Tag Archive | Palestine

Palestinian Media Watch – Exposing The True Words Of The Palestinian Authority

BY STEPHEN FLATOW/JNS.ORG

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The Palestinian Authority last week removed a photo from the website of one of its ministries because it showed a meeting of P.A. officials in which bottles of a popular Israeli juice were visible on the table.
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For friends of Israel, it was another in a long series of mildly amusing incidents in which P.A. officials have gone to absurd lengths to slight the Jewish state. It was all the more entertaining because it exposed the blatant hypocrisy of P.A. officials who call for boycotts of Israeli products while they are enjoying Israeli products.
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It also fits into a narrative that friends of Israel have been repeating for decades, but which the Arabs never accept: If the Palestinian Arabs would just realize that peace is good for them, they could be enjoying delicious Israeli foods, having easier lives thanks to advanced Israeli technology, be exposed to the latest agricultural techniques and so on.
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I have a different take on stories about P.A. boycott advocates who violate the boycott. I say: Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. The Oslo accords obligate the P.A. to have friendly relations with Israel. It’s not allowed to promote a boycott of the Jewish state. J Street and The New York Times keep telling us that we can trust the P.A., that it wants peace, that it honors the treaties it signs. So why is the P.A. so blatantly violating the accords it already signed?
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Meanwhile, the official P.A. newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida last week featured remarks by leader Mahmoud Abbas resurrecting the blood-libel accusation that Israel “poisoned Yasser Arafat.”
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Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. Separate teams of French, Swiss and Russian scientists have investigated the poisoning accusation and never found evidence to support it. Peace Now and the United Nations have been assuring us for years that Palestinian leaders are reasonable, rational people. So why are the P.A.’s leader and official newspaper knowingly propagating such baseless lies?
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And don’t forget the little matter of such falsehoods blatantly violating the Oslo accords. The accords obligate the P.A. to refrain from “hostile propaganda” against Israel. Accusing Israel of murdering the P.A.’s most beloved leader surely qualifies as “hostile.” So why does the P.A. keep violating the accords? What happened to all those promises that it can be trusted to honor the agreements that it signs?
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Also in the past few days, a rally was held in Tulkarm–under Abbas’s official auspices–to honor convicted Palestinian murderer Maher Younes, while the Bethlehem branch of Fatah (the ruling party, chaired by Abbas) posted photos on its Facebook page glorifying teenage terrorist Ahmed Sanagrah.
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Wait, that doesn’t make any sense, either. The proponents of creating a Palestinian state keep telling us that it’s safe to create such a state because the P.A. is against terrorism. They say Hamas is the bad one, while the P.A. is moderate. So if the P.A. is against terrorism, why do its leader and ruling party keep glorifying, sheltering and paying terrorists?
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By the way, when Abbas spoke at the United Nations earlier this month, he proclaimed the P.A.’s “commitment to international law and legitimacy and to a peaceful solution.”
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And that makes perfect sense. Abbas is truly bilingual. When he speaks to Western audiences, he uses all the right words that they want to hear. He sounds peaceful, reasonable and moderate. But when he speaks to his own people, he literally speaks another language: the language of hatred and violence. It’s the kind of language that gets innocent people killed.
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There was a time, not so long ago, when it was almost impossible to find out what was being said by Palestinian Arab leaders in their own media. Every once in a while, something would leak out. But by and large, the world news media did an effective job of keeping Americans in the dark about what Arafat, Abbas and the others were saying.
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That’s all changed, thanks to Palestinian Media Watch, which exposed the above-cited outrages and so many others. By exposing the P.A. leaders’ true words, PMW has affected U.S. and European policy towards the P.A. and in some cases has led directly to reductions of Western aid to the PA.
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Palestinian Media Watch is a uniquely worthwhile organization, and it deserves to receive a level of support from Jewish federations comparable to what is given to various other Israel-based agencies that do good work. Now that would make a lot of sense.

 

Why Are Palestinian Refugees Different From All Other Refugees?

BY DAVID HARRIS/ALGEMEINER.COM

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Why indeed?
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News reports suggest that the US administration is considering a historic decision to redefine who is and is not a Palestinian “refugee.” I hope that the reports are true. A change is long overdue, and could actually help the search for peace.
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Tragically, there have been countless refugees in the annals of history.
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In the 20th century alone, tens of millions of refugees, if not more, were compelled to find new homes — victims of world wars, border adjustments, population transfers, political demagoguery, and social pathologies.
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The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne codified the population exchange of Greeks and Turks, totaling more than 1.5 million people.
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Huge numbers of Hindus and Muslims moved because of the partition of the sub-continent into two independent nations — India and Pakistan.
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Refugees by the millions, unable to return to their countries, were created as a result of the 12-year Third Reich.
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The exodus from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam after the victory of communist and rebel forces was massive.
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Refugee flows from Africa’s civil and tribal wars have been constant.
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Yemenis were kicked out of Saudi Arabia by the hundreds of thousands during the first Gulf War, due to Yemen’s support for Iraq.
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Countless Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims fled, or were expelled, due to Serbian aggression.
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And this is all just the tip of the refugee iceberg.
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In fact, I don’t have to look far to understand the unending refugee crises of our times — or the trauma they have created. My mother, father, and wife were all refugees. Yet, instead of wallowing in victimization or becoming consumed by hatred and revenge, they started anew, grateful to their adopted lands for making it possible.
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This past May, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) counted 19.9 million refugees in its jurisdiction, with the largest populations being from Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over five decades, the UNHCR estimates that it has assisted 50 million refugees “help restart their lives.”
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And yet, of all the world’s refugees, one group — the Palestinians — are treated entirely differently.
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Indeed, the 1951 Refugee Convention explicitly does not apply to Palestinians, who fall within the purview of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
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There is no equivalent UN body for anyone else in the world.
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The definition of a refugee under the UNRWA mandate is also unique. It covers all descendants, without limit, of those deemed refugees in 1948. This helps explain why its caseload has quintupled since 1950.
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Unlike the UNHCR, UNRWA does not seek to resettle Palestinian refugees, but rather provides social services, and, in effect, keeping them in perpetual limbo.
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Despite the crocodile tears shed by Arab countries about the plight of their Palestinian brethren, they have been among the most miserly donors to UNRWA. They assert that it is not their responsibility to care for refugees created by the decisions of others. The top five donors to UNRWA until now have been the US. and European governments.
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By the way, I should hasten to clarify that only those Palestinians seen as victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict are given this special treatment.
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During the first Gulf War in 1991, when Kuwait evicted 400,000 Palestinians for their alleged backing of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, there wasn’t much reaction from the international community. And more recently, while thousands of Palestinians have been dislocated by the Syrian civil war, again there has been silence. Arab violations of Arabs’ human rights are seemingly viewed differently, if they’re noticed at all.
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And in Lebanon, with its large Palestinian population under UNRWA auspices, the government has long imposed strict restrictions on Palestinians’ right to work in numerous fields. Where is the outcry?
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So, we are confronted by something unprecedented.
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Palestinians are not the world’s first refugee population, but their leadership may be the first to resist a workable, long-term solution.
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Think about it. In 1947, the UN offered a two-state plan to address competing national claims. The Jews accepted it; the Arabs rejected it. Or in UN-speak, the “proposed Arab State failed to materialize.” Had it been otherwise, two states could have emerged, and with any luck, learned to co-exist. Apropos, to this day, that two-state concept remains the most feasible outcome.

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Instead, the Arab side went to war. Has there been any war without refugees? Yet, in a case of reverse causality, Israel is blamed for the refugees resulting from hostilities triggered by five Arab countries.
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Meanwhile, the Arab-Israeli conflict produced even more Jewish refugees from the Arab world (and Iran). They, however, resettled elsewhere with little fanfare and no attention whatsoever from the UN.
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Then, by design, the Palestinian refugees, and their descendants ad infinitum, were kept in UNRWA camps to serve as permanent reminders of the impermanence of their situation. Taught to focus their hatred on Israel, and to believe they will one day “return,” they’ve been denied chances for new lives. And they’ve been used to create the single biggest stumbling block to achieving peace: the Palestinian fantasy of ending Jewish sovereignty in Israel.
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Even now, 13 years after Israel totally withdrew from Gaza, astonishingly, over 500,000 Palestinians continue to live in UNRWA camps there. Why? Because Gaza is under Palestinian rule, not Israeli.
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While the Palestinians are among the world’s largest per capita aid recipients, much of that assistance has been siphoned off to line the pockets of Palestinian officials, who then turn around and seek more funds for their allegedly neglected people.
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It’s the same absurd logic that Hamas deploys when it decries energy shortages, while trying to shell the Israeli power plants that provide electricity to Gaza.
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The whole process is abetted by an elaborate, well-funded UN apparatus, encompassing more than just UNRWA, created by a majority of member states to support the Palestinians. By contrast, among others, Kurds, who have a compelling case for statehood, and Cypriots, who have lived on a divided island due to Turkish occupation, have no comparable UN bodies to advance their causes.
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This is not to say that Palestinians have had easy lives. They haven’t. It is to say that their leaders, with the complicity of too many, have pulled off one of the most successful spin jobs in history. Rather than resettle the refugees, they have shamelessly exploited them and their descendants.
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Therein lies the irreducible tragedy — and the heart — of a decades-long conflict.

 

Regional Players Maneuver To New Israeli-Palestinian Landscape

BY JAMES M. DORSEY/ALGEMENIER.COM

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A possible ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, may be about more than ending the ongoing, escalating violence that threatens to spark yet another Gaza war.
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It could also be an attempt to pave the way for the return of former Palestinian security chief Muhammad Dahlan as successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
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United Arab Emirates-backed Egyptian and UN efforts to mediate an agreement between Israel and Hamas, with nemesis Qatar in the background, constitute yet another round in an Israeli-supported effort to politically, economically, and militarily weaken Hamas, and pave the way for the possible return of the Abu Dhabi-based Dahlan.
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Ironically, Israeli discussions with representatives of Qatar, which has long supported Hamas, constitute recognition of the utility of Qatar’s longstanding relations with Islamists and militants — relations that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain cited as the reason for their 15-month-old diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar.

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Israel and Egypt have agreed that Qatar will pay the salaries of tens of thousands of Hamas government employees in Gaza. Abbas has refused to pay those salaries as part of an Israeli-UAE-Saudi-backed effort to undermine Hamas’ control of Gaza, and give the PA a key role in its administration. Moreover, in response to Abbas’ demand, Israel reduced electricity supplies, leaving Gazans with only three to four hours of power a day.
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Abbas’ economic warfare is the latest tightening of the noose in a more than decade-long Israeli-Egyptian effort to strangle Gaza economically. Included in the moves to negotiate a long-term Israeli-Hamas ceasefire are proposals for significant steps to ease the blockade of Gaza. Qatar has also been negotiating the return of two captive Israeli nationals, as well as the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war.
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In a statement on Facebook, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel’s goal is to “remove the Hamas terror group from power, or force it to change its approach, i.e., recognize Israel’s right to exist and accept the principle of rebuilding in exchange for demilitarization.”
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Lieberman said he wants to achieve this by “creating conditions in which the average resident of Gaza will take steps to replace the Hamas regime with a more pragmatic government” rather than through military force.
 

In another irony, involving Qatar in efforts to prevent Gaza from escalating out of control gives it a foot in the door as the UAE seeks to put a Palestinian leader in place who is more attuned to the Emirati and Saudi willingness to accommodate the Trump administration’s controversial efforts to negotiate an overall Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
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Speaking in a series of interviews, Qatari Ambassador to the Palestinian territories Muhammad Emadi insisted that “it is very difficult to fund the reconstruction of Gaza in an event of yet another destructive war.” He said that he has “discussed a maximum of a five- to 10-year ceasefire with Hamas.”
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Abbas, like Hamas, rejected US mediation following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this year.
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The US president startled Israelis and Palestinians by saying that Israel would pay a “higher price” for his recognition of Jerusalem and that Palestinians would “get something very good” in return “because it’s their turn next.” Trump gave no indication of what he meant by this.
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The effort to negotiate a lasting ceasefire is the latest round in a so far failed UAE-Egyptian effort to return Dahlan as part of a reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah movement. Dahlan frequently does UAE Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed’s bidding. President George W. Bush reportedly described Dahlan during an internecine Palestinian power struggle in 2007 as “our boy.” Dahlan is also believed to have close ties to Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman.
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Since late March, Hamas has backed weekly mass protests by Gazans demanding the “right of return” to homes in Israel proper that they or their familial predecessors claim to have lost in the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 and the 1967 Middle East war. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said recently that “thanks to these marches and resistance” an end to Israel’s decade-long blockade of Gaza is “around the corner.”
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Abbas may prove to be the loser as Israel and Hamas inch towards a ceasefire arrangement that could ultimately give Dahlan a role in administering the Gaza Strip.

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“Gaza has become a de facto state as it comprises a set area with a central body that governs the population, has an army, and conducts foreign policy,” said Giora Eiland, former head of Israel’s National Security Council. “So, in a way, countries have to be pragmatic and negotiate with Hamas. Israel’s main interest is security — a period of complete calm in Gaza — and it is willing to do what is necessary to achieve this.”
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Eiland continued, “Until recently, Cairo insisted that Abbas reassume control over Gaza, which Hamas would not accept, specifically the call for it to disarm. Now, Egypt understands that this is not realistic and is only demanding that Hamas prevent [the Islamic State’s affiliate] in the Sinai from smuggling in weaponry. The only party that is unhappy with this arrangement is Abbas, who has been left behind. But this is his problem.”
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A Hamas-Israel ceasefire and the possible return of Dahlan are likely to be but the first steps in a UAE-Egyptian-Israeli-backed strategy to engineer the emergence of a Palestinian leadership more amenable to negotiating an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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Whether Trump’s remark that Israel would have to pay a price for his recognition of Jerusalem was a shot from the hip or part of a broader strategy is hard to discern. The White House has since sought to roll back his remarks.
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With the jury still out, Israelis, Palestinians, and their regional allies have been put on alert as they maneuver to ensure their place in whatever emerges from efforts to reengineer the political landscape.

 

Did The Jews Steal The Palestinians’ Land?

Palestinians

by Lamb & Lion Ministries

Dr. Reagan: Is it true that the Jewish people stole the land of Israel from the Palestinians? Is it true that the Jewish people have no historical claim over either the land of Israel or the city of Jerusalem? The answer to these questions is very simple. The answer is — No!

The real truth is that these allegations against Israel are myths that are totally false. These myths have been propagated by both the Palestinians and the mainline press, both our national press and the international press.

These satanically-inspired myths have been perpetrated because God is fulfilling promises today that were made to the Jewish people thousands of years ago. These promises rest on a series of legal agreements, called covenants, made between God and the Jewish people, that center on the land of Israel.

Over the last two weeks on our television program Christ in Prophecywe’ve been taking a hard look at the world’s accusation that the Jews stole the land of Israel from the Palestinians.

Now, this is a very emotional argument that is used to picture the Palestinians as an oppressed and denationalized people. That picture is the one that is being used on college and university campuses all across this nation to rally young people against Israel.

So, did the Jews steal the Palestinians’ land?

Nathan Jones: You can’t steal land that isn’t legally yours. The Jews own the land legally, first and foremost, because God created the Abrahamic Covenant. Genesis 13-17 and Psalm 105 and other biblical passages reiterate the covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob’s descendants hold eternal ownership to the land of Canaan, and actually somewhat beyond, for God delineated Israel’s borders from the Nile River to the Euphrates River.

Dr. Reagan: So, you’re saying first off that the Jews have title to the land given to them by God Himself?

Nathan Jones: Yes, by God Himself. God said to Jacob and his descendants basically, “This piece of land is yours forever.” Bear in mind, God also made a promise to Ishmael and his descendants — the Arabs — that his line would birth many, many people, and they would own very much land, just not the land of Canaan. True to prophecy, the Arabs possess more lands and countries than Israel will ever possess.

But, the Arabs are not satisfied with that arrangement. They want all of the land.

Dr. Reagan: Let me play the Devil’s advocate here for a moment, because when you say God gave the Jews the land, true, there is no doubt about that. That’s provided for in the Abrahamic Covenant, which is repeated over and over and over and over again in the book of Genesis.

Nathan Jones: Yes, the Abrahamic Covenant stands apart as an eternal covenant without any preconditions.

Dr. Reagan: The covenant was renewed with Abraham’s son, Isaac. It was renewed with Isaac’s son, Jacob, also called Israel. But, the Jewish descendants were disobedient to God, and so they were ejected from the land — twice. Therefore, because of the Jewish exile, they lost their title to the land of Israel, right?

Nathan Jones: No. While the Abrahamic Covenant exists as an unconditional covenant, God set up a conditional covenant with Israel called the Land Covenant, or the Canaan Covenant. This second covenant exists as a conditional covenant that depends on the Jewish people obeying God. Moses, before he died, as recorded in Deuteronomy 28-30, foretold all the blessings the Jews would have if they followed God with all their hearts. But, if they repeatedly rebelled against God, then all these curses would come: nations would invade their land and oppress them, there’d be economic problems, social problems, and political problems. And, if the Jews continued to rebel even after being disciplined, God promised the Jews would be exiled from the land for a period of time.

Dr. Reagan: Exile was to be the ultimate punishment for continued rebellion against God.

Nathan Jones: Right, exile became the ultimate punishment, and we saw God exercise that provision twice.

Dr. Reagan: But, and this is so vitally important, the Jews still retain the title deed to their land?

Nathan Jones: Yes, exactly! Again, the Abrahamic Covenant stands apart as an eternal covenant, and yet due to the Land Covenant the Jewish people have to live up to their promise to remain faithful in order to stay in the land. Even in exile, God’s covenants provide for the Jews so that they never lose ownership of their promised land, just the right to use it for a time.

Dr. Reagan: That point is emphasized in a particular passage — Psalm 105. It’s a passage that was written by King David. Psalm 105:8-11 reads, “He [God] has remembered His covenant forever. The word which He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, His oath to Isaac, He confirmed it to Jacob, to Israel as an everlasting covenant. Saying, ‘I will give you the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance.'”

I don’t know how any passage could be any clearer than that.

Nathan Jones: The Jews may have been evicted from their land — twice — due to their rebellion against God. But, true, as Psalm 105 explains, God guaranteed in His Abrahamic Covenant that the land of Israel unconditionally and forever belongs to the children of Jacob. And, as the Apostle Paul argued in Romans 9–11, “Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself… Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all!” And so, no, God has neither disinherited the Jewish people nor revoked His land covenants.

In summary, first the Abrahamic Covenant grants the Jews the eternal deed to the land of Israel. Second, when the Jews began returning in the early 20th Century, there was no such thing as a Palestinian. The handful of Arabs living in that wasteland sold the land back to the Jews at exorbitant prices. And third, Israel was created legally in response to a United Nations declaration passed in November 1947, which authorized the establishment of a Jewish state in the land the Romans had renamed Palestine.

You can’t steal land that’s already legally yours.

Dr. Reagan: God gave the Jewish people the land of Israel. It’s their land forever, no exceptions!

Lies Of The “Occupation”

 

News Image BY STEPHEN M. FLATOW/JNS.ORG


A Pennsylvania high school teacher, who says he was deprived as a teenager, is now taking it out on his students–by lying to them about Israel.
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Sam Schindler, co-founder and history teacher at the Stone Independent School, a private school in Lancaster, Pa., explains in The Forward this week how the “truth” about Israel was hidden from him.
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His teachers only taught him about the positive side Israel, he complains. “What was kept from me then were images of the occupation, of pulverized houses, of bloody civilians and of terrified children. … The occupation or lives of Palestinians never appeared.”
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So now, Schindler is getting his revenge. He’s been teaching his students at Stone Independent all about “the occupation and oppression.”
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And–big surprise–at the end of last semester’s course, Schindler is proud to laud their findings. He notes that “the class collectively reached a universal conclusion about Israel and Palestine: The oppression of Palestinians is not sustainable, nor is it justifiable.”
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Dear Stone students, I’m sorry to tell you that Mr. Schindler has been lying to you. Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians ended 23 years ago.
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Here’s what Mr. Schindler didn’t tell you. When Yitzhak Rabin was elected prime minister of Israel in 1992, he faced a dilemma. On the one hand, he recognized that allowing the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”), and in the Gaza Strip, would pose a grave threat to Israel’s existence. Israel would be just nine miles wide in its middle, living next to a state run by terrorists and fascist dictators.
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But on the other hand, Rabin didn’t want Israel to continue ruling over the Palestinian Arabs who reside in those territories. So he and his aides devised the Oslo Accords, which ended Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians and gave them something close to statehood, but without endangering Israel.
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In 1995, Prime Minister Rabin withdrew Israel’s forces from the cities in Judea-Samaria where 98 percent of the Palestinians reside. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon later withdrew from all of Gaza. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinians came to an end.
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The only “occupation” of the Palestinians currently in force is the 23-year occupation by the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, and the occupation of Gaza by Hamas, which is now entering its 11th year.
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If any of you ever has the opportunity to visit the “occupied” Palestinians, you’ll be surprised to discover that the Israeli “occupiers” whom Mr. Schindler taught you about are nowhere to be found. There’s no Israeli military governor. The Israeli military administration that once ruled the Palestinian-inhabited areas was dismantled long ago.
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The Palestinians’ schools are run by Palestinian principals and teachers. The courts have Palestinian judges. The streets are policed by the Palestinian police and security forces.
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When elections are held, the candidates and the voters are all Palestinians. Pretty much the only thing that the P.A. can’t do is import tanks, planes, Iranian “volunteers” or North Korean missiles.
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The only time Israeli troops enter Palestinian-inhabited areas is when they are chasing down a terrorist. Going into some Palestinian town for an hour or two to catch a bomb-thrower or a sniper hardly constitutes an “occupation” of the Palestinians.
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Yes, Israel has checkpoints set up along its border with the P.A., and it’s a shame if that inconveniences some Palestinian travelers. Just like it’s a shame that every one of us is inconvenienced every time we have to go through a security checkpoint at an American airport. But checkpoints are set up in Israel and in U.S. airports for the same good reason: to keep terrorists from blowing us up. That’s not an “occupation.” That’s called self-defense.
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The current situation in the territories is not a perfect solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. But we live in an imperfect world. The current arrangements in the territories allow nearly all of the Palestinians to live under their own government.

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They live in an entity that is close to statehood in every respect except for the few aspects that would most endanger Israel’s existence.
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Sam Schindler’s notions about Israel and the Palestinians seem to have been frozen in his adolescence. He’s so angry about having been “deprived” by his own teachers that he hasn’t noticed how much the Middle East has changed in the meantime.
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It’s a whole new world for Israel and the Palestinians, Mr. Schindler. It’s time you started telling your students the truth about it.
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Israel At 70: A Prophecy Fulfilled

BY PINI DUNNER/ALGEMEINER.COM

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In 1867, a young man named Samuel Langhorne Clemens set sail from New York, bound for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
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Clemens is better known by his pen name — Mark Twain (although in 1867, he was still an obscure journalist who had somehow convinced a California newspaper to fund this spectacular trip abroad, in exchange for regular updates from different stops on his journey).
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Twain’s two most famous books, about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, were still many years away — and much rested on the success of his travelogue. As it turned out, the five-month cruise was a gamechanger, and the resulting book, The Innocents Abroad (1869), sold 70,000 copies in its first year, and was Twain’s best-selling book during his lifetime.
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Twain carefully constructed his reports to reflect the reactions of an average layperson visiting exotic lands far away from home, and specifically a person who would not allow preconceptions and mythology to overwhelm the reality of what he saw. The result was refreshing, and highly unusual for the 19th century.
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Lake Como in Italy was nice, Twain said, but Lake Tahoe back home in the United States, was nicer. Mount Vesuvius was unimpressive when compared to the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.
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Although Twain was enthralled by the grandeur of Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome, he was disgusted by the vast economic gap between rich and poor in Italy, particularly as it was evident that all available resources had been invested in architecture and edifices, instead of the impoverished population.
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The most important leg of the journey for Twain and his fellow passengers was their visit to the Holy Land, then known as Palestine — at the time a minor outpost within the Syrian province of the Ottoman Empire. Most of the tourists on Twain’s trip were devout Christians on their first pilgrimage to the land of the Bible.
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Twain, who was brought up Presbyterian, was undoubtedly swept up by the excitement and anticipation of reaching the Promised Land, spurred on by his distaste for almost everywhere else he had visited along the way.
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But just about every myth and expectation was dashed by the reality that Twain confronted when he arrived. “The word Palestine always brought to my mind a vague suggestion of a country as large as the United States,” he began, “I do not know why, but such was the case. I suppose it was because I could not conceive of a small country having so large a history.”
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Unlike the grandiose palaces and churches that Twain had encountered in Europe, along with the teeming cities and towns of Turkey and Syria, the land of the Bible was not just a jarring contrast — it was inconceivable in light of the rich history with which it was associated.
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Western civilization owed itself to countless centuries of events that had occurred in this exact geographic location, and yet it was a veritable wasteland, whose inhabitants — of all faiths and cultures — were primitive and unsophisticated.
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“Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes,” he wrote. “Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies.”
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Twain described in vivid, unfiltered detail, the squalor and desolation that he witnessed in every place he visited across the country, and his description of Jerusalem, once the crown of Judea, is particularly disturbing: “Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and has become a pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the wonderful temple which was the pride and the glory of Israel, is gone.”
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The state of Jerusalem’s inhabitants only underscored just how much this once glorious city had sunk into decline. “It seems to me that all the races and colors and tongues of the earth must be represented among the fourteen thousand souls that dwell in Jerusalem. Rags, wretchedness, poverty and dirt … abound.”
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Twain was particularly struck by how barren the country was, and how few people there were. As he traveled through the Jezreel Valley, he noted that “there is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent — not for thirty miles in either direction … [and] one may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings.”

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With hindsight, this was hardly surprising. The population of Palestine in the 1860s was 350,000; compare that to today’s 8.5 million.
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Twain’s conclusion was that the Land of Israel was a bitter disappointment. It is “desolate and unlovely,” he wrote, although “why should it be otherwise? Can the curse of the Deity beautify a land? Palestine is no more of this work-day world. It is sacred only to poetry and tradition; it is dream-land.”
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Twain’s final analysis was that the Holy Land was a fantasy for religious dreamers looking for ghosts in a cemetery that was trapped in eternal damnation. But how wrong he was.
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Approximately 2,600 years ago, the prophet Ezekiel prophesized (Ez. 36:8): “But you, mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home.” According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 98a) “there is no greater sign of the redemption than the fulfillment of this verse.”
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The Holocaust martyr, Rabbi Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal, in his seminal work Eim Habanim Semeicha, wrote that the desolation of the Land of Israel, as witnessed by Twain, is an essential component of that prophecy, a precursor to the flourishing renewal of the land in Messianic times.
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Seventy years after the creation of the State of Israel, we have all personally observed the fulfillment of that prophecy. And as we contrast the highly-developed, prosperous country with the dreadful place described by Mark Twain, and even with the struggling Israel that marked most of its formative years, let us all be acutely aware that the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy was highlighted by the Talmud as the greatest sign of imminent Messianic redemption.

 

Palestinians Defy US Taylor Force Act With $355 Million For ‘Pay-for-Slay’

By Algemeiner.com

 

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The Palestinian Authority’s budget for 2018 will include a $355 million financial reward for convicted terrorists and their families, in open defiance of recently-passed US legislation that conditions future American aid to the Palestinians on a verifiable end to a policy dubbed by critics as “pay-for-slay.”
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Nearly 8 percent of the PA’s $5 billion budget will be spent on the payments. In 2017, these funds were distributed across 21,500 so-called “martyrs families” using a sliding scale that provides the greatest compensation for the most severe acts of terror.

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Many beneficiaries receive upwards of $2,000 per month in a territory where the average monthly salary is less than $600. According to World Bank calculations, the average Palestinian family in the West Bank faces monthly expenditures of $1,000.
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An examination of the PA’s 2018 budget conducted by Palestinian Media Watch — an Israeli research and advocacy organization — noted on Tuesday that almost half of the PA’s anticipated foreign aid budget of $775 million is being spent on the terror payments.
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“In open defiance of the US, other donor countries, and Israel, the PA’s new budget shows it is continuing to reward terror,” the report argued.
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The report highlighted that “for the first time since 2014, the PA has stopped attempting to hide that it is the PA that pays salaries to all the terrorist prisoners.”
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In 2014, the report said, “the PA closed its Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs and lied to the international community, saying a new PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs was paying the salaries from non-PA sources.” The fact that the PA has directly resumed these payments means “that the PA, by Israeli criteria, is a terrorist organization,” the report observed.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) — who introduced the Taylor Force Act, which targets the PA’s policy, in the US House of Representatives — declared in response to the PA’s budget, “It seems like the Palestinian Authority did not receive the message we tried to send by passing this law, so now we have to ensure that the US will slash its funding to it.”
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The legislation — named in memory of a former US army officer who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv in March 2016 — was passed by the Senate as part of its omnibus appropriations bill last week and subsequently signed by President Donald Trump..
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“The Taylor Force Act was built precisely to put an end to this policy,” Lamborn said.
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Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon asserted on Tuesday that the PA’s budget demonstrated that President Mahmoud Abbas had “revealed his true intentions as he directly funds hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorists with blood on their hands.”
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“Once again, the Palestinians have responded to American initiatives aimed at reconciliation with support for terror and violence,” Danon said. “We call on the international community, and the United Nations, to join the US in their pledge to put an end to the funding of Palestinian terror.”
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The PA has fiercely criticized the new US legislation, condemning what its representative to the UN called “arm-twisting, blackmailing” methods that would “not break the will of the Palestinian people.”
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“We look at that act as being a hostile act to withdraw the economic assistance to the Palestinian people,” said Riyad Mansour, the PA’s representative to the UN, following the passage of the bill.