A new Bible without "Israel" makes perfect sense!

Recently, the Danish Bible Society published a new Bible known as "The Bible 2020." It should be called the RTV (Replacement Theology Version.) It is currently only available in Danish but has already been reviewed by a few people. I do not claim to read that language, so I have not been able to read it myself. I am always very reluctant to write a commentary on anything that I cannot source beyond the shadow of a doubt. The reason why I am making an exception is that a myriad of news outlets and ministries have already expressed their concern about the new Bible. It inaccurately replaces or even ignores the word "Israel" (73 times in the New Testament) referring to either the land or the people. This Bible is nothing but a biased treatment of the Word of God, and frankly, it is no Bible at all, and it is a very dangerous document. Here are a few reasons why:

• The original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts all contain the word "Israel": While we do not have the original manuscripts penned by the original authors such as Moses, Isaiah, Matthew, Paul, James, etc, we have access to a plethora of early copies including the Dead Sea Scrolls and other Church documents that all include the word "Israel" without exception. So, this Bible cannot qualify as a new Danish translation because it omits an important word like "Israel." It also cannot qualify as a new version, because it doesn't just take a word to paraphrase it, in some cases, it just erases it altogether. I call it "Playing God", and that is a very dangerous game!

• Its publishers are guilty of double-standards: One of the main reasons given for the new alteration is that biblical Israel is very different from Modern Israel and modern Jews are different from ancient Israelites. There is no doubt that several millennia separate the biblical days from today, and that many things have changed. This being said, modern Israel exists because of its undeniable foundation on biblical Israel. Evidently, the Jews of today are in many ways, not the Jews of yesteryear, but, by God's grace, they still exist! Is Greece today what it was in the days of Paul? Is Egypt today the same Egypt we read about in the Bible? Of course not! Why are the words "Egypt" or "Greek" remaining in this new Bible? An obvious double-standard is being applied. This makes me think that they had an ulterior motive.

• Such a "Bible" widens the divide between Christians and Jews: At a time when antisemitism is thriving around the globe, Jewish people need to be reassured that they have Christian friends. Publishing a Bible that erases Israel is sending a clear message to the Jewish people, "We the Christians do not think that Israel is important enough to remain in the Bible." It is a short road between a Bible without Israel and a world without Jews. This is not to say that all Christians are antisemitic, but such a document renders the relationship between genuine Christians and Jews ever so more complicated. There is apparently a Lutheran connection to this project, and that just adds oil to the fire that was started by Martin Luther at the end of His life when he wrote Of the Jews and their Lies. This doesn't mean either that all Lutherans are antisemitic.

• Such a "Bible" emboldens the enemies of Israel: This becomes one more arrow in the quiver of Jew-hatred used by people like those in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement who aim at ostracizing, demonizing and eventually eliminating the Jewish people. If the Bible excludes Israel or at the very least redefines it, it simplifies the job of those who want to rewrite history. This "Bible" could very well become a favorite for historical revisionists.

So, a Bible like this isn't really a big surprise since the whole world is increasingly squeezing the vise on Israel. It is just one more proof showing us how close we are from the final chapter in the "Real Bible." That's the one where Messiah Yeshua returns to establish his kingdom after fighting all those who went against Jerusalem (Zech 12:9.) Upon His return, He will establish His messianic kingdom with His people among which the Jews will be the head and not the tail. Additionally, according to Zechariah 8:23, we know this: "Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."'"

That is the biblical truth that includes Israel and excludes the enemies of Israel, whoever they may be!

UNESCO and Israel: Factual Truth or Fatal Lies?

The United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was started in 1945 as some sort of "intellectual" agency from the United Nations. Their motto is "Building peace in the minds of men and women." Over the last 70 years, they contributed to, enhanced and preserved our planet from many different perspectives. They indeed have done much good, but lately, as if possessed by the spirit of multicultural tolerance, political correctness and/or historical revisionism, they seem to be interested in throwing Israel under the bus.

Most people have forgotten or didn't even know that in October 2011, UNESCO recognized Palestine as their 195th member country. Back then, I warned that this would only open the door to more damage done against Israel and the Jewish people. There is no Palestinian culture, history, language, customs or even foods. All of the above are Arab, not Palestinian. But the pro-Palestinian propaganda has been going for long enough for even an organization such as UNESCO to believe it. If Israel is indeed Palestine (which it is not!), then many if not all Jewish archeological and historical sites will become Palestinian/Muslim sites. That is part of the package of historical revisionism, first you lie about history, then fabricate a story to replace factual truth and finally expose the players within real history to a great danger because suddenly they have been delegitimized.

An agency founded on peace and justice for all is endorsing terrorism and violence and is in the process of  rewriting history. On their World Heritage List, UNESCO chooses to list the "Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route" as being in Palestine not Israel. But this shouldn't come as much of a surprise when we see that since 1978, UNESCO has selected November 29th as "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People".

Then in 2012, UNESCO declared that the Jewish site of Rachel’s tomb was also a Christian AND Muslim site and that to say otherwise would be a hindrance to the peace process. Palestinians decided that the site was holy to them and was part of their heritage, even though Islam was only founded 1500 years ago. The site goes back way further than 1500 years and is mentioned in Genesis 35:19 as the place where the Jewish matriarch was buried. It has zero Palestinian connection!

To add insult to injury, UNESCO decided in 2013 that Israel and the United States–while retaining their membership–will lose their voting power because they had both stopped paying their dues after the 2011 inclusion of Palestine. I guess they [UNESCO] got a bit upset when the US contribution equal to 22% of their total budget stopped. I commend the United States and Israel for taking a stand in an age of cowardice and hypocrisy.

Finally, in what I see as another by-product of UNESCO's historical revisionism of the last 40 years, they declared on April 15, 2016 that the Temple Mount, the holiest of Jewish sites had no Jewish connection. If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you–a bridge, I might add, that has no connection to America! (is that how historical revisionism starts?)

This didn't go well with Benjamin Netanyahu who immediately and rightfully so declared “This is yet another absurd UN decision, UNESCO ignores the unique historic connection of Judaism to the Temple Mount, where the two temples stood for a thousand years and to which every Jew in the world has prayed for thousands of years. The UN is rewriting a basic part of human history and has again proven that there is no low to which it will not stop.”

One of my professor in Bible college years ago called it the "Salami Effect." You take a people group, a country or a part of history, in our case Israel and the Jewish people and you start cutting away small truths about them. The slices are so thin that nobody really notices any changes. Eventually, one slice of factual truth at a time, you have delegitimized Israel and the Jewish people.

The last time that the Jewish people were delegitimized was during World War Two, when they were relegated to the status of vermin, virus or even sub-human. The result was the Shoah or Holocaust. If the Jewish people keep losing their land and their history, then they will once again lose their legitimacy as a people, and will be one step closer to being decimated again. Only days before Yom Ha Shoah on Nissan 27, we are reminded of the importance of factual truth!

These moves not only delegitimize Israel and the Jewish people, but hey also embolden her enemies. When Israel makes a legitimate claim, it runs the risk of being countered by people who now have been reassigned legitimacy. All this is being done with absolutely no historical foundation, simply in an attempt to weaken Israel. If factual truth mattered, UNESCO would obviously admit that the Temple Mount existed centuries before Islam was even born in 610 CE. Archeological and historical evidence are here to prove it and it should be exactly what the United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization uses to determine the legitimacy of historical sites. Why is it different for Israel? I think that once again the jewish state is a victim of the ills of double standards. So what exactly is UNESCO trying to accomplish in the Middle East? Are they really applying their motto "Building peace in the minds of men and women" to their actions? How could this possibly be the case?

"Israeli Apartheid Week" is not about Social Justice!

For the twelfth year in a row, campuses around the United States and now even around the world are promoting an event known as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). The decade old movement has picked up quite a bit of momentum in the last few years as we can see on their interactive map of events around the world. The vast majority of anti-Israel events will take place in the United States and Western Europe, with more in South Africa and South America. The claim is made that Israel is guilty of apartheid just like South Africa was. In a short video, a spokesperson for the AJ+ news website explains apartheid and leads the viewers to connect South African protest against it to Palestinian protest against Israeli apartheid. While her description of South African apartheid is somewhat accurate, her linking it to Israel is a giant stretch based on many false presuppositions. Yet, that well produced video and many more of the sort are fueling organizations such as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).

In their mission statement, which they call their "Basis of Unity", IAW claims that:" The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement." furthermore, they also state that they are "against the racist ideology of Zionism, which is the impetus for Israeli colonialism, because it inherently discriminates against those who are not Jewish. We are against all forms of discrimination, and believe that there can never be justice without the restoration of full rights for everyone, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or nationality."

Their promotional video has a message of unity and social justice accompanied by a catchy reggae-style tune. It starts with a bold statement saying:" One has to keep telling the story in as many ways as possible, as it insistently as possible, and in as compelling a way as possible, to keep attention to it, because there is always a fear it might just disappear." In and of itself the message is true, but what they apply it to isn't. Over the years, the IAW organizers have invited Israel haters, antisemites, historical revisionists and Holocaust deniers alike. People such as Noam Chomsky, Illan Pappé, who while not blatantly denying the Holocaust, accuses the original victims [the Jews] of perpetrating a new Holocaust on the new victims [the Palestinians] and Rabbi Yisrael David Weiss from anti-Jewish (you read it right!) group Neturei Karta, to name just a few. Or even Omar Barghouti from Qatar who along with his anti-Israel BDS stance has also pursued a PhD at Tel Aviv University. So much for apartheid Mr. Barghouti!

So, if I understand IAW promoters, it is appropriate to further tell the story–as unfounded as it might be–of Israeli occupation and crimes against Palestinians, and it is equally appropriate, if not expected, to perpetuate the notion that the Holocaust never happened or was grossly exaggerated.

Over the years, what started as a series of meeting over a few campuses in America and even fewer across the globe, has grown to over 150 locations globally. IAW sympathizers go out of their way to encourage others to boycott Israel and  divest any funding they could from the only democracy in the Middle East, all in the name of social justice. Recently they have used what is known as intersectionality. This approach to social justice connects all types of oppressions and abuses under the same banner. Writer and lecturer Ziva Dahl explains "Proponents of intersectionality see a world of all-encompassing oppression, where racism, classism, sexism, homophobia and ableism constitute an intersecting system. All injustices are interconnected, even if occurring in unconnected geographic, cultural and political environments. This is the rationalization for building alliances among unrelated causes like LGBTQ rights, fossil fuel divestment, prison reform, racial discrimination and immigration."

Anti-Israel organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, are quick to add the Palestinian struggle to all other minorities' fights against injustice. So, now we can save the whales, promote transgender people and divest from Israel all in one fell swoop! After all, it is all about minorities being abused! This also leads to having groups who share no common ground ideologically, hold hands against Israel and the Jewish people. This builds a stronger case for what I call End-Times antisemitism as it illustrates incredible irrationality.

But where is the outrage for all the other countries of the world that commit or have committed crimes against humanity? According to the International Criminal Court in La Hague, Netherlands, a crime against humanity, as defined in their "Rome Statute" is any of the following:

• Murder
• Extermination
• Enslavement
• Deportation or forcible transfer of population
• Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law
• Torture
•  Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity
• Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious and/or gender
• Enforced disappearance of persons
• The crime of apartheid
• Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

Where is the call to boycott China, Sudan, North Korea, Rwanda, Congo or Syria among others? Where is the public cry to denounce the multiple genocides and ethnic cleansing around the globe? It is a stretch, but even if these people were to continue pointing the finger at Israel for crimes that they haven't committed, why are they not also pointing the finger at Hamas for crimes that they are committing? Sure, it can be argued that not all Palestinians are terrorists, but regarding those who are, why are they still being given "carte blanche" to commit more crimes? Israel Apartheid Week is more than blindness or ignorance, it is a willful vilification of Israel and it has absolutely nothing to do with global social justice.

Christ at the Checkpoint or Crisis at the Checkpoint?

I recently reviewed the current Christ at the Checkpoint (CatC) Manifesto point by point from a biblical perspective. As a result, I found myself either agreeing, disagreeing or a bit of both. The whole breakdown was part of a pre-conference review I did. One apparent core value of the CatC Manifesto–rightfully so– is reconciliation:
1. The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.
2. Reconciliation recognizes God’s image in one another.

On one hand, I do not agree on the point that the Kingdom of God has come (Kingdom Now Theology claims among other things, that Yeshua’s Kingdom was inaugurated at His first coming while Scripture states that He will reign as Messianic King on the throne of David from Jerusalem in a yet to come Millennial Messianic Kingdom as validated by Psalm 72:8, 11, 17; Isaiah 9:7, 11:6-11; Jeremiah 23:6, and Zechariah 3:10 among other Scriptures). But on the other hand, as a believer in Yeshua, I see the great need for peace, justice and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Furthermore, as proposed in Article 2 of their Manifesto, I agree that we are created in God's image and should look at each other from that perspective only (God created man and woman in His image, regardless of ethnicity as seen in Genesis 1:27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; and Ephesians 4:24.)

Reconciliation is indeed critical, as long as real reconciliation is sought.Biblical or not, proper reconciliation requires:
1. Identify the issue
2. Identify the protagonists
3. Recognize the need to reconcile
4. Recognize shortcomings
5. Seek forgiveness and unity

These five steps can be used in any context, but when it involves believers, it must be on the firm foundation of God's word, based on a consistent and literal approach to the Bible. Anything less brings man's opinion into the equation and reveals our inability to be unbiased and just. In the context of CatC 2016, it was hardly the case. the scale was tipped in favor of the Palestinian and Palestine from the word go!

It is obvious to Israelis and Arabs, as well as the rest of the world that there is a crisis/conflict in the Middle East. The issue has been identified as a disputed piece of land the size of the state of New Jersey. Some will claim that this sliver of real estate belongs to the Jewish people based on a covenant that God made with them through Abraham, going back to Genesis 12 and further ratified through Isaac and Jacob in Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:15;17:7-8, 19; 25:5-6; 26:3; 28:3-4 and 35:9-15. Others will argue that the land belonged to the Palestinians and was stolen, colonized and now suffers from an apartheid policy by Israel. Identifying the issue could be done by saying that opinions differ on whom the land belongs to.

The protagonists–for lack of a better word– are the Arabs and the Jews. The fact that Arabs in the region are now called Palestinians only exacerbates the issue. Before 1967, the word "Palestinian" simply described inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael also known back then as Palestine. It was then inhabited by Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews. So technically, anytime Israelis and Palestinians are described as the two main protagonists, it is a misnomer and it results in setting-up a false premise. It would then be proper to describe the protagonists in the context of an "Arab/Israeli" conflict.

All sides speak of the obvious need to reconcile and bring peace to the region. CatC claims that the model for that reconciliation is Yeshua and His Gospels, yet the vast majority of the conference is spent describing Israel as the occupier and the enemy. There were so many instances where Israel was called the enemy during CatC, yet no mention was made of Palestinian terrorism, stabbings or any other feats of Islamic terror. They actually even invited a Muslim scholar who is linked to Hamas. CatC's definition of reconciliation doesn't seem to include the recognitions of both sides' shortcomings and really seems to emphasize Israel need to apologize and stop the invasion of "Palestine."

On a lighter note, I found it very telling that in the name of reconciliation, the only symbol hanging next to the speakers podium was a Palestinian Kaffiyeh (head covering made popular by Yassir Arafat). It would have gone a long way to hang it next to a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) as a symbolic picture of reconciliation. Additionally, the worship sessions included songs in English and Arabic. It would have also shown good intentions if they had included some of the lyrics in Hebrew. Even the CatC website only exists in English and Arabic.

To an extent, I can understand that people living in the Middle East and having been brought up in a culture that is vastly antisemitic could have a hard time accepting Israel right to exist and right to the land. I don't share their views but I understand that they can have them. What baffles me is the involvement of evangelical Christians–once supporters of Israel– such as Fuller Seminary Mark Labberton or "Bible Answer Man" Hank Haneggraff. Mr Haneggraff's presentation was a disgrace. His unbiblical approach to the issue at hand and his vitriolic description of Zionism and Christian Zionism was borderline antisemitic and certainly in line with the conference's philosophy. I have yet to find anything in Mr. Haneggraff's message that would encourage anybody towards proper reconciliation. He was joined by a plethora of speakers from all theological perspectives with only one common goal: the demonization of Israel. It was Christian Palestinianism at its scariest best!

For the honest viewer who respects the Word of God, the veneer of reconciliation and fight against extremism wasn't very hard to peel. Once that done, it was easy to see that Christ at the Checkpoint is indeed interested in reconciliation, as long as by it they mean Israel's unilateral apology for its "crimes" against Palestinians, Israel relinquishing the "occupied" land of Palestine and further submitting to the regional demands by its Arabs neighbors. As a one way street, this has nothing of a true reconciliation. So at the end of the day, Christ at the Checkpoint was really more of a "Crisis at the Checkpoint." Evangelicals should have nothing to do with such a farce!

How did Zionism become a cuss word?

Growing up in France in the 60s, I often heard conversations about Zionism and Israel at family gatherings. I didn't really understand what they were all about except that there were always a few family members who spoke passionately about Eretz Yisrael. Some even occasionally spoke of the possibility of returning to the Land. Zionism was some sort of magical, mystical word that made people both dream and argue in the same breath. It never got bad press, except maybe from the few Jewish family members who were comfortably assimilated in France and wouldn't fathom making Aliyah. Fast forward to 2016 and Zionism has now become a cuss word in many circles around the world.

The term “Zionism” and “Zionist” were coined in 1890 by Jewish activist Nathan Birnbaum (1864-1937) who also played an important part in the first Zionist Congress in 1897. The word “Zion” comes from the Hebrew tzion, a reference to Jerusalem and often, by extension, to the land of Israel itself (first mentioned in II Samuel 5:7.)

According to scholar Mitchell Bard, Zionism is: “ The national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.  Additionally, Israeli diplomat, politician and historian Abba Eban defines it as follows: “Zionism is nothing more — but also nothing less — than the Jewish people's sense of origin and destination in the land linked eternally with its name.

Over the years, we have heard about historical, political, practical, cultural and even Christian Zionism. Today we hear more about anti-Zionism because the word has been given a new meaning that is so politically charged and so negative. How did we go from "The national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel" to a movement labelled as "occupation", "colonization" or even "racism?"

After the early Zionist pioneers of the late 1800s, the Jewish people started to move back to the land of Israel in the late 40s from all over the Diaspora. They were drawn to Israel for reasons as various as political, familial, economic or even religious. Nothing was frowned upon by anyone. Then came Yassir Arafat, the PLO and the Palestinian quest for self-determination. Unfortunately, the Palestinian cause was one without a land...something had to happen!

"Wait a minute! What if the Palestinians were a people displaced by Jewish colonialists who stole their land, kicked them out and even killed them? This is a long shot but if we keep at it, the masses will eventually buy it!" This might be what went through the minds of Yassir Arafat and his cronies. Zionism slowly started to acquire a bad reputation. It would take several decades to get as bad as it is now, but eventually, it started to spread beyond the Middle East to the rest of the western world

For a while, the damage inflicted on Zionism was counteracted by a strong support from Evangelical Christians who became known as "Christian Zionists." They based their support of Israel on a belief that the Bible spoke of that land given to Jewish people by God Himself. They also made a strong connection to End-Times prophecies including and involving Israel in a very strong way all the way to the end.

In Genesis 12:1-3, which I like to call “God’s foreign policy as it pertains to Israel” we see that God made a covenant with Abraham, further confirmed through Isaac (not Ishmael) and Jacob. In that Covenant, He gives the Jewish people the deed to the Land of Canaan (Exodus 13:11). This is further developed in Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:15;17:7-8, 19; 25:5-6; 26:3; 28:3-4; 35:9-15. Anti-Zionism is simply a human attempt at rewriting a Divine Covenant between God and the Jewish people and because of that, it can be deemed as anti-biblical and is bound to failure. If God changed His mind, this would also make Him a Covenant breaker and a liar.

Israel and Zionism suffer from many foes, not just the Palestinians. The United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 3379  in 1975, in which it stated that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination." It took sixteen years for the UN to revoke that statement in 1991. But the damage was done and would continue to be inflicted on Israel and the Jewish people to this day. Today, many countries in the Middle East continue to see Israel as the enemy. They describe Zionism in no uncertain terms:

• Ahmadinejad used to call for the complete destruction of the Zionist Regime.
• Khameini believes that the Zionist Network dictates US policies which a lie taken straight from the early twentieth century hoax known as The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.
Hamas claims that, "The lie of the Zionist Holocaust crumbles with countless holocausts committed by the Zionists."

Should a Zionist agree with every single decision made by the Israeli government? Of course not!  Should a Zionist systematically reject any prospect of shared land space between Jews and Palestinians if peace is truly the goal? Probably not! Yet, these and many more libelous statements by Israel's enemy have poured over into the Evangelical Church. The Palestinian narrative has become stronger than the biblical narrative. The Christian Zionists of yesterday has morphed into a politically correct Christian "Palestinianist." As a result, very few within the Evangelical ranks continue to support Israel. Zionism has truly become a cuss word and yet, the Bible never changed. Anti-Zionism is almost always antisemitism in a cloak of social justice.

Many followers of Yeshua (Jesus) look at the Bible and clearly see that God is NOT done with Israel. They see a glorious future for the people and the Land. While their numbers are dwindling down, these people are still called Christian Zionists as they recognize Israel’s biblical right to the Land and the Jewish people right to return to that Land. Christian Zionism is a noble cause and is part of what every Bible believing Christian should promote because God Himself declared it to be true in His Word.

The foundation for Zionism was established by God in the book of Genesis. It continues to run through like an uninterrupted thread through the tapestry of Jewish history. If Zionism has existed for a long time, we also cannot deny that God used people like Theodore Herzl, Achad Ha’am, Eliezer Ben Yehuda, Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gourion, Golda Meir and many others to further promote the Jewish people right to the Land of Israel. What God established, no man can destroy (Jeremiah 31:35-37).

France/Israel Relations: A "Fait Accompli" disguised as an Ultimatum!

French foreign Minister Laurent Fabius wants to revive the talks between Israelis and Palestinians in an effort to come to an agreement regarding a two-state solution. Mr. Fabius is hoping to be able to break the current deadlock. Peace in the Middle East has become some sort of "Holy Grail" in global diplomacy. Some key players like the United States and several countries in the European Union have tried–to no avail– to play their role in bringing peace to the region. France is at it again with Mr. Fabius "ultimatum." I would commend France for such an effort if it wasn't so one-sided.

Actually, I would venture to say that it is more than one-sided. It is not much of an ultimatum, and it is devious at best. Mr. Fabius just announced that Israel and Palestine need to work towards reviving the peace talks. It sounds like France is expecting Israelis and Palestinians to come to some sort of compromise towards a two-state solution. Yet, if Israel doesn't flex under France's pressure, France will de facto recognize "the State of Palestine."

It is obvious that France is biased in favor of the Palestinian since nothing is expected of them. As a matter of fact, why would they do or say anything since Israel failure to comply will get them statehood recognition from France? Is it possible that Mr. Fabius knows full well that the talks will amount to nothing if in fact they resume at all? If this is the case, then Mr. Fabius could be accused of moving forward with in tent to fully fail, only for the purpose of recognizing Palestine. This is not only biased, it is also a very coward move by France. Seriously, if you want to recognize Palestine, just say it since all your deeds already point towards it.

Everything already lead us to believe that France doesn't care much about Israel and/or the Jewish people. Currently the third largest Jewish community in the world after Israel and the United States, France is losing its Jewish community fast. Almost 16,000 Jewish people made Aliyah from France in the last 2 years because of antisemitism. As a matter of fact, up to 25% of French Jews have expressed their desire to move to Israel. That is between 100,000 and 125,000 people.

Laurent Fabius' decision to recognize Palestine shouldn't surprise the Jewish community. Frankly, I am surprised that it hasn't already happened. It was Sweden that lead the pack within the European Union in 2014, and first recognized Palestine. Diplomatic relations between Israel and Sweden have been hurt as a result. Today, Sweden continues to widen the gap by allowing more antisemitic acts to freely take place within their borders, such as the publishing of schoolbooks where Israel doesn't exist. This is just one small–not so influential–country of the EU that has recognized Palestine. France, on the other hand is a major international player. If Mr. Fabius goes ahead with Palestinian recognition, many more European countries will undoubtedly follow suit.

France's hypocrisy is so painful to watch. One one hand, Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared that France without her Jews would no longer be France, and on the other hand, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius decides to slap Israel in the face with a "damn if you do/damn if you don't" pseudo ultimatum. This would already be wrong if both Israel and the Palestinians  were equally at fault. This makes the decision even more imbalanced when one consider the terror dispensed by Hamas and Fatah on a daily basis. Was Hamas asked to stop the violence? No! Was anything said about the numerous knife stabbings of the last few months? Not really!

What is so tragic about France's one-sided decision to recognize Palestine with no strings attached and no accountability, is that it isn't going to stop the violence. On the contrary, it will most likely embolden the Palestinians and encourage them to pursue terrorism.  Even though the spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said" There is no doubt that a French recognition of the Palestinian state will contribute to building peace and stability in the region", we know that the opposite will happen. After all, if all that they are doing to Israel is rewarded with statehood, why stop now?

No Hate Speech on Facebook, Unless it's Against the Jews of Course!

In December 2015, the NGO Shurat Hadin - Israel Law Center, started an experiment on Facebook to see if the social Network giant was indeed guilty of double standards when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians. They decided to create two similar Facebook pages called "Stop Israel" and "Stop Palestinians" and started posting similar articles, visuals and statements on each site. For instance, the anti-Israel page had a post that read “The Zionist bites Palestine part after part and the world is silent. We’ll stop them any way we can”, while the anti-Palestinian site posted “Greater land Israel should return soon from the hands of the Muslim enemy back to Jewish sovereignty! We’ll do it in any way we can.”  More posts purposely filled with hatred and incitement against both sides and from both pages continued to flow. The verbiage was almost similar on all posts except for the obvious targeting of one side by the other. They actually documented the process in a two-minutes film where they show how Facebook shut down the anti-Palestinian page while the anti-Israel page continued to run. The NGO Shurat Hadin filed a law suit against Facebook and both side are awaiting a date for a court hearing.

This is not the first time that Facebook chooses to take sides. I have reported several pages over the last five years only to get the same answer from Facebook staff. That very answer was given to the Israel Law Center, justifying the taking down of the anti-Palestinian page because "We reviewed the page you reported for containing credible threat of violence and found it violates our community standards."  The very same day, the page inciting against Jews received a message from Facebook staff saying that " it was not in violation of Facebook rules." Wait a minute, I thought that violence and hatred against anybody was to be reprimanded. The Facebook "Community Standards" that were violated on one page were IDENTICAL to those violated on the other page except of course for the fact that one targeted group was the Jewish people and Israel.

The sad truth about this experiment is that the vast majority of people won't react because they are used to see Jewish people being harassed, abused and even physically hurt. There seems to be a sense of resignation, if not acceptance when Israel and/or the Jews get hurt, while there is an immediate display of outrage when Palestinians are targeted. Forget the fact that Palestinians and their leadership are almost always the instigators and Israelis the victims. Let us simply seek equality in the censorship of xenophobic websites and social network pages or accounts.

Consider Facebook pages such as  Images from Palestine, Image and Reality of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict or Jewish Ritual MurderThey are replete with antisemitic rhetoric in pictures, videos and words, yet they are not taken down because they are "not in violation of Facebook rules." Seriously?

Recently, Mark Zuckerberg –a self-proclaimed atheist from Jewish parents–declared his unequivocal support for Muslims worldwide in response to Donald Trump's statement about closing US borders to all Muslims. He was quoted coming to the defense of Muslims after the November 2015 Paris attacks “As a Jew, my parents taught me that we must stand up against attacks on all communities. Even if an attack isn’t against you today, in time attacks on freedom for anyone will hurt everyone.” So I wonder if Mr.Zuckerberg forgot or ignored his recent statement that all of us should "stand up against attacks on all communities?" Maybe he doesn't even know about the double standards applied to Jews and Palestinians on Facebook, although by now he has got to be aware of it all.

Taken straight from Facebook's "Community Standards" we can read their simple statement under: Encouraging Respectful Behavior: Hate Speech "Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on Race, Ethnicity, National origin, Religious affiliation, Sexual orientation, Sex, gender, or gender identity, or Serious disabilities or diseases. Organizations and people dedicated to promoting hatred against these protected groups are not allowed a presence on Facebook."

Then please explain why the anti-Israel page with virulent antisemitic statements was never removed? Regardless of where the double standard comes from, Facebook must be held accountable. The Israeli law suit might correct the recent wrong but it will not stop the next one and those thereafter.

I have used Facebook for years as a platform to share my thoughts, comments and articles. I value that platform because of its global reach. It has become such a part of our daily routine and social communication that it would be hard to refrain from using it. On the other hand, if you feel that there is a double standard in the treatment of Jews and Palestinians on the Social Network giant, speak up!

You can file complaints on Facebook's Help Center and you don't have to be Jewish, Muslim or anything else for that matter. You just have to be a proponent of truth, justice, fairness and accountability for all mankind. If we don't say anything, we have no right to complain when Israelis are getting stabbed to death on the streets of Israel or French Jews machine gunned in a Kosher supermarket or any other xenophobic acts take place.

Jews Don't Need to Convert to Jesus...The Pope Knows Best!

When it comes to Judeo/Christian relations, the Catholic Church carries centuries of baggage from anti-Judaism to anti-Semitism to anti-Zionism. At the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, the Catholic Church was officially propelled onto the world scene and continued to widen a theological gap between Christians and Jews. A gap that would also become political, sociological and geographical until it came to its apex in the 1930s and 40s when it was given a pseudo-racial twist. Let's face it, in the Jewish psyche, the Catholic Church is responsible for a lot of anti-Semitism, but be that as it may, not all Catholics are anti-Semites.

This is not a witch hunt against Catholics, yet it must be said that most of the Jewish persecution by the early Church and through the Middle Ages was performed by Catholic leaders who were also the representative of Christianity and technically of Christ on earth. The Crusades, the Blood Libel, the Host desecrations, the Black Plague, the Inquisition, the Pogroms and the Holocaust are all intertwined in a web of deceit that eventually leads back to the Catholic Church on way or another. Much of this was initiated by the Church and progressively picked-up throughout history to become lethal to the Jews as best explained by Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg in The Destruction of the European Jews. He saw the fate of the Jewish people as a three-step process over time: "From the 4th century the Christian missionaries told the Jews 'you may not live among us as Jews'. The secular governments who followed them from the late middle-aged decided 'you may not live among us' and de Nazis finely decreed 'you may not live'. Hillberg spoke of ostracism followed by expulsion and annihilation. In a nutshell, this is the history of my people.

From the early Church Fathers (200 CE) until 1965, the Catholic Church held all Jewish people corporately responsible for the Crucifixion of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus.) It wasn't until 1965, during Vatican II under Pope Paul VI, that the accusation was rescinded. In a declaration known as Nostra Aetate (In our times), Pope Paul VI promulgated that Jews were no longer to be held guilty of deicide (the killing of God.) The hope was that this "Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions" would exonerate the Jewish people. Of course it never occurred to the Catholic Church that nowhere in the Bible are the Jews declared guilty of killing Yeshua because in His own words, He gave His own life for all mankind as it is recorded in the Gospel of John 10:17-18, 17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

Additionally, the Catholic Church has long felt that they had replaced ethnic Israel in the plan of God. All the blessings that God had promised to bestow upon Israel would apparently be transferred to the Catholic Church or even to all Christians to speak more broadly. All Covenants made between God and the Jewish people would now apply to the "New Israel" or spiritual Israel. This is commonly known as Replacement Theology, and this also cannot be substantiated by Scripture as long as you apply a consistent, literal and contextual system of interpretation.

While we continue to witness both anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism within the Catholic ranks, there has been an effort from several Popes to reconcile with the Jewish community even further. So much so that the current Pope has now announced that Jewish people do not need Jesus and that the Catholic Church should not try to convert Jewish people. There has been a certain amount of collective Catholic guilt regarding their treatment of the Jewish people. This rather recent reaction or possibly over-reaction, seeing the Jewish people as covenantal people in no need of Yeshua does a lot of good for the healing of Judeo/Christian relations. In a recent statement, Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs reaffirms the importance of such a move by the current Pope: "This new Vatican document is a remarkable reaffirmation of the positive changes in the Church’s teaching about Jews and Judaism since the promulgation of Nostra Aetate 50 years ago. It is significant because it places a very clear emphasis on the rejection of the deicide charge, Christianity’s indebtedness to Judaism, the rejection of replacement theology, and the ongoing validity of the Jewish covenant with God."

It is true that the Jewish people could easily do away with centuries of Christian anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, Jewish history has been recorded in blood for the most part. That history is part of the Christian baggage that cannot be unloaded. It would behoove Christians to stop believing what they have heard about the Jewish people and not add to this already overwhelmingly heavy baggage. To that end, the 1965 Declaration of Nostra Aetate might have helped somewhat, and the current papacy might even contribute further, unfortunately the roots of anti-Semitism–Christian or not–go very, very deep!

It is also true that the Jewish people have not been replaced by Catholics, Christians or any other people group who might consider themselves the "New Israel." That rejection of Replacement Theology was made clear in the declaration of 1965. It might not have been adopted by Catholics the world over, but it remains an "Ex Cathedra" statement by the Pope, and as such should leave no option but obedience to it by Catholics worldwide. Human nature often gets in the way, I am afraid!

And of course, it is of the utmost importance to stop trying to "convert" Jews to Christianity. But is it possible that the reason for such a change is different that what the Pope would expect. Simply put, Jews don't convert because they have no need to convert. If indeed, Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah (Isaiah 52:13-53-12) then there is nothing more natural for a Jewish person than to follow their Jewish Messiah. It is a personal choice that nobody can force us to make. So in a sense, the Pope is right, Jews do not ever need to convert to Yeshua, yet if it turns out that He [Yeshua] is the Jewish Messiah spoken of by the Jewish Prophets (Gen. 49:10, Isa. 7:14; 9:6-7, Mic. 5:2), then maybe it would benefit the Jewish people to follow Him.

Labelling Israeli Products Can Work Both Ways!

On November 11, 2015, the European Union decided to start labelling Israeli products that originate from what the world calls the "Occupied Territories." I prefer the term "Disputed Territories", nevertheless, the two terms describe the same geographical areas. The decision was taken to label these Israeli products one of several ways: “Product from the Golan Heights (Israeli settlement)”, “Product from West Bank (Israeli settlement)”, “Product from West Bank (product from Palestine)”, “Product from Gaza (Palestinian product)” or “(Product from Palestine).”

The first two examples are meant to identify products that are of Israeli origin but come from "Palestinian territories", while the last three are to identify products that are of Palestinian origin and come from "Palestinian territories."

The little known fact is that the EU started to apply coding on similar products in 2003 for customs officials. This will be the first time that such labelling is done for consumers. The process started in 2012 and finally saw its official launching on November 11.

The reaction was immediate. People who support Israel started to look at the move and accuse the EU of boycotting. Many complaints came, trying to expose the European Union's move as a shameful, one-sided, political move to further ostracize Israel. While I don't believe that we can call the move a boycott of Israeli products, there are ramifications to its implementation, but I am not certain that they are all negative.

The first thing that we need to understand, is that labelling a product doesn't constitute a boycott in and of itself. It certainly can contribute to it or encourage people towards boycotting, but it is not a boycott. That being said, once the product is labelled something like “Product from West Bank (Israeli settlement)”, the words are not meaningless, they will invite a response that can vary from one individual to the next.

It also raises the issue of double-standards–something Israel has grown accustomed to over the years. There are other countries with territorial discrepancies in the world that are not affected by such labelling. Benyamin Netanyahu who felt that the EU should be ashamed and said "that the EU decision constituted a 'double standard' as the bloc didn’t label products from other disputed territories around the world." There are no questions that this constitutes a case of double-standards and that the labelling is much more political that the EU wants to admit. There is no way to add the word "settlement" in a description without having it carry the heavy connotation of "occupation" or "invasion" that the world has now accepted as fact.

Netanyahu's most recent reaction was to suspend diplomatic ties with the European Union (not necessarily with individual countries within the EU though!) This a sign of protest against that decision. I don't think it will force the EU to revert it, but it shows Israel's disdain for this biased move.

It is obvious that people will use the information differently and that some will choose to use it to facilitate their boycotting of Israeli products. These individual are mostly the same individuals who would indiscriminately boycott Israel with or without the labelling. I don't see the labelling as hurting Israel's economy that much. But no matter how much it might hurt, there is another side to that coin. Whatever product is labelled from the "Occupied Territories" is just labelled and not banned and it can just as well become a preferential label for some. Many people are fighting the boycott of Israeli product by going out of their way to purchase Israeli brands. This could easily be the case with the new labels applied to "Territories" products.

It reminds me of the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis chapters 13-50. Joseph was abandoned and sold by his brothers. Ultimately, he ended up in Egypt, became Pharaoh's right-hand man and was used in a mighty way to save and protect his extended family. There is a lot of negative to be found in the story of Joseph, yet we could all learn from Genesis 50:20 in Joseph’s final words to his family: : "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."

What the enemies of Israel meant for harm can be used to glorify God and support Israel. The boycotting of Israel is not about to stop tomorrow, but we can all do our part to buy Israeli products and this is how I see that labelling Israeli products could work both ways. In the process, if you find products labelled "Made in Palestine" or "Made in the Palestinian Territories", nobody prevents you from boycotting these. I know I will!