JNN Newsletter - March 11, 2017

“Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

PURIM 2017: The Jewish festival of Purim begins in Israel on Sat. evening, 11 March and will continue through sunset on 13 March. It is a celebration of redemption and a time of great merry-making as Jews throughout the world remember the deliverance from the hands of the wicked Haman, who tried to instigate the annihilation of the Jews of Persia. The Biblical Book of Esther, recited on this holiday by Jews throughout the world, tells the story of how the Jewish woman Esther and her uncle Mordecai saved the Persian Jewish community from destruction. Families and neighbors give gifts of sweets to each other, and many dress-up in costumes for festive events. A joyful Purim from our Vision for Israel staff members to friends near and far.

RAIN, HAIL EXPECTED IN ISRAEL OVER THE WEEKEND: After a week of unseasonably warm weather, forecasters say Israel is in for a cold and rainy weekend. Temperatures dropped late Thurs. night 9 March 2017, following a nearly week-long heat-wave. Expected to accompany the cool weather is precipitation across the country, including rain and hail beginning Friday evening. The rainy weather is likely to continue through the Purim holiday along with strong winds. (Arutz-7) This is an answer to prayer as Israel’s rainy season draws to a close this month. February was defined as an arid month throughout the country, according to data released on 6 March 2017 by the Water Authority. Continue to pray that much needed precipitation will bless the land during the remainder of March. “He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.” Joel 2:23

TRUMP EFFECT? ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION TO USA PLUMMETS: The number of illegal immigrants crossing into the United States from Mexico dropped dramatically during President Trump’s first month in office, Homeland Security chief John Kelly said earlier this week. While the border wall promised by Trump during the 2016 campaign will take another two years to materialize, Secretary Kelly said last month, the level of illegal immigration into the USA across the southern frontier declined sharply over the 30 days beginning with Trump’s inauguration on 20 Jan. 2017. According to Secretary Kelly, illegal border crossings from Mexico into the USA fell from 31,578 to just 18,762 – the lowest level in five years. What makes the decrease more striking, however, is its timing. Kelly pointed out that the time period in question – late January through February – typically sees a 10% to 20% rise. Secretary Kelly attributed the decline to the Trump administration’s heightened enforcement of immigration laws. “The drop in apprehensions shows a marked change in trends,” the Secretary said. (Arutz-7)

STATE DEPARTMENT REFUSES TO CONDEMN ISRAELI LAW BARRING BDS ACTIVISTS FROM ENTERING COUNTRY: A new law that would ban entry to Israel of foreigners who publicly support boycotts of the Jewish state is Israel’s “sovereign decision,” a State Department spokesperson said this week. In a media briefing on 8 March 2017, Mark Toner said that while the United States opposes boycotts of Israel, we also support firmly freedom of expression. That said, – this is a sovereign decision for Israel to make regarding its borders.” The law, adopted 6 March 2017 by the Knesset, bans entry to foreigners who publicly call for boycotting the Jewish state. According to the new law, the ban applies to any foreigner “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott. It includes those who urge limiting boycotts to areas under Israeli control but not yet annexed, such as the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. (INN)

SENATE COMMITTEE BACKS FRIEDMAN AS ISRAEL ENVOY AMID ROBUST JEWISH WORLD DEBATE: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thurs. 9 March 2017 approved President Trump’s designated ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, following a groundswell of support for the nominee from conservative and centrist pro-Israel organizations and staunch opposition from liberal Jewish groups. Following the committee-level approval, the full Senate is expected to vote on Friedman’s ambassadorship in the coming days. A day before their 12-9 vote in favor of Friedman’s appointment, Senate committee members had received a pro-Friedman letter signed by 17 pro-Israel organizations, such as the Zionist Organization of America, the Iron Dome Alliance and the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). The Haym Salomon Center news and public policy group, meanwhile, had obtained a list of more than 30 organizations supportive of Friedman’s candidacy, updated from the letter to include organizations such as the World Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Congress. “David Friedman’s views represent the consensus of a clear majority of both Americans and Israelis, yet he’s been the target of the very vocal and radical anti-Israel Jewish left,” said Jeff Ballabon, an organizer of the letter to Senate committee members. “Letters thanking the president and urging the Senate to do the right thing, and outreach to responsible Jewish groups across the ideological and religious spectrum to go on the record supporting David, have now set the record straight that the mainstream of American Jews are solidly supportive of Mr. Friedman.” Jewish groups leaning to the political left had actively opposed Friedman’s nomination. (Jewish News Service)

WHO IS FUNDING THE ANTI-TRUMP DEMONSTRATIONS? Media Research Center revealed who funded the "Day without a Woman" demonstrations throughout America. Billionaire George Soros is behind the protests against Donald Trump according to a report by conservative think tank Media Research Center. Soros gave $246 million to groups behind Wednesday's 8 March, 2017 "Day Without a Woman" protest, as well as providing funds for the initial women's protest which took place in Washington in Jan. 2017. Wednesday was "International Women's Day," and schools in at least four states cancelled classes so teachers and staff members could participate in "Day Without a Woman" demonstrations. Movement organizers claimed the demonstration was not politically related and was only meant to spotlight gender inequality, critics say it is intended to protest President Trump. The strike was initiated by the same organizers of the historic Women’s March on Washington in January, which drew hundreds of thousands in protest of the president. A report released by the Center this week claims that Soros, whose net worth is estimated at 25 billion dollars - gave millions to groups behind the demonstration. 100 of the march's 544 groups received funding from Soros totaling $246 million, according to the Center's report. "Those donations represent just a fragment of Soros’ massive global influence," the Media Research Center said. "His Open Society Foundations have given away more than $13 billion to push his globalist, anti-American views." (INN)

WOMAN’S STRIKE’ PLATFORM DEMANDS ‘DECOLONIZATION OF PALESTINE’: The platform for a strike on Wed. 8 March 2017, presumably in support of feminism and women’s rights, did not limit itself to women’s issues, but also called “for the decolonization of Palestine.” The statement on “Palestine” is included in a section on “Antiracist and Anti-imperialist Feminism” in the platform for the USA affiliate of the International Women’s Strike. There is no mention of the Islamic countries in which honor killings, gender mutilation and suppression of women's freedom are the norm. It grouped solidarity with “Palestine” with other causes, including Black Lives Matter, “the struggle against police brutality and mass incarceration,” and immigrant rights.

Critics of the platform included Emily Shire, the politics editor of the women’s news site Bustle. She wrote in a NY Times op-ed that she was “troubled” by the platform’s Israel-bashing. “I find it troubling that embracing such a view is considered an essential part of an event that is supposed to unite feminists,” she wrote. “I am happy to debate Middle East politics or listen to critiques of Israeli policies. But why should criticism of Israel be key to feminism in 2017?” Shire also criticized the strike for the leadership position and involvement of Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian Arab terrorist convicted and sentenced by an Israeli military court in 1970 to life in prison for two bombing attacks, including one in 1969 that murdered two Israelis. The niece of one of the victims of the 1969 attack also criticized the strike over Odeh’s involvement. “But, explain how my family is supposed to reconcile the reality that the woman who stripped my uncle of his life is now deemed a hero by many of my fellow Americans. What justification is there for Rasmea Odeh, a woman who killed two people with the intention of killing more to lead a peaceful fight for human rights?” Terry Joffe Benaryeh wrote in an op-ed published last week on Huffington Post. (Jerusalem Post)

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT ABBAS MEETS WITH RELEASED TERRORISTS, VOWS TO ‘END SUFFERING OF HEROIC BROTHERS IN OCCUPATION’S PRISONS’: Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is often touted by the West as a “peace partner” for Israel, recently met with Palestinian Arabs who carried out terrorist attacks and with the family of a terrorist, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) revealed. During meetings this week with terrorists released from Israeli prisons, PA President Abbas vowed to “make every effort to end the suffering of our heroic brothers [terrorists] and release them from the occupation’s prisons so they can take part in building the homeland for which they sacrificed,” MEME reported on 8 March 2017. The terrorists with whom Abbas met were 14-year-old Osama Zaidat, shot while attempting to stab Israelis in Kiryat Arba last September - and recently released from detention - and Imad Asaf who took part in the Second Intifada in 2000 and was recently let out of jail. He also greeted members of the family of Muhammad Al-Jallad, who died of his wounds after being shot in Nov. 2016 while attempting to carry out a stabbing attack at a checkpoint.

According to MEMRI, this is but one of many instances of Abbas’ emphasis on his efforts to free prisoners. At the Seventh Fatah Conference last Dec. 2016 Abbas similarly praised senior Fatah perpetrators of attacks, including the 2001 assassination of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze’evi, saying: “We remember the martyrs, the wounded and the prisoners and their record. We salute our brave prisoners and respect them. We will not forget our fighting comrades or our glorious woman prisoners.” Abbas’ meetings this week come on the heels of discussions in the USA and Europe about the continued provision of financial aid to the PA, when its leaders encourage and incentivize terrorism. Late last month, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham reintroduced legislation that would cut off American funding of the PA if it continues to pay monetary rewards to terrorists and their families. (Algemeiner) On a regular basis Palestinian Authority leaders glorify, as heroes, those who carry out terrorist attacks against Israel. The two-state dream where Israel and Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security is neither a reality, nor is it a vision on the part of those who further violence. Intercede that the Palestinian Authority will increasingly feel the harsh penalties of promoting terrorism, educating its youth to hate Israel, and glorifying terrorist murderers as heroes.

HAMAS TRAINS UNRWA PUPILS TO BECOME TERRORISTS: An excerpt from an upcoming documentary on the relationship between the Hamas terrorist organization and UNRWA shows Gazan children being led into a mock terror tunnel, where they are taught how to attack an Israeli kibbutz. "The UNRWA kids were recruited by Hamas to help build the tunnels, and then infiltrate through the tunnels," said David Bedein, the director of the Center for Near East Policy Research, which is producing the documentary. Bedein said that Hamas has diverted international aid to construct tunnels with which to attack Israel. "At the same time, Hamas has been getting full supplies, including from Israel, for the past year, and they are able to get cement to continue building the tunnels." He said that the tunnel in the video was a "model tunnel that they built" for training purposes, including the training of school children to kill Israelis. "Hamas controls the UNRWA teacher's union, and Hamas comes into the schools and takes the children for this training as one of their after-school activities." (Arutz-7)

The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by JNN writers and editors are based on the best information received.

Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff