Israel Update

 

JERUSALEM-ON-THE-LINE July 10, 2011

“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God. ” Acts 14:22.

FIRST THE SATURDAY PEOPLE, THEN THE SUNDAY PEOPLE:   Terror groups have had a favorite taunt for several decades which says, first the Saturday people, then the Sunday people. This of course means, first the Jews then the Christians will be targets for persecution, subjection and elimination by radical Islamists. Vision for Israel, in a new endeavor, plans to keep you informed monthly of growing Christian oppression across Islamic-controlled lands that you may pray for both the victims and their persecutors. We will additionally present information dealing with the upswing of Muslim influence in the West. We hope also to publish good news of revival in areas where terrorism and violence are increasing at an alarming rate.

REPORT FROM THE UN:  Latest UN figures show that more than a quarter of the refugee population violently forced out of their homes in Iraq since 2003 are Christians. The number of Christians in Iraq has plummeted from 1.4 million in the 1980s to an estimated 200,000 as of July 2011. The first major attack against the Christian community in Iraq came in August 2004 when five Baghdad churches were bombed over a 30-minute period. The al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) appeared to be responsible for the bombings, and for the majority of attacks that have since targeted the Christian community. ISI's main goal is to establish an Islamic state on the ground in Iraq that adheres to strict Islamic law. Christians who have fled Iraq report being pressured by Muslim terrorists, both Sunni and Shi'ite, to convert to Islam or leave Iraq. Refugees repeatedly tell of being given two or three days to leave their homes or face a violent death by radicals. Dozens of churches across the country have since been bombed, and hundreds of Christians killed. Moreover, campaigns of kidnapping for ransom targeting Christians became a main tool of intimidation by insurgents. Those who have not fled Iraq entirely are internally displaced, with the majority living inside the northern Kurdistan region. Those who remain in the south are forced to worship underground if they are to survive. In Al-Basrah, which had a vibrant Christian community before the war, some say the community has fled altogether. (UNHCR)

CRACKDOWN ON CHRISTIANS IN IRAN: Christians in the Islamic Republic are often accused of being spies for Israel or the US according to official sources. Whether persecution is political or religious, a crackdown continues against Christians in Iran. A Christian member of Iran’s Kurdish community in the southwestern city of Arak bordering Iraq said while in jail he was handcuffed and suspended from the ceiling while police severely beat the soles of his feet to acquire confessions to crimes and names of all the believers he knew, according to sources. One official who works closely with Iranian refugees said an overwhelming number of Christians were intimidated and harassed by police which led them to flee the Islamic Republic. This month in Iran, an Iranian pastor, Yosef Nadarkhani, convicted of apostasy because he objected to the teaching of Islam to Christian children at Iranian schools and sentenced to death, may have only hours or days to live, according to a US-based Christian ministry acquainted with the facts of his case. For the past ten years he has been a pastor in a network of house churches. He is to be executed by hanging. (WCN/VFI) Pray earnestly for the release of Pastor Yousef and the protection of his family. His wife was also imprisoned and given a life-sentence, but the conviction was overturned and she was released.

CHRISTIANS FLEEING WEST BANK, GAZA COMMUNITIES: Studies have confirmed Christians are also rapidly leaving areas under Palestinian Authority control, including Bethlehem. One Arab pastor recently reported that the once thriving Christian community in Bethlehem, which a few decades ago comprised as high as 80% of the population, has dropped to only 8-10% of the population, and that is nominal and evangelical. Much of this has taken place since the transfer of power of Bethlehem from Israel to the Palestinian Authority just before Christmas 1995. Not only has the number of Christians continued to dwindle, but Bethlehem and its surroundings have become hotbeds for Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters and members. Moreover, several Christian women living in these areas have complained about verbal and sexual assaults by Muslim men. A number of Christian businessmen have reported that they were forced to shut down their businesses because they could no longer afford to pay protection money (Jizya) to local Muslim gangs. In the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Arab East Jerusalem the native Christian population has dropped below 2%, down from at least 15% in 1950. This is due to increasing acts of violence being carried out against them by terrorist groups and even Muslim neighbors. (Barnabas News/VFI) Undeniably, it won’t be long before what has become the norm in Bethlehem, Gaza, Iraq, Iran Sudan, Egypt and other nations under the increasing grip of radical Islam is going to become more than a trend in Europe, Canada the US and other western nations.

LEGAL EXPERT ESTIMATES CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES WILL DIE OUT IN PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES IN A DECADE:    According to a legal expert in Jerusalem, the persecution and harassment of Christian Arabs living in Palestinian areas is being met with near total silence by the international community. He predicted unless governments step in to remedy the situation there will be no more Christian communities in the Palestinians territories within 12 to 13 years. Following the June 2007 Hamas takeover in the Gaza Strip terrorist leaders there issued a decree saying Christians can no longer live safely in the Gaza Strip unless they are prepared to accept Islamic law and rule. The statement said those thought to be missionaries will be “dealt with harshly,” also Christian women who appear in public without proper head coverings. The Islamic ultimatum came after a church and Christian school in Gaza was attacked and desecrated. Christians living in the Gaza Strip have said they are very worried about the increased assaults on members of their community. One Christian leader said such incidents are aimed at sending a clear message to all Christians in Gaza that they must leave. (J.Post)

BOSTON GLOBE WRITER SAYS CHRISTIANS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES: “Non-Muslim communities have become endangered species throughout much of the Islamic world,” Christian human rights advocate John Eibner wrote in the Boston Globe, May 2011. From mobs torching churches in Cairo to massacres of Christians in Iraq and Egypt to last winter’s assassination of a Christian Pakistani cabinet minister and the beheading of a Tunisian Catholic priest, jihadists are committing violence in a “toxic culture of extremist Muslim supremacy,” Eibner wrote. Elizabeth Prodromou an assistant professor of international relations, in the same article said communities most at risk are those that are numerically smallest, and that happens to be Christian communities. The Copts in Egypt are an example. They’re approximately 10% of the population, and they have been systematically politically disenfranchised. Their physical security has been a long-standing problem. Prodromou said the US State Department has designated Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran as countries of particular concern and now Egypt, for the first time. Turkey is a watch-list country. She suggests the US neither can nor should tell these countries what to do. However, she wrote, we give enormous amounts of foreign assistance. We release over $1 billion a year to the Egyptians. We provide a lot of financial assistance to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. We can more carefully target our assistance. (Boston Globe) “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. ” Matt 16:18

POPE MEETS ABBAS, KEEPS QUIET ON CLEANSING OF CHRISTIANS: Pope Benedict XVI last month met the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, at the Vatican. He said there was an "urgent need" for a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that included a PA state. A statement issued by the Vatican after the talks did not mention the extremely violent way in which the PA has caused most of its Christian Arab population to flee. Reports have extensive documentation that the PA encouraged a "sharp demographic shift" in Bethlehem, where the Christian population went from a 80% majority in 1990 to a 40% minority in 2000, to a reportedly meager 8-10% in 2011. In its statement after the meeting, the Vatican said the pope and Abbas had discussed the "irreplaceable contribution" provided by Christian minorities living in the PA territories and the Middle East. The pope has spoken out on numerous occasions about the persecution of Christians in Muslim lands. Last year, he convened a meeting of bishops at the Vatican to discuss the ongoing crisis. Recently he voiced his concern at the killing of Christian Copts in Egypt. (INN) In his meeting with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas could it be said the pope's concerns appear to be shifting from Christian persecution in Muslim lands to the importance of a Palestinian state in which neither Jews and Christians will be welcomed?

BISHOP FEARS FOR SURVIVAL OF CHRISTIANS IN NAZARETH: Christian Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo says the emigration of Christians from the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth is endangering the survival of the Christian community in a place of biblical importance to Christianity. The bishop says the main cause of that emigration is a campaign by Islamists to boost their political power in Nazareth at the expense of Christians and moderate Muslims. "Our problem is not religious, but it's the political situation of insecurity, of non-peace, of non-justice, of non-equality among the people," said Marcuzzo. (Jihad Watch)

RISE OF SALAFI ISLAM IN EGYPT COULD MEAN END FOR CHRISTIAN COPTS:   The uprising in Egypt that toppled the 31-year regime of former President Hosni Mubarak was supposed to create a new kind of government one that didn't divide one Egyptian from the next. Those who participated in the Arab Spring revolution boasted at the time of how Muslims and Christian Copts would no longer prey on one another. Even the Muslim Brotherhood, free for the first time in decades to run a candidate in upcoming elections, announced it would open its party to the participation of Christian Copts. In the months following, however, there have been numerous murders visited upon the Coptic Christian. Salafi Muslims, who once restricted themselves to preaching hate against those who are different, today feel free to act on their words in Egypt and have been beating and torturing Christian Copts in Egypt. The Saudi-linked sect, related to the Wahabi-type Islam practiced by recently-assassinated al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, has also been known to burn churches and destroy other property in its zeal to wipe out the minority population. “We won't leave any Christians in this country,” one Salafi gang told a torture victim they were beating in March who later related his story to the Wall Street Journal. The attackers were never arrested, much less prosecuted in a court of law. Now the Salafis have decided to coordinate their efforts to exert influence on Egypt's government by working with the Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed under Mubarak's regime. What will this mean for Israel and for Egyptian Coptic Christians? Numerous analysts, Israeli lawmakers and even US members of Congress are asking, if the next Egyptian government is under Islamist control? (INN)

CHRISTIANS ATTACKED AFTER RUMORS OF CHURCH CONSTRUCTION: Days ago three people were injured when Muslim mobs burned down eight Christian homes in the Egyptian village of Awlad Khalaf after a rumor that a house currently under construction would instead become a church. The Muslims demanded the illegal "church" be torn down and even brought bulldozers in an attempt to destroy what was already built. Wahib Halim Attia obtained a license to build a house that later grew to occupy 350 square meters, sparking a rumor he intended to build a church instead. Someone reportedly complained to the City Council about "irregularities" in the construction of Attia's house. Wahib carried on with the construction which angered the Muslims, who decided to take the law into their own hands. They attacked the construction site and other Christian homes. According to eyewitnesses, Muslims looted and torched eight homes belonging to Attia's family. The police arrived hours after the rioting already ended. (WCN)

EGYPT: DESIRE FOR MONEY- JIZYA PROMPTS ATTACKS ON CHRISTIANS: If growing numbers of Muslims in Egypt have an intrinsic hatred for all things Christian, which was demonstrated days ago by the torching of eight Christian homes on the rumor that a church was being built, let us not forget that this hate has economic benefits: the extortion of money from the non-believer, tribute from the conquered infidels to their Islamic overlords, otherwise known as jizya. Anyone following the growing Islamization of Egypt knows that increasing numbers of Muslims called "Salafists” have been eying their Christian neighbors as easy sources for quick cash. For instance, who could forget Egyptian leader Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini's recent reminder that Muslims could alleviate their economic woes if only they would return to the good old days of Islam, when abducting and selling or ransoming infidels was a great way of making a living. Accordingly, weeks later, two teenage Christian girls in Egypt were reported as kidnapped, held ransom, and then "sold" to another group. Nor is this outlook limited to self-professed "Salafists." Earlier, Dr. Amani Tawfiq, a female professor at Egypt's Mansoura University, said that if Egypt wants to slowly but surely get out of its economic situation and address poverty in the country, the jizya has to be imposed on the Copts. And days ago, Hazim Abu Isma'il, who is running for Egypt's presidency, vowed he would impose the jizya on Egypt's Christians. (Middle East Forum) Jizya is a punishment tax. It is money that non-Muslim dhimmis (status of the people of the book and minorities under Islamic rule) according to the Koran are supposed to pay for "protection, in willing submission," as a sign of their inferior status to their Islamic rulers. Muslims will thus show little gratitude if non-Muslims give them money. This is Allah's will and is only to be expected from the infidels. Western nations and Europeans who give welfare money and support to Muslims should consider that their generosity will be taken as a sign of defeat and subjection to Islam's might.

“Take heed, watch and pray. ” Mark 13:33

Blessings from Israel 

Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff 

 

As international speakers and messengers of the Good News through music, Barry and Batya Segal are at the forefront of what God is doing in the present day nation of Israel. With strong ties in both the nations and Jerusalem, the Segals are weaving the deepest roots of our biblical heritage together with the fresh Spirit-filled worship of today to create their rich harmony of Scripture and song.

The Segals have a vast vision for God's purposes in the nations and to the people of Israel. In fact, their longing to help rebuild Israel both spiritually and physically inspired them to pioneer the non-profit charity organization, Vision for Israel and The Joseph Storehouse. This arm of their ministry focuses on assisting the poor and needy, widows and orphans, and reaching out to the new Jewish immigrants coming into the land of Israel. Vision 's most challenging project to date is "The Joseph Storehouse?", humanitarian aid center, located in the hills of Jerusalem. The Joseph Storehouse functions as a channel of blessing to all of Israel, Jewish and Arab, through the gathering and distribution of emergency medical supplies, food, clothing, and other basic life necessities. USA office contact info: Vision for Israel, PO Box 7743, Charlotte NC 28241, 866-351-0075. The Segal's web site is http://www.visionforisrael.com/

 

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.    

 

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