More Evangelicals Lukewarm to Israel
MORE AMERICAN EVANGELICALS ARE ‘DISMISSIVE’ OF ISRAEL THAN LOYAL TO IT: A higher percentage of Evangelical Christians are “dismissive” toward Israel than loyal to the state, according to a new study by Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter.
The report found that 28% of Evangelicals reject the idea that Jews were ever God’s chosen people and place Israel and the Jewish people at a very low priority among their charitable behavior. In contrast, 20% of Evangelicals can be considered “Israel loyalists,” meaning they see the Jews as God’s chosen people and put supporting the Jews and Israel as a high priority.
However, the majority of Evangelicals (53%) are neither dismissive nor loyal but rather unsure of how they view the Jewish people and Israel, the study found. “This 53% is wide open to becoming loyalists,” said Infinity Concepts founder and CEO Mark Dreistadt. “There is a lot of opportunity for growth here and that is my big takeaway from this.” Specifically, the report is based on a survey of more than 1,000 American Evangelicals, defined as people who agree with the following principles: The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe; it is important for me to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their savior; Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin, and only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation. According to Infinity and Grey Matter, evangelicals by this definition amount to 23% of American adults – about 59 million people. (JPost / VFI News)
CHINA, RUSSIA SHOCKED BY IRAN’S INTRANSIGENCE: A senior US State Department official said that Iran had proven it was “not serious” about the negotiations to return to the 2015 nuclear deal.
“As you all know, we’ve been waiting patiently for five and a half months. The Iranian government said that it needed time to get ready to resume the talks on a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA, and I think what we’ve seen over the last week or so is what getting ready meant for them. And more importantly, not only did we see it, I think our partners and others – Russia, China, others – have seen – have witnessed what Iran meant by getting ready,” the official told reporters. “It meant continuing to accelerate their nuclear program in particularly provocative ways, and their latest provocation as reported by the IAEA only on Wednesday, i.e. while we were still in the middle of talks, was to prepare for the doubling of their production capacity of 20 percent enriched uranium at Fordow. What getting ready meant was to continue to stonewall the IAEA despite efforts – again, by all of the P5+1 – constructive efforts to find a way forward between Director General Grossi and Iran.”
He continued to say, “Secretary Blinken has said we can’t accept a situation in which Iran accelerates its nuclear program and slow-walks its nuclear diplomacy. That’s not a situation with which we or others can live. So… in terms of the next steps, I think what’s clear is that – again, and we’ve heard this not just from our traditional partners, we’ve heard this from the Russians, we’ve heard this from the Chinese, we certainly have heard it from the GCC countries when a U.S. delegation visited there not long ago – the world is prepared to support a mutual return to compliance by both sides. The world is prepared even to engage economically with Iran and diplomatically with Iran. But for that, Iran has to show seriousness at the table and be prepared to come back in short order in compliance with the deal, as the U.S. has said that it is prepared to do and as President Biden has said he is prepared to do and to stay in compliance with the deal as long as Iran is.” (INN / VFI News)
ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER URGES COUNTRIES TO TAKE A HARDLINE STANCE ON IRAN: Israel tapped the U.S. and other countries to take a hardline stance against Iran as the countries deliberate reviving the failed nuclear deal.
On Sunday, December 5, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged countries to be wary when dealing with Iran, stressing Iran cannot continue to violate agreements while trying to negotiate new ones. Bennett’s sentiments came after deliberations in Vienna ended in a stalemate with U.S. and foreign negotiators reporting Iran had taken a hardline stance of its own. He said, “We got an example of the nuclear blackmail I was talking about when, during the Vienna talks, it was published that they (the Iranians) began enriching uranium to 20 percent in advanced centrifuges in the underground facility of Fordow,” said the Israeli Prime Minister. “This is a very serious stage. I call on every country negotiating with Iran in Vienna to take a strong line and make it clear to Iran that they cannot enrich uranium and negotiate at the same time.” (OANN / VFI News)
NEARLY TWICE AS MANY ISRAELIS PREFER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU OVER NAFTALI BENNETT: Nearly twice as many Israelis prefer opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister over current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett or his Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid, a new poll showed Monday, December 6.
Forty-five percent of respondents to the Channel 12 poll said they would like Netanyahu to be prime minister, while only 25 percent preferred Bennett and 24 percent Lapid. The Bennett-Lapid government, which has a premiership sharing deal, has so far avoided major scandal for the six months it has been in power – despite comprising right-wing, centrist, and leftist parties. Yet Israelis still prefer Netanyahu, who was unable to cobble together a coalition following the last election. Forty-three percent of respondents prefer the previous government led by Netanyahu, while 36 percent preferred the current government. However, the poll also showed that if elections were to be held today, Netanyahu would still lack the seats needed to form a government. Respondents were also asked to give their approval rating of current ministers.
Surprisingly, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, whose political career was panned following his own rotational deal with Netanyahu, received the highest rating, with 55 percent satisfied with his overall performance, compared to 33 percent who were dissatisfied. (Breitbart /VFI News)
NATO SPY PLANE FORCED FLIGHT FROM TEL AVIV TO DIVE TO AVOID CATASTROPHE: A US spy plane forced a civilian aircraft that took off from Israel to dive toward the ground to avoid a mid-air collision above the Black Sea, Russia said.
On Friday morning, December 3, a NATO CL600 reconnaissance aircraft descended rapidly across the planned route for an Aeroflot plane from Tel Aviv to Moscow with 142 people on board, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency said in a statement. The Aeroflot flight reportedly had to drop 500 meters (1,600 feet) to keep its distance from the reconnaissance aircraft, which the pilots saw from the cockpit with the naked eye. A second plane, a smaller CL650 aircraft, flying from the Black Sea resort Sochi to Skopje, the capital of Northern Macedonia, also had to divert to avoid the spy plane, the Russian air transport authority said Saturday, December 4. “The direction and altitude of the commercial flights were immediately altered” to avoid a collision, the agency said, adding that the unknown plane did not respond to radio calls from air traffic control. “Increased activity by NATO aircraft near Russia’s borders, including above the Black Sea, creates a risk of dangerous accidents involving civilian aircraft,” the agency said. The incident came as tensions rise between Russia and Western nations, which accused Moscow of massing troops on its border with Ukraine in preparation for a possible invasion.
Russia has denied it has any such plans, in turn accusing NATO countries of “provocations” including military exercises near its borders. In 2001, a passenger plane from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk, Russia, was shot down over the Black Sea by an errant Ukrainian missile during a military drill. (TOI/VFI News)
ANTI-SEMITISM IN AUSTRALIA INCREASING AT ALARMING RATE: Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia have soared over the past year, with 447 reported cases amounting to a 35% increase over the same period in 2020.
Julie Nathan, research director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), told the organization’s annual conference on Sunday, November 28, that the number of incidents was 167 higher than the annual national average of 280 recorded between 2013 and 2020, the Australian Jewish News reported. She blamed the May conflict between Israel and Hamas and the pandemic for fuelling a rise in anti-Semitism. Incidents included 272 cases of physical assault, verbal abuse, harassment, graffiti, and threats made through email, phone, and mail.
She added that while abuse, harassment, and vandalism were significantly higher, incidents of graffiti had surged by 152%, and anti-Semitic stickers and posters by 157%. The eight physical assaults that occurred matched the number from 2020. The organization noted that during the May fighting, the Australian Jewish community experienced targeted attacks on synagogues, schools, Jewish businesses, and homes. Signs at demonstrations featured the Star of David compared to swastikas and other Nazi symbols. Nathan also spoke about an extreme anti-Israel rally that occurred in Sydney in May organized by the Islamist Hizb ut-Tahrir group where speakers led chants attacking Jews and vowed to “destroy the Jews” and “give us the necks of the Jews.” That event is currently under police investigation. (INN / VFI News)
IDF COMPLETES TUNNEL-BUSTING GAZA BARRIER: Standing in the shadow of a 30-foot-high concrete wall, top defense officials announced Tuesday, December 7, that Israel had completed construction of a massive barrier running the length of the Gaza Strip both above and, critically, below ground.
The NIS 3.5 billion ($1.1 billion) project has taken over three years to complete and is meant to end the threat of cross-border attack tunnels from the Palestinian enclave, which the Strip’s Hamas rulers have utilized to deadly effect. “This barrier, a creative, technological project of the first order, denies Hamas one of the capabilities that it tried to develop and puts a wall of iron, sensors, and concrete between it and the residents of the south,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said at the ceremony on Tuesday afternoon. Construction of the barrier was a massive industrial undertaking, requiring some 1,200 workers, the removal of 330,000 trucks’ worth of sand, dirt, and rocks, two million cubic meters of concrete, and enough rebar that if laid out in a single line would reach Australia, according to Brig. Gen. Eran Ofir, who oversees the construction of defensive barriers for the Defense Ministry. The 40-mile (65-kilometer) barrier lies all along the Gaza border and extends out to sea to ensure that terror groups in the Strip do not dig underwater tunnels, as they have attempted in the past. The barrier is made up of several components: an underground reinforced concrete wall that is studded with sensors to detect tunnels; a 20-foot (six-meter) steel fence; a network of radar arrays and other surveillance sensors; and remote-controlled weaponry. (TOI / VFI News)
UNRWA ON BRINK OF COLLAPSE: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) is “on the brink of collapse” and can’t pay its November salaries on time, Commissioner-General Phillipe Lazzarini said.
“Decades of investment in excellent services now risk being reversed,” Lazzarini said in a statement he put out about the crisis on Wednesday, December 1. He spoke in the aftermath of the meeting the group’s Advisory Commission held in Amman this Monday and Tuesday, November 29 & 30. “In meetings with UNRWA’s main partners in the last two days, I called for immediate funds for health/education/social services for Palestine refugees for 2021,” Lazzarini tweeted. Such funding is particularly important in the absence of any resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said. “I reminded donors that in the absence of a political solution that includes Palestinian refugees, UNRWA is irreplaceable for their rights+services as per mandate by UN General Assembly,” Lazzarini said. Earlier this month UNRWA raised $38 million toward its $100 million shortfalls in its $1.2 billion budget, but the remaining gap has left it scrambling for funds. “Last Thursday, I was forced to inform over 28,000 UN personnel that UNRWA does not have sufficient funds to pay their November salaries on time,” Lazzarini told his advisory body on Monday. He warned that this would interrupt services and fuel anger and frustration among Palestinians. UNRWA services 5.7 million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem. It has been hard-pressed to maintain services in an era of diminished donor funding and political attacks against the organization. The Trump administration halted America’s annual contribution of $360 million. Both Israel and the US under Donald Trump charged that UNRWA perpetuated rather than resolved the Palestinian refugee issue, and allowed textbooks in its schools that promoted antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric. The Biden administration has restored most of that funding in exchange for reform in the education curriculum. Lazzarini has pledged a no-tolerance policy toward antisemitism and incitement, but at the same time has warned that such attacks are political in nature and aimed at destroying UNRWA for political reasons. UNRWA schools, he said, must reflect the reality of the “occupation” that Palestinian children live under and that information should not be erased. “We need to put an end to sensationalist and baseless accusations which undermine the Agency’s reputation, its funding and the rights of Palestine refugees,” Lazzarini said. (JPost/ VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff