In this issue:
An Israeli View: Explaining the Economic Crisis  |  The Crisis: How will it Affect Faith-Based Ministries?  |  What is God Saying?   |  Three Signs that the End is Close  |  Anti-Semitism - Back Again?  |  2008 Year-End Gift Ideas  |  Best of Israel Tour

An Israeli View:
Explaining the Economic Crisis

 

Monthly Report: November 2008
Heshvan - Kislev  5768

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By Shira Sorko-Ram

Where did all the money go? You have to read the experts’ explanations to believe it! It is really very very simple. This is a direct quote from Pinchas Landau, Jerusalem Post’s finance and business correspondent and consultant to domestic and foreign financial institutions:

“Where did all the money that used to be available come from? Why was funding - whether from the public or private sector - no problem until now?

“Good question, as politicians cornered in interviews tend to say. The answer is that until very recently, funding was no problem for anybody… because they gave you money. ‘Who is they?’ you say - and the answer is banks and other outfits that acted like banks.

“But don’t ask why they don’t do that anymore. Just accept as an immutable fact that, for the foreseeable future, there will be no money available. And, above all, don’t ask where they used to get it from. If you keep asking these kinds of questions, you’ll discover that they created the money out of thin air - and that’s where it went back to.

Once you grasp that it’s possible to create makebelieve money that lasts as long as everyone believes it’s there but goes poof as soon as this belief is questioned, then you won’t believe any more in the whole spiel. And once most people stop believing - indeed, become active unbelievers - then there’s no money for a long time.

“That’s what analysts call a serious recession and that’s where we are.” (10Oct08)

Associated Press gave an almost identical commentary titled, “Trillions Disappear in Stock Market, but Where Did the Money Go?" (posted on foxnews.com 11Oct.08)

However, in the details, there are so many questions that stupify even the wisest of economists. Israeli journalist Eytan Avriel wonders why he can’t make heads or tales of what’s happening in Europe. One day Barclays Bank of London was on a short list to buy Lehman Bros. What happened, he asks, in the space of a few days that suddenly Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a former esteemed finance minister, decided to rescue Barclays? Was it a political move to make an unpopular prime minister more popular? Was it an ounce of protection before the pound of cure became necessary?

Or is it, asks Avriel, that “London and Washington know something about their banking systems that we don’t know, and it’s scaring them so badly that they’re choosing the most extreme alternative,” - which is partly nationalizing the entire banking sector! What’s more, the U.S. seems to be following suit. (JP10Oct.08)

ISRAEL ALWAYS ON THE BRINK OF BLAME

In Israel, the banking system is relatively safe. Ours is a small system. The banks know their customers intimately and the Bank of Israel knows them all. There are some losses, but nothing that is threatening its survival - unless panic hit Israelis and there is a run on the banks. Nevertheless, Israel's richest man, Lev Leviev is said to have lost 14 billion shekels ($4 billion) on the world’s stock markets in the last couple of weeks.

The global meltdown has affected even Saudi Arabia and the oil-rich Arab states which are suddenly quite vulnerable themselves. In the first week of last month, they lost $150 billion in the freefall. Most of their huge resources belong to a small percentage of Arab elites. Instead of spending money on education and society-enriching projects, they have gambled it on the stock market or invested it in glittering real-estate projects built by foreign labor and using foreign know-how. (Ibid.,10Oct.08)

Now that oil revenue is declining, their conspicuous consumption with no solid national capital of knowledge and skills have left them in a very exposed position. Poor Muslim nations such as Egypt who depend on U.S. aid, may find lean pickings in the near future.

That has in no way stopped their unabashed glee at America’s discomfiture, along with attempts to cast the blame for the situation on that ever-reliable stand by - the Jew.

THERE WE GO AGAIN: THE JEWS DID IT!

And that brings us to the greatest historical fear dogging the Jewish people. When times get rough in any country, the Jewish people become worried. Economic troubles usually tend to strengthen anti-Semitic epidemics, and believe me, it’s no laughing matter.

For example, in Germany in 1928, the new Nazi party garnered only 2.6% of the vote. However, after the Great Depression of 1929 struck, the very next year the Nazis won 18.3% of the vote and swiftly took over the nation.

There is definitely a fear among Jewish financiers that they could find themselves blamed for the nation’s financial meltdown. “There is a growing animosity towards the wealthy in general,” explains Ben Harris, Jerusalem Post journalist, “and especially those who have made money on Wall Street, real estate and finance,” as so many Jews have. Jews are some of the most prominent players, such as former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Among Democrats in Congress, a number of Jews held powerful positions which enabled them to help prevent passing basic regulations that might have saved America from the meltdown. Furthermore, some of the CEO’s of the bankrupt institutions are Jews, such as Richard Fuld of Lehman Bros. (Ibid.)

“As we witnessed after 9/11, whenever there is trouble or uncertainty in the economy or world events, Jews become the scapegoats, and ugly anti-Semitic canards are given new life,” (see article about Anti-Semitism) said Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Last week the ADL reported a dramatic surge in Internet postings related to the economy. Says Ben Harris, “Writers on these sites lay responsibility for the crisis squarely at the feet of Jewish bankers and Zionists.

And according to International Monetary Fund, the world economy is now entering a major downturn in the face of the most dangerous shock in mature financial markets since the 1930s.” The Jewish people are anxious. (Ibid.) 

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The Crisis:
How will it Affect Faith-Based Ministries?

Already last June, Newsweek Magazine reported that donations to both national and international charities across America were substantially down. There are not many figures
available, but organizations such as The Salvation Army are confirming their donations are down.

This financial crisis is creating what is probably the worst-case scenario for many charities: Need is climbing as giving drops.

McClatchy Washington Bureau reports that in a survey of 72 nonprofits with more than 36 million donors, the number of donors fell by 4 percent and revenue by almost 2 percent. That may not seem like a lot but with normal inflation and natural growth to any healthy organization, such a
downturn is immediately felt.

Interestingly, in 2007 only donations to animal welfare and environmental groups were up 5.1 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively!

With the economy slowing and likely in recession, overall charitable giving will probably slump this year and possibly next. After all, charitable donations are a lagging indicator… because “you pay your bills first and then start making charitable gifts,” explains Robert Evans, director
of EHL Consulting Group, a firm that advises non-profits on fund-raising. (Newsweek, 12Jun08)

Evans suggests that the most effective fund-raising efforts take place when people appeal to their friends and colleagues face to face.

Charities are trying to get ahead of the curve by raising extra funds right now before the downturn hits them. They are looking for ways to stretch dollars farther and more effectively, while some are also hoping that the government will make up the gap for them. (JP 7Oct08)

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What is God Saying?

by Shira Sorko-Ram

I believe it is very simple. We are to keep our eyes on the highway and drive straight.

1. Our eternal goals and values will keep us on the path that brings success. Finances given to the Lord reap higher interest than any of us can imagine. Its stock can never go down, not even one point, and it will actually make friends for us whom we will meet in heaven. (Luke 16:9)

2. We are not commanded to give beyond our means, as Paul assures us, “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” (II Corinthians 8:12) Indeed the woman who gave her two mites was recorded in heaven as having given more than all the wealthy people who gave out of their abundance.

We at Maoz receive almost daily precious offerings of $1.00, $2.00 and $5.00. When Ari and I receive the list of names and offerings each working day by email, we thank God from the depths of our hearts for those who send in their equivalent of two mites. Their offerings honor God and
we believe His blessing is on those funds which are used in this ministry.

3. We also believe that God honors good stewardship by which He can prosper His people through wisdom and discipline, so that we can spend less on ourselves and more for His kingdom! Indeed, Yeshua said what He said for a reason. We paraphrase: “Do not put your wealth in earthly institutions where your assets gets old and rusty and expensive clothes can get moth-eaten, and thieves can steal your money (even on Wall Street).” (Matthew 6:19)

 

Was Yeshua saying that we should not put money on the stock market? Of course not. What he was saying is that nothing on this earth is sure. But our investment in the Kingdom of God is absolutely 100 percent sure for all eternity.

So while men faint with fear of “the expectation of the things coming upon the world,” as Yeshua prophesied, we can escape that fear and anxiety. How? Where our treasure is, our heart is. Yeshua said, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with…the cares of this life.” (Luke 21:34) Because one day That Day to end all days will come unexpectedly and earthly cares will be meaningless.

Everything we put in the stock market will be gone. Everything we invest in the Kingdom of God will bring great reward forever and ever and ever.

All of the above is to be meditated upon with common sense. My father use to call it “just plain horse sense.” We have to have money to live on. We have to pay our bills. We want to give ourselves and our children a decent place to live and an education and basic needs. But in this opulent society, I believe that many Christians and Messianic Jews could do even more - in fact much more - to invest in heaven’s.

As in the movie, Shindler’s List, after Oskar Shindler risked his neck and saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, he wept, saying if only he had tried even harder he could have saved more Jews from death.

Do you know that 70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck? Do you know that only 3% of evangelicals pay tithes? (Ministry Today May/June 08)

Think what would be accomplished if the majority of born-again Christians and Messianic Jews invested in the eternal bank!

We believe strongly that tithes and offerings are central to God’s blessing upon the lives of every believing family or individual. In fact, the form that an Israeli pastor must fill out when one of his congregants make application to Maoz’ istandwithisrael.com fund, asks this question: Does the applicant tithe to his congregation? From sad experience, we have seen that someone who does not tithe will simply stay in debt and the funds from istandwithisrael.com will go into a bottomless hole.

I sense the Lord is speaking to us as His Body in ever-stronger language: Be disciplined. Get out of debt. Live modestly. Budget. Pay your tithes to your congregation. Invest in getting the Gospel out to the World. Help the people of Israel find their Messiah so they too can fulfill their part of God’s plan. 

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Three Signs that the End is Close

by Shira Sorko-Ram

How long will civilization continue to exist as we know it? The Lord expects us to be aware of the signs of these times, for He rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees because they just didn’t get it.

You are good at reading the weather signs of the skies...but you can’t read the obvious signs of the times! (Mathew 16:3 TLB)

I think there are some pretty clear signs in 2008.

First of all, we all know Jerusalem will be trodden down until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled. At this moment there is a monumental, agonizing struggle between a nation with allegiance to Allah and the nation of Jehovah, the God of Israel. Unfortunately, Condoleezza Rice in her final days as Secretary of State, is at the forefront to divide Jerusalem - giving the ancient Biblical part of the city to the Muslims. The Lord is counting down.

Secondly, I find that the most dramatic sign of the End Times which is soon to come is the proliferation of nuclear weapons being built by rogue states, mainly Islamic countries. Further more, many additional Middle Eastern countries are now planning to start nuclear programs. In my own mind, I have not a shadow of doubt that during this century, if not in this generation, a rage-filled tyrant of a rogue state such as Iran or Pakistan will aim its missiles toward Israel or another democratic state - which could so easily set off an international war of extinction.

However, Yeshua promised us that would not happen, because He said, “unless those days (of tribulation) were shortened, no flesh would be left alive, but for the believer’s sake, those days will be shortened.” Matthew 24:22. How chilling are these words! According to Yeshua, life would actually become extinct! But that will not happen because He will return to earth to save His own.

But the clearest most unambiguous, unmistakable and understandable sign that the Lord Yeshua gave us is this simple sentence:

This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations and then the End shall come. (Matthew 24:14)

Without belaboring the subject, God’s Word gives a special promise to stiff-necked Israel with an astounding pronouncement: “All Israel shall be saved!” (Rom 11:24)

As I have thought about the condition of America and the Western World, I have tried to imagine reasons that God should save her from utter destruction. (And this principle goes for Canada, England and the industrialized nations in general.) Through Hollywood, she has brought the worst filth and violence to the door of almost every home owner in the entire world (except maybe where the Taliban rules!!!) through the movie industry.

On the East Coast, institutions of “higher” learning have spread the religion of humanism and godlessness around the world. Wall Street has brought unimaginable riches for unrestrained, lavish extravagance - for those who have sold their souls to mammon, and who have aggressively promoted the destruction of innocents who never had a chance to live. These humanists have demeaned and desecrated the natural family by what the Lord calls abomination. Let’s just call it the simple lack of loving our neighbor as ourselves - sin that is blatant and pervasive in small towns and large. God is not lacking in reasons to let the United States of America go right down the drain.

Do you remember Ezekiel the prophet and his justification of Sodom’s destruction?

Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit. (16:49-50)

But, and here is the glorious but! There ARE God’s praying people. There ARE God’s giving people, supporting ministries to every nation in the world - who are preaching the Gospel, and helping the poor and the sick and the helpless. And there ARE Christians and Messianic Jews in America holding up the standard of righteousness and being a light of service and blessing in their local area.

I believe it is this reason and this reason alone that restrains God’s wrath so that the U.S. does not become another Sodom and Gomorrah. Really, could those ancient cities have been anything like America’s cities?

But God was ready to save those two small towns if there were only ten righteous people living there. He couldn’t find them in Sodom. But He has found them - you - in America.

This Gospel must be preached as a witness to all nations. I believe this is the reason America will be saved though not without much sorrow - to finish the purpose for which God created her.

I again emphasize these principles apply to the United Kingdom, to Canada, to Germany and any other country where God’s people are doing God’s work. He restrains Himself so that these nations can bring the Gospel to the nations and His Son the King can finally come to claim His Bride!

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Anti-Semitism - Back Again?

by Tamar Afriat

In 1998, a friend and I who were studying at the Hebrew University decided to travel to Greece and Turkey during the Passover vacation. We met and travelled with countless other young western, mostly European backpackers. Back then, the world seemed to be getting better, more open, more free. The Oslo peace process was in full swing. We had hope. While heading to Greece on a ferry, I got into a conversation with a young man from France who was a student at a university in Germany. Hearing that we were studying in Tel Aviv, he immediately launched into a diatribe against Israel. “Jews have no right to be there,” he said, “Why do they even need a country? They should have just stayed where they were.” “You mean,” I said, “Jews should have just stayed put in Europe after six million were murdered in the Holocaust?” He shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Yeah, why not?” I was shocked. In my twenty-two years of life, I had never once heard an anti-Semitic remark growing up in America. His comments felt hateful. I wasn’t sure, though. This was something new for me.

 

Published in Eleftherotypia, Greece. March 27, 2004. Woman: Why did the Jewish government kill a religious leader [Muslim terrorist chief Sheik Yassin]? Man: They are practicing for Easter. Published in La Stampa, Italy. April 3, 2002. Baby Jesus: Surely they don't want to kill me again?!

 

Upon deeper reflection, I realized I was under the false impression that the widespread virulent anti-Semitism that had reigned in Europe for nearly two millennia and culminated in the Holocaust had just disappeared after World War II. I assumed that the majority of rational human beings when looking at the overwhelming horror of the Holocaust would renounce any racist tendency. In a Europe that was so progressive, so committed to human rights, so open, how could there still be a simmering anti-Semitism? A little time and world events would soon educate me about the facts as they really are. The events took place in 2000 with the failure of the Camp David peace summit negotiated by President Bill Clinton and the subsequent violent Palestinian uprising that ensued called the Second Intifada. They revealed even more than the real aims and intentions of the Palestinians. Those events also unveiled a widespread, latent anti-Semitism in Europe that has largely masqueraded itself in an obsessive fixation on the Palestinian cause and a blatant demonization of Israel in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Camp David July, 2000: The Death Knell of the Peace Process

In the summer of 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak joined Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat and President Bill Clinton at Camp David with teams of negotiators to work out a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in accordance with the 1993 Oslo peace agreement. Israeli Prime Minister Barak made the Palestinians what many have called unprecedented offers at Camp David. Arafat not only rejected the Israeli offer out of hand and flatly refused to negotiate a settlement; he also declared that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and that Jews had never lived in the land of Israel which he obviously called Palestine. Without doubt, analysis of the failure of the Camp David Peace summit places the blame squarely at the feet of the Palestinians.

 

Published in the London Guardian, July 19, 2006.

 

According to top Palestinian negotiator, Abu Mazin - now the Palestinian President - “We made clear to the Americans that the Palestinian side is unable to make concessions on anything… We did not miss an opportunity at all, but rather survived a trap that was laid for us.” (Al-Ayyam, July 29, 2001)

The game was up. Arafat returned to that which he knew best: survival through what the western media often calls the Palestinian armed insurgency. To Israelis, who were soon to have countless suicide bombers exploding themselves in their midst, it would be pure terrorism.

The Second Intifada: Their True Hearts Revealed

On September 28, 2000, after consulting with Palestinian officials and getting the go-ahead, Ariel Sharon led a sixmember Knesset delegation to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The visit itself went without event and was followed later that day by a minor Arab demonstration during which stones were thrown at Israeli police. That evening, however, Palestinian radio broadcast passionate denunciations against Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount and Yasser Arafat himself called upon the entire Arab and Islamic world “to move immediately to stop these aggressions and Israeli practices against holy Jerusalem.” (Hellman, 2002) On the following day after morning prayers, hundreds of Palestinians on the Temple Mount began toppling heavy stones onto the Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below. Israeli guards responded with rubber bullets, killing four Palestinians. The wave of violence that erupted lasted for nearly three years; Palestinians unleashed an unrelenting onslaught of suicide bombings that terrorized the Israeli society to an extent that is hard to describe.

 

Published in the London Indepentent, January 2003. This was the 2003 political cartoon of the year in Britain. It depicts Ariel Sharon biting the head off a Palestinian baby.

 

At least once a week there was a bombing: in buses, restaurants, night clubs, cafes, markets, and reception halls. Over one thousand Israelis were killed during the intifada, the majority civilians. Israel launched an aggressive military response. Keep in mind that the Israeli public felt that they had put everything on the line to achieve peace with the Palestinians only to get waves of suicide bombers in return. Israel had to launch incursions into highly populated areas from which terrorist groups staged their operations. Part of the Palestinian strategy has always been to hide their terrorist groups among civilian populations, whether it be terrorist cells operating in residential communities, launching rockets from house tops, or gunmen dispersing through crowds of teenagers throwing stones at Israeli soldiers (a very common occurrence during the intifada), ensuring civilian casualties if Israel were to retaliate. Ignoring the greater context and history of the conflict, Europeans saw the images of Palestinian civilian casualties as proof that Israelis are ruthless aggressors and the Palestinians outgunned freedom fighters. The images of hundreds of Israelis blown apart by suicide bombers did almost nothing to arouse even the inkling that perhaps there were two sides to the conflict.

Europe’s Verdict:

Europe’s verdict was in: A 2003 European Union commissioned poll revealed that a majority of Europeans found Israel to be the greatest threat to world peace, ahead of Iran, North Korea, and Afghanistan. A year earlier in 2002, members of the Norwegian committee that awards the annual Nobel Peace Prize announced in an interview with a Norwegian newspaper that they regretted they could not recall the Nobel Peace Prize of Shimon Peres, then a Knesset member of Israel’s pro-peace Labor party, who accepted the peace prize jointly with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1994. No mention, of course, was made of Yasser Arafat who was openly calling for martyrs to flood Israel (which they did) and who rejected the Camp David offer out of hand. Though many journalists and politicians in Europe adamantly denied that their criticism of Israel’s political policies was paramount to anti-Semitism, the popular media in Europe was proving the opposite to be true.

According to University of Michigan professor and author of Uncouth Nation, Andrei Marcovits, “criticizing Israel the State is not anti-Semitic. But, when you bring in old anti-Semitic tropes to criticize Israel or to depict Israel as the murderer of God as in the blood libel, and showing them as Nazis, that is anti-Semitic.” (Hurd, CBN08) During the period of the second intifada, European news media, which traditionally portrays an anti-Israel bias, began publishing articles and political cartoons and producing news reports which used classic anti-Semitic propaganda that insinuated Jews are Christ killers, that they engage in blood libel (allegations that Jews practice cannibalism on Christian children), and even equated Jews with Nazis. For a few examples, an Italian cartoon published in La Stampa on April 3rd, 2002 shows an Israeli tank pointing its gun at a baby Jesus in a manger who is saying, “Surely they don’t want to kill me again?” (Ibid.) The cartoon refered to wanted Muslim terrorists who were holed up in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity to avoid capture. The cartoonist equated the terrorists with Baby Yeshua. The London Independent in January 2003 published a particularly grotesque cartoon which depicts a nude Ariel Sharon devouring a Palestinian baby. That cartoon went on to win first prize in the British Political Cartoon Society in 2003. In July, 2006, the Norwegian Dagbladet published a cartoon depicting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a concentration camp commandant randomly shooting concentration camp prisoners (Palestinians), reminiscent of a scene from Schlinder’s List.

Polls conducted by the Anti-Defamation League offer additional evidence that classic anti-Semitic views have resurged in Europe, or rather, have begun re-expressing themselves. An ADL survey conducted in 2002 of five European countries found that half of those questioned believed Jews are more loyal to Israel than their home countries, an anti-Semitic accusation leveled against Jews from before the time of the famous trumped up Dryfus Affair (falsely accusing Officer Dryfus of betraying his nation) in France to the Nazi era. It also found that almost half believed that Jews “probably” have too much control of international finance and that Jews control the Middle East foreign policy of the US, also classic anti-Semitic sentiments exploited by Nazi propaganda. According to Manfred Gerstenfeld, a Holocaust survivor and leading Holocaust expert living in the Netherlands, it’s not just the news media that is rife with virulent anti-Israel sentiment, “it’s also the NGO’s, academia, and leftwing politicians.” (Hurd, CBN08)

 

1942 Nazi Propaganda

 

One-time member of British Parliament, Jenny Tongue, said if she were a Palestinian, she would consider being a suicide bomber. (Ibid) Hatred of Israel is now “a core principle for many of the Left,” according to Andrei Markovits, a selfdescribed leftist. (Ibid.) “At anti-Israel protests,” he continues, “you’ll see radical Muslims and leftists both expressing not only anti-Israel messages, but anti-Semitic messages too.” (Ibid.)

The Holocaust: Never Again?

Placing WWII era Nazi propaganda cartoons alongside anti-Israel cartoons that have appeared in the western press in the past five years reveals a disturbing fact: they are identical. Jews know well from experience that an upsurge in anti-Semitic rhetoric in the world around them usually means that physical persecution is on its way. Most take passionate hatred of Israel as a foregone conclusion in the Arab world where Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a best-seller. The media makes liberal use of ugly anti-Semitic stereotypes, and children’s school books contain the “facts” of the conniving, money-grubbing Jew who practices blood libel on Muslim and Christian children (drinking their blood on Passover). However, the fact that anti-Semitism has raised its ugly head in Europe yet again should be a serious wake up call to all of us. The international obsession with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will only increase, as the Bible says “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all the peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the earth are gathered against it.” (Zechariah 12:2) The Satanic-inspired hatred of the Jewish nation will not abate; it will only intensify in the days to come. The Lord promises in Matthew 23:39 that He will not return again to Jerusalem as a triumphant king until the Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem will say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Yeshua’s return spells the end of the Devil’s reign, and we cannot underestimate the rage and energy He will throw into making sure there are no Jewish survivors in Jerusalem to welcome the Messiah.

 

Published in Dagbladet, Norway. July 10, 2006. "Olmert the Nazi." This depicts Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a concentration camp commandante, replicating a scene from the movie Schindler's List. 

 

Almost all the Bible’s prophets, major and minor, speak of the day that is yet to come when the nations will gather against Jerusalem to wage battle against her. As we look at the world’s stage, we see that it is being set for just that. The world will produce a false peace-maker who will seem to solve the Middle East’s unsolvable problems. And then, after a short time, he and all the nations will turn on Israel. Even now, we see it becoming increasingly unpopular to stand with Israel, particularly in Europe. With the storm clouds looming on the horizon, it is not too outlandish to imagine a future in which it might even be dangerous to stand up for your Jewish neighbor. It will be in those days, I believe, the Gentile body of Messiah will have an opportunity to stand up for His people, to look at Jewish suffering with love and compassion and say, “I will not stand idly by, no matter what the price.”

For that reason, it is of paramount importance that the lovers of Israel - you who mourn and pray and give for her salvation - know how very vital your position and service to God is. You are a light shining on a hill. You are God’s witness that He will keep His age-old promises to the seed of Abraham. And because you too are the seed of Abraham by faith, that is solid proof that He will also keep His promises to you!

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2008 Year-End Gift Ideas

 

 

Year-end giving is as easy as (1) making a charitable gift, and (2) saving taxes. We'd like to make it even easier with this primer on some of the best ways to save - and give.

The tax laws intentionally encourage charitable giving. Because of the income tax charitable deduction, individuals who make their gifts by December 31 and itemize can significantly reduce their income taxes for 2008.

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Example: If you make a charitable gift of $10,000 in 2008, you can save $3,300 in taxes if you are in the 33% tax bracket. And the higher your tax bracket, the more money you save with a charitable gift.
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Giving is, of course, much more than tax brackets and charitable deductions. Philanthropy provides the meaningful difference in what we can do.

This is only a brief introduction to some of the best tax-advantaged methods of giving. We would be pleased to provide you with further information. Also, we urge you to discuss your 2008 year-end tax planning with your accountant or other professional advisor.

Gifts of Cash

There is no easier way to garner a charitable deduction for 2008 - and support us at the same time - than by simply writing a check! Make sure your envelope is postmarked by December 31; if it is, your gift will qualify as a 2008 gift even if it is not received by us until the first week of 2009.

If you itemize, your outright gifts of cash are fully deductible for federal income tax purposes up to 50% of your adjusted gross income. If your total gifts should exceed this limitation, the excess may be carried forward for tax purposes for up to five additional years.

Gifts of Stock

Year-end 2008 may be an excellent time to consider a gift of stock.

Giving long-term appreciated stock offers you a two-fold tax saving. First, you avoid paying any capital gains tax on the increase in value of your stock. In addition, you receive a tax deduction for the full fair market value of the stock on the date of the gift. For income tax purposes the value of such gifts may be deducted up to 30% of adjusted gross income, with an additional five-year carry forward.

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Example: If you purchased stock many years ago for $1,000m and it is now worth $10,000, an outright gift of that stock to us would result in a charitable deduction of $10,000. In addition, you permanently avoid paying capital gains tax on the $9,000 of appreciation.
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Gifts of Real Estate

If you have owned your home, a vacation home, acreage, or a farm for many years, a charitable gift of that real estate can be especially tax-advantageous.

The property may have so appreciated in value over the years that its sale would result in a sizeable capital gain tax. If given to us instead, you avoid the tax and, at the same time, realize a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the real estate.

You may also wish to consider a gift of your personal residence or farm, reserving the right to continue to live in the house or farm property for life (and, if applicable, the lifetime of your surviving spouse). Through such an arrangement, you will be entitled to a current income tax deduction for a portion of the fair market value of the property. 

Gifts of Life Insurance

If you own a life insurance policy that is no longer needed, consider it as the perfect vehicle for a 2008 year-end charitable gift!

To receive a charitable deduction, name us as both the owner and beneficiary of the policy. If the policy has a cash value, you can take a charitable deduction approximately equal to the cash value at the time of the gift. In addition, if annual premiums are still to be made and you continue to pay them, those premiums will become tax deductible each year. (It's easy to contribute a life insurance policy to us. Just check with your life insurance agent for details on which forms to complete.)

Life Income Gifts

If you are considering a major gift, your gift of cash or stock in the form of a "life income gift" can significantly increase your income!

A life income gift allows you to transfer assets now, and yet continue to receive income from cash, stock, or other property contributed. A life income gift can allow you to: (1) increase your income for life; (2) receive a generous charitable contribution deduction in 2008; and (3) if you contribute stock, avoid any capital gains tax on the appreciation!

A life income gift is often made through a trust arrangement called a "unitrust" or an "annuity trust." With a unitrust, you and/or your spouse (or another beneficiary) receive annually a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the assets in the trust. The income received will vary from year to year, based upon how the trust's investments perform. With an annuity trust, you and/or your spouse (or another beneficiary) receive a fixed amount from the trust each year. This amount is agreed upon when you create the trust; it stays constant, no matter what happens with the stock market or interest rates.

If you have already considered a provision for us in your will, please note that a life income gift can often be preferable. Such a gift allows you to accomplish your goals during your lifetime - and in a tax-advantaged way. Please call or write for the details.

Bequests

While you're considering your 2008 income tax savings, this may also be a good time to consider long-term tax savings. The federal estate tax can still take approximately 50% of one's estate at the time of death. That's a higher tax bite than the income tax! It definitely pays to do some advance planning with your attorney and other professional advisors.

We hope you will consider a charitable bequest in your will - to benefit us while you save estate tax dollars at the same time. 

For Further Information

No one publication can tell you everything you need to know about 2008 year-end gift opportunities and which method would be the most advantageous for your particular situation. Be sure to check with your accountant, tax attorney, or other tax advisor for additional information on how these general rules apply to your situation.

We would be pleased to provide you with additional information on any gifts you may be considering. Thank you for your support at year-end - and throughout the year!

 

In the U.S. or Canada, call Jim Morrison at Maoz 800-856-7060. In Great Britain, call Stewardship at 020-8502-5600.

You will receive comprehensive advice concerning endowments to Maoz Israel Ministries with no obligation.

 

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  The Best of Israel - 10 Day Tour

 

  

November 2008

Dear Maoz Partner,

These are days of war and victory. Of course, we are speaking of spiritual wars, and victories won only by faith.

When the enemy comes in like a flood, then the Lord has obligated Himself to raise up a standard against him,

We have been given our marching orders. We are to let the world know there is a Living God, a life after death, eternal reward and punishment, and a personal relationship with the One True God through the One and Only Messiah and Savior, Yeshua.

Our work is cut out for us.

No one, not a single believer is exempt.

Who cannot feel the intensity of the times?

In these desperate times, we call upon you to serve with us as never before. We must finishe this race. We must win this war.

Our calling here at Maoz is to bring the promise of salvation to our Jewish people in Israel. But we must reach our people through the tools that God has made available today - congregational meetings, worship teams, books, videos, teen meetings, children's classes, small groups and many other tools.

As you can well understand, we need you as our partner-in-ministry as never before.

And by the way, here is another means whereby you could help us in Tel Aviv - something very practical!

You might run through a list of your friends who are not receiving the MaozIsrael Report but who have a love for Israel and a passion to see the Jewish people find their Messiah.

If you will take a few minutes and write on the back of the enclosed response page the names and information of your friends, you can help us in this very practical way expand our readership base. A good percentage of those who are introduced to the MaozIsrael Report find that they are ready to partner with us in many different areas of ministry in which we work.

We ask you to pray for us as we labor in Israel, and to inquire of the Lord that He show you how you can best help us reach the lost in our land:

- Through our congregation and its many outreaches

- Through the Gospel books we are publishing and distributing throughout Israel

- Through the humanitarian aid which we distribute to Messianic believers through their congregational leaders

- Through the spiritual leaders we are raising up for the next generation.

Your help is essential. It is critical.

Please know it is a privilege for us to partner with you for the sake of God's chosen people.

Whatever happens in this world, the Gospel still must reach all peoples and Israel must receive her Messiah before the end comes. So we continue, arm in arm with you, to finish the race, to carry out our Savior's mission - for which He gave His life.

May God preserve you and your family in these tumultuous times until our work on earth is finished.

From Zion,

A&S signature

          Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram

Partner with Maoz today by supporting our projects:

Maoz Israel Ministries  |  istandwithisrael  |  Congregation Tiferet Yeshua 

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In this issue:
An Israeli View: Explaining the Economic Crisis  |  The Crisis: How will it Affect Faith-Based Ministries?  |  What is God Saying?   |  Three Signs that the End is Close  |  Anti-Semitism - Back Again?  |  2008 Year-End Gift Ideas  |  Best of Israel Tour

An Israeli View:
Explaining the Economic Crisis

 

Monthly Report: November 2008
Heshvan - Kislev  5768

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By Shira Sorko-Ram

Where did all the money go? You have to read the experts’ explanations to believe it! It is really very very simple. This is a direct quote from Pinchas Landau, Jerusalem Post’s finance and business correspondent and consultant to domestic and foreign financial institutions:

“Where did all the money that used to be available come from? Why was funding - whether from the public or private sector - no problem until now?

“Good question, as politicians cornered in interviews tend to say. The answer is that until very recently, funding was no problem for anybody… because they gave you money. ‘Who is they?’ you say - and the answer is banks and other outfits that acted like banks.

“But don’t ask why they don’t do that anymore. Just accept as an immutable fact that, for the foreseeable future, there will be no money available. And, above all, don’t ask where they used to get it from. If you keep asking these kinds of questions, you’ll discover that they created the money out of thin air - and that’s where it went back to.

Once you grasp that it’s possible to create makebelieve money that lasts as long as everyone believes it’s there but goes poof as soon as this belief is questioned, then you won’t believe any more in the whole spiel. And once most people stop believing - indeed, become active unbelievers - then there’s no money for a long time.

“That’s what analysts call a serious recession and that’s where we are.” (10Oct08)

Associated Press gave an almost identical commentary titled, “Trillions Disappear in Stock Market, but Where Did the Money Go?" (posted on foxnews.com 11Oct.08)

However, in the details, there are so many questions that stupify even the wisest of economists. Israeli journalist Eytan Avriel wonders why he can’t make heads or tales of what’s happening in Europe. One day Barclays Bank of London was on a short list to buy Lehman Bros. What happened, he asks, in the space of a few days that suddenly Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a former esteemed finance minister, decided to rescue Barclays? Was it a political move to make an unpopular prime minister more popular? Was it an ounce of protection before the pound of cure became necessary?

Or is it, asks Avriel, that “London and Washington know something about their banking systems that we don’t know, and it’s scaring them so badly that they’re choosing the most extreme alternative,” - which is partly nationalizing the entire banking sector! What’s more, the U.S. seems to be following suit. (JP10Oct.08)

ISRAEL ALWAYS ON THE BRINK OF BLAME

In Israel, the banking system is relatively safe. Ours is a small system. The banks know their customers intimately and the Bank of Israel knows them all. There are some losses, but nothing that is threatening its survival - unless panic hit Israelis and there is a run on the banks. Nevertheless, Israel's richest man, Lev Leviev is said to have lost 14 billion shekels ($4 billion) on the world’s stock markets in the last couple of weeks.

The global meltdown has affected even Saudi Arabia and the oil-rich Arab states which are suddenly quite vulnerable themselves. In the first week of last month, they lost $150 billion in the freefall. Most of their huge resources belong to a small percentage of Arab elites. Instead of spending money on education and society-enriching projects, they have gambled it on the stock market or invested it in glittering real-estate projects built by foreign labor and using foreign know-how. (Ibid.,10Oct.08)

Now that oil revenue is declining, their conspicuous consumption with no solid national capital of knowledge and skills have left them in a very exposed position. Poor Muslim nations such as Egypt who depend on U.S. aid, may find lean pickings in the near future.

That has in no way stopped their unabashed glee at America’s discomfiture, along with attempts to cast the blame for the situation on that ever-reliable stand by - the Jew.

THERE WE GO AGAIN: THE JEWS DID IT!

And that brings us to the greatest historical fear dogging the Jewish people. When times get rough in any country, the Jewish people become worried. Economic troubles usually tend to strengthen anti-Semitic epidemics, and believe me, it’s no laughing matter.

For example, in Germany in 1928, the new Nazi party garnered only 2.6% of the vote. However, after the Great Depression of 1929 struck, the very next year the Nazis won 18.3% of the vote and swiftly took over the nation.

There is definitely a fear among Jewish financiers that they could find themselves blamed for the nation’s financial meltdown. “There is a growing animosity towards the wealthy in general,” explains Ben Harris, Jerusalem Post journalist, “and especially those who have made money on Wall Street, real estate and finance,” as so many Jews have. Jews are some of the most prominent players, such as former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Among Democrats in Congress, a number of Jews held powerful positions which enabled them to help prevent passing basic regulations that might have saved America from the meltdown. Furthermore, some of the CEO’s of the bankrupt institutions are Jews, such as Richard Fuld of Lehman Bros. (Ibid.)

“As we witnessed after 9/11, whenever there is trouble or uncertainty in the economy or world events, Jews become the scapegoats, and ugly anti-Semitic canards are given new life,” (see article about Anti-Semitism) said Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Last week the ADL reported a dramatic surge in Internet postings related to the economy. Says Ben Harris, “Writers on these sites lay responsibility for the crisis squarely at the feet of Jewish bankers and Zionists.

And according to International Monetary Fund, the world economy is now entering a major downturn in the face of the most dangerous shock in mature financial markets since the 1930s.” The Jewish people are anxious. (Ibid.) 

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The Crisis:
How will it Affect Faith-Based Ministries?

Already last June, Newsweek Magazine reported that donations to both national and international charities across America were substantially down. There are not many figures
available, but organizations such as The Salvation Army are confirming their donations are down.

This financial crisis is creating what is probably the worst-case scenario for many charities: Need is climbing as giving drops.

McClatchy Washington Bureau reports that in a survey of 72 nonprofits with more than 36 million donors, the number of donors fell by 4 percent and revenue by almost 2 percent. That may not seem like a lot but with normal inflation and natural growth to any healthy organization, such a
downturn is immediately felt.

Interestingly, in 2007 only donations to animal welfare and environmental groups were up 5.1 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively!

With the economy slowing and likely in recession, overall charitable giving will probably slump this year and possibly next. After all, charitable donations are a lagging indicator… because “you pay your bills first and then start making charitable gifts,” explains Robert Evans, director
of EHL Consulting Group, a firm that advises non-profits on fund-raising. (Newsweek, 12Jun08)

Evans suggests that the most effective fund-raising efforts take place when people appeal to their friends and colleagues face to face.

Charities are trying to get ahead of the curve by raising extra funds right now before the downturn hits them. They are looking for ways to stretch dollars farther and more effectively, while some are also hoping that the government will make up the gap for them. (JP 7Oct08)

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What is God Saying?

by Shira Sorko-Ram

I believe it is very simple. We are to keep our eyes on the highway and drive straight.

1. Our eternal goals and values will keep us on the path that brings success. Finances given to the Lord reap higher interest than any of us can imagine. Its stock can never go down, not even one point, and it will actually make friends for us whom we will meet in heaven. (Luke 16:9)

2. We are not commanded to give beyond our means, as Paul assures us, “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” (II Corinthians 8:12) Indeed the woman who gave her two mites was recorded in heaven as having given more than all the wealthy people who gave out of their abundance.

We at Maoz receive almost daily precious offerings of $1.00, $2.00 and $5.00. When Ari and I receive the list of names and offerings each working day by email, we thank God from the depths of our hearts for those who send in their equivalent of two mites. Their offerings honor God and
we believe His blessing is on those funds which are used in this ministry.

3. We also believe that God honors good stewardship by which He can prosper His people through wisdom and discipline, so that we can spend less on ourselves and more for His kingdom! Indeed, Yeshua said what He said for a reason. We paraphrase: “Do not put your wealth in earthly institutions where your assets gets old and rusty and expensive clothes can get moth-eaten, and thieves can steal your money (even on Wall Street).” (Matthew 6:19)

 

Was Yeshua saying that we should not put money on the stock market? Of course not. What he was saying is that nothing on this earth is sure. But our investment in the Kingdom of God is absolutely 100 percent sure for all eternity.

So while men faint with fear of “the expectation of the things coming upon the world,” as Yeshua prophesied, we can escape that fear and anxiety. How? Where our treasure is, our heart is. Yeshua said, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with…the cares of this life.” (Luke 21:34) Because one day That Day to end all days will come unexpectedly and earthly cares will be meaningless.

Everything we put in the stock market will be gone. Everything we invest in the Kingdom of God will bring great reward forever and ever and ever.

All of the above is to be meditated upon with common sense. My father use to call it “just plain horse sense.” We have to have money to live on. We have to pay our bills. We want to give ourselves and our children a decent place to live and an education and basic needs. But in this opulent society, I believe that many Christians and Messianic Jews could do even more - in fact much more - to invest in heaven’s.

As in the movie, Shindler’s List, after Oskar Shindler risked his neck and saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, he wept, saying if only he had tried even harder he could have saved more Jews from death.

Do you know that 70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck? Do you know that only 3% of evangelicals pay tithes? (Ministry Today May/June 08)

Think what would be accomplished if the majority of born-again Christians and Messianic Jews invested in the eternal bank!

We believe strongly that tithes and offerings are central to God’s blessing upon the lives of every believing family or individual. In fact, the form that an Israeli pastor must fill out when one of his congregants make application to Maoz’ istandwithisrael.com fund, asks this question: Does the applicant tithe to his congregation? From sad experience, we have seen that someone who does not tithe will simply stay in debt and the funds from istandwithisrael.com will go into a bottomless hole.

I sense the Lord is speaking to us as His Body in ever-stronger language: Be disciplined. Get out of debt. Live modestly. Budget. Pay your tithes to your congregation. Invest in getting the Gospel out to the World. Help the people of Israel find their Messiah so they too can fulfill their part of God’s plan. 

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Three Signs that the End is Close

by Shira Sorko-Ram

How long will civilization continue to exist as we know it? The Lord expects us to be aware of the signs of these times, for He rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees because they just didn’t get it.

You are good at reading the weather signs of the skies...but you can’t read the obvious signs of the times! (Mathew 16:3 TLB)

I think there are some pretty clear signs in 2008.

First of all, we all know Jerusalem will be trodden down until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled. At this moment there is a monumental, agonizing struggle between a nation with allegiance to Allah and the nation of Jehovah, the God of Israel. Unfortunately, Condoleezza Rice in her final days as Secretary of State, is at the forefront to divide Jerusalem - giving the ancient Biblical part of the city to the Muslims. The Lord is counting down.

Secondly, I find that the most dramatic sign of the End Times which is soon to come is the proliferation of nuclear weapons being built by rogue states, mainly Islamic countries. Further more, many additional Middle Eastern countries are now planning to start nuclear programs. In my own mind, I have not a shadow of doubt that during this century, if not in this generation, a rage-filled tyrant of a rogue state such as Iran or Pakistan will aim its missiles toward Israel or another democratic state - which could so easily set off an international war of extinction.

However, Yeshua promised us that would not happen, because He said, “unless those days (of tribulation) were shortened, no flesh would be left alive, but for the believer’s sake, those days will be shortened.” Matthew 24:22. How chilling are these words! According to Yeshua, life would actually become extinct! But that will not happen because He will return to earth to save His own.

But the clearest most unambiguous, unmistakable and understandable sign that the Lord Yeshua gave us is this simple sentence:

This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations and then the End shall come. (Matthew 24:14)

Without belaboring the subject, God’s Word gives a special promise to stiff-necked Israel with an astounding pronouncement: “All Israel shall be saved!” (Rom 11:24)

As I have thought about the condition of America and the Western World, I have tried to imagine reasons that God should save her from utter destruction. (And this principle goes for Canada, England and the industrialized nations in general.) Through Hollywood, she has brought the worst filth and violence to the door of almost every home owner in the entire world (except maybe where the Taliban rules!!!) through the movie industry.

On the East Coast, institutions of “higher” learning have spread the religion of humanism and godlessness around the world. Wall Street has brought unimaginable riches for unrestrained, lavish extravagance - for those who have sold their souls to mammon, and who have aggressively promoted the destruction of innocents who never had a chance to live. These humanists have demeaned and desecrated the natural family by what the Lord calls abomination. Let’s just call it the simple lack of loving our neighbor as ourselves - sin that is blatant and pervasive in small towns and large. God is not lacking in reasons to let the United States of America go right down the drain.

Do you remember Ezekiel the prophet and his justification of Sodom’s destruction?

Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit. (16:49-50)

But, and here is the glorious but! There ARE God’s praying people. There ARE God’s giving people, supporting ministries to every nation in the world - who are preaching the Gospel, and helping the poor and the sick and the helpless. And there ARE Christians and Messianic Jews in America holding up the standard of righteousness and being a light of service and blessing in their local area.

I believe it is this reason and this reason alone that restrains God’s wrath so that the U.S. does not become another Sodom and Gomorrah. Really, could those ancient cities have been anything like America’s cities?

But God was ready to save those two small towns if there were only ten righteous people living there. He couldn’t find them in Sodom. But He has found them - you - in America.

This Gospel must be preached as a witness to all nations. I believe this is the reason America will be saved though not without much sorrow - to finish the purpose for which God created her.

I again emphasize these principles apply to the United Kingdom, to Canada, to Germany and any other country where God’s people are doing God’s work. He restrains Himself so that these nations can bring the Gospel to the nations and His Son the King can finally come to claim His Bride!

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Anti-Semitism - Back Again?

by Tamar Afriat

In 1998, a friend and I who were studying at the Hebrew University decided to travel to Greece and Turkey during the Passover vacation. We met and travelled with countless other young western, mostly European backpackers. Back then, the world seemed to be getting better, more open, more free. The Oslo peace process was in full swing. We had hope. While heading to Greece on a ferry, I got into a conversation with a young man from France who was a student at a university in Germany. Hearing that we were studying in Tel Aviv, he immediately launched into a diatribe against Israel. “Jews have no right to be there,” he said, “Why do they even need a country? They should have just stayed where they were.” “You mean,” I said, “Jews should have just stayed put in Europe after six million were murdered in the Holocaust?” He shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Yeah, why not?” I was shocked. In my twenty-two years of life, I had never once heard an anti-Semitic remark growing up in America. His comments felt hateful. I wasn’t sure, though. This was something new for me.

 

Published in Eleftherotypia, Greece. March 27, 2004. Woman: Why did the Jewish government kill a religious leader [Muslim terrorist chief Sheik Yassin]? Man: They are practicing for Easter. Published in La Stampa, Italy. April 3, 2002. Baby Jesus: Surely they don't want to kill me again?!

 

Upon deeper reflection, I realized I was under the false impression that the widespread virulent anti-Semitism that had reigned in Europe for nearly two millennia and culminated in the Holocaust had just disappeared after World War II. I assumed that the majority of rational human beings when looking at the overwhelming horror of the Holocaust would renounce any racist tendency. In a Europe that was so progressive, so committed to human rights, so open, how could there still be a simmering anti-Semitism? A little time and world events would soon educate me about the facts as they really are. The events took place in 2000 with the failure of the Camp David peace summit negotiated by President Bill Clinton and the subsequent violent Palestinian uprising that ensued called the Second Intifada. They revealed even more than the real aims and intentions of the Palestinians. Those events also unveiled a widespread, latent anti-Semitism in Europe that has largely masqueraded itself in an obsessive fixation on the Palestinian cause and a blatant demonization of Israel in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Camp David July, 2000: The Death Knell of the Peace Process

In the summer of 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak joined Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat and President Bill Clinton at Camp David with teams of negotiators to work out a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in accordance with the 1993 Oslo peace agreement. Israeli Prime Minister Barak made the Palestinians what many have called unprecedented offers at Camp David. Arafat not only rejected the Israeli offer out of hand and flatly refused to negotiate a settlement; he also declared that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and that Jews had never lived in the land of Israel which he obviously called Palestine. Without doubt, analysis of the failure of the Camp David Peace summit places the blame squarely at the feet of the Palestinians.

 

Published in the London Guardian, July 19, 2006.

 

According to top Palestinian negotiator, Abu Mazin - now the Palestinian President - “We made clear to the Americans that the Palestinian side is unable to make concessions on anything… We did not miss an opportunity at all, but rather survived a trap that was laid for us.” (Al-Ayyam, July 29, 2001)

The game was up. Arafat returned to that which he knew best: survival through what the western media often calls the Palestinian armed insurgency. To Israelis, who were soon to have countless suicide bombers exploding themselves in their midst, it would be pure terrorism.

The Second Intifada: Their True Hearts Revealed

On September 28, 2000, after consulting with Palestinian officials and getting the go-ahead, Ariel Sharon led a sixmember Knesset delegation to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The visit itself went without event and was followed later that day by a minor Arab demonstration during which stones were thrown at Israeli police. That evening, however, Palestinian radio broadcast passionate denunciations against Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount and Yasser Arafat himself called upon the entire Arab and Islamic world “to move immediately to stop these aggressions and Israeli practices against holy Jerusalem.” (Hellman, 2002) On the following day after morning prayers, hundreds of Palestinians on the Temple Mount began toppling heavy stones onto the Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below. Israeli guards responded with rubber bullets, killing four Palestinians. The wave of violence that erupted lasted for nearly three years; Palestinians unleashed an unrelenting onslaught of suicide bombings that terrorized the Israeli society to an extent that is hard to describe.

 

Published in the London Indepentent, January 2003. This was the 2003 political cartoon of the year in Britain. It depicts Ariel Sharon biting the head off a Palestinian baby.

 

At least once a week there was a bombing: in buses, restaurants, night clubs, cafes, markets, and reception halls. Over one thousand Israelis were killed during the intifada, the majority civilians. Israel launched an aggressive military response. Keep in mind that the Israeli public felt that they had put everything on the line to achieve peace with the Palestinians only to get waves of suicide bombers in return. Israel had to launch incursions into highly populated areas from which terrorist groups staged their operations. Part of the Palestinian strategy has always been to hide their terrorist groups among civilian populations, whether it be terrorist cells operating in residential communities, launching rockets from house tops, or gunmen dispersing through crowds of teenagers throwing stones at Israeli soldiers (a very common occurrence during the intifada), ensuring civilian casualties if Israel were to retaliate. Ignoring the greater context and history of the conflict, Europeans saw the images of Palestinian civilian casualties as proof that Israelis are ruthless aggressors and the Palestinians outgunned freedom fighters. The images of hundreds of Israelis blown apart by suicide bombers did almost nothing to arouse even the inkling that perhaps there were two sides to the conflict.

Europe’s Verdict:

Europe’s verdict was in: A 2003 European Union commissioned poll revealed that a majority of Europeans found Israel to be the greatest threat to world peace, ahead of Iran, North Korea, and Afghanistan. A year earlier in 2002, members of the Norwegian committee that awards the annual Nobel Peace Prize announced in an interview with a Norwegian newspaper that they regretted they could not recall the Nobel Peace Prize of Shimon Peres, then a Knesset member of Israel’s pro-peace Labor party, who accepted the peace prize jointly with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1994. No mention, of course, was made of Yasser Arafat who was openly calling for martyrs to flood Israel (which they did) and who rejected the Camp David offer out of hand. Though many journalists and politicians in Europe adamantly denied that their criticism of Israel’s political policies was paramount to anti-Semitism, the popular media in Europe was proving the opposite to be true.

According to University of Michigan professor and author of Uncouth Nation, Andrei Marcovits, “criticizing Israel the State is not anti-Semitic. But, when you bring in old anti-Semitic tropes to criticize Israel or to depict Israel as the murderer of God as in the blood libel, and showing them as Nazis, that is anti-Semitic.” (Hurd, CBN08) During the period of the second intifada, European news media, which traditionally portrays an anti-Israel bias, began publishing articles and political cartoons and producing news reports which used classic anti-Semitic propaganda that insinuated Jews are Christ killers, that they engage in blood libel (allegations that Jews practice cannibalism on Christian children), and even equated Jews with Nazis. For a few examples, an Italian cartoon published in La Stampa on April 3rd, 2002 shows an Israeli tank pointing its gun at a baby Jesus in a manger who is saying, “Surely they don’t want to kill me again?” (Ibid.) The cartoon refered to wanted Muslim terrorists who were holed up in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity to avoid capture. The cartoonist equated the terrorists with Baby Yeshua. The London Independent in January 2003 published a particularly grotesque cartoon which depicts a nude Ariel Sharon devouring a Palestinian baby. That cartoon went on to win first prize in the British Political Cartoon Society in 2003. In July, 2006, the Norwegian Dagbladet published a cartoon depicting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a concentration camp commandant randomly shooting concentration camp prisoners (Palestinians), reminiscent of a scene from Schlinder’s List.

Polls conducted by the Anti-Defamation League offer additional evidence that classic anti-Semitic views have resurged in Europe, or rather, have begun re-expressing themselves. An ADL survey conducted in 2002 of five European countries found that half of those questioned believed Jews are more loyal to Israel than their home countries, an anti-Semitic accusation leveled against Jews from before the time of the famous trumped up Dryfus Affair (falsely accusing Officer Dryfus of betraying his nation) in France to the Nazi era. It also found that almost half believed that Jews “probably” have too much control of international finance and that Jews control the Middle East foreign policy of the US, also classic anti-Semitic sentiments exploited by Nazi propaganda. According to Manfred Gerstenfeld, a Holocaust survivor and leading Holocaust expert living in the Netherlands, it’s not just the news media that is rife with virulent anti-Israel sentiment, “it’s also the NGO’s, academia, and leftwing politicians.” (Hurd, CBN08)

 

1942 Nazi Propaganda

 

One-time member of British Parliament, Jenny Tongue, said if she were a Palestinian, she would consider being a suicide bomber. (Ibid) Hatred of Israel is now “a core principle for many of the Left,” according to Andrei Markovits, a selfdescribed leftist. (Ibid.) “At anti-Israel protests,” he continues, “you’ll see radical Muslims and leftists both expressing not only anti-Israel messages, but anti-Semitic messages too.” (Ibid.)

The Holocaust: Never Again?

Placing WWII era Nazi propaganda cartoons alongside anti-Israel cartoons that have appeared in the western press in the past five years reveals a disturbing fact: they are identical. Jews know well from experience that an upsurge in anti-Semitic rhetoric in the world around them usually means that physical persecution is on its way. Most take passionate hatred of Israel as a foregone conclusion in the Arab world where Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a best-seller. The media makes liberal use of ugly anti-Semitic stereotypes, and children’s school books contain the “facts” of the conniving, money-grubbing Jew who practices blood libel on Muslim and Christian children (drinking their blood on Passover). However, the fact that anti-Semitism has raised its ugly head in Europe yet again should be a serious wake up call to all of us. The international obsession with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will only increase, as the Bible says “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all the peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the earth are gathered against it.” (Zechariah 12:2) The Satanic-inspired hatred of the Jewish nation will not abate; it will only intensify in the days to come. The Lord promises in Matthew 23:39 that He will not return again to Jerusalem as a triumphant king until the Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem will say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Yeshua’s return spells the end of the Devil’s reign, and we cannot underestimate the rage and energy He will throw into making sure there are no Jewish survivors in Jerusalem to welcome the Messiah.

 

Published in Dagbladet, Norway. July 10, 2006. "Olmert the Nazi." This depicts Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a concentration camp commandante, replicating a scene from the movie Schindler's List. 

 

Almost all the Bible’s prophets, major and minor, speak of the day that is yet to come when the nations will gather against Jerusalem to wage battle against her. As we look at the world’s stage, we see that it is being set for just that. The world will produce a false peace-maker who will seem to solve the Middle East’s unsolvable problems. And then, after a short time, he and all the nations will turn on Israel. Even now, we see it becoming increasingly unpopular to stand with Israel, particularly in Europe. With the storm clouds looming on the horizon, it is not too outlandish to imagine a future in which it might even be dangerous to stand up for your Jewish neighbor. It will be in those days, I believe, the Gentile body of Messiah will have an opportunity to stand up for His people, to look at Jewish suffering with love and compassion and say, “I will not stand idly by, no matter what the price.”

For that reason, it is of paramount importance that the lovers of Israel - you who mourn and pray and give for her salvation - know how very vital your position and service to God is. You are a light shining on a hill. You are God’s witness that He will keep His age-old promises to the seed of Abraham. And because you too are the seed of Abraham by faith, that is solid proof that He will also keep His promises to you!

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2008 Year-End Gift Ideas

 

 

Year-end giving is as easy as (1) making a charitable gift, and (2) saving taxes. We'd like to make it even easier with this primer on some of the best ways to save - and give.

The tax laws intentionally encourage charitable giving. Because of the income tax charitable deduction, individuals who make their gifts by December 31 and itemize can significantly reduce their income taxes for 2008.

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Example: If you make a charitable gift of $10,000 in 2008, you can save $3,300 in taxes if you are in the 33% tax bracket. And the higher your tax bracket, the more money you save with a charitable gift.
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Giving is, of course, much more than tax brackets and charitable deductions. Philanthropy provides the meaningful difference in what we can do.

This is only a brief introduction to some of the best tax-advantaged methods of giving. We would be pleased to provide you with further information. Also, we urge you to discuss your 2008 year-end tax planning with your accountant or other professional advisor.

Gifts of Cash

There is no easier way to garner a charitable deduction for 2008 - and support us at the same time - than by simply writing a check! Make sure your envelope is postmarked by December 31; if it is, your gift will qualify as a 2008 gift even if it is not received by us until the first week of 2009.

If you itemize, your outright gifts of cash are fully deductible for federal income tax purposes up to 50% of your adjusted gross income. If your total gifts should exceed this limitation, the excess may be carried forward for tax purposes for up to five additional years.

Gifts of Stock

Year-end 2008 may be an excellent time to consider a gift of stock.

Giving long-term appreciated stock offers you a two-fold tax saving. First, you avoid paying any capital gains tax on the increase in value of your stock. In addition, you receive a tax deduction for the full fair market value of the stock on the date of the gift. For income tax purposes the value of such gifts may be deducted up to 30% of adjusted gross income, with an additional five-year carry forward.

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Example: If you purchased stock many years ago for $1,000m and it is now worth $10,000, an outright gift of that stock to us would result in a charitable deduction of $10,000. In addition, you permanently avoid paying capital gains tax on the $9,000 of appreciation.
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Gifts of Real Estate

If you have owned your home, a vacation home, acreage, or a farm for many years, a charitable gift of that real estate can be especially tax-advantageous.

The property may have so appreciated in value over the years that its sale would result in a sizeable capital gain tax. If given to us instead, you avoid the tax and, at the same time, realize a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the real estate.

You may also wish to consider a gift of your personal residence or farm, reserving the right to continue to live in the house or farm property for life (and, if applicable, the lifetime of your surviving spouse). Through such an arrangement, you will be entitled to a current income tax deduction for a portion of the fair market value of the property. 

Gifts of Life Insurance

If you own a life insurance policy that is no longer needed, consider it as the perfect vehicle for a 2008 year-end charitable gift!

To receive a charitable deduction, name us as both the owner and beneficiary of the policy. If the policy has a cash value, you can take a charitable deduction approximately equal to the cash value at the time of the gift. In addition, if annual premiums are still to be made and you continue to pay them, those premiums will become tax deductible each year. (It's easy to contribute a life insurance policy to us. Just check with your life insurance agent for details on which forms to complete.)

Life Income Gifts

If you are considering a major gift, your gift of cash or stock in the form of a "life income gift" can significantly increase your income!

A life income gift allows you to transfer assets now, and yet continue to receive income from cash, stock, or other property contributed. A life income gift can allow you to: (1) increase your income for life; (2) receive a generous charitable contribution deduction in 2008; and (3) if you contribute stock, avoid any capital gains tax on the appreciation!

A life income gift is often made through a trust arrangement called a "unitrust" or an "annuity trust." With a unitrust, you and/or your spouse (or another beneficiary) receive annually a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the assets in the trust. The income received will vary from year to year, based upon how the trust's investments perform. With an annuity trust, you and/or your spouse (or another beneficiary) receive a fixed amount from the trust each year. This amount is agreed upon when you create the trust; it stays constant, no matter what happens with the stock market or interest rates.

If you have already considered a provision for us in your will, please note that a life income gift can often be preferable. Such a gift allows you to accomplish your goals during your lifetime - and in a tax-advantaged way. Please call or write for the details.

Bequests

While you're considering your 2008 income tax savings, this may also be a good time to consider long-term tax savings. The federal estate tax can still take approximately 50% of one's estate at the time of death. That's a higher tax bite than the income tax! It definitely pays to do some advance planning with your attorney and other professional advisors.

We hope you will consider a charitable bequest in your will - to benefit us while you save estate tax dollars at the same time. 

For Further Information

No one publication can tell you everything you need to know about 2008 year-end gift opportunities and which method would be the most advantageous for your particular situation. Be sure to check with your accountant, tax attorney, or other tax advisor for additional information on how these general rules apply to your situation.

We would be pleased to provide you with additional information on any gifts you may be considering. Thank you for your support at year-end - and throughout the year!

 

In the U.S. or Canada, call Jim Morrison at Maoz 800-856-7060. In Great Britain, call Stewardship at 020-8502-5600.

You will receive comprehensive advice concerning endowments to Maoz Israel Ministries with no obligation.

 

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  The Best of Israel - 10 Day Tour

 

  

November 2008

Dear Maoz Partner,

These are days of war and victory. Of course, we are speaking of spiritual wars, and victories won only by faith.

When the enemy comes in like a flood, then the Lord has obligated Himself to raise up a standard against him,

We have been given our marching orders. We are to let the world know there is a Living God, a life after death, eternal reward and punishment, and a personal relationship with the One True God through the One and Only Messiah and Savior, Yeshua.

Our work is cut out for us.

No one, not a single believer is exempt.

Who cannot feel the intensity of the times?

In these desperate times, we call upon you to serve with us as never before. We must finishe this race. We must win this war.

Our calling here at Maoz is to bring the promise of salvation to our Jewish people in Israel. But we must reach our people through the tools that God has made available today - congregational meetings, worship teams, books, videos, teen meetings, children's classes, small groups and many other tools.

As you can well understand, we need you as our partner-in-ministry as never before.

And by the way, here is another means whereby you could help us in Tel Aviv - something very practical!

You might run through a list of your friends who are not receiving the MaozIsrael Report but who have a love for Israel and a passion to see the Jewish people find their Messiah.

If you will take a few minutes and write on the back of the enclosed response page the names and information of your friends, you can help us in this very practical way expand our readership base. A good percentage of those who are introduced to the MaozIsrael Report find that they are ready to partner with us in many different areas of ministry in which we work.

We ask you to pray for us as we labor in Israel, and to inquire of the Lord that He show you how you can best help us reach the lost in our land:

- Through our congregation and its many outreaches

- Through the Gospel books we are publishing and distributing throughout Israel

- Through the humanitarian aid which we distribute to Messianic believers through their congregational leaders

- Through the spiritual leaders we are raising up for the next generation.

Your help is essential. It is critical.

Please know it is a privilege for us to partner with you for the sake of God's chosen people.

Whatever happens in this world, the Gospel still must reach all peoples and Israel must receive her Messiah before the end comes. So we continue, arm in arm with you, to finish the race, to carry out our Savior's mission - for which He gave His life.

May God preserve you and your family in these tumultuous times until our work on earth is finished.

From Zion,

A&S signature

          Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram

Partner with Maoz today by supporting our projects:

Maoz Israel Ministries  |  istandwithisrael  |  Congregation Tiferet Yeshua 

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