The Word: Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth… I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you… (Isaiah 46:3-10) 

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD! Awake as in the ancient days, in the generations of old… So the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; Sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 51:9-11) 

*   Pointers for prayer:  Israel celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut last Tuesday.  As the re-birthed state is another year older, may we, who are called to uphold the nation of Israel by our prayer, remain faithful to the God of Israel, and pray for His continued protection for the whole nation.  As Israel celebrate, pray that the nation would have a clear vision of what God has called them to be, and that the strong resolute spirit of the Jewish people would enable them to see the Lord God at work within them.  Pray that the Lord would pour out His Spirit upon Israel - especially upon the young people so that His works can be declared to future generations.  May they stay united, flourish and never forget the One Who holds His hand over their existence.

*   As I stated two weeks ago, world events appear to be getting out of control.  If we look at North Korea, Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO etc. – of whom all are threatening Israel or attempting to remove the Jewish people from Israel – then we must realise there is much to ponder on and pray into here.  Before we do that however, let us seek the Lord to quieten our heart, so that the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon each of us; and that the Spirit of wisdom and understanding; the Spirit of counsel and might; the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord might enable us to truly intercede for these complex and difficult issues regarding all who oppose Israel. Pray that we will be in the correct position (spiritually) to know how to intercede, and have wisdom and discernment for when to speak up and when to remain silent. 

Yom Ha'atzmaut 2017.     Israel this week turned 69 years old.  However, according to the Jewish calendar - it is actually 5777 years young.  After two thousand years of exile, the Jewish nation of Israel was re-birthed on the 14th May 1948, thus fulfilling prophecies in the Word of God from Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah etc.  If only the church at large would truly be like the Bereans in Acts 17, they would be enriched all the more, and would cease from opposing the Lord God! (Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Torah (the Scriptures) every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).  The biblical emphasis on Israel’s ownership does not diminish, but rather increases with the passage of time (See Jeremiah 30:3; Ezekiel 36:24; Amos 9:15.).  Will we see Israel expand further in a time to come? God also promised a second regathering of His people to their land (which has been and continues to be a fulfilment of Scriptures since the 1800s to present day - check out Isaiah 11:11-14 etc.).

Without doubt, this return of the Jewish nation is a miracle which was against all the odds.  From the horrors of watching six million Jews exterminated in the Holocaust, Israel then survived the War of Independence in 1948 that followed as the Arab armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon invaded the re-birthed Jewish state.  Since the 1948 War of Independence, Israel has had to fight many wars with its Arab neighbours. The Arab nations have repeatedly expressed their objective of destroying Israel.  Last Monday, Israel remembered their fallen soldiers during the Yom Hazikaron ceremonies before celebrating their ‘Independence Day’ on Tuesday.  However, even today Israel wakes up to find their enemies seeking their destruction.  Yom Hazikaron is a poignant reminder of the toll of war. Each year Israel remembers Israeli soldiers and citizens who were killed in defending the State of Israel.  The service, which takes place just before Independence Day includes prayers, songs, poems and other tributes as a reminder of the individuals who lost their lives.  Yet even today, Israel’s cities and land are continually threatened by terror. Even today, farmers working the land face the danger of death from snipers, while boys and girls must flee to bomb shelters fearing rockets and missiles.  Yet even so, Israel is still a land and nation of beauty.  Today, one can travel from the snow-capped mountains in the north, via the beautiful Sea of Galilee, before going across to Netanya on the Mediterranean Sea and Tel Aviv.  One can then journey to Jerusalem and over to the Dead Sea, and finally after a hot trek in the Negev desert, swim in the wonderful clear Red Sea at Eilat.  And all this in a nation the size of Wales!

Without doubt, the re-birth of sovereign Israel astounded the world. Never before had an entire race of people been re-established as a nation. When the Jewish people began to make Aliyah (return) to their Biblical homeland in the 1880s, who could have foretold that the culmination of that homecoming would be too late for millions of Jews?  Who could have foreseen the 6 million Jews murdered during the Nazi Holocaust? Who could have known that three short years after the Holocaust, the 1948 War of Independence would be but the first war within Israel for further wars to come? Who would have thought that Israel would have to fight for its very survival in 1948, 1967, 1973, and throughout the years that followed?

But much has changed in 69 years if one thinks of what Israel has done; how the Land and wilderness has blossomed, and how Israel has changed the world through new inventions such as the mobile phone, computers, gadgets like the memory stick, solar windows and a space camera.  Israelis have invented much of the technology used in the world today such as instant messaging, firewall security software, Intel wireless computer chips, numerous medicines, and miniature video camera capsules to examine internal organs.  One of Israel’s sources of pride is the enormous number of inventions and innovations that have taken root on its soil over 69 years — despite challenges of geography, size and diplomacy. The ever-churning Israeli mind has brought us drip irrigation, the cherry tomato, the electric car grid.  Robotic Spine Assists and other surgical robots are transforming spine surgery from freehand procedures to highly accurate, state-of-the-art operations with less need for radiation.  Indeed, a lot has changed in 69 years… yet really... what has changed?  The world still appears to hate the Jews and opposes Israel for simply existing.   

Sixty nine years later, and Israel celebrates her 69th birthday of the re-born nation.  Even as Abbas demands his Islamic state in the heart land of Israel; even as Hamas continues to fire rockets from Gaza; even as Iran and North Korea along with Hezbollah in the north threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map; even as the Middle East continues to rock at the revolt of one Islamic group murdering their own Islam brothers… even in the midst of all this turmoil, Israel celebrates and continues to bless the world with its inventions and humanitarian work.  Sixty nine years of toil and pain… yet we stand as one in saying, “Thank you Israel, for all you have done for our world… may the Lord Almighty bless you and protect you. Shalom Aleichem (שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם‎) and ‘am Yisrael chai (עם ישראל חי)!  - The people of Israel live!

No apology for Balfour Declaration    The UK have firmly told the Arab Palestinians, along with all who oppose the nation of Israel, that there will be no apology regarding the Balfour Declaration.  Her Majesty’s government slammed the door shut regarding an online petition, and stated that it is proud of the role Britain played in re-establishing the Jewish state of Israel. This is indeed good news.  The British government emphatically refused to apologize for the publication, a century ago, of the document that legitimized the re-creation of a future Jewish state, saying instead that it is proud of the role Britain played in establishing Israel.  In February, the Balfour Apology Campaign, run by the ‘Palestinian Return Centre rights group’, launched a petition on the British parliament website calling on Britain to, “openly apologise to the Islamic Arab Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration. The colonial policy of Britain between 1917-1948 led to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation.”  The truth of course is that before 1948, the Palestinian people were actually referred to as the Jewish people, for example what is today’s Jerusalem Post was ‘The Palestine Post’ – a Jewish newspaper. The modern day Arab Palestinians are a modern invention after 1964 when Arafat created the PLO, by taking a redundant name ‘Palestine’ (as the land was now referred to its Biblical name ‘Israel’) and applying it to his terrorists organisation. 

As for the statement, “The colonial policy of Britain between 1917-1948 leading to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation…” again this is completely inaccurate, as there was no Arab Palestinian Nation ruled by Arabs, and never has been.  As for ‘mass displacement’, it was actually the Arab leaders who told their own people to leave so that when the six Arab nations that attacked the tiny Jewish state had wiped Israel out and won the war, then they could return.  The problem was however, the six Arab nations lost the war.  However, what about the 856,000 Jews that were expelled from the Arab Nations?  Why has there been little concern over these? Out of the 856,000 Jews living in Arab countries in 1948, the overwhelming majority found refuge from Arab persecution in Israel. The remaining Jews, like the ‘Arab Palestinians’, were dispersed throughout the world.  Last week the UK Foreign Office posted a response to the petition, stating. “The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which her Majesty’s Government does not intend to apologise,” the response began. “We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel. The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.”  Signed on November 2, 1917 by the UK’s then foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, the declaration announced his government’s intention to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in the Land of Israel. 

However, on top of this, it is impossible to understand the complex legal implications of the Arab-Israel issue without an acquaintance with the basics of context of the 1920 San Remo Resolution.  As I have written before in these reports, 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 etc.) 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, Jordan and the Jewish state all derive from the same international agreement at San Remo.  So if anyone (including the United Nations and UNESCO) attempt to renege on their part to Israel, then they must do likewise to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. 

גְּבוּל (G’vul) - Praying along the borders (part two)   In my last report, I mentioned about the need to be praying along Israel’s borders.  Well, lots of issues have happened since then, but for all those of you who have been praying, we are truly grateful.  However the need continues.   Last Friday, Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) reported that members of the PLO/Fatah Central Committee had sent an official letter of congratulations to Syrian President Bashir Assad expressing support for the Syrian people in its struggle against “the terrorist organizations.”  So who exactly is the PLO? And are not Fatah guilty of acts of terrorism? So is this a case of one terrorist group praising another terrorist group for fighting terrorists?  Really… you couldn't make this up!  However, on Friday 28th April 2017, reports came in that Israel had shot down a Syrian drone over the Golan Heights.  According to sources, Israel fired a Patriot anti-ballistic missile in north Israel, reportedly intercepting a drone that entered Israel’s airspace from Syria. The interception came hours after Israel allegedly struck a Hezbollah arms depot near Damascus International Airport, a move condemned by Russia, which called it a “gross violation of Syrian sovereignty.”

In March 2017, Syria warned that scud missiles would be fired toward Israeli targets if Israel carried out any further air strikes in the war-torn country. Beirut’s Ad-Diyar daily reported that Damascus had prepared four scuds out of their arsenal of 800, which can carry half a ton of explosives, and would launch them without any prior warning if Israel carried out a strike.  Israel’s air defence systems include the Iron Dome, which is designed to shoot down short-range rockets, the Arrow, which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, and the newly operational David’s Sling missile defence system, which is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles and medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles. 

Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah has also warned that the terrorist group is able to hit “the entirety of occupied Palestine with missiles,” but according to a senior Israeli Army officer in the Air Defence Command, Israel is now able to protect more territory from enemy rockets or missiles than before. The border with Syria has been tense since the civil war erupted in 2011, and while Israel is suspected of carrying out strikes against Hezbollah weapons convoys in Syrian territory, it rarely publicly admits to them.  On top of all this of course, is North Korea.  You may remember that when Israel destroyed Syria's nascent nuclear program, it was quickly discovered that North Korea had provided the know-how and hardware to the defiant Arab dictatorship.  It is also known that North Korea is in league with some of the Middle East’s more ‘unsavoury’ players, all of whom want to see Israel annihilated.  As such, few Israeli tears would be shed if Trump followed through on his threats to end the North Korean regime.

Following Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s comments regarding this last week, the North Korean government responded with a stern warning for Israel: “The reckless remarks of the Israeli defence minister are sordid and wicked behaviour and a grave challenge to the DPRK (North Korea).”  The statement went on to threaten Israel and any other nation that damages the "dignity" of the North Korean leadership with “merciless, thousand-fold punishment.”

Finally… pause for thought.   As Yom Ha’atzmaut was starting on Monday evening, I was sat waiting for the ITV programme 'Little Boy Blue' to start on the TV. The programme is a crime drama based on a tragic true story of when eleven-year-old Everton fan Rhys Jones was brutally killed by a shooting. I remember that when this incident took place 10 years ago, this senseless killing shocked the country. Now, ITV has turned the story into a four-part drama. Little Boy Blue revisits the murder of the 11-year-old Liverpool boy Rhys Jones, killed by a local gang member while going home from football practice.  On the evening of August 22, 2007, Jones was caught in the conflict between two gangs while crossing a pub car-park. Sean Mercer – a 16-year-old in one of the gangs began shooting at two members of the rival gang, but one of Mercer's stray bullets hit the 11-year-old in the neck, and Mercer fled the scene. Paramedics spent an hour and a half trying to resuscitate the boy, but were unable to save Rhys Jones' life.

The programme is hard to watch, but what shocked me before the programme started was an advert for holidays in Israel. I was stunned. The advert stated, "Two cosmopolitan Cities on one unforgettable break. Visit Jerusalem's breath-taking beauties with a captivating blend of antiquity and contemporary, cultural treasures and world heritage sights. And explore Tel Aviv - the city that never stops: Beautiful beaches, outdoor activities and entertainment." I thought "WOW"... but then I thought about what was to come... a hard true story of a young boy who was an innocent victim of mob hatred.  I wrestled with the idea of selling holidays before a serious true story this like.  However, I then thought about the whole picture.

Liverpool is a fantastic city, lots of history and it's a city I love to go to. Yes, they have had their problems and riots and gangs and murders have marred this beautiful city. But that shouldn't cause people not to come and visit Liverpool.  But how many young kids (and other families) have been shot, stabbed, blown apart etc. in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem? Hundreds! In many ways the likeness between the gang thugs of Liverpool and the Arab Palestinian Terrorists trying to wipe out Israelis are similar. It's a mind-set of hatred and evil. Yet should these gangs cause people not to want to experience to sights and history of Liverpool - a fabulous city? Absolutely not. Likewise... if you're never been to Israel and experienced Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the many other fabulous places of this awesome country, now is a good time to go!  See the advert here:

David Soakell  

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

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, The Jerusalem Post, & Israel National Radio