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What the Abraham Accord Means for Israel

 The presence of United Arab Emirates officials earlier this year at the announcement of President Trump’s plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians hinted at a growing collaboration between Israel and the Emirates. The two have now struck a historic deal, dubbed the Abraham Accord, which is perhaps the most significant step ever towards regional peace for the Jewish State. The United Arab Emirates joins the short list of Middle Eastern countries with normalized diplomatic relations with Israel—alongside Jordan and Egypt. However, this agreement also signals a new alliance in the Middle East in response to heightened tensions with Iran.

The peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates will reap significant diplomatic and economic benefits for the two parties as they sign several agreements regarding investment, direct flights, technology, agriculture, security, tourism, the exchange of embassies, and robust people-to-people relations. Considering the advancement of both countries within a war-torn, undeveloped Middle East, the deal is expected to bring region-wide economic growth, technological innovation, increased stability, and respect for human rights. 

Moreover, normalized relations between the two countries are expected to encourage other Gulf countries to follow suit, notably Bahrain and Oman, which could happen as soon as in a few weeks. Even Saudi Arabia is quiet and may be awaiting their turn at the table.

What about the expansion of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria?

President Trump’s peace deal for Israel and the Palestinians allowed for the expansion of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Although the  United Arab Emirates approved of the deal, there was widespread opposition to the expansion of sovereignty. Consequently, as a part of the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend expansion efforts, at least for the near future. 

When questioned by reporters about reneging on his promise to expand sovereignty, Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel promised that expansion is still very much “on the table.”  US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman emphasized all parties understand it to be a temporary “suspension” of sovereignty and not a cancellation. He could not say how long this suspension would last but explained it was to allow time to negotiate other peace agreements.

How might this compare to previous international agreements for Israel?

Although this agreement is the third of its kind between Israel and an Arab country, it is an occasion of its own in different respects. Foremost, the deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates did not involve surrendering any land between the two countries—only the “suspension” of Israel’s planned extension of sovereignty. Israel gave up the entire Sinai Peninsula in 1979 to Egypt in exchange for peace and had to negotiate territorial disputes with Jordan in 1994 to normalize relations. 

Furthermore, unlike with Egypt and Jordan, Israel has never been at war with the United Arab Emirates. This history void of direct conflict opens up the possibility of warmer people-to-people relations. 

Strategically, the deal is larger than itself and is the beginning of an expansion of alliances to the Persian Gulf in order to face a regional foe—Iran.

How do the Palestinians feel about the deal?

Not unexpectedly, the Palestinian leaders are virtually unanimous in their opposition to the peace agreement, or put in the words of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, an act of “treason.” Nonetheless, the United Arab Emirates still possesses a robust relationship with the Palestinian Authority and can thus speak to the Palestinians in ways the United States or Israel cannot. 

Undoubtedly, the deal will hinder the Palestinians’ ability to leverage the Arab League against Israel in times of conflict or negotiations. Amos Yadlin, former general for the Israeli Air Force, recently asserted on television, “America is sending a clear signal to the Palestinians: ‘You have no veto power, you have no Arab support; don’t miss another opportunity, don’t ignore Trump’s peace plan.’” 

What does this mean for President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu?

Without a shadow of doubt, the success achieved between the countries would not have occurred without the bravery and boldness of US President Trump, Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates. This is a major foreign policy success for President Trump, who was responsible for brokering the deal between the two countries. 

On the other hand, Prime Minister Netanyahu enjoys the accolade of being the first leader of Israel to normalize diplomatic relations with a Gulf country successfully. As this regional alliance takes shape, and should Saudi Arabia come to the table, it will not just be another accomplishment for Netanyahu but another miracle in Israel’s story.

—by Susan Michael, ICEJ USA Director, creator of Israel Answers, and the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network


Listen to the podcast hosted by Charisma about the Abraham Accord with special guest Susan Michael.

Why Christians Care about Annexation

I have engaged with a number of reporters lately, both on and off the record, concerning the Trump peace plan. And one question keeps coming up: Why should Christians care about whether or not Israel annexes more territory in the West Bank? So for the record, here are some valid, sincere reasons why Christians should—and—do care about Israel and its current debate over whether to annex parts of Judea/Samaria in the context of the Trump plan. 

 

Standing for Fairness 

Because so many Christians were hostile to the Jewish people down through history, we view it as our moral duty as Christians today to stand with Israel and against those who are hostile to the modern Jewish state and its people. There are simply too many nations and peoples who treat Israel unfairly and even loathe its existence without just reason or cause. So we are determined to stand against the rising tide of anti-Semitism, the rampant anti-Israel media bias, the stone-hearted threats of sanctions and violence, and the outright bullying of Israel in international forums. 

 

We are simply standing for fair treatment of the Jewish nation and people in hopes it will create a more level playing field for Israel. The UN Security Council’s adoption of resolution 2334 in December 2016 is a prime example of the lopsided and prejudicial decisions routinely made against Israel. By declaring that the entire West Bank and eastern Jerusalem are “occupied Palestinian territory,” the international community ran roughshod over four millennia of Jewish claim and connection to the Land of Israel. 

 

So when Israel is debating whether to assert its rightful historic claim and title to the biblical heartland of ancient Israel, Christians are interested—and we have every right to be. 

 

Standing for Right 

Israel is a democratic state whose legitimate historic right and claim to the Jewish homeland was duly recognized by the international community not so long ago. Thus, “annexation” is not really the proper word for what Israel is considering, as it normally connotes the hostile taking of another’s property. Rather, Israel would simply be asserting sovereignty on lands it currently possesses and over which it already has a valid historic claim. Yet the world blithely treats it as an attempt to steal someone else’s lands. 

 

Admittedly, there is a rival Palestinian claim to these same areas but of such recent origin that it pales in comparison to the longstanding Jewish title over eretz Israel. The people of Israel must decide whether to compromise on their superior land claim for the sake of peace. And as Christians, we respect Israeli democracy and the right of its people to make this decision free of outside interference or threats. Thus, with great empathy and care we will be watching the annexation debate and will stand with Israel as it wrestles with this complex and consequential decision. 

 

Standing for Truth 

To build their rival nationalist claim to the historic Land of Israel, the Palestinians have found it necessary to deny any Jewish connection to the Land, and particularly, to Jerusalem. In doing so, they have decreed our Bible—both Old and New Testaments—to be full of falsehoods concerning the ancient Jewish presence in this land. This would mean King David did not rule over a large Israelite kingdom from his palace in Jerusalem, as recorded in the Hebrew Bible, and that Jesus did not enter and teach in the courts of the Second Temple as the Gospels all say.  

 

That should capture Christians’ attention, and rightly so! The Palestinians also have routinely damaged and destroyed important biblical sites that bear the archaeological proof that ancient Israel once inhabited the land. So Christians are standing for truth and the preservation of history when we partake in the debate over the fate of the disputed territories. 

 

Standing for Justice 

Christians believe God made a covenant promise to Abraham to deliver the entire Land of Israel as an “everlasting possession” to his descendants. How and when God ultimately fulfills that promise is up to Him. But we do believe the modern-day return of the Jews to the Land of Israel, including the mountains of Judea and Samaria, is part of God keeping His covenant promises to the Jewish people concerning their land inheritance.  

 

Our Bible also says that God scattered them from the Land for corrective and redemptive purposes, while at the same time vowing that He would always regather them to the Land of Israel one day. Thus, we consider it a matter of historic justice that the Jews have returned to their homeland in modern times. And since Christians also serve the same God as the Jewish people, our own faith is strengthened when we see Him being faithful to His promises to Israel concerning the Land. 

 

So to answer the question, Christians have plenty of reasons for why we care so deeply about the annexation debate and how the Jewish people hope to maintain their enduring connection to their biblical homeland.   

The Strategic Importance of the Jordan Valley

President Trump’s proposed peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians allows for Israel’s annexation (extension of sovereignty) of the major settlement blocks in the “West Bank” as well as the Jordan Valley. While the overall plan has been touted as the best plan presented thus far, it does allow for an eventual Palestinian State should the Palestinians come to the table. In the meantime, indications are that Israel can go ahead and begin extending sovereignty over those areas she requires in any future agreement.

 

 

The Trump administration previously recognized Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel as well as Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, both recognitions that Israel had long-awaited. This peace plan seems to be opening another historic door for Israel to solidify the defensible borders she needs. 

 

Is Annexation the Right Word?

Some analysts argue it is incorrect to use the term “annex” for territory to which Israel already has a legitimate claim. It is even dangerous because the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines “annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State of part thereof” as “constituting the grave Crime of Aggression.” To describe Israel’s extension of sovereignty as “annexation” implies the territory belonged to another State and Israel is committing an illegal act, making her vulnerable to claims and legal rulings by the ICC. 

 

 

Neither the settlement blocks nor the Jordan Valley were territories of another State. They were Ottoman Empire territories that the British mandate, ratified by the San Remo conference in 1920, designated for a Jewish state. Jordan illegally occupied them from 1948–1967 when Israel took control of them. It is therefore disputed territory belonging to Israel that the Trump plan allows Israel to “extend sovereignty” over.

 

 

Last month’s Israel Answers article discussed this issue as it relates to the settlement blocs, and in this article, we will discuss the importance of the Jordan Valley specifically.

 

Jordan Valley

The “Jordan Valley” is used here to include the lower course of the Jordan River, from the spot where it exits the Sea of Galilee in the north, to the end of its course, where it flows into the Dead Sea in the south. The valley is a long and narrow trough roughly 65 miles long. This valley includes the lowest elevation in the world, and on both sides—to the east and west—it is bordered by steep cliffs rising as high as 3,900–5,600 feet high. 

 

 

The majority of the Jordan Valley is already administered by Israel, as it forms part of the West Bank’s “Area C” as outlined in the Oslo peace accords of the 1990s. Eighty-six percent of the land is Israeli farmland due to its year-round agricultural climate, fertile soils, and water supply. It is strategic militarily because it forms the border between Jordan to the east and Israel (and the West Bank) to the west and is regulated by the Israel-Jordan peace treaty of 1994. 

 

Israeli Security

The Jordan Valley has long been considered Israel’s preferred eastern border, and sovereign control over it will ensure Israel’s ability to respond to security threats from both Jordan to its east and the Palestinians to its west. Strategic positioning of this kind will prove far more effective and peaceful in the long run than the intervention of foreign military assistance or military technology used in conflicts in the past.

 

Keeping the Palestinians Demilitarized

Israel’s requirement that a prospective Palestinian state be demilitarized has been known since the 1993 Oslo process and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The requirement is a means of safeguarding Israel’s security by preventing the development of military threats against Israel—including conventional warfare, terrorism and guerilla warfare—from and via the Palestinian territories. The only way to keep illegal weapons from entering the demilitarized Palestinian zone is for Israel to maintain control of its borders. 

 

Jordan’s Security

Jordan gave lip service to cutting ties with Israel in response to the “annexation” but has no interest in conflict with Israel. It is Israel and the United States, not the Palestinian Authority, that bring peace and stability to Jordan. One senior Jordanian official reporting to Israel Hayom newspaper asserted:

 

 

We prefer an IDF presence west of the kingdom in the Jordan Valley over any other alternative. Contrary to the poor diplomatic relations with Israel, the security relationship is excellent. We have no interest or intention of damaging our security relations with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.

 

 

As expected, Jordan will beat its chest loudly in support of the Palestinian people while treasuring its strategic ties with Israel in a quiet manner. 

 

 

In conclusion, the chance to extend sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and major settlements is a unique opportunity. Everything, at least momentarily, is in place for such a move: the strong support of the White House; developing security and economic ties with Sunni Arab countries that will prevent legitimate pushback; and a strong Israeli security presence that is capable of deterring Palestinian unrest. This stated, Israel’s local friendships are not guaranteed tomorrow, and American support for such action rests on a shaky reelection bid for President Trump. If Israel desires to obtain defensible borders for the future, now is the time to act swiftly.

Does Israel Have the Right to Annex Settlements?

The Trump administration unveiled the long-awaited peace plan between Israel and the Palestinian people in January 2020. Perhaps the most realistic and balanced of any peace plan to date, it was rejected by the Palestinian Authority in less than two hours. 

One of the most controversial pieces of the so-called “Deal of the Century” included the annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, recognizing the land as part of the State of Israel. Thus the quagmire brings old questions to light regarding the legality of the settlements and Israel’s right to annex them.

Biblical Foundation

The book of Genesis records God’s promise of the land of Canaan as an “everlasting possession” to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob. Several hundred years later, the law was given at Sinai, and one of the conditions of disobedience would be exile from that land—however, exile with the hope of return. After centuries of exile, the Jewish people saw that hope realized and returned to reestablish sovereignty in their God-given land in 1948.

International Legal Foundation

The ancient land of Canaan, referred to as Judea under Roman occupation, had been renamed Palestine in AD 135 and then occupied by one foreign entity after another until the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI. Leaders of the Allied nations and their German counterparts divided up the Empire, not for occupation but to set up self-rule. 

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 supporting the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine was endorsed by the leading world powers at the San Remo Conference in 1920 and affirmed by the League of Nations in 1922. Israel had a right to the land just as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq—all created out of the same legal agreements—had rights to theirs. This legal foundation has not been annulled and is still in place today. 

The Defunct UN Partition Plan

After 25 years of conflict between the Jews and Arabs living in the land, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181 in 1947, calling for the partition of the land and the establishment of both a Jewish State and an Arab State. The Jews immediately accepted the plan and established their state, but the Arab world rejected it and instead attacked the newborn Jewish State in an attempt to take all of the land. The UN Partition Plan was never implemented because the Arabs had rejected it just as they have rejected numerous other offers of statehood. 

The Failed Peace Process

Since the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, various initiatives and peace plans have offered more and more to the Palestinians and seemed to validate the claims by Israel’s antagonists that the Jews were giving back illegally occupied land owned by the Palestinians. But Israel’s willingness to negotiate and possibly even give away land did not mean the international legal claims to the land were now not applicable. Instead, Israel was negotiating with the land that rightfully belonged to her to obtain a peace agreement.

Palestinian Obstinance  

The increasingly generous offers of various peace initiatives under four US Presidents since 1991 were all rejected by the Palestinian leaders who seemed to be holding out for a better deal. What Western negotiators failed to recognize was Palestinian rejection is not about the details of any one offer but a refusal to sign an agreement with the Jewish State. 

Signing an agreement with Israel means recognizing Israel exists, and that would be a betrayal of the Palestinian dream of return to all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. It would also be a betrayal of the Islamic world that refuses to accept Jewish sovereignty on land that was once Islamic. Thirty years of Palestinian obstinance has created facts on the ground that need resolving, such as that of the Jewish communities in the West Bank.

Time to Annex the Settlements

Israel’s annexation of the settlements as allowed by the Trump peace plan is entirely legal. It recognizes the rulings of the San Remo Conference and League of Nations some 100 years ago. It should also be a wake-up call to Palestinian leaders that their continued rejection of peace agreements with Israel will mean less for them in the end—not more. 

WHY DOES THE UNITED NATIONS SINGLE OUT ISRAEL

The United Nations charter of June 26, 1945, reflected lofty goals to help nations recover after WWII and set a course of peace for the future. The U.N. Security Council was specifically created to negotiate and maintain peace around the world. However, the UN currently seems to be preoccupied with the Palestinian issue, while ignoring genocide and gross human rights violations by a number of countries.

Increase in Number of Member States

In the ensuing years after WWII, the United States exercised considerable influence over the 50 odd member states. But, new nations came into being across the Middle East and in Africa. The United Nations member states grew from 51 to the current 193. While the US still holds significant weight, there are many other alliances among members that are also highly influential.

Alliances and Demographics of Member States

The sheer growth in numbers is not the major problem though. The alliances and demographics of those member states is. For example, the Non Aligned Movement (NAM), whose original purpose was within the context of the Cold War, now has 120 member nations who control every corner of the UN except for the UN Security Council. NAM is an umbrella for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Fifty-Seven member states are affiliated with the OIC and twenty-two of those states are members of the Arab League. This is a significant voting bloc in the UN.

For this reason, the historic UN General Assembly resolution on November 29, 1947–the United Nations Partition Plan–which paved the way for the creation of the modern State of Israel, would not pass in today’s UN due to the OIC voting bloc. In 1947, thirty-three nations voted YES, thirteen NO, and ten nations abstained. The next year on May 14, 1948 when Israel declared its independence, the new Jewish State was accepted into the UN with a majority vote of 33 nations voting YES. The OIC voting block today is significantly larger.

Conclusion

The scales have tipped towards a demonstrable coalition in the UN that defames Israel at every opportunity. The only democracy in the Middle East, with enshrined principles protecting and promoting religious freedom, humanitarian outreach, freedom, innovation, and pluralism, is routinely singled out by the UN Human Rights Council at the expense of other crises around the globe.

David Keyes, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's spokesman, said, "Imagine that. A country with free speech, free elections and minority rights is condemned more than mass murdering dictatorships like North Korea, Iran and Syria."

— by Susan Michael, US Director


Do you have a question about Israel? Visit us at IsraelAnswers.com and get it answered!


For more than thirty years, Susan Michael has pioneered the development of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem in the United States and around the world. She currently serves as the ministry’s USA Director and is a member of the ICEJ’s international Board of Directors.

HOW HAVE THE JEWISH PEOPLE SURVIVED AGAINST ALL ODDS?

One cannot help but notice when reading the Bible that most of the people groups mentioned no longer exist. Even the major empires such as the Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, and Roman Empires have passed from history. But, this tiny little people group—the Jewish people, numbering no more than 17 million at any time in history—still exists.

They somehow survived two exiles (one of which was almost 2,000 years long) and centuries of persecution and expulsions, as well as multiple attempts at annihilation. Certainly, the odds were against their continued existence, not to mention the reestablishment of national sovereignty in their ancient homeland.

Their Guaranteed Survival

To describe their survival as a miracle is justified and correctly assigns responsibility for it to God, who affirmed several times in the Hebrew Scriptures that the people of Israel would never cease to be a nation before Him (Jeremiah 31:36; Isaiah 66:22). Even if all the other nations are brought to an end, they would remain (Jeremiah 30:11).

The calling on the Jewish people was to bless the world with God’s redemptive plan—and they would suffer greatly for it. The powers of evil would forever fight against God’s plan because it would bring an end to their power on earth. They would attempt to stop it by destroying the people called to bring it about. The God of Israel understood the difficult place that this put His people in, and therefore guaranteed their survival.

The Book That Preserved

As His people, they represented Him in an evil and idolatrous world. Therefore, they needed to live a righteous life that reflected the holy characteristic of their God and observe hundreds of moral and ritual laws. As dispersed Jewish communities throughout all five continents passed down these laws from generation to generation, they retained an identity that went beyond their nation of residence. Even within a wide diversity of interpretations of these laws, the book in which they were found—the Torah—kept Jewish identity alive.

Their remarkable achievement in retaining a national identity during 2,000 years of dispersion is unmatched by any other people group in history. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister quipped, “We have preserved the Book, and the Book has preserved us.”

Longing for Zion

Because many of the laws required residency in their ancient homeland, a longing to return to Zion also bonded communities of Jews now living on different sides of the world and without a common language. “Next year in Jerusalem” became the heartfelt motto for Jews no matter their age, ethnicity, place of residency, or language.

Resiliency of Heart

Almost half of the Jews of the world live in the Land of Israel today, where they have enjoyed 70 years of statehood and endured 70 years of a constant state of war and thousands of terror attacks. The Iranian regime reminds them regularly of its intention to annihilate Israel while it develops the nuclear weapons that will allow it to do so. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) has bombarded Israel with a steady stream of hatred and demonization of her citizens.

Yet, Israel has been ranked as the eleventh happiest country in the world for five years now! This astounding statistic indicates the great resiliency of the Jewish people. Centuries of opposition have made them a strong people. They have not just survived but have thrived.

Principals found in their Book have also made them a caring people. In spite of how they have been treated by others, they are volunteering and helping the helpless around the world. The little state of Israel has provided humanitarian assistance in over 140 countries—all because of the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, to “repair the world,” and their biblical mandate to be a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 60:3).

The story of the survival of the Jewish people is a painful one, filled with much suffering and great sorrow, but it ends with the greatest event of all history. That is the day the Lord will appear in His glory in Zion and rule the nations from there (Psalm 102:15–16). Jerusalem will be a praise in all the earth (Isaiah 62:7), all wars will cease (Isaiah 2:2–4), and the nations will come up to Jerusalem to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords—the God of Israel (Zechariah 14:16).
 

- by Susan Michael, US Director, creator of IsraelAnswers.com and the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network.

WHAT SETS ISRAEL APART FROM OTHER NATIONS?

Israel, a nation as small as the state of New Jersey, occupies center stage of the world’s attention. While vilified by some circles, the Jewish State is also admired by many for a story that is unique from that of all other nations. Having defied the odds against the survival of this tiny people group—no more than 14 million worldwide—the Jewish people have built a nation that is thriving and is leading the world in many ways. Here are a few of the things that make her story not only unique but remarkable.

A Biblical Mandate

The Bible tells the unusual story of the miraculous inception of the Jewish people some 4,000 years ago and their calling to be God’s instrument of blessing in the world. Their role was to “bless all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12:3) by being the vehicle of God’s redemptive plan. This calling required that they follow certain laws and practices that marked them as His and caused them to stand out as different from other peoples. This uniqueness was also dangerous and made them an easy prey of cruel leaders who sought conformity to ideologies and practices at odds with Judaism. But God promised the Jewish people would survive, and one day, would return to their God-given land. Their story is unfolding just as the Bible foretold.

An Ancient Language Revived

Israel still holds the distinction as the only success story in world history where an ancient language achieved modern usage. The Hebrew language was preserved in sacred, written form, yet as a spoken language it had become extinct in the Diaspora. That is, until 2,000 years later when lexicographer Eliezer Ben Yehuda set out to resuscitate Hebrew in the late nineteenth century. Ben Yehuda immigrated to then-called Palestine in 1881 and lived in Jerusalem where he began his arduous task. Gabriel Birnbaum, a senior researcher at the Academy of Hebrew Language, said, “By 1914, Hebrew as a spoken language in the land of Israel was a fact.” Ben Yehuda’s legacy continues every time new immigrants of any age enroll in Israel’s free intensive Hebrew classes.

An Expert in Refugee Resettlement

When Israel became a modern Jewish state in 1948, Arab nations expelled hundreds of thousands of Jews who had lived in their lands for millennia. Israel—a tiny nation of 600,000 Jewish people barely out of the horrific Holocaust with scant resources—welcomed a million Jewish refugees between 1948 and 1960. They arrived with barely anything since the Arab nations kept all the Jewish wealth, homes, and businesses.

Israel has subsequently absorbed many waves of immigrants throughout her short history. One such wave has been that of Ethiopian Jews beginning primarily with Operations Moses and Solomon in the 1970s and 1980s. Israel once again demonstrated its remarkable DNA. It holds the distinction as the nation that brought African peoples to freedom rather than slavery.

Jewish Nobels

Looking at the worldwide Jewish population outside Israel itself, here’s a remarkable statistic: According to the Jewish Virtual Library, approximately 195 of the 900 Nobel prize honorees since 1901 have been Jewish (22%). It’s especially amazing since Jewish people make up less than 0.2% of the world’s population currently estimated at 7.6 billion people. The categories include literature, chemistry, medicine, world peace, physics, and economics. These numbers reveal not just intelligence but a commitment to education and innovation that helps to explain Israel’s leadership in so many fields today.

Israel and Innovations

Following are just a few of the thousands of examples of how Israel is leading the world in innovation and problem-solving: IDE Technologies is recycling salt water into fresh, drinkable water; Netafim’s smart drip and micro-irrigation have improved crop production worldwide; Mobile Eye has helped reduce auto accidents; ReWalk is helping paraplegics walk; and WoundClot bandages are saving lives. These innovations have made possible 65 Israeli companies on the NASDAQ. Only the United States and Canada have more.

Tiny Israel has survived war, terror, and anti-Semitism for decades while blessing the world in the process. Her oversized achievements not only make her unique but also truly remarkable amongst the nations. 

- by Susan Michael, US Director, creator of IsraelAnswers.com and the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network.

IS IT SAFE TO VISIT ISRAEL?

Visitors Favor Israel

Tourists and business leaders alike flock to Israel. GLOBES, Israel’s financial daily, reports that pilgrimages, tours, vacations, and leisure bring the highest numbers of travelers, but due to Israel’s innovative climate, 11 percent of visitors come for business reasons. Apple, IBM, Intel, Google, and Microsoft deem Israel safe enough to invest multiple millions of dollars building R & D facilities in Israel. From India to Indonesia, the United States to the United Kingdom, from Nigeria to the Netherlands, and China to Chile, tourists flood tiny Israel—with a population of only 8.7 million. Tel Aviv, with its vibrant nightlife, and Jerusalem, with its holy sites, are just two examples of Israel’s cities, towns, and villages full of manifold things to do, see, and experience.

Tourists Feel Safe

The 24/7 news cycle often reports Israel in a negative light. While visitors know that terrorism lurks on Israel’s borders, they refuse to abandon their exciting plans to visit Israel. Most tourists feel safe in Israel—safer than in parts of their own cities and countries. Tour companies and the Israeli government maintain ongoing dialog regarding the safety of visitors. To top it off, the welcome visitors receive from Israelis is unparalleled. All Israelis are hyper-vigilant when it comes to security, but their intense celebration of life is evident everywhere in their daily lives and festivals.

Israel’s Tourism Increasing

First-time and returning visitors confirm the popularity and safety of Israel. Tourism to Israel is at an all-time high for 2017, with numbers some 25–30 percent higher than in 2016. The Ministry of Tourism notes that in 2016, first-time visitors reached 58 percent with 42 percent returning. Other 2016 statistics indicate that 56 percent of tourists were Christians made up of 41 percent Catholic, 26 percent Protestant and 22 percent Russian Orthodox. The Ministry also notes that 2,000 celebrities, opinion leaders, and tourist agents visited in 2016.

Tiny Israel, Lots to Do

Since Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city containing the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, 82 percent of all tourists visit the Holy City. The coastal city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa is next in line at 67 percent, with its modernity, outstanding restaurants, and beaches. Conde Nast magazine names Tel Aviv one of the world’s top travel destinations. The Dead Sea, Tiberias, and the Sea of Galilee are also popular. No matter what your interests, Israel likely has it: snorkeling, parasailing, snow skiing, archaeology, museums, hiking, concerts, churches, and synagogues.

Millions of first-time and returning visitors and 90+ airlines flying in and out of Tel Aviv say YES! It is safe to visit Israel!
 

- by Susan Michael, US Director, creator of IsraelAnswers.com and the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network.

Why is Israel’s Modern Statehood a Miracle?

The story of modern Israel is amazing in itself, but when taken within the context of the history of the Jewish people, it is clearly miraculous. The only explanation for this epic tale is a biblical one.

Created to Bless the World

The uniqueness of the Jewish people is found in many aspects of their story but none more than in their beginnings. The story is found in Genesis 12:1–3 where God promises Abraham he would father a nation that would become a blessing to the world. The fact that Abraham’s wife Sarah was 99 and well past childbearing years makes the birth of their child, Isaac, a miracle—and proof that this nation is a fulfillment of God’s promise.

Given a Specific Land

Part of God’s promise to Abraham was the bequeathing of the land of Canaan as an “everlasting possession.” While Abraham himself only dwelt in the land as a foreigner, and died without seeing his descendants inherit the land, it surely came to pass hundreds of years later. After 400 years of slavery in Egypt, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob entered the land of Canaan and established sovereignty over it.

Their Future Foretold

While many books in the Bible chronicle the story of the Jewish people and were written after the described events took place, the prophetic portions of Scripture foretold of many future events in the life of Israel and described in great detail how they would happen. These prophets foretold of two exiles and returns, and the centrality of the Jewish people in the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. Israel’s story is a fulfillment of the promises and prophecies found in the Bible, and as such provides living proof of the absolute accuracy of the Scriptures.

Their Survival Against All Odds

The calling on the Jewish people was to bless the world with God’s redemptive plan—and they would suffer greatly for it. The powers of evil would forever fight against God’s plan and the best way to stop that would be to destroy the people called to bring it about. That this tiny people group survived two exiles, centuries of persecution, and multiple attempts at annihilation is a feat so beyond the norm that it is indeed a miracle—one promised by God (Jeremiah 31:36; Isaiah 66:23).

The Unprecedented Return

The story of the modern-day return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland—the land of Canaan promised to Abraham 4,000 years ago—finds no parallel in human history. In the last 120 years or so, 3.5 million Jews have returned to their ancient homeland and reestablished national sovereignty there. This return from all the countries to which they had been dispersed was foretold in many verses, including Isaiah 43:5–6 and Jeremiah 16:14–15.

The Miracle of Israel

The day after the State of Israel was born five Arab countries with well-equipped armies attacked the fledgling nation. The newborn State had no unified defense force and many fighters were newly arrived Holocaust Survivors and refugees with no knowledge of Hebrew, equipped with few guns and inadequate supplies of ammunition. Their defeat of the vast Arab armies was nothing short of miraculous.

In the 70 years since, Israel has not known a day of peace and has had to focus its investments and energy on defense, yet is now leading the world in technology, innovation, medicine, agriculture, security, and disaster relief. The good heart of the Jewish people and their innate desire to Tikkun Olam (“repairing the world”) is increasingly making them a light to the nations.

The Future Glory of Israel

The Bible foretells of a day when it won’t be good deeds and accomplishments that will shine forth from Israel, but the actual glory of God. It will be so bright there will be no need for the sun nor the moon (Isaiah 60:3, 19), and the nations will come to worship the Lord there (Isaiah 66:18, 23). The birth of the modern State of Israel is a miracle, and there are even more to come.

- by Susan Michael, US Director, creator of IsraelAnswers.com and the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE RETURN OF THE JEWS TO THEIR HOMELAND?

A special term from the Hebrew Bible is used to describe the process of returning to the Land—Aliyah, which means, to “ascend.” It was used in ancient times in reference to Jewish pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem for the three great biblical Feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Thus, the process of making Aliyah today is seen as having spiritual meaning beyond the physical act of return.
 
Let’s see what the Bible has to say about the modern-day return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland—the Land of Israel.

There Are Two Returns

Isaiah 11:11 indicates there would be a day when God would raise his hand “a second time” to gather the children of Israel to their homeland. The first return was predicted by the prophet Jeremiah to take place after Israel had been in captivity for 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10), and according to Ezra 1:1 happened precisely as foretold. After 500 years of intermittent and partial sovereignty in the Land, the Jewish people were once again dispersed under the Roman Empire in AD 70. After 2,000 years, they have now returned and reestablished sovereignty. No other people group has managed to survive two exiles—much less one that was 2,000 years long—and then return to reestablish national sovereignty.

The Second Return is from All Nations

This second return was to be from every nation where they had been dispersed (Jeremiah 16:14–15; 23:3, 7–8; 29:14; 31:7–8), not just Babylon. Over the past 120 years or so, more than 3.5 million Jews have immigrated to the Land of Israel from all over the world—from the north, south, east, and west—in literal fulfillment of God’s promises (Isaiah 43:5–6).

A Banner to the Nations

The regathering of the Jewish people to their land is depicted as God’s banner to the nations (Isaiah 11:12). A banner was often a rallying point in military operations, and was carried to lead a formation, but often bore the name or image of that army’s God. Using this symbolism, the Hebrew prophet Isaiah considered the ingathering as a proclamation of God’s name and His character to the nations (Ezekiel 28:25).

The Return is not Based on Merit

The Mosaic Covenant was clear that living in the Land of Israel was a benefit of walking in obedience with God, and that even after exile, repentance would lead to Israel’s return. However, the Hebrew prophets spoke of a day when God would sovereignly gather His children back to the Land, not because of anything they had done, but to be a witness to the gentiles and to vindicate His name. The timing was up to Him (Psalm 102:13); He would do it (Jeremiah 23:3), and He would even use the gentiles to make it happen (Isaiah 49:22–26; 60:8–12).
 
God vindicates His name because it has been profaned before the nations through the disobedience and exile of His people (Ezekiel 36:22). He will demonstrate His holiness (Ezekiel 36:22–23) and His faithfulness, whether His children are deserving or not. It reflects His love and mercy toward them (Isaiah 60:8–10), as well as toward the world He plans to redeem and fill with His truth and glory for eternity (Psalm 102:16–22).

This Great Act of God Leads to Revival

The ingathering of the Jewish people in modern times holds great promise for Israel and for the world, as it heralds the soon coming of the Messianic kingdom. While it is a physical return with many logistical and practical aspects, it is a sacred thing because it is building a platform for the coming of the kingdom of God, when the glory of the Lord appears (Psalm 102:15–16) and He tabernacles with man (Ezekiel 37:26–27: Revelation 21:3).
 
That the gentiles are called to assist in this process is an amazing and holy thing. Isaiah 66:20 describes the act of gentiles bringing His people home—the people He loves and will use to bless the whole earth—as so sacred it is likened to “bringing an offering to the Lord.” What a wonderful image depicting the biblical significance of the return of the Jews to their homeland.

- by Susan Michael, US Director, creator of IsraelAnswers.com and the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network.

 

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