Please note: Due to meetings at CFI UK, there will be no report next week.

The Word:  LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, "There is no help for him in God." Selah.  But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the LORD with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill. Selah. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O LORD; Save me, O my God… Your blessing is upon Your people. (Psalm 3)

…For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by. I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me. He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah.  (Psalm 57:1-3)

*      Pointers for prayer:  This week’s report comes from Westminster at Lobby Day.  Even though this day will be finished by the time you read this report, there is still so much to pray into here.  2017 is already bringing great challenges not only to the nation of Israel itself but also to those who stand with her.  With Jerusalem celebrating her 50th anniversary of reunification, and the Belfour 100, we can only wonder at what the rest of this year will bring.  Pray that we would see much fruit for all the discussions held with our Members of Parliament.  Pray that more UK MPs would come to an understanding of the truth regarding Israel, and pray for those MPs who already support the nation of Israel would be encouraged and strengthened in their stand.

*      The 27th January is Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK. We must never be allowed to forget the evil of the Holocaust. Please bring all the events happening over the next few weeks before the LORD in prayer. Pray events will be well supported – especially where schools and youth are involved.

*      Remember too, the thousands of Holocaust Survivors still alive today. May those Survivors, even now, find comfort, strength, and the LORD's blessing on their lives.  Do uphold in your prayers and support all of the work CFI do with Holocaust survivors in Israel.  To bless this work, click here.

*      We believe God is calling Christians to come alongside Israel and cry out to God on Israel's behalf, to take the deep heart cry of the nation into our own hearts; to intercede against her enemies, and to believe in the promises of God for Israel. The inarticulate heart cry of the nation of Israel may well be that of David in Psalm 57 (part included above), and we need to be able to express that cry to God with her. Please continue to pray that the Lord God would indeed shelter Israel in the shadow of His wings.  Pray for protection over the borders around Israel!  (Psalm 121:3-4)

You are called Zion for whom no one cares     A powerful word from the Scriptures really hit home recently.  It is taken from Jeremiah 30:17 where we read, ‘But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,' declares the LORD, 'because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.'  Seventy two years might seem a very long time, yet seventy two years after the liberation of Bergen-Belsen by the British, attitudes towards the Jewish people – and in particular to Israel as a nation – have taken on yet again a dark and ugly shadow.  Sometimes that shadow is unseen, and sometime the hostility against Zion is very subtle, yet the shadow remains.  Seventy two years after the liberation of another concentration camp – Auschwitz – this time liberated by the Russians - the soil surrounding the former Nazi death camp remains so polluted by the ashes of those who were murdered and burned there that little will grow in that area.  Some even say that birds don’t sing in that place - even today.  On January 27, 1945, Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Soviets, nearly eight months before the war officially ended. By the time they arrived though, many of the inhabitants had been sent out on a death march. When the Soviets arrived at the camp, around 7,000 people, all sick and dying, remained. In the five years it was open, an estimated 1.1 million* people were murdered at the concentration camp, around 90 per cent of whom were Jewish.  Sadly, it is often heard in today’s Middle East that the Islamic hatred that terrorises Israel will finish what Hitler started.

*In the late 1980s the Auschwitz Museum calculated that at least 1.1 million prisoners were killed at the Auschwitz group of camps and that 90% of these were Jews.  However, this is a deliberately cautious figure. Most modern Holocaust scholarship suggests figures in the range 1.1 to 1.5 million, with over 1 million being Jewish men, women and children.  Much of the difficulty arises from the fact that before the Soviet troops arrived, the SS destroyed most of the records at Auschwitz.  Rudolf Hoess, the first commandant of Auschwitz, stated that the number was 'up to 3 million'. 

The Holocaust was of course a systematic, state-sponsored murder of six million Jews and many other victims (another five million) by the Nazi-Germans and their collaborators during World War II.  However did you know - the Holocaust is one of the most thoroughly researched periods of history?  When my wife and I first set up the Christian Friends of Israel Holocaust Exhibition (which currently can been seen in Hawick in the Scottish Borders), the head Librarian was thrilled to have the photographic exhibition in her Library, and commented on how much it angered her that people could actually deny the Holocaust took place.  The amount of existing research is enormous and growing constantly as historians pour through archives full of surviving documents and artefacts. While important questions remain to be researched, nearly all trained historians who have studied this period agree on the basic facts: The Nazi's ‘Final Solution’ was an official, systematic program of extermination of the Jewish race involving mass murder on an industrial scale which ‘succeeded’ in killing around six million Jews, or approximately half of the Jewish population of Europe, before it was ended by the Allies' victory over Germany in 1945.  It is indeed therefore a mystery as to how anyone could even suggest that the Holocaust never happened.  So with this in mind, why on earth during Obama’s final three days as President of the USA name an aide who bragged of whitewashing Iran's Holocaust-denying regime to the Holocaust memorial council?

Indeed, in the last three days of Barack Obama’s presidency, it would appear that Obama wanted his legacy to be seen as some form of ‘distaste’ against Israel and the Jews.  Obama declared that before he left the Whitehouse that he would be remembered for being the President who created the ‘two state solution’ and who brought peace to the Middle East between Jew and Arab – this of course he failed spectacularly at and ended his presidency a million miles away from any peace agreement.  Was this the reason he spent his final three days in office making many cynically bad decisions?  His final appointments to administration positions, including adding 10 members to the Holocaust Memorial Council including the one and only Ben Rhodes, whose role as Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications came to an end last Friday with the inauguration of President Donald Trump.  Rhodes was a leading advocate of the Iran nuclear deal and a vocal critic of Israeli settlement policies, declaring the Israel settlements as “illegal” (even though they are clearly not illegal).  In response, American Spectator Managing Editor Melissa Mackenzie tweeted: “So Ben Rhodes, who is a veritable enemy of Israel, Obama appoints to Holocaust Memorial Council.  The man is a spite machine.”  U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer tweeted, “No joke: Obama names aide who bragged of whitewashing Iran’s Holocaust-denying regime to Holocaust memorial council.”

But it didn’t end there.  Even as the ceremony of inauguration for Donald Trump as President was about to begin on Friday, Barack Obama handed the Arab Palestinians $221 million (£177 million) literally hours before he left office.  The U.S. State Department under Obama released the funds to Mahmoud Abbas, who still allows his PA authority to teach hatred towards Israel in his schools, on PA controlled TV, and who gives money as rewards to families of suicide bombers, and blesses Islamic terrorist in jails with a life time supply of cash.  So even as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were walking through the Crypt of the Capital for Donald Trump's inauguration ceremony, in Washington on January 20, 2017, the State Department was handing over to the Palestinians 221 million dollars.   However, the payment itself has been frozen by the State Department under President Trump.  The money came from federal aid the US provides to the so-called ‘West Bank’ and Gaza, aid that totalled about $355 million in 2015. The sum released by Obama during his last hours in office had been held up by a group in Congress that included Reps. Ed Royce of California and Kay Granger of Texas.  Dr. Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies stated, “The easiest way to sum it up is that Congress had been looking at various behaviours from Palestine — unilateral attempts at statehood, corruption, incitement of violence, and paying salaries to people in jail for terrorism — and that's why the hold has been there.”  Schanzer characterized the move by Obama as both shocking and “a strange message to send.”  Schanzer stated, “I was tracking President Obama's 11th-hour moves on the Palestinians, and this issue never came up once ... Most analysts and observers didn't think Obama would or could do this.”   

When we consider the above, along with what we have witnessed recently with the UNESCO votes and the plans of the Paris UN conference, it’s almost as if the Word of God above in Psalm 3 and Psalm 57 was written solely with today in mind.  The Word of God is a living Word of course and certainly can speak into our lives today, and I'm aware we need to be careful of taking sections of Scripture out of context; however these two Psalms really spoke to me regarding the battles Israel is facing today.  The nation of Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries, indeed the Middle East is made up of 99.9% Arab/Muslim countries, leaving Israel with 0.1% of land mass, and even this tiny amount is being fought over by both the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who has repeatedly spoken of the importance of 'implementing the principles of Yasser Arafat' (to wipe Israel off the map) and the Islamic militant Hamas group.  So why is it that the majority of British MPs want a ‘Two-State solution’, and completely ignore or deny the laws which have already been decreed regarding Israel? 

As I mentioned last week, in countering bias and misinformation about the Arab-Israel conflict, it is impossible to understand the complex legal implications of the Arab-Israel conflict without an acquaintance with the basics of context of the 1920 San Remo Resolution.  Both the San Remo Resolution and the Balfour Declaration charged Britain with the duty to facilitate Jewish immigration and settlement by Jews in the territory which then included Transjordan, which had already been adopted by the other Allied Powers. As a trustee, Britain had a fiduciary duty (the highest standard of care) to act in good faith in carrying out the duties imposed by the Mandate.  Furthermore, as the San Remo resolution has never been abrogated (repealed, revoked or do away) it was and continues to be legally binding between the several parties who signed it. It is therefore obvious that the legitimacy of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Jewish state all derive from the same international agreement at San Remo.  So if the British Members of Parliament, along with the United Nations are reneging on their part to Israel, then they must do likewise to Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.  For details on the San Remo resolution, check out an interesting link here.

Apart from all that is written above, if the United Nations, along with Britain did succeed in creating an Arab Palestinian State in the heartland of Israel (Judea and Samaria), did you know that a Islamic Palestinian state would be just 70 metres from the main road artery running through Central Israel?  This photo was send to me form Barry Shaw in Israel - picture taken from his drone. With Abbas in charge of a potential State of Palestine, it would be bad enough. But imagine if Abbas was kicked out and Hamas took over – as happened in Gaza?  Is it not time to scrap all talk or plans of a Two State Solution?  Yes, we would like our government to make a ‘pledge for peace (#Pledge4Peace) but seeing as the Palestinians have refused negotiations and refused dialogue and co-existence, can we really see peace anytime soon?

Lobby and Briefing day at Westminster    The Lobby and Briefing day – jointly hosted by CFI UK and the Zionist Federation – took place on 25th January and was once again led by ZF’s Eric Moonman and CFI’s Jacob Vince.  Without doubt, this is a unique occasion as many people met together to be better informed about how to challenge concerns and specific issues to the UK government.  We were really encouraged by the large turnout of supporters – both Christians and Jews – in fact on the afternoon in the committee rooms in the Houses of Parliament, some 30 supporters couldn’t access the room due to being over capacity, and we kept having to ask people who had heard many MPs to leave the room to allow other the chance to listen.   Apart from our CFI Office being represented with Jacob Vince, Robin Lane and Julia and myself – we also had some of our Area Reps come along.  As happened last year, we also had a large group of about 30 people (including our Norfolk Reps) come on a coach from Norwich that had been organised especially for the occasion.  Many supporters and advocates of Christian Friends of Israel had also travelled the length and breadth of the UK.  As much of the day for me was taken up with taking the photos for CFI and passing the microphone around to the audience wanting to ask questions, along with trying to record certain areas, I left CFI’s Julia Soakell to take the notes throughout the day.  We are hoping for a full report to be featured in the second addition of the CFI ‘In Touch’ magazine.

On the morning at the Briefing at Marsham Street, Westminster, we were thrilled to have Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev speak.  Regev, who has been in post in the UK since March 2016, has hit the ground running since his arrival, making a point of speaking at challenging venues and engaging with the unexpected, including having a head-to-head debate with the PLO representative in Britain, Manuel Hassassian.  Mark Regev previously served in Israel’s embassies in Beijing and Washington, and most recently as international spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  The Lobby Day followed in the wake of UN Resolution 2334, which was widely regarded in Israel as a harmful attempt to impose final status conditions, as well as disincentivising the Palestinian Authority from returning to the negotiating table.  Regev stated, “The International community must demand the Palestinians return to peace talks without preconditions.”

We also heard from Bassem Eid, founder and director of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group.  Eid commented on the attempt by Obama in his last hours of office to send millions of dollars of aid to the PA – and questioned whether the PA will be ever held accountable to for funds sent to them.  CFI’s Chief Executive Jacob Vince stated that, “Obviously as Christians we have to believe in God’s timing and that the promises made to Israel about the land and people are all written for us in the Bible.”  He said that in the political sphere these things are not always in a straight line – and responsibility also rests on the government of Israel – as they are accountable.  We are friends of Israel – friends with views –but regards the issues, we must try to do what we believe but also allow God to work it out.

The ZF’s Lobby Day for Israel, run every year in partnership with Christian Friends of Israel UK, brings activists from across the political and religious spectrum into parliament, where they speak directly with their elected representatives.  Lobby Day for Israel 2017 encouraged politicians to back a ‘Pledge for Peace,’ consisting of three principles that they stated would ‘better facilitate positive, pragmatic and pro-active engagement in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’.  The three principles of the pledge were: 1) Direct Negotiations, 2) Dialogue Not Boycotts, and 3) Support Coexistence.  The ZF stated, “Endorsing the principles would be an opportunity for politicians to display a balanced and realistic approach to the conflict.” A social media campaign (#Pledge4Peace) on the day encouraged people to share photos of themselves with the pledge card.  Tweets and Facebook posts were also made on the CFI social media.

The various speakers invited at the Lobby day included MPs from most parties.  The list included Lord Stuart Polak CBE (Conservative); Bob Blackman (Conservative, Harrow East); David Burrowes (Conservative, Enfield, Southgate); Joan Ryan (Labour, Enfield North); Louise Ellman (Labour, Liverpool, Riverside); Theresa Villiers (Conservative, Chipping Barnet); Baroness Ruth Deech (Independent Peer); Ian Austin (Labour, Dudley North), Matthew Offord (Conservative, Hendon Central), and Caroline Ansell (Conservative, Eastbourne).  In addition to those listed above, there were also speeches by Jerry Lewis, UK Correspondent for Israel Radio, and Arieh Miller, Chief Executive of the Zionist Federation.

David Soakell  

(CFI Church Liaison Officer (UK) & WoZ News Report Correspondent)

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Christian Friends of Israel UK & Jerusalem, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, & Israel National Radio