Peace Be Upon Israel in the Jewish New Year of 5775!
By Sarah Ann Haves
Jewish people throughout the world mark the civil New Year, Wednesday, September 24, celebrating Rosh Hashanah with apples and honey and hoping for sweet new beginnings. It is the biblical Feast of Trumpets, and the start of the Ten Days of Awe, culminating in the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Following that, is the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles). The high holy days are drawing both Jews and Christians from all over the world, many of whom come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Fall Feasts.
On the Hebrew calendar, it is the month of Elul, and the New Year is 5775. The Israeli Population and Immigration Authority has released its estimations that 8,904,373 people are living in the land, of which more than 6 million are Jews. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated at his recent cabinet meeting that this is a triumph over the Holocaust, a time when six million Jews perished.
Israelis are healing and recovering from a summer of war with Hamas, and southern communities are re-building after damages incurred by thousands of rockets launched from Gaza. Despite the current cease-fire, there are great uncertainties in the land.
FEAR OF CROSS-BORDER INFILTRATIONS
Israeli citizens in southern towns on the border with Gaza remain concerned that Hamas could re-build underground tunnels that would cross over into Israeli territory. Several families with children have already moved to other parts of the country.
Likewise, citizens living in the north of Israel are concerned that Hezbollah has already built tunnels that could be used to attack residents living near the border with Lebanon… or, even those Israelis living in the Galilee. Despite assurances from the IDF that no such tunnels exist inside Israeli territory, northern residents are not convinced.
a future war.
In addition, the IDF continues to monitor fighting between Syrian rebels and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, which are taking place on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Recently, a Syrian jet fighter crossed over into Israeli air space. The IDF launched a surface-to-air missile, shooting down the jet which ended up crashing back inside Syrian territory. The Syrian pilots parachuted out of the plane and their whereabouts are unknown.
The IDF has had to continually defend Israel’s border with Syria from intrusions by rebels and government forces who are fighting each other. It now appears that most of the areas on the Israeli-Syrian border are controlled by rebel forces who are jihadists aligned with Al Qaeda and Al Nusra Front.
Furthermore, Israel is preparing for another war with Hezbollah. The terrorist militia still controls much of southern Lebanon. Though Hezbollah is busy helping Assad’s regime battle rebels in Syria, the terror group remains a formidable threat to Israel, having acquired 100,000 rockets for a future war with the Jewish State.
ISLAMIC STATE AND IRAN
Israel is not as concerned as the rest of the world is about the advances of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. While understanding that it is a threat to the Middle East, Islamic State has not yet become a major danger to Israel.
With a foothold in Lebanon, Islamic State (comprised of Sunni jihadists) still has to fight Hezbollah (comprised of Shiite fighters) before it will be able to have much influence in that country. In Gaza, it is Hamas that retains control, and other terrorist groups are too weak to oppose it. In Jordan, domestic intelligence forces have been able to keep Islamic State from operating there. Egypt has a problem with various terrorist groups in the Sinai, but at this point in time, the focus of these groups is to attack the Egyptian regime. Currently, Islamic State does not have a strong presence in Egypt or the Sinai. On occasion, jihadists from the Sinai have launched missiles at Israel’s southern city of Eilat. So far, however, they have contained most of their terrorist operations within Egyptian territory, while supplying arms to other terrorists who smuggle them into Gaza.
Israel still considers Iran to be the #1 exporter of terror in the world. Iran has threatened to destroy Israel. This existential threat keeps Israeli leaders pushing for strong restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. An Israeli military operation against Iran remains on the table should Iran renege on its commitments; or, should there be a failure in an attempt by P5+1 nations to reach a nuclear deal with Iran by a November 24, 2014 deadline.
Meanwhile, Iran, Hezbollah and Assad’s Syrian regime continue to engage in close strategic cooperation, with their current emphasis on defeating Sunni rebels in Syria. But, ultimately, they have their eye on Israel.
THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES AND EAST JERUSALEM
The IDF remains on alert in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) receiving good intelligence information from operatives in the Palestinian territories.
Recently, the IDF found and killed two terrorists in Hebron who had kidnaped and murdered three Israeli boys in June 2014. It took three months to find the terrorist’s hiding place, but the IDF was able to carry out a successful military operation.
As long as, politically, Israel is able to remain in the West Bank and oversee security there, the IDF should be able to adequately protect Israeli citizens from terrorist attacks in that area.
Israel has low-level cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and its police forces. However, one area that remains a flash point is East Jerusalem where there are frequent riots between the Israeli police and angry Palestinians.
If the Palestinian Authority decides to hold new elections in the coming year; or, if the current cease-fire between Hamas and Israel does not hold; there could be increased attempts at terrorist attacks in the West Bank, and violent disturbances in and around the Jerusalem area.
ANTI-SEMITISM AND ALIYAH
Aliyah increased by 28% over this past year, marking a five year high, according to Israel’s Jewish Agency. Jews throughout the world, especially in Europe, experienced the worst acts of anti-Semitism since pre-World War II. Immigration to Israel increased dramatically from France and the Ukraine due to Jews feeling unprotected in their Diaspora communities.
|Aliyah increased by
28% this year, a
five year high, led
by France, Ukraine
An estimated 24,800 Jews immigrated to Israel in 5774, with 6,000 fleeing anti-Semitism in France, resulting in more immigrants from that country than any other in this past Hebrew calendar year. Reportedly, 4,200 Jewish people immigrated to Israel from the Ukraine, and another 4,500 from Russia. More young people are immigrating now, with 60% making Aliyah under the age of 35.
A recent survey showed that at least 26% of Europeans hold anti-Semitic views. Anti-Semitism was most prevalent during the Gaza war, with 74% of citizens in the Middle East acknowledging their hatred towards Jews.
During Operation Protective Edge, which lasted 50 days, European Jewish property and institutions were attacked. Fire-bombings of synagogues took place in France and Germany (and, rioters attempted to infiltrate a Parisian synagogue). There were assaults on Jewish individuals, especially those wearing traditional Jewish garb. In London and in Rome, swastikas and hate graffiti against Jews were spray-painted on walls. European politicians spoke anti-Semitic rhetoric, and several times Israel was compared to Nazism.
In the future, it is expected that there will be more attempts by anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli extremists to commit violent acts against Jewish people, and that Jewish community leaders will encourage individual Jews to conceal their identities. Aliyah to Israel is expected to increase during the upcoming calendar year, especially from Europe.
Israel is planning to organize a debate in the UN General Assembly for January 2015 on the subject of anti-Semitism. Israel continues to be plagued by UN Human Rights groups that, unfairly, condemn the Jewish State for defending itself against terrorist groups. Israel also wants this issue on the UN agenda because of the rising tide of anti-Semitism, worldwide.
POLITICS IN ISRAEL
Compared to other politicians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still the most trusted leader in Israel. While his popularity has waned since the Gaza war, his government has remained stable for the time being. However, his decision to run for a fourth term in future elections has been disconcerting for younger politicians who are vying for power within his Likud Party. Recently, the second most popular MK in the Likud, Gideon Saar, resigned. He had held the post of Minister of the Interior in the current government coalition. While he said he was stepping down for personal reasons, it was also reported that his relationship with Netanyahu had deteriorated in recent months. There are others that are disgruntled with Netanyahu’s leadership and they could try and form a new political party that would take votes and power away from the Likud and weaken Netanyahu. In 5775, it can be expected that Netanyahu will not have a quiet year in politics, especially as new elections draw near.
According to a recent poll conducted by the monthly Peace Index and co-sponsored by the Israeli Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, Israeli Jews remained optimistic in 5774, with an overwhelming 75% saying that they were satisfied with their over-all personal lives going into the New Year. However, it was the Israeli Arabs that seemed to be more satisfied regarding the state of the country, with 52% showing their support. Only 38% of Israeli Jews claimed to be satisfied with their country’s situation.
Israeli Jews continue to be frustrated with their economic situation, especially rising housing and education costs. Only 29% were supportive in 5774 in how the government handled the economy. On security issues, 61% of Israelis showed confidence in how the government handled security in the country. Even though Israelis have consistently supported Netanyahu, those answering questions in this recent poll indicated that 62% didn’t trust in the general Israeli leadership.
In conclusion, Israelis feel safe and have a positive attitude about their lives. But, with the possibility of border infiltrations by terrorists, and war on the horizon in the north of the country, 5775 could be a turbulent year.
Going into the New Year, pray for the Israeli public and government to be united in purpose, with vision for the future. Pray for a strong and efficient military. Pray for the Israeli people to have a listening ear towards God receiving His wisdom and understanding, especially during times of turmoil. Pray for calm and quiet between sectors of the Israeli Jewish and Israeli Arab populations. Pray for security over Israel’s borders and an extra measure of protection for the citizens of this thriving and prosperous nation.
“The Lord bless you from Zion, And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!” Psalm 128:5-6
(c) 2014 Messianic Vision all rights reserved. This article is not reproducible except with permisson from Messianic Vision.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.