Archive | May 2016

Lessons From Venezuela: Food Shortages, Looting And Economic Collapse

BY MICHAEL SNYDER

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The full-blown economic collapse that is happening in Venezuela right now is a preview of what Americans will be experiencing in the not too distant future.  Just a few years ago, most Venezuelans could never have imagined that food shortages would become so severe that people would literally hunt dogs and cats for food.
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But as you will see below, this is now taking place.  Sadly, this is what the endgame of socialism looks like.  When an all-powerful government is elevated far above all other institutions in society and radical leftists are given the keys to the kingdom, this is the result.
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Food shortages, looting and rampant violent crime have all become part of daily life in Venezuela, and we all need to watch as this unfolds very carefully, because similar scenarios will soon be playing out all over the planet.
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The funny thing is that Venezuela actually has more “wealth” than most countries in the world.  According to the CIA, Venezuela actually has more proven oil reserves than anyone else on the globe – including Saudi Arabia.
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So how did such a wealthy nation find itself plunged into full-blown economic collapse so rapidly, and could a similar thing happen to us?
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The president of Venezuela has declared a 60 day state of emergency in a desperate attempt to restore order, but most people don’t anticipate that it will do much good.  Social order continues to unravel as the economy systematically implodes.
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The Venezuelan economy shrunk by 5.7 percent last year, and it is being projected that it will contract by another 8 percent in 2016.  Meanwhile, inflation is raging wildly out of control.  According to the IMF, the official inflation rate in Venezuela will be somewhere around 720 percent this year and 2,200 percent next year.
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If people are able to get their hands on some money, they immediately rush out to the stores to use it before the prices go up again.  This has created devastating shortages of food, basic supplies and medicine.
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Electricity is also in short supply, and a two day work-week has been imposed on many government employees in a desperate attempt to save power.  Violent crime is seemingly everywhere, and most law-abiding Venezuelans lock themselves in their homes at night as a result.
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Much of the crime is being perpetrated by the mafia and the gangs, but sometimes it is just normal people looking for food.  Desperate people do desperate things, and according to the Guardian there have been “107 episodes of looting or attempted looting in the first quarter of 20163…
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Crowds of people in Venezuela have stolen flour, chicken and even underwear this week as looting increases across the country in the wake of shortages of many basic products. Many people have adopted the habit of getting up in the dead of night to spend hours in long lines in front of supermarkets. But as more end up empty-handed and black market prices soar, plundering is rising in Venezuela, an Opec nation that was already one of the world’s most violent countries.
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There is no official data, but the Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict, a rights group, have reported 107 episodes of looting or attempted looting in the first quarter of 2016. Videos of crowds breaking into shops, swarming on to trucks or fighting over products frequently make the rounds on social media, though footage is often hard to confirm.
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One example of this looting took place on May 11th.  Thousands of hungry people stormed Maracay Wholesale Market in central Venezuela, and the police seemed powerless to stop them…
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“They took milk, pasta, flour, oil, and milk powder. There were 5,000 people,”one witness told Venezuela outlet El Estímulo.
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People from across the entire state came to the supermarket because there were rumors that some products not found anywhere else would be sold there.
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“There were 250 people for each National Guard officer… lots of people and few soldiers. At least one officer was beat up because he tried to stop the crowd,” another source told El Estímulo.
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It is important to remember that this was not an isolated incident.  As people have become hungrier and hungrier, there have been reports of looting at “pharmacies, shopping malls, supermarkets, and food delivery trucks”.  During some of these episodes there have actually been people chanting “we are hungry”.
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Other Venezuelans have resorted to digging in dumpsters and trash cans for food.  This many seem detestable to many Americans, but when you are desperately hungry you may be surprised at what you are willing to do.
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And as I mentioned above, some Venezuelans and now actually hunting dogs and cats for food…
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Ramón Muchacho, Mayor of Chacao in Caracas, said the streets of the capital of Venezuela are filled with people killing animals for food.
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Through Twitter, Muchacho reported that in Venezuela, it is a “painful reality” that people “hunt cats, dogs and pigeons” to ease their hunger.
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You may be tempted to dismiss these people as “barbarians”, but someday Americans will be doing the exact same thing.
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There has been a breakdown of basic social services in Venezuela as well.  Acute shortages of drugs and medical supplies are having absolutely tragic results.  When I read the following from the New York Times, this crisis in Venezuela become much more real to me…
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By morning, three newborns were already dead.
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The day had begun with the usual hazards: chronic shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions, even food. Then a blackout swept over the city, shutting down the respirators in the maternity ward.
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Doctors kept ailing infants alive by pumping air into their lungs by hand for hours. By nightfall, four more newborns had died.
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So once again I ask – how did such a thing happen to such a wealthy nation?
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Here is Business Insider’s explanation…
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The real culprit is chavismo, the ruling philosophy named for Chavez and carried forward by Maduro, and its truly breathtaking propensity for mismanagement (the government plowed state money arbitrarily into foolish investments); institutional destruction (as Chavez and then Maduro became more authoritarian and crippled the country’s democratic institutions); nonsense policy-making (like price and currency controls); and plain thievery (as corruption has proliferated among unaccountable officials and their friends and families).
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Are not the same things happening here?
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The U.S. government is mismanaging our money too.  During Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House, the U.S. national debt has risen by more than eight trillion dollars.  We waste money in some of the most bizarre ways imaginable, and at this point our national debt is nearly the double the size it was just prior to the last major financial crisis.
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Institutional destruction is also a legacy of the Obama regime.  With each passing day, our society resembles the Republic that our founders originally intended less and less, and it resembles socialist dictatorships more and more.  We may as well not even have a Constitution anymore, because at this point nobody really follows it.
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The third thing that Business Insider mentioned, “nonsense policy-making”, is a perfect description of what has been going on in Washington D.C. these days.  Perhaps that is why Congress only has a 12.8 percent approval rating right now.
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Lastly, thievery and corruption are also out of control in our nation too.  The elite and special interest groups spend massive amounts of money to get their favorites into office, and in turn those politicians shower their good friends with money and favors.  It is a very sick relationship, but that is how our system now works.
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We are sitting on the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and our debt-fueled prosperity is completely dependent on the rest of the world lending us gigantic amounts of money at ridiculously low interest rates and continuing to use our increasingly shaky currency which we are debasing at a staggering pace.
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We consume far more than we produce, and unlike Venezuela we aren’t sitting on hundreds of billions of barrels of oil.  The amount of “real wealth” that we actually have does not justify our current standard of living.  The only way that we are able to live the way that we do is by stealing consumption from the future.
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One study has found that our debt level is the highest that it has been since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and yet we continue to race down this road to economic oblivion without even thinking twice about it.
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What you sow is what you will reap.
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And just like Venezuela, America will ultimately reap a very bitter harvest.
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And it will have little to do with Socialism. The political rot began long before Obama came to power!
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Give me control of the money and I care not who makes your laws!
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There’s No Place To Hide From Surveillance Technology In 2016

Those who read Orwell’s 1984 and worry that we may have Big Brother-style surveillance in our near future are not reading the headlines closely enough: We’re already there.
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We find ourselves now in a surveillance state brought about by the ever-presence of modern technology, new precedents in what the government is allowed to track, corporate interests and even the tendency to overshare on social media. Indeed, more than a few convictions have been won through investigation into a person’s phone records, including text conversations and GPS histories.
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Liking and sharing on Facebook articles that are regarded as subversive may be enough to get you flagged for a watch list. If this sounds like a paranoid conspiracy theory, then consider what retired NYPD detective Patrick J. Brosnan recently suggested to WPIX news, that a smartphone is a combination “homing device” and “confession,” citing that there have been several cases where “…information obtained from the phone, established innocence or guilt.”
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The silver lining may be in the first half of that statement, that phone records have been used to establish innocence. It’s difficult to build a case that a suspect was at the scene of a serious crime when their phone records say otherwise.
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But how long until you let slip that you may have made a mistake in filing your taxes? Or that you let a friend have a glass of wine without knowing that they were under age? Suppose you visit a relative that the police are keeping tabs on for suspicion of drug distribution. If you think that you have nothing to hide, you’re probably wrong.
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The Washington Post reports that you may have already been assigned a threat score, rated green, yellow or red. You might wind up with a certain threat score based on a career in the military, posting material on Facebook that could be seen as threatening, suffering from certain medical conditions, or simply being a friend of a friend of a known criminal.
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Android users can access Google Location Settings via the settings page and turn Reporting and Location History off and delete their logs, but you have to turn this feature off on every one of your Google accounts.
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This is not an “out,” however, it is only one small brick in the surveillance wall. If you drive a car, you are subject to automatic license plate reading cameras. If you live in the city, there are sidewalk and public space cameras, not to mention cameras on public transportation. There is tracking for credit cards and rewards cards.
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Nielsen is permitted to sell information about your TV viewing habits. Your webcam can be hacked to show what you’re doing in the privacy of your home. Web browsing cookies can be used against you. For the most part, your data is only used to decide which advertisements to show you, but it’s not at all uncommon for any of these data-collectors to let law enforcement take a look at your information.
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Simply put, there is no “off the grid.” It is nearly impossible to live a normal life without ever setting foot in a public space and without ever using any sort of technology.
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If you’re wondering how we might reverse the tide of surveillance, it’s simply too late for that. New initiatives towards surveillance passed with little resistance under George W. Bush, given the impact that 9/11 had on American culture, and were expanded upon under Barack Obama.
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There have been some small efforts to combat omnipotent surveillance, such as the end of the Patriot Act, but all that can really be done at this point is to stay in the know. Avoid talking about any sort of illicit or subversive activity in text chats or online, and opt out whenever you can.
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This is easier said than done, but: give the government as few reasons as possible to mark you as a threat, because there’s no hiding from the surveillance state in 2016.

 

Is Peace About To Break Out?

Is something afoot between Israel & her Sunni Arab neighbors? (If not, why are Egyptian & even Saudi leaders suddenly talking so nicely to the Jewish State?)

by joelcrosenberg

 

Is something afoot between Israel and her Sunni Arab neighbors? Consider a curious chain of events in the region over the past month or so:

  1. On the one hand, in recent weeks, the Israelis have flatly turned down an offer by the French to attend a summit in Paris later this summit aimed at kick-starting the moribund peace talks with the Palestinians. Israeli leaders say they keep calling for direct talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, but Abbas keeps refusing to come to the table. Abbas says he wants an international conference, and supports the French approach.
  2. In recent days, however, the opposition leader of the Israeli parliament — Zionist Union chief Isaac Herzog — told reporters he is actively considering joining the Netanyahu government (likely as Foreign Minister) in order to pursue a “rare” opportunity for peace with Israel’s neighbors. “I have identified a rare regional diplomatic opportunity that may lapse and not return,” Herzog told dozens of party activists at a gathering that was secretly recorded and leakedto an Israeli TV station and newspaper. “I don’t say this based on nothing, but based on knowledge. don’t know if it will happen. But it could be that it will happen only due to a change in the government’s composition.”
  3. Some Zionist Union leaders have blasted such talk in recent days. They’ve said there is no rare moment for peace and have sharply criticized Herzog for being willing to sell out to Netanyahu. They say he’s simply angling for a senior government post because he’s slipping in the polls and could soon be voted out of leadership in his own political party.
  4. However, there are curious signs of possible rapprochement between Israel and Sunni Arab neighbors. Over the last several years, Israeli and Saudi officials, for example, have been developing strategies to thwart Iran’s nuclear program. Mostly this has been done under the radar, with only occasional leaks to Israel, Western and Arab media. Earlier this month, however, something stunning happened: a senior Saudi official and member of the Saudi Royal Family — His Royal Highness Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief and former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. — spoke side-by-side at a “pathbreaking” eventin Washington with Yaakov, the former Israeli National Security Advisor and close confidante of Prime Minister Netanyahu. They certainly didn’t agree on everything. But they were friendly. They were candid. They talked about various pathways to peace, including the long-discussed Saudi Peace Initiative which was first released in 2002. It was fascinating to watching two former officials from two nations long at war with each other talking respectfully, as friends. Something is afoot. (watch here)
  5. Last week, Netanyahu gave a speech to a gathering of foreign ambassadors that seemed to hint he might be open to some version of the Saudi peace plan.”I want to state unequivocally and in front of diplomats from around the world: I continue to support two states for two peoples: a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state — it’s about time,” Netanyahu told the diplomats. Then he added. In recent years, I’ve seen formerly hostile states in the region and beyond, but especially in the region, form new and deep partnerships with us. I think this is a matter of great importance because I think this creates new hope. We can advance peace with the Palestinians directly and through the support of other nations, including in the region. It was once thought that the only way that we could advance peace with the Arab states was to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That would certainly help enormously. But it’s also true that we might solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem by enjoying the support of Arab states who now see Israel more and more not as an enemy, but as an ally against the forces that threaten their own countries as well.”
  6. Then today, out of the blue, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi offered to mediate an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. “El-Sisi promised Israel on Tuesday warmer ties if it accepts efforts to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, urging its leaders not to waste an opportunity to bring security and hope to a troubled region,” Reuters reported. “In an impromptu speech at an infrastructure conference in the southern city of Assiut, Sisi said his country was willing to mediate a reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions to pave the way toward a lasting peace accord with the Israelis.” Curiously, Reuters also reported that “Sisi, who rarely speaks publicly about foreign policy, offered the 2002 Arab peace initiative as a potential way ahead. The initiative offered full recognition of Israel but only if it gave up all land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and agreed to a ‘just solution’ for Palestinian refugees.”
  7. Immediately, Netanyahu spoke to reporters to offer praise for el-Sisi’s offer. “I welcome Egyptian President El-Sisi’s remarks and his willingness to make every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians and the peoples of the region,” Netanyahu told reporters. “Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region. I appreciate President El-Sisi’s work and also draw encouragement from his leadership on this important issue.”
  8. Then, very shortly thereafter, opposition leader Herzog put out a statement also praising el-Sisi’s statement. This was particularly significant given that Herzog is currently negotiating with Netanyahu to create a “unity government” and become the nation’s Foreign Minister.

So what exactly is going on? It’s a bit early to say. With apologies to Shakespeare, it could be much ado about nothing.

Still, it would appear something is afoot. Netanyahu and Herzog are taking big risks with their political bases to consider a possible unity government which polls show most Israelis do not favor. Why would either leader go down this road unless they sense an opportunity both want to pursue?

None of know the actual contours of what is being discussed, and there are many twists and turns ahead. I’m not saying peace is at hand. History is littered with failed talks. Still, Christ said “blessed are the peacemakers.” The Psalmist commands us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” It’s always important to seek peace with one’s neighbors and enemies — to try, anyway — is it not, so long as you don’t make things worse and not better?

Curiously quiet in the back and forth were Palestinian leaders. Maybe they will say more in coming days. Netanyahu has made the case in recent years that rather than Arab states like Saudi Arabia waiting to make peace with Israel until after a deal with the Palestinians is complete, why don’t Arab states make peace with Israel now, like Egypt and Jordan have? This, he argue, just might create a framework of security and trust that could improve the chances of the Israelis and Palestinians finding a deal everyone could accept. I’m not saying he’s right or wrong. I’m just laying out the argument.

Until now, it would have been unimaginable that the Saudis would ever warm up to real peace with Israel. But as I’ve been reporting for several years, there are definitely signs of thaw between Israel and the Sunni Arab states. Never more so than this past month. Many Arab states increasingly see the Apocalyptic regimes of Iran and ISIS as the real threats to regional peace and security, and increasingly see Israel as a potential ally in dealing with both threats. That’s not to say the Sunni Arabs are happy with Israel. There are deep-seated cultural, ethnic and religious disagreements for many, and hatreds for some.

The Greater Shoah to Come

 

By Robert Mandel

 

As most of you know, Wednesday, May 5 was “Yom Ha Shoah,” the commemoration of the Holocaust of World War 2. I won’t recite over again the horrors of those days or the tragic numbers of dead which we all can recall.

My purpose in this article is to inform my readers that the Jewish battle cry, “Never Again!” will soon become a bitter memory as my people face the greater horror of the Shoah to Come.. Zechariah 13:8 foretells it:

“ “Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die,’ says the LORD. ‘But one-third will be left in the land.’”

In the land of Israel today are over 5 million Jews. If we assume that the Tribulation begins somewhere in the next 5 years or so, that number will have grown to be 6 million. Two-thirds of 6 million is 4 million! That would be a second Shoah, indeed! But there will be many more victims among my Jewish people.

By many estimates, there are some 11 million additional Jews living outside of Israel today; let us say 12 million in 3-5 years from now. Most scholars of end-times prophecy tell us that somewhere between half to three quarters of all inhabitants of the earth will die during the terrible judgments of the Tribulation.

A conservative figure in between those two estimates would be about two-thirds. If two-thirds of all Jews outside of Israel are struck down in the near future, that would equal some 8 million souls. Add to that the 4 million dead in Israel alone and you have a total of 12 million Jewish people perishing during the time of Jacob’s trouble

Twelve million Jewish victims is equal to exactly twice the number who fell during the Holocaust of World War 2! This, then, is what I call the Shoah to Come. My precious Jewish people will die because we remain in our sin

“…the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

We will die because we continued to hate without a cause the One who came to rescue us, as our blessed King David prophesied in the name of the Messiah in Psalm 35:19:

“Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.”

We will die because we lacked knowledge and did not seek to gain it, as our prophet Hosea warned in chapter 4, verse 6 and 7:

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God,                 I will also forget thy children.”

But, most tragically, the descendants of Abraham will die because we did not understand nor believe the warning of the lesser Shoah 70 years ago!

This is a painful teaching among Israel-loving Christians and a completely impermissible teaching among my own Jewish people, but I ask my readers to consider the following scriptures and decide for themselves who is really most responsible for the Holocaust?

I have heard it taught, and I believe it myself, that one of God’s main purposes in allowing the Holocaust of WW2 was to bring about the creation of the modern state of Israel in fulfillment of His own prophetic word. Praise the Lord for that!

But there was another reason as well. It was perhaps His final and most terrible warning to His prodigal people that He was willing to bring about dire judgments

“But if you refuse to listen to the LORD your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you… The LORD will cause you to be defeated by your enemies. You will attack your enemies from one direction, but you will scatter from them in seven! You will be an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth…

Above are just two verses describing the deadly curses which God spoke through Moses to warn the Jewish people about abandoning Him. But there are 48 more such verses in that same chapter and many, many more similar warnings in other books of the Torah (Old Testament). The entire chapter of Deuteronomy 28 reads exactly like an accurate record of the past 2,000 years of my people’s history, yet it was written 1,500 years before Yeshua (Jesus) by Moses our blessed teacher!

Yeshua claimed to be our Messiah, sent by our God to save us from our sins, but we would not believe him. Though it was the sins of the whole which sent him to the cross, it was the Jewish leaders, along with the Romans, who shared complicity in his crucifixion. Since our rejection of Yeshua, we have lost our Temple and, with it, our ability the Jewish people offer the blood sacrifices which God provided us for the atonement of our sins!

Since our rejection of Yeshua, we lost Jerusalem (70 A.D.) and, a few years later (135 A.D.), the whole land of Israel. Since our rejection of Yeshua, we have wandered, suffered and been persecuted as orphans all over the world. This is exactly what Moishe Rabeinu (Moses our Teacher) predicted would happen in Deut. 28:63, 64a, 37…

“Just as the LORD has found great pleasure in causing you to prosper and multiply, the LORD will find pleasure in destroying you. You will be torn from the land you are about to enter and occupy. For the LORD will scatter you among all the nations from one end of the earth to the other. And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, You will become an object of horror, ridicule, and mockery among all the nations to which the LORD sends you.”

But we did not remember God’s words, nor did we truly believe them. Even today in the synagogues,                 chapter 28 of Deuteronomy is rarely read and never are its horrors ascribed to our own failure to obey our God! So, finally, the Lord our God, jealous for his first-born son (Exodus 4:22) and determined to restore to Himself at least a remnant, was forced to inflict upon us the “Shoah” and six million had to perish!

How is it possible that my brilliant Jewish people still cannot see that for two millennia now, we have incurred all of the curses by which Moses sought to warn us!? How is it possible that my gifted Jewish nation still fails to understand that the fulfillment of these prophetic curses proves that we must have disobeyedand turned away from our ancient God in some indescribably horrible way!?

Forty-five years ago this month, I first heard that Jesus declared himself to be our own long-lost Jewish Messiah. For 90 minutes, I was literally struck speechless with the mere consideration of that claim. Though a young man, I was given God’s help to reason that if this claim were true, it would explain the entire history of my suffering Jewish mishpochah (family) for the past 2,000 years! That day,

I prayed that my God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, would show me the truth about Yeshua’s Messianic claims. I promptly dropped out of college and spent the next 18 months seeking to prove this claim either true or false. After significant scripture study, and many miraculous signs all pointing to the cross, I bowed my heart and claimed Yeshua as my king…

“Pilate asked Jesus, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’Jesus replied, ‘You have said it’” (Mark 15:2).

How terrible to think of all of the Jewish branches which will soon be broken off! That is why, in closing, I have a challenge for my brothers and sisters who have been grafted in to the olive tree of God’s love. Read this article one more time, prayerfully. If you believe it to be biblical and worthy, be bold as a lion and print it out and mail copies to several rabbis in your city.

If you do not want to be attacked, you may send them my e-mail for their replies. Who knows if together, we may not be used by God to add to the remnant He is saving out for himself and in so doing, to preserve a precious Jewish soul from the horrible Shoah to Come!

Asher Mandel (is53@att.net)

The Cashless Society Beckons

 

News Image BY TOM OLAGO MAY 11, 2016

There is ever-increasing evidence that the world is fast transitioning to a global cashless society. Individual countries are consistently making changes that work towards replacing cash with all sorts of electronic, biometric or technological options.
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Whether that’s good news or not would depend on who gets asked. However, various indicators arising out this trend towards cashless societies point clearly towards what we can expect to see happen.
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Sarah Jeong in a recent piece for theatlantic.com titled ‘How a Cashless Society Could Embolden Big Brother’ noted that Cass Sunstein–one-time “regulatory czar” for the Obama administration–wrote an op-ed advocating for a cashless society, on the grounds that it would reduce street crime. Essentially the absence of money would leave thieves with no physical cash to steal and limit the incentives for robbery.
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There are other reasons too why many observers and stakeholders feel that the days of cash as a medium of exchange are numbered, or at least endangered. Kyle Torpey in a recent write-up published in nasdaq.com gave a list of several more:
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” Negative interest rates – In a cashless society, it would be more difficult for savers to avoid these negative rates, which would be viewed as a positive by central banks around the world.
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” More control over the citizenry’s money – There are a variety of other government policies that are only made possible – or at least more practical – by the digitization of money. It’s much easier to pull off a bail-in, enact capital controls, collect taxes and generally control where money goes when it’s all ones and zeros in a centralized ledger.
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” Terrorist financing, money laundering and other bad things – The reported use of the 500 euro bill by terrorist organizations and other bad actors is the main reason its existence is currently under review. Physical cash’s anonymous nature makes it attractive for illegal economic interactions. A completely digital monetary system would allow governments to track every fiat-denominated transaction with precision.
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” Convenience – Digital payment options are also simply more convenient than cash. The Internet allows individuals to send money across long distances, and swiping a card is less cumbersome than fiddling with nickels and dimes.
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” Lower costs – Issuing digital currency also comes with lower costs than printing physical cash.
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There are certainly some downsides to replacing cash. As Jeong noted, in a cashless society the cash has been converted into numbers, signals, and electronic currents. In short: Information replaces cash – but wherever information gathers and flows, two predators follow closely behind it: censorship and surveillance.
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Not good news especially for privacy advocates, so is there any hope for those who wish to escape the disadvantages of operating without cash? Apparently so – Torpey notes that as a digital asset Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies have the potential to help individuals fight against the potential downsides of a cashless society.
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Bitcoin allows individuals to avoid payment censorship, fiat currency devaluations, heavy taxation, bail-ins, capital controls, financial surveillance (once privacy improvements are added), and many other negative aspects of virtual fiat currencies.
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Unlike gold, Bitcoins can be transferred to anyone else in the world who has access to the Internet in a matter of minutes. Governments also have a tendency to shut down gold-backed virtual currencies, which is one of the reasons Bitcoin was created in the first place.
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Bitcoin is however not without its own flaws. As Torpey noted, price volatility and the complexities involved with simply understanding how Bitcoin works are two disadvantages of the system – at least in the eyes of the general public.
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Guillaume Lepecq in a recent report for usnews.com is among those who would disagree with the drive to eliminate cash. He cited other dangers that a cashless society could spawn, including:
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”  Losing your credit cards or being the victim of digital hackers can lead to a whole host of problems including denied payment, card theft, card skimming, identity theft, account takeover, fraudulent transactions and data breaches.
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” Each of those incidents leads to countless hours of dealing with financial institutions and law enforcement to try to gain access back to accounts, redress fraudulent activity and reclaim one’s own identity.
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” Cash has repeatedly demonstrated its importance in times of crisis. When natural disasters knock out an electrical grid for days or even weeks, cash is a saving grace for residents to obtain critical supplies.
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” Internationally, cash has become a key target in the fight against terrorism. When there is actionable intelligence on where terrorists keep their cash, the military can strike and destroy those locations and put a significant dent in the terror groups’ ability to operate.
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Nonetheless, cashless options and their inherent conveniences still seem to carry the day in most Western nations – even though the nagging issues of privacy management are never far behind. One example was given by Jackie Calmes in a report for the nytimes.com that quoted Matt Bretzius, 31, the president of FischTank Marketing and P.R. in New York:
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 “I very rarely see cash exchanged, even for just three bucks,” he said. When he was forced this month to use cash for several days after his credit card number was stolen, it “was sort of a weird, dirty feeling”.
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Still, the thought that the U.S could turn totally cashless sooner rather than later has its critics. “We may be a cashless society one day, but not as soon as some imagine…Many Americans remain unbanked, making electronic payments impossible. And as long as there are babysitters, bellhops, doormen, street vendors and Christmas stockings, there will be cash,” Mark Patterson, a former Treasury chief of staff, wrote in an email.
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Meanwhile, even in countries considered ‘developing’ or ‘3rd world’, the march towards eliminating cash continues to make progress.
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RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan along with National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) adviser Nandan Nilekani launched the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) with the objective of proactively encouraging electronic payment systems for ushering in a cashless society in India.
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The interface aims to provide a safe, efficient, accessible, inclusive, interoperable and authorized payment and settlement system for the country. It will enable anyone with a bank account to complete a transfer or make a payment without having to share bank account or credit/debit card details.
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This news compilation about the UPI by Ranjeet Rane was recently published in the hindustantimes.com and is an indicator that this trend towards replacing cash is certainly not limited to the West or the richer nations.
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So what’s the ‘end game’ here? Is there one, over and above what cashless society proponents have publicly stated? Is there something that the public is not being told? Trunews.com financial blogger David Haggith thinks the global central banks push toward a cashless society is linked to warnings in Bible prophecy against taking the Mark of the Beast in the end times.
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Haggith predicted from his analysis that a single global currency would emerge throughout the globe, with little to no dollar influence as to appease Russia and China who want the US currency dethroned.
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Haggith did not have a timeline for when he believes this cashless society will emerge, but believes it will require a big event to happen to undermine resistance against a formulation of the Mark of the Beast. This resistance he said will likely to come from the older segment of the population.
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When asked by Rick Wiles of trunews.com if he believes it’s reasonable for this system to emerge during his lifetime, Haggith said he did believe it was possible and that he could see all the events of Revelation play out before his death.
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Wiles on his part has previously been quoted on the topic: “When the calendar flipped over to 2016, the establishment news media in the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Europe, and Australia immediately began chanting the ‘here comes the cashless society’ mantra.  The coordination of the propaganda campaign is glaringly obvious to any astute observer.”
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No wonder that many observers believe that a global financial crash is in the offing and those in the know are trying to prepare society to embrace it. Such an event could easily precipitate the setting up of a global cashless society – much faster and more effectively than most pundits could currently imagine.

Israel At 68: A Record To Be Proud Of

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BY DAVID HARRIS/ALGEMEINER.COM

 

Israel celebrates its 68th Day of Independence this week. Let me put my cards on the table. I’m not dispassionate when it comes to Israel. Quite the contrary.
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The establishment of the state in 1948; the fulfillment of its envisioned role as home and haven for Jews from around the world; its wholehearted embrace of democracy and the rule of law; and its impressive scientific, cultural and economic achievements are accomplishments beyond my wildest imagination.
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For centuries, Jews around the world prayed for a return to Zion. We are the lucky ones who have seen those prayers answered. I am grateful to witness this most extraordinary period in Jewish history and Jewish sovereignty — in the words of Israel’s national anthem, “to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”
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And when one adds the key element, namely, that all this took place not in the Middle West but in the Middle East, where Israel’s neighbors determined from day one to destroy it through any means available to them — from full-scale wars to wars of attrition; from diplomatic isolation to international delegitimation; from primary to secondary to even tertiary economic boycotts; from terrorism to the spread of antisemitism, often thinly veiled as anti-Zionism — the story of Israel’s first 68 years becomes all the more remarkable.
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No other country has faced such a constant challenge to its very right to exist, even though the age-old biblical, spiritual, and physical connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel is unique in the annals of history.
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Indeed, that connection is of a totally different character from the basis on which, say, the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the bulk of Latin American countries were established, that is, by Europeans with no legitimate claim to those lands who decimated indigenous populations and proclaimed their own authority. Or, for that matter, North African countries that were conquered and occupied by Arab-Islamic invaders who totally redefined their national character.
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No other country has faced such overwhelming odds against its very survival, or experienced the same degree of never-ending international demonization by too many nations ready to throw integrity and morality to the wind, and slavishly follow the will of the energy-rich and more numerous Arab states.
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Yet Israelis have never succumbed to a fortress mentality, never abandoned their deep yearning for peace with their neighbors or willingness to take unprecedented risks to achieve that peace (as was the case with Egypt and Jordan, for example, and in the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza), never lost their zest for life, and never flinched from their determination to build a vibrant, democratic state.
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This story of nation-building is entirely without precedent.
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Here was a people brought to the brink of utter destruction by the genocidal policies of Nazi Germany and its allies. Here was a people shown to be utterly powerless to influence a largely indifferent world to stop, or even slow down, the Final Solution. And here was a people, numbering barely 600,000, living cheek-by-jowl with often hostile Arab neighbors, under unsympathetic British occupation, on a harsh soil with no significant natural resources other than human capital in what was then Mandatory Palestine.
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That the blue-and-white flag of an independent Israel could be planted on this land, to which the Jewish people had been intimately linked since the time of Abraham, just three years after the end of the Holocaust — and with the support of a decisive majority of UN members at the time — truly boggles the mind.
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And what’s more, that this tiny community of Jews, including survivors of the Holocaust who had somehow made their way to Mandatory Palestine despite the British blockade and British detention camps in Cyprus, could successfully defend themselves against the onslaught of five Arab standing armies, is almost beyond imagination.
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To understand the essence of Israel’s meaning, it is enough to ask how the history of the Jewish people might have been different had there been a Jewish state in 1933, in 1938, or even in 1941. If Israel had controlled its borders and the right of entry instead of Britain, if Israel had had embassies and consulates throughout Europe, how many more Jews might have escaped and found sanctuary?
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Instead, Jews had to rely on the goodwill of embassies and consulates of other countries and, with woefully few exceptions, they found there neither the “good” nor the “will” to assist.
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I witnessed firsthand what Israeli embassies and consulates meant to Jews drawn by the pull of Zion or the push of hatred. I stood in the courtyard of the Israeli embassy in Moscow and saw thousands of Jews seeking a quick exit from a Soviet Union in the throes of cataclysmic change, fearful that the change might be in the direction of renewed chauvinism and antisemitism.
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Awestruck, I watched up-close as Israel never faltered, not even for a moment, in transporting Soviet Jews to the Jewish homeland, even as Scud missiles launched from Iraq traumatized the nation in 1991. It says a lot about the conditions they were leaving behind that these Jews continued to board planes for Tel Aviv while missiles were exploding in Israeli population centers. In fact, on two occasions I sat in sealed rooms with Soviet Jewish families who had just arrived in Israel during these missile attacks. Not once did any of them question their decision to establish new lives in the Jewish state. And equally, it says a lot about Israel that, amid all the pressing security concerns, it managed to continue to welcome these new immigrants without missing a beat.
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And how can I ever forget the surge of pride — Jewish pride — that completely enveloped me 40 years ago, in July 1976, on hearing the astonishing news of Israel’s daring rescue of the 106 Jewish hostages held by Arab and German terrorists in Entebbe, Uganda, over 2,000 miles from Israel’s borders? The unmistakable message: Jews in danger will never again be alone, without hope, and totally dependent on others for their safety.
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Not least, I can still remember, as if it were yesterday, my very first visit to Israel. It was in 1970, and I was not quite 21 years old.
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I didn’t know what to expect, but I recall being quite emotional from the moment I boarded the El Al plane to the very first glimpse of the Israeli coastline from the plane’s window. As I disembarked, I surprised myself by wanting to kiss the ground. In the ensuing weeks, I marveled at everything I saw. To me, it was as if every apartment building, factory, school, orange grove, and Egged bus was nothing less than a miracle. A state, a Jewish state, was unfolding before my very eyes.
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After centuries of persecutions, pogroms, exiles, ghettos, pales of settlement, inquisitions, blood libels, forced conversions, discriminatory legislation, and immigration restrictions — and, no less, after centuries of prayers, dreams and yearning — the Jews had come back home and were the masters of their own fate.
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I was overwhelmed by the mix of people, backgrounds, languages and lifestyles, and by the intensity of life itself. Everyone, it seemed, had a compelling story to tell. There were Holocaust survivors with harrowing tales of their years in the camps. There were Jews from Arab countries, whose stories of persecution in such countries as Iraq, Libya and Syria were little known at the time. There were the first Jews arriving from the USSR seeking repatriation in the Jewish homeland. There were the sabras — native-born Israelis — many of whose families had lived in Palestine for generations. There were local Arabs, both Christian and Muslim. There were Druze, whose religious practices are kept secret from the outside world. The list goes on and on.
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I was moved beyond words by the sight of Jerusalem and the fervor with which Jews of all backgrounds prayed at the Western Wall. Coming from a nation that was at the time deeply divided and demoralized, I found my Israeli peers to be unabashedly proud of their country, eager to serve in the military, and, in many cases, determined to volunteer for the most elite combat units. They felt personally involved in the enterprise of building a Jewish state, more than 1,800 years after the Romans defeated the Bar Kochba revolt, the last Jewish attempt at sovereignty on this very land.
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To be sure, nation-building is an infinitely complex process. In Israel’s case, it began against a backdrop of tensions with a local Arab population that laid claim to the very same land, and tragically refused a UN proposal to divide the land into Arab and Jewish states; as the Arab world sought to isolate, demoralize, and ultimately destroy the state; as Israel’s population doubled in the first three years of the country’s existence, putting an unimaginable strain on severely limited resources; as the nation was forced to devote a vast portion of its limited national budget to defense expenditures; and as the country coped with forging a national identity and social consensus among a population that could not have been more geographically, linguistically, socially, and culturally heterogeneous.
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Moreover, there is the tricky and underappreciated issue of the potential clash between the messy realities of statehood and, in this case, the ideals and faith of a people. It is one thing for a people to live their religion as a minority; it is quite another to exercise sovereignty as the majority population while remaining true to one’s ethical standards. Inevitably, tension will arise between a people’s spiritual or moral self-definition and the exigencies of statecraft, between the highest concepts of human nature and the daily realities of individuals in decision-making positions wielding power and balancing a variety of competing interests.
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Even so, shall we raise the bar so high as to ensure that Israel — forced to function in the often gritty, morally ambiguous world of international relations and politics, especially as a small, still endangered state — will always fall short?
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Yet, the notion that Israel would ever become ethically indistinguishable from any other country, reflexively seeking cover behind the convenient justification of realpolitik to explain its behaviour, is equally unacceptable.
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Israelis, with only 68 years of statehood under their belts, are among the newer practitioners of statecraft. With all its remarkable success, consider the daunting political, social, and economic challenges in the United States 68 or even 168 years after independence, or, for that matter, the challenges it faces today, including stubborn social inequalities. And let’s not forget that the United States, unlike Israel, is a vast country blessed with abundant natural resources, oceans on two-and-a half sides, a gentle neighbor to the north, and a weaker neighbour to the south.
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Like any vibrant democracy, America is a permanent work in progress. The same holds true for Israel. Loving Israel as I do, though, doesn’t mean overlooking its shortcomings, including the excessive and unholy intrusion of religion into politics, the inexcusable marginalization of non-Orthodox Jewish religious streams, the dangers posed by political and religious zealots, and the unfinished, if undeniably complex, task of integrating Israeli Arabs into the mainstream.
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But it also doesn’t mean allowing such issues to overshadow Israel’s remarkable achievements, accomplished, as I’ve said, under the most difficult of circumstances.
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In just 68 years, Israel has built a thriving democracy, unique in the region, including a Supreme Court prepared, when it deems appropriate, to overrule the prime minister or the military establishment, a feisty parliament that includes every imaginable viewpoint along the political spectrum, a robust civil society, and a vigorous press.
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It has built an economy increasingly based on innovation and cutting-edge technology, whose per capita GNP exceeds the combined total of its four contiguous sovereign neighbors — Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
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It has built universities and research centers that have contributed to advancing the world’s frontiers of knowledge in countless ways, and won a slew of Nobel Prizes in the process.
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It has built one of the world’s most powerful militaries — always under civilian control, I might add — to ensure its survival in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood. It has shown the world how a tiny nation, no larger than New Jersey or Wales, can, by sheer ingenuity, will, courage, and commitment, defend itself against those who would destroy it through conventional armies or armies of suicide bombers. And it has done all this while striving to adhere to a strict code of military conduct that has few rivals in the democratic world, much less elsewhere — and in the face of an enemy prepared to send children to the front lines and seek cover in mosques, schools, and hospitals.
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It has built a quality of life that ranks it among the world’s healthiest nations and with a particularly high life expectancy, indeed higher than that of the US.
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It has built a thriving culture, whose musicians, writers and artists are admired far beyond Israel’s borders. In doing so, it has lovingly taken an ancient language, Hebrew, the language of the prophets, and rendered it modern to accommodate the vocabulary of the contemporary world.
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Notwithstanding a few extremist voices of intolerance, it has built a climate of respect for other faith groups, including Baha’i, Christianity and Islam, and their places of worship. Can any other nation in the area make the same claim?
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It has built an agricultural sector that has had much to teach developing nations about turning an arid soil into fields of fruits, vegetables, cotton, and flowers.
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Step back from the twists and turns of the daily information overload coming from the Middle East and consider the sweep of the last 68 years. Look at the light-years traveled since the darkness of the Holocaust, and marvel at the miracle of a decimated people returning to a tiny sliver of land — the land of our ancestors, the land of Zion and Jerusalem — and successfully building a modern, vibrant state against all the odds, on that ancient foundation.
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In the final analysis, then, the story of Israel is the wondrous realization of a 3,500-year link among a land, a faith, a language, a people, and a vision. It is an unparalleled story of tenacity and determination, of courage and renewal. And it is ultimately a metaphor for the triumph of enduring hope over the temptation of despair.
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Happy birthday Israel.

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

And may your eyes be opened to your Messiah: Jesus Christ.

 

VETERAN HAMAS TERRORIST CAPTURED, REVEALS TERROR TUNNEL NETWORK

By Ari Soffer (Arutz Sheva News)
Israeli forces arrested Mohammed Atounah at the start of April, when he attempted to carry out an infiltration attack from Gaza.
It has been cleared for publication that a veteran Hamas terrorist who was involved in the terror group’s tunnel-building efforts has been captured by Israel.
Under interrogation the terrorist has revealed a wealth of information about Hamas’s network of terror tunnels into Israel.
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Mohammed Atounah, 29, hails from Jabaliyah in Gaza, and is a 10-year veteran of the Islamist terror group.
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He was arrested at the beginning of April, after breaching the Gaza-Israel border armed with two knives.
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He admitted to security forces that he had planned to kill any Israeli soldiers or civilians he encountered.
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Atounah was a member of Hamas’s “military wing”, the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and was extensively involved in the group’s terrorist activity, including the planting of explosives targeting IDF forces near Gaza.
Over the past several years, however, most of Atounah’s work had been focused on Hamas’s terror tunnel network.
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He revealed to interrogators a boon of detailed information on the tunnel network within and from northern Gaza, including Hamas’s tunnel-building techniques, their locations – including within private civilian homes and public institutions – their uses, and more. He even provided a detailed account of the materials Hamas uses to construct the vast, expensive and in some cases highly-sophisticated tunnels.
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He traces the routes and excavation sites of the tunnel network, well as the hidden attack shafts from where Hamas’s elite fighters would emerge to stage attacks against IDF forces in the case of any future war with Israel.
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Far from the rudimentary, the tunnel networks – meant to shuttle weapons, equipment and fighters throughout Gaza during wartime – even included recreation rooms, bathrooms with showers, and canteens.
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Atounah also handed over a long list of names of Hamas operatives who worked together with him in Hamas’s northeastern battalion, and pinpointed the locations of multiple weapons storage facilities and other key strategic Hamas sites.