and eternal life in light. To refuse to live in God’s light is to be eternally condemned to darkness, outside of God’s presence.
v 14-19 God spoke, and created lights in the firmament/skies to divide the day from the night. These lights (light-givers) are for signs and seasons, and for days and years. The sun, moon, and stars He placed in the heavenly places to serve the Earth. They are not to be worshipped, but the Creator of them is to be worshipped. His name under Heaven is Yeshua/Jesus. (Acts 4:10-12) Israel’s calendar is luni-solar, with the moon subject to the sun, whose light she reflects, having no light of her own. (The Christian calendar is solar, the Sun/Son ruling; the Islamic calendar is lunar, rejecting the Sun of Righteousness, with healing in His wings.)
The sun is the great light that rules the day; the moon is the small light, and, with the stars, rules the night. (Ps 136:1-9) God stretched out the heavens like a curtain. (Is 40:21-22; 45:12; 51:13; Ps 104:1-2) The universe did not expand over eons of time; God placed the lights that He created in the skies that He made, and stretched them out to accomplish His will and purpose. God saw that it was good. The evening and morning – the same time-frame and period as the first one day, and before the sun and moon came into being – were a fourth day.
The extent of the universe is vast, and cannot be measured, nor its laws broken. (Jer 31:35-37; 33:14-26) This provides covenantal security for all who trust in the LORD. It is based on what Moses wrote that God said and did in Genesis 1!
Just as we saw that the third day speaks of death and resurrection in the life of plants, so here also we can see the death of Messiah in the setting of the sun, and His resurrection in its rising – darkness and light – each evening and morning.
God’s Word goes out to accomplish what He sent it for – an “expanding universe” — and it returns to Him having accomplished His will – a “contracting universe”. We even see that near the end, the heavens will roll up like a scroll! (Is 34:4; Rev 6:12-17)
In evolutionary theory, the sun came long before the Earth; but God Himself tells us that He created the Earth, and then the sun a few days afterward. There was already light before the sun; and that light is the light of God, which will be the light of the eternal City of God. Who do we believe knows the facts, and the truth of them? Interestingly, God says that these celestial lights are given for signs. Yeshua/Jesus, the uncreated Light, came into the world during the fourth 1000-year period of history; in prophetic historical time, on the fourth day, the day that God placed the sun into its place of service. (2Pt 3:8; Hos 6:1-2)
The moon’s cycles determine the times of the months, and Israel’s holidays which YHVH appointed for them are given according to the time of the lunar month, such as, the first day, the 14th day, the 10th day. A New Moon is darkened, and marks the beginning of each month (as the Creation was dark before the light). (see
The sun, moon, and stars will also display a ‘sign’, pointing to and telling us that the wrath of God is about to come against His enemies, and against the enemies of His people — Israel/the Jews, and Christians – after the great tribulation/Jacob’s Trouble, and just before the Lord returns; and He gives a final chance for all people everywhere to repent and call upon His Name to save them. (Joel 2:10-11, 30-32; Mt 24:29;Acts 2:19-21; Rev 6:12-17) The Word of God comforts believers in Jesus that we will not suffer GOD’s wrath. (Mt 3:7-12; Rom 5:9;1Thes 5:9-10)
v 20-23 From the waters, God spoke and created all kinds of water creatures/animals, and also of birds that fly in the firmament of the skies. God created teems – an abundance – of living things to glorify Him and to enjoy Him and His goodness. God also created the great sea creatures. Just as with the vegetation, each of all of these water and sky (and land) creatures are each according to its kind. No species can reproduce or become another kind.
And God saw that it was good, and He blessed them by speaking to them commandments to live by in accordance with His will and purpose: be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the land.
Notice that God did not tell them to refill/replenish, but to fill. There was no prior Creation that God judged, and now was starting over with a renewed one. (Nor is the New Covenant a renewed covenant, but a new one.)
And the evening and the morning were a fifth day.
There is scientific and archeological evidence that dinosaurs existed in human history, even cave drawings. These animals are also referred to in other passages in the Bible – in the Torah, in the Prophets, and in the Writings.
All of these creatures which God made from the waters are called “living souls/creatures/beings”, and so are the land animals (created on the sixth day) and human beings. This distinguishes all of the animals from the plants. The animals and Man (male and female) have souls, that the Creator did not give to vegetation.
v 24-25 Here God made from the earth/the dry land the animals of the ground. And it was so. Each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
The climax of these six days is the creation of man – male and female – in the image and likeness of this unique and holy Creator God. This sets man apart – distinguishes human beings – from all other created things, including animals and probably angels.
v 26-28 “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion….” The Triune God communicated together to create Man – both male and female together — to be unique and special, even as YHVH is. The whole rest of the Bible tells us what He is like, and how we are to reflect Him in our lives. We are also three-in-one as individuals — with a soul, body, and spirit. We are suited to have fellowship with God in a way that no other created thing can. When Yeshus/Jesus came as the Son of Man in flesh and blood in order to redeem us, He came as a man, and not as a monkey, nor as an angel. When He returns, He is personally again coming as the Son of Man, and not as an alien or as some singularity with AI.
God blessed them, and spoke, giving commandments to hear and do. Notice over what God gave dominion to Adam (and to Eve), and over what He did not: over the fish, birds, and every living thing that moves on the Earth, but not over other humans! (Even after the Flood, God did not give dominion to man over other humans.) We will rule with Messiah over others only during the Millennial Kingdom, after those who have part in the First Resurrection have been conformed to the image of the Son of God, which is not yet perfected even in born-again believers in our present bodies because of sin. (Rom 8:28-30; Rev 2:25-29; 20:4-6)
v 29-31 In the beginning, both man and animals were vegetarians (not vegans), by order and provision from God. And it was so. (After the Flood – a hugely significant event in human history – the moral God and Creator of the amazing human body gave all people permission to eat meat, except for the blood. (Gen 9:1-7; 2Pt 3:5-7)) “Then God saweverything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
The sixth day brought God’s creation to its finished state, on the last day. (It would appear that Yeshua created the angels on the first day, and they witnessed what the LORD said and did. (Job 38:1-7; Jn 1:1-3;Col 1:15-17; Ps 148) God’s Spirit and Word brought the order and purpose that He wanted. It was all very good, perfectly according to His will for His purpose and glory. Yeshua tells us to abide in the faith until the end. What He began He will finish, and it will all be as God has spoken, and according to His will and purpose. We look for the perfect to come, in the New Heavens and New Earth where righteousness dwells, and there will be no more sin of any kind, and God will be all in all! (1Cor 13:10; 15:20-28; 2Pt 3:11-13; Rev 21 – 22)
The main message of Genesis chapter 1 is that God – the one God who is a plural unity – is declaring to Israel, and through Israel the Church, and through us to the world as His witnesses – that He (YHVH) is the eternal and only God: He is the Creator of the heavens and the Earth, and the seas, and all that is in them. All other gods are impostors and idols. YHVH is the God of gods. He is revealing Himself – who He is, and what He has done, and will do — to His covenanted people and to all creation to know Him, and to worship Him alone. It is He (even Yeshua/Jesus) who is the God of Hosts, who made the sun, the moon, and the stars, and all things, both visible and invisible. He is the Judge, the lawgiver, the King, and our Savior. He is holy. He is good. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present. Each thing created by God is for a purpose, and we who have been saved from our sins and sinfulness through faith in the truth of the gospel have been called back into God’s purpose to cooperate with Him through living faith and obedience, a lively hope, and love.
Creation relates to the Kingdom of God, not to us to make our kingdoms instead of and against His. (This was Lucifer’s sin, and he causes many others to follow him in this same way.) The necessity for redemption and salvation — for the cross — was already God’s plan before He created the world. The Creator and Redeemer is to be worshipped, not any created thing, nor the work of man’s hands. The seventh day Sabbath is a reminder to Israel of our Creator, and of our Redeemer and Deliverer, who created everything in six days, and rested on the seventh, and gives us rest. (Ex 20:8-11; Dt 5:12-15) The New Heavens and New Earth for eternity are for those who fear the LORD and love Jesus/Yeshua for who He is and all that He has done for us. (1Cor 2:6-12; Is 64:4; Ps 31:19; Ja 1:12)
Paganism and evolution both describe a universe where violence (evil) has always existed, even believing that the Earth and the moon came about through violent collisions with other heavenly objects. Such a worldview creates a dilemma that there will never be a solution to escape the dread of eternal existence with evil. Jesus tells us that unless He returns, no one is left alive, as everyone seeks to prove that they are the strong who survive! (Mt 24:21-22) Only those who know the Father and the Son are certain that there is indeed a solution, which the Creator Himself has spoken and done what is required.
It is a grave mistake for both Jews and Christians to add to or to take away from the Word of God, which Moses wrote, as did other writers and prophets in the Old Testament, and later apostles and other writers in the New. They all support what is written by Moses in Genesis and in the rest of the Torah. The Scriptures are all profitable for instruction, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. It is the glory of the one, true, living God to entrust His people to represent Him faithfully – in word and in deed. This is our privilege, our honor, and our responsibility. The devil is a liar and a deceiver, and he targets the elect to deceive us, if possible, into thinking that we can be like God if only we do not believe what God has said, but rather listen to the serpent. Humans know only a little, and that even in part and as through a cloudy glass. YHVH God knows all things fully. May we all be found faithful to keep His words in this adulterous and sinful generation, serving our God and Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, March 23, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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Golan Heights recognition by the US – The timing couldn’t be better
Recognition of the Golan Heights couldn’t have come at a better time for the embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose many criminal allegations have been the main source of chatter among Israelis, since the news of his indictment came out, casting grave doubt as to whether he’d be able to hold on to his post with Israeli elections only weeks away.
But all that changed Monday when U.S. President Donald Trump declared and signed a proclamation to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Here’s a small background of why this is significant.
It was just 52 years ago at the end of the 1967 Six Day War that the region came under Israeli control where Syrian Arabs comprised most of the area’s inhabitants. Although many subsequent pursuits were made by Syria to retake that coveted piece of land, attempts never proved to be successful.
Today, there are more than 30 Jewish settlements and over 40,000 residents (comprised of Jews, Druze and Alawites) who have turned the Golan into one of the most flourishing tourist destinations imaginable. Travelers come to see the many jaw-dropping gorgeous waterfalls, brooks, rivers and other imposing nature sites while tasting some of the best, award-winning wines which are grown in the region. Boasting some of the finest restaurants and boutique-hotels which redefine the word “pampering,” the Golan is home to some of the best vacation spots in the country. There is the famous Mt. Hermon ski resort, lush orchards where delectable fruits are produced and optimum soil and weather conditions which have facilitated the cultivation of many vineyards which have flourished there over the past 20-30 years.
But more important than all of that is the militarily strategic value of this area and its security implications for all of Israel. Perched high up at an altitude of 2,814 meters (9,232 feet), visibility extends about 40 miles north where Syria’s capital city of Damascus can be clearly seen, thereby giving Israel a superior advantage for monitoring any possible threats. It is also the perfect buffer zone between Israel’s enemies and the Jewish state. In addition to all of this, the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s main source of fresh water is a significant part of the reason that the Golan Heights is such a precious and valuable resource to Israel.
All of these treasured and priceless assets are reason enough for Israel to hold on to land which, according to the scriptures, is part of God’s inheritance to them (both Bashan and Gilead which the tribes of Manasseh, Gad and Reuben liberated from the Amorites are part of the Golan Heights). This territory was part of the covenant made with Abraham in Genesis 15.
Historically, here are some of the events which took place, further solidifying Israeli ownership of the Golan Heights:
- Battle on the Golan between King Ahab and the army of Aram with a Jewish victory at the present site of Kibbutz Afik, which lies a few miles east of the Sea of Galilee.
- After the end of the Babylonian Exile, and during the Second Temple Period, Jews returned to their homes on the Golan. Subsequently the returnees were attacked by gentiles and Judah Maccabee brought his forces up to the Heights to defend them.
- At the conclusion of the Hasmonean Period, King Alexander Yannai finally re-conquered the Golan and Jews returned yet again. They rebuilt communities in central Golan, including the major cities of Banias and Susita, which formed part of the defense of the Golan.
- Their residents fought heroically against the Roman legions during the Great Revolt of 135 AD, known also as the Second Uprising. Some 10,000 residents of Gamla alone perished fighting against Rome.
- Second century Jewish coins were found on the Golan after its liberation during the last days of the June, 1967 Six Day War. These ancient coins were inscribed with the words, “For the Redemption of Holy Jerusalem.”
- Archaeologists have found the remains of 34 synagogues on the Golan.
- Jewish life returned yet again in the latter years of the 19th century when members of the Bnei Yehuda society from Safed purchased land on the Golan. In 1891, Baron Rothschild purchased around 18,000 acres in what is present day Ramat Magshimim.
- The Jewish pioneers of the First Aliyah (immigration) began to farm land they had purchased in the Horan region until the Turkish Ottoman occupiers evicted them in 1898. Their land was then seized, and in 1923 the entire Golan was given away by Britain to the French Mandate over Syria and Lebanon.
- Zionist leaders had earlier demanded the Golan be included within the new Jewish National Home because of its immense historical roots in biblical and post-biblical Jewish history. But Jewish liberation of the ancestral land was not possible until Israel was forced to fight for its very survival during the Six-Day War.
- The Golan Heights was officially annexed to Israel in 1980.
There is no question that President Trump has seemingly assisted Netanyahu at a critical time in his campaign. With this boost, it’s possible that the election outcome will turn in Bibi’s favor, but maybe more significant than that is that God may actually be using Trump to further accomplish His purposes for Israel by making sure that the inheritance given to the Jewish nation remains in their hands into perpetuity.
Cookie is the former managing director of Makor HaTikvah Messianic School in Jerusalem.