Archive for the ‘Christian’ Category

Czech Parliament Slams UNESCO Move as Multifaith Gathering Celebrates Jerusalem – Breaking Israel News

Pray for the peace of Yerushalayim; may they prosper that love thee. Psalms 122:6 (The Israel Bible)

Jewish and Christian leaders preside over a multifath gathering celebrating Jerusalem Day in the Czech Republics St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. (Courtesy)

As an act of unity with the Jewish State, top politicians and leaders of Christian and Jewish communities, along with several hundred citizens of the Czech Republic, gathered in a historic cathedral to celebrate Jerusalem Day on Tuesday.

The event was based in interfaith support for Israel. Cardinal Dominik Duka, hosting the solemn assembly in famous St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle, spoke about the common spiritual heritage shared by Christians and Jews. He expressed hope that peace would come when all nations come together to embrace the faith of Abraham and the Ten Commandments of Moses.

Daniel Fajfr, Chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, quoted Psalm 122 in his address, assuring the audience that Czech Christians follow the precept of praying for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Yerushalayim; may they prosper that love thee. Psalms 122:6

The festive meeting integrated both Christian and Jewish customs, starting with the ringing of cathedral bells and including a musical performance of Hebrew songs such as the famous Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold). Also performed was a song which bridged both communities: The Vlatava, a symphonic Czech nationalist poem composed in the 19th century by Bedich Smetana which shares a heritage and melody with the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah(The Hope).

In his address, the newly installed Israeli Ambassador Daniel Meron noted that the unification of Jerusalem opened the holy city not only to Jews, but to Christians as well.

In honor of Jerusalem Day, Parliament Speaker Jan Bartosek announced that the government body had officially condemned a recent UNESCO resolution declaring Israeli sovereignty over its capital illegal. The Czech parliament called on the government to promote respect for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The parliament describe the UNESCO resolution as

yet another confirmation of a continuing biased and antagonistic approach of UNESCO towards one of its member states, as well as improper politicization of this organization, clearly overstepping its mandate.

[The parliament calls] to oppose such actions of international organizations or common positions of the European Union which in a falsified and misleading way interpret the current situation or distort historical facts and which are imbued with the spirit of hatred of Israel.

The motion was adopted by an overwhelming majority, with 112 of 156 deputies voting in favor.

The event was organized jointly by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), the Ecumenical Council of Churches, the Federation of Jewish Communities, the Czech-Israeli Friendship Society, the Zion Center and the Israeli Embassy under the patronage of Cardinal Dominik Duka and Minister of Culture Daniel Herman.

Relations between the Czech Republic and Israel have been quite close. Voting in favor of Israel in the 1948 UN vote, the Czech Republic was one of the very few nations that would sell arms to the fledgling Jewish State.

In 2013, soon after being elected, Czech President Milo Zeman called for his country to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His subsequent attempts to convince the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were unsuccessful.

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Czech Parliament Slams UNESCO Move as Multifaith Gathering Celebrates Jerusalem – Breaking Israel News

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May 24, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Trump Effect Inspires Radical Christians in Military – Newsweek

Donald Trumps election has led to such a steep rise in fundamentalist Christian evangelizing and religious bigotry in the U.S. armed forces that the matter is reaching the level of a national security threat, according to information shared exclusively with Newsweek by an organization that represents and advocates for secular and minority religious views in the military.

Related: Christian sex advice websites reveal evangelical political agenda

The number of complaints from servicemen and -women in the Army, Air Force, Marines and other service branches to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has doubled in number since November 2016, according to lawyer Michael Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force officer who founded the organization.

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Many of the recent charges are coming from members of minority religions, including Roman Catholics, Jews and Muslims, and from atheists. Among the complaints: military family and marital therapy programs are being infused with Protestant Christianity, which would violate the U.S. Constitution; open anti-Semitism; anti-LGBTstatements, posters, symbols and bullying; openly anti-Muslim teachers and Islamophobic attacks; a rise in on-base evangelizing; and increased pressure on recruits or lower-level personnel and service members to convert to fundamentalist Christianity.

With the advent of Trump as the commander in chief of our armed forces, MRFF has experienced a massive influx of new military and civilian personnel complaints of religion-based prejudice and bigotry, most of them coming from non-fundamentalist Christians being persecuted by their military superiors for not being Christian enough, Weinstein tellsNewsweek.

He saysnoncommissioned officers at one Air Force base reported that their superiors told them Trump would make it USAF policy that in order for disbelieving Jewsto be allowed into the USAF or deemed fit for promotions, they would have to show via objectively established behavior that they were at least honestly considering the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

At another base, the wife of a combat-decorated Muslim U.S. Naval officer, who was wearing a Muslim headscarf, was surrounded in the commissary and spit upon and cursed as not being a true American and being a spy and a terrorist. She was with her children at the time.

In both situations, the targets complained to the MRFF because they feared retaliation if they went through their chain of command. The MRFF then lodged formal complaints with the service branches, and the incidents were addressed, Weinstein says.

The military recently backtracked on an edict requiring thousands of married couples in a marital program called Strong Bondsto participate in Protestant prayer sessions. As of 2014, more than 37,000 Army personnel participated in the Strong Bonds program. On May 19, Brigadier General Christian Rofrano told the MRFF via email that the complaints had been heard. Presently, the Air National Guard leadership is in the process of rescinding and re-issuing its program guidance, Rofrano wrote.

Numerous other complaints remain unaddressed. For example, 36 Air Force GlobalStrike Command personnel complained in March about a plan to include prayer among the activities in its Year of the Family program. The AFGSC has approximately 31,000 personnel at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana. It is responsible for the nations three intercontinental ballistic nuclear missile wings, the Air Forces bomber force and operational and maintenance support for organizations within the nuclear enterprise.

More than 100 service members also complained in March when Army Major General Julie Bentz, vice director of the multiservice Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization, gave a speech at the 56th Annual Kansas Prayer Breakfast, during which she stated, But my greatest privilege is standing in front of my king and my God, carrying every member of my organization to his throne and asking for his protection, his mercy, his love on each of them and their families and whatever are their concerns and burdens of the day.

One of those who objected to her statement was a senior military officer who wrote to the foundation, saying,As someone whos served more than 25 years in uniform, including one assignment at the very organization to which she is now assigned as the deputy, I just cant imagine a much more inappropriate or disconcerting message.

In February, the American Civil Liberties Union and the MRFF challenged the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego over its annual Christmas crche, arguing that it must allow Jews and other religions to erect religious symbols on its grounds as well. The staff judge advocate declined to review the complaint, judging it premature.

The commingling of radical Christianity and the U.S. war fighter has been under way for some time now. In 2007, the Department of Defenses inspector general issued a report regarding a cadre of ranking DoD officials and officers who abused their authority by promoting a video for Christian Embassy, a Washington-based, high-level evangelizing outfit with a website designed to make it look like an arm of the U.S. government.

Fundamentalist views are decidedly in the minority in the general population, but they have adherents in some of the U.S. militarys most powerful positions, especially in and around Washington, D.C., and in Colorado Springs, home of the U.S. Air Force Academyand the nations nuclear command center.

The U.S. military has long been seeded with radical Christian fundamentalistssometimes called Christian Dominionists or Christian Reconstructionistswho believe a Warrior Jesus has their backs while they fight against Islam. They believe they are establishing a Kingdom of God on earth, starting with the United States, and are predictably anti-LGBTand unfriendly to females among their ranks.

The MRFF was founded in 2005 by Weinstein to counter that spread and advocate for broad religious freedom and freedom from religion within the military. More than 50,000 complaints have been filed with the foundation, the vast majority coming from Protestantsoffended by being hectored with radical interpretations of their own religion. Since last November, theres been a spike in anti-Semitism and attacks on minority religious views.

The MRFF estimates that 84 percent of military chaplains are evangelicals, and about a third of them are fundamentalists, defined by the MRFF as Christians who have decided that their evangelizing and proselytizing need not conform to the U.S. Constitution, case law or any DoD directives restricting their behavior.

The Christian rights willingness to see Trump as a savior for their causeif not a messianic figure, despite his living as an urban libertine who has had three wives and a history of lewd acts and statementscontinues to grow. His selection of an evangelical as vice president, plus the appointment of at least nine evangelicals to his Cabinet, has apparently soothed any concerns the religious right had about his personal life.

Last week, defrocked ex-felon Jim Bakker, no stranger to licentious behavior with women himself, said Trumps critics were channeling the spirit of the Antichrist. It seems like there is a hatred among peoples and this is satanic, said Bakker, who is back to evangelizing on television. You want to know what the Antichrist spirit looks like? Thats whats going on in America. These people mocking the president. The words they use. The speech they use. Thats the spirit of Antichrist. Thats the spirit of hatred.

Weinstein also shared with Newsweek dozens of hate-filled emails directed to him from former and current service members, stating that they pray for his death and eternal life in hell. He says small victories like the one involving the Strong Bonds program last week cant keep up with the changed tone at the top, and its effect on behavior in the middle and lower ranks among the fundamentalists in the military community.

The reality of Trump being commander in chief has unleashed a raging battle cry along the lines ofTheres a new sheriff in town, and he loves white, male, straight, Christian fundamentalists one hell of a lot more than anyone else, Weinstein says. The fundamentalist/Dominionist bullies have been emboldened by Trumps own bigotry and that of his henchmen to such a profound degree that MRFF considers the dire situation to be nothing less than a full-fledged national security threat to our country.

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Trump Effect Inspires Radical Christians in Military – Newsweek

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May 22, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Mr. Trump, stand with Israel: The Western Wall is Jewish – Fox News

On the eve of President Trumps first overseas trip, an unfortunate dispute has emerged over the question, whose wall is it? But who is the rightful owner of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem should be indisputable. It is, after all, the last remaining piece of the Jewish Temple compound, destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 CE, and thus the primary destination for Jews in Israel and around the world to gather for prayer to this day.

Thankfully, one member of Trumps cabinet, U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, is clear on the matter. I believe the Western Wall is part of Israel and I think that that is how weve always seen it and thats how we should pursue it, Haley said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Weve always thought the Western Wall was part of Israel.

Haley has been indefatigable in defending Israel at the UN, rigorously pressing other UN member states to end their longstanding hostility toward Israel on a range of issues, including the status of Jerusalem, Israels capital.

Suprisingly, however, one U.S. diplomat in the presidents advance team told his Israeli counterparts that the Western Wall “is not yours,” that it is in the West Bank. Follow-up remarks by Press Secretary Spicer and National Security Advisor McMaster did not offer the clarity needed, certainly falling short of Haleys direct statement.

Denying any Jewish connection to Jerusalem has been a Palestinian tactic, supported by the wider Arab and Muslim worlds, for decades. UNESCO member states have shamefully accepted the con and joined in Palestinian historical revisionism. Last October, UNESCO member states passed two resolutions referring to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, only by its Muslim name, Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, ignoring any Jewish, as well as Christian, connection to this site.

While another resolution was adopted earlier this month with less support than before, it mostly repeated the same assertions regarding Jerusalem, Israels capital city, and holy sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The U.S. opposed those measures, which makes the sudden vagueness on the Western Wall somewhat odd.

Judaism — and its centrality to Jewish identity, worship, and history — predates Islam by millennia, and Christianity, with its linkage to Biblical sites in Jerusalem, predates Islam by centuries. The only time adherents of all three religions have enjoyed complete freedom of worship in Jerusalem has been under Israeli administration.

Whenever Israelis and Palestinians have negotiated peace, going back to Camp David in 2000, there were discussions about sharing sovereignty over Jerusalem. But years of Palestinian violence and Palestinian Authority refusal to engage in bilateral talks raised and reinforced doubts about the possibility of agreeing on the final status of Jerusalem, and the topic was left on the back burner.

That President Trump will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall, assuming it happens, is profoundly significant. He should accept Prime Minister Netanyahus offer to join him and his family at Judaisms holiest site. That would provide a powerful visual statement of U.S. recognition that Jerusalem is central to the Jewish people, and therefore should be recognized as Israels capital.

As Ambassador Haley told CBN, Obviously I believe that the capital should be in Jerusalem and the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem. All their government is in Jerusalem. So much of what goes on is in Jerusalem and, I think, we have to see that for what it is.”

During his visit, President Trump should make clear, consistent with his efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace, that he will fulfill his promise and begin the process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Kenneth Bandler is the American Jewish Committee’s director of media relations.

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Mr. Trump, stand with Israel: The Western Wall is Jewish – Fox News

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May 20, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Christians will also celebrate Balfour’s 100th anniversary – Jewish News (blog)

What a year of anniversaries for the Jewish community! One hundred and twenty years since the first Zionist Congress; 70 years since UN Resolution 181; 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem and, of course, the centenary of that little piece of paper so controversial yet so dynamic in history: the Balfour Declaration.

As a Christian, I lament that most of my co-religionists have never heard of the Declaration, the foundation stone of todays Jewish state and all its achievements.

Yet in this centenary year, thousands of Christians across the UK are getting as excited about the Balfour Declaration as our Jewish friends. Major events in UK cities involve both Jewish and Christian organisers and participants working together.

This could prove to be the biggest year yet for Jewish-Christian cooperation in Britain.

So why are Christians so enthusiastic about a particularly Jewish anniversary, besides recognising the chain of events that led to the creation of our favourite pilgrimage destination?

Backtracking from 1917, we should realise that back then, British Christians generally took the Bible much more literally than today, especially the prophecies in the Tanach, of Gods intention to restore Israel to her land.

In fact, this literal acceptance of the prophetic writings concerning Israel was almost the default position among Bible-believing Christians. Would that it were so today.

This worldview meant British Christians were generally supportive of Jews. Bishops and ministers taught, preached and wrote about the return from exile to the land of Israel.

Charles Wesley even wrote hymns about the restoration of the Jews. One of Theodor Herzls closest friends and mentors was an Anglican clergyman, Rev William Hechler. Lord Shaftesbury, known as a philanthropic Christian, also advocated for the return to Zion. He even wrote an address to the leaders of Europe challenging them to produce a second Cyrus to deliver the Jews from exile.

One impact of these beliefs was that, amazingly, seven out of 10 of the wartime Cabinet that issued the Balfour Declaration were Christians with this biblical worldview. Clearly, strategic and political factors also drove the government of the day to issue such a declaration of support to the Jewish community, but we cannot dismiss the underlying faith and devoutly-held beliefs of these powerful men as they deliberated.

Lord Balfour himself, who did not hide his Christian credentials, began his address to the Zionist Federation in 1920 with the words: For long I have been a convinced Zionist He reflected British Christian beliefs of his time. In the same speech, at the Royal Albert Hall, he referred to Britain and the Jews as partners in this great enterprise of recreating the Jewish homeland in Israel.

Balfours speech is one reason Christians have organised Partners In This GreatEnterprise, a unique event at the Royal Albert Hall on 7 November to mark the Balfour Declarationss centenary.

It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Jews and Christians to celebrate together the partnerships that led to the Balfour Declaration and its eventual outcome in the modern state of Israel.

With both Jewish and Christian performers, and through music, dance and drama, we have created an unmissable evening in an iconic venue worthy of this historic centenary for both our communities.

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Christians will also celebrate Balfour’s 100th anniversary – Jewish News (blog)

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May 19, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Donald Trump’s risky religious pilgrimage – CNN

In his first foreign trip as President, which begins Friday, Trump has planned a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting the homelands of all three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — before heading to Europe for meetings with Pope Francis and NATO leaders.

In all, it’s an ambitious nine-day, five-country tour that will test the religious acumen and diplomatic skills of a President who, beyond courting conservative Christians and casting suspicion on Muslims, rarely talks about religion.

Trump’s itinerary includes Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, where he aims to erase his Islamophobic image and urge Muslim leaders to address extremist ideologies. In the Holy Land, Trump wants to jumpstart the stalled peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, while visiting touchstones like the Western Wall. And in Europe, the President seeks to repair frayed relations with two of the continent’s most venerable institutions, the Vatican and NATO.

Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, called the President’s plans unprecedented. “No President has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslims faiths all on one trip,” he said at a press briefing last week.

Actually, other Presidents have visited Saudi Arabia and the Holy Land on the same trip. But no President has included the Vatican, Catholicism’s holy headquarters, on the itinerary.

The White House says Trump has three main goals: to project American power abroad, build relationships with world leaders and “broadcast a message of unity” to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

“What President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity,” McMaster said.

Religious accord is a smart way for the White House to frame Trump’s trip, said Chris Seiple, former president of the Institute for Global Engagement and an expert on faith and foreign policy.

“Most of the American people are utterly fed up with the Middle East, and this framework is a way to get their attention,” Seiple said.

But some experts question whether Trump is the right messenger to preach about religious unity.

Trump was raised Christian, but as an adult he has rarely attended worship services, nor had he cultivated relationships with religious leaders before running for president. During the campaign, his remarks on religion were sometimes seen as uninformed and divisive.

He was accused of tweeting an anti-Semitic image and trafficking in anti-Jewish tropes; he said “Islam hates us” and pledged to temporarily bar Muslims from the United States; he even feuded with Pope Francis, who said that someone who talks only about building walls instead of bridges isn’t Christian. Trump called the Pope’s comments “disgraceful.”

Concerns about Trump’s views on religion have carried over into his administration.

He pleased his conservative Christian base with the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and an executive order promising greater legal latitude to pastors who want to preach about politics. But Jews complained for weeks about his reluctance to condemn dozens of bomb threats at Jewish community centers, and Muslims say his executive order halting immigration from several Muslim-majority nations discriminates against their religion.

“Up until now, Trump’s message on Islam has been very confrontational, a clash-of-civilizations type narrative,” said Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an expert on political Islam. “For him to talk about the great faiths unified in a common civilization would be quite different.”

Posing for photos with the Pope and praying at the site of Jesus’ tomb may alter aspects of Trump’s image, but the his pilgrimage bears considerable risks, especially for someone with a tendency to improvise in delicate diplomatic situations.

“If he takes advantage of this trip to bring people together, that would be good,” said Seiple. “On the other hand, the whole thing could blow up in our face.”

With those challenges in mind, here are the key religious events during Trump’s trip.

Where: Riyadh When: May 20-21 Key religious event: Speech to leaders of 50 Muslim countries

McMaster said Trump plans to deliver an “inspiring yet direct” speech to leaders from Muslim countries on Sunday. The topic is the “need to confront radical ideology” and the “President’s hope for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world.”

“The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate our commitment to our Muslim partners.”

The President is fairly popular among Muslim heads of state, experts say, because of his hardline stance on Iran and reluctance to lecture Middle East dictators on human rights.

But Trump’s speech risks alienating or even insulting many Muslims who are weary of Western politicians conflating their faith with terrorism.

Elliott Abrams, who supervised President George W. Bush’s Middle East policy, said Trump will have to navigate between “very dangerous portals.”

“If he says nothing about Islamic extremism, then supporters at home will say he bit his tongue; if he says too much about it, he could conceivably offend some of those who are there.”

“The President is not known for nuance, which is what a speech like this requires to escape the potential wrath of his multiple audiences,” McCants said.

McCants and other experts on Islam also warned against projecting Saudi Arabia’s strict theocracy as a model for “moderate Muslims.”

While the country is the custodian of Islam’s “two holy mosques,” it has also spread a toxic theology, Salafism, that has inspired extremists like al Qaeda and ISIS. What’s more, the country has a horrible human rights record, according to international watchdogs, particularly on religious freedom.

Where: Jerusalem and Bethlehem When: May 22-23 Key religious events: Speech at Israel Museum, prayer at Western Wall, visit to Church of the Holy Sepulchre

In some ways, Trump is sending a message just by setting foot in Israel, Jewish leaders say.

President Obama, during his first Middle East trip, skipped the Jewish state, a slight that some Israelis were reluctant to forgive, said Robert Danin, a former State Department official and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In Jerusalem, Trump will lay a wreath at Yad Vashem, a memorial to the Holocaust victims, before delivering a speech “reaffirming America’s unshakable bond” with Israel at the Israel Museum, the White House says.

Danin said some Israeli leaders appear apprehensive about Trump’s speech, mainly because they don’t know what he’s going to say.

“That uncertainty is very anxiety-provoking for the Israeli government because they fear that he is going to ask the Israelis to do things that this government may not want to do, may not be in a position to do.”

Other Jewish leaders say they’ll be looking for more than pacifying political rhetoric from Trump.

“We want to see if the President understands Israel’s traumas, its security dilemmas and its unique importance in the region,” said David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee. “It’s about chemistry and tonality and feelings. We want to know if he feels Israel in the kishkes,” the Yiddish word for gut.

According to reports, an American diplomat said Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu could not accompany Trump to the holy site because it’s not in Israel. Previous administrations have considered East Jerusalem, where the wall sits, to be Israeli-occupied territory, but Trump’s position is unclear. Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as their capital.

McMaster dodged questions about Trump’s stance on the wall, saying the President aims to send a religious, not political, message.

“He’s going to the Western Wall mainly in connection with the theme: to connect with three of the world’s great religions — and to pay homage at each of these religious sites that he’s visiting.”

Earlier that day, Trump will travel to Bethlehem, where he will encourage Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to come to the negotiating table with Israel, the White House says.

Trump has eased the way for talks to restart, Middle East experts say, by delaying a campaign promise to move the US embassy to disputed Jerusalem, a change that would irk Palestinians and other Arabs.

But Trump will still have to address the embassy question, Abrams said. “If the President says nothing about it, then he is, in essence, moving away from the campaign promise.”

Where: Vatican City When: May 24 Key religious moment: Meeting Pope Francis

When Trump visits the Vatican Wednesday, it will be the most highly anticipated meeting between Pope and President in recent memory. But those expecting a donnybrook will likely be disappointed, church experts say. Neither the President nor Pope Francis seem eager to replay their brief spat over Trump’s border wall.

Asked about the upcoming meeting, Francis said he’s keeping an open mind.

“I will say what I think, he will say what he thinks, but I never, ever, wanted to make a judgment without hearing the person,” the Pope said at a recent press conference aboard the papal plane.

Francis also said he will not seek to change Trump’s mind on policy disagreements. Instead, he’ll try to find avenues of agreement.

“Look for the doors that are at least a little bit open, enter and talk about common things and go on. Step by step. Peace is handcrafted. It is made every day. Also friendship among people, mutual knowledge, esteem, is handcrafted.”

Churchwatchers say the Vatican is eager to open lines of communication with the new American President, especially after their rocky start.

“At this point, there doesn’t seem to be much common ground between the new President and the Pope,” said John Thavis, author of “The Vatican Diaries” and a longtime reporter on the Catholic Church, “and that’s probably pretty worrying for the Vatican.”

McMaster said Trump looks forward to paying his respects to the Pope and discussing religious freedom, as well as cooperation in humanitarian missions and combating religious persecution and human trafficking.

Much of the meeting consists of elaborate protocol: the Swiss Guard will welcome Trump as a head of state, and the Pope and President will exchange gifts. The private meeting between Francis and Trump is expected to last just half an hour, as the Pope is scheduled to speak in St. Peter’s Square shortly after the encounter.

Rep. Francis Rooney, US ambassador to the Vatican from 2005-2008, said the real diplomatic decisions often occur when the secretaries of state and other diplomats convene on the sidelines. One such meeting covered 16 countries, Rooney recalled, in which the Catholic Church and United States worked together on political and humanitarian missions.

“The Holy See doesn’t have business to promote or consular activities to direct,” Rooney said. “It’s all about the big ideas and the power of persuasion.”

For a President who likes to think big and make splashy deals, this trip offers plenty of opportunities, as well as a few potential pitfalls.

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Donald Trump’s risky religious pilgrimage – CNN

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May 18, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Who’s an anti-Semite? – Jewish Journal

The Jewish left has been calling conservatives anti-Semites not to mention fascists and racists for as long as I have been alive.Yet, outside of the Muslim world, virtually all anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred comes from the left. Of course, to most left-wing (as opposed to liberal) Jews, Israel-hatred is not the same as anti-Semitism. One can even help those who wish to destroy Israel through supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, for example and still be honored by Jewish institutions. Two local examples: Ed Asner was just given a lifetime achievement award at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival. and Cornel West was invited by the UCLA Department of Jewish Studies to give a keynote address.

But no matter how destructive the left is not only to Jews and Israel, but to civilized society as demonstrated by the intolerance and violence at our left-wing universities its the right that frightens most American Jews.

Which brings me to an advertisement in the May 12 edition of the Jewish Journal by a Jewish leftist attacking Ann Coulter as an anti-Semite and me for defending her against that charge.

I dont know what prompted the ad, since none of the allegations against Coulter is recent. The issue is gone and largely forgotten. My best guess is that precisely because there is so much Israel- and Jew-hatred emanating from the left, the man who took out the ad felt it necessary to find a prominent right-wing example of anti-Semitism. And since it is so rare, he revived the Coulter issue.

The irony is that even if Ann Coulter were an anti-Semite, this lone voice would hardly come close to matching the anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism coming from the left that permeate Western universities, intellectual life and the media.

But even that irony doesnt apply, since Ann Coulter is strongly pro-Israel. But, again, neither matters to most Jews on the left, since, as far as these Jews are concerned, being pro-Israel doesnt make you a friend of the Jews and being anti-Israel doesnt make you an enemy of the Jews.

Now, to the charges.

During the course of the second Republican presidential debate, Ann Coulter, tweeted: How many fing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?

Her explanation was that she was frustrated with the candidates remarks that concentrated on things nearly all Republicans agree on admiration of Ronald Reagan, opposition to abortion and support for Israel while ignoring what she considers Americas biggest domestic problem: illegal immigration. She regarded the candidates remarks as pandering to various Republican constituencies and tweeted out a series of critical and angry comments, including the one about Jews.

If all non-Jews were as anti-Semitic as Ann Coulter, we Jews would be living ina Jewish utopia,a world without enemies.

She was condemned by Republicans myself included and Democrats for the tweet. It was wrong, and it damaged, at least temporarily, Republican and conservative supporters of Israel. But as I wrote at the time in a piece published by both The Jerusalem Post and the Forward, Ann Coulter is not an anti-Semite. She constantly has defended Jews and Israel. Every mention of Jews or Israel Ive read in any of her books is a spirited defense of Jews and Israel, or an attack on those who attack Jews and Israel. I should add, for the record, that she has been to my home twice for Shabbat dinner.

If all non-Jews were as anti-Semitic as Ann Coulter, we Jews would be living in a Jewish utopia, a world without enemies.

Those Jews, like the ad writer, who label her an anti-Semite point to that 2015 tweet and to something she said in a 2007 interview with Jewish TV personality Donny Deutsch. She said that America (and presumably the world) would be better if everybody were a Christian.

Deutsch asked if that meant all Jews should become Christian. Coulter said yes, and Deutsch was offended. He was further offended when she labeled Christians and Jews who became Christians as perfected Jews.

But those are hardly anti-Semitic sentiments. Believing the world would be better if everyone were a Christian hardly renders one a bigot, let alone a Jew-hater. Dont progressives believe the world would be better if everyone were a progressive?

And why is the belief that Jews who become Christian are perfected Jews anti-Semitic? Why is that different from a Jew believing that a Christian or anyone else who converts to Judaism becomes a member of the Chosen People? Or from Orthodox Jews who believe that Christianity is idol worship? I dont agree with that view, but that hardly makes Orthodox Jews Christian-haters. I know a prominent Orthodox rabbi who thinks Christianity is idol worship and who works constantly with evangelical Christians whom he adores.

We need to be very careful before labeling people anti-Semites. This is especially so with regard to Christians who believe that the only way to salvation is through belief in Christ. The fact is that the Jews and Israels best friends in America are largely those evangelical Christians who believe that only faith in Jesus saves.

In addition, epithets are not always a good indicator of who our enemies are. Harry S. Truman wrote home when he visited New York City that he was in Kike-town and wrote very disparaging things about the Jews in his diary. Yet, as president, he became the man who had America recognize the newly formed State of Israel within minutes of its declaration of independence against the advice of his entire State Department.

When Hillary Clinton was accused of calling a campaign aide a fing Jew bastard an account attested to by three witnesses I wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal defending her against the charge of anti-Semitism. Unlike the ad writer who, like so many others on the left, smears ideological opponents, I defended Hillary Clinton, even though I have no respect for her. I defended Clinton because it was the right thing to do. And because if Jews cry wolf by calling virtually every opponent an anti-Semite, when the real anti-Semites come, no one will take us seriously.

And one more thought: With our universities more hostile to identifying Jews than at any time in American history, with many young Jews fearing to wear a Star of David or a yarmulke on more and more left-wing campuses, a Jew looks pretty foolish taking out an ad in a Jewish publication to attack Ann Coulter and Dennis Prager.

Dennis Pragers nationally syndicated radio talk show is heard in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) 9 a.m. to noon. His latest project is the internet-based Prager University (prageru.com).

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Who’s an anti-Semite? – Jewish Journal

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Christian film ‘In Our Hands’ brings Six Day War to the big screen – Jerusalem Post Israel News


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Christian film 'In Our Hands' brings Six Day War to the big screen
Jerusalem Post Israel News
We believe the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled the Jews are back, and Israel has been reborn, he said. The Jews have been set apart, unable to assimilate into the cultures of the dispersion and are being gathered once more to the land of
Israeli President: Christians Are Our brothersIsrael Today
50 Jerusalem Facts for the 50th Anniversary of Its ReunificationAlgemeiner
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Christian film ‘In Our Hands’ brings Six Day War to the big screen – Jerusalem Post Israel News

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Muslim cleric faces lawsuits after describing Christians and Jews as followers of corrupt beliefs – Daily News Egypt

Prominent Islamic cleric and former deputy minster in the Endowments Ministry Salem Abdel Galil faces a lawsuit accusing him of contempt of religion and threatening national unity after he claimed last Thursday that Christians and Jews follow corrupt religions and are non-believers.

Members of the Egyptian parliament (MPs) announced that they have filed the lawsuit against Abdel Galil on Thursday after his remarks during an episode of his television show Muslims Ask, aired on 3 May on Al-Mehwar TV.

MP Emad Gad said in press statements that Abdel Galils statements are not suitable for a phase of establishing national unity among all Egyptians. Gad added that the problem is that Abdel Galil is a prominent cleric who represents the Ministry of Endowments and that a television channel is not the right place for what he said.

The MPs who filed the lawsuit against Abdel Galil are Tharwat Bakheet, Emad Gad, Mohammed Abu Hamed, Ehab Mansour, Reda Nassif, Nadia Henry, John Talaat, and Margaret Azer.

Moreover, Abdel Galil is set to face a trial at the Cairo Misdemeanor Court on 24 June on charges of contempt of religion and threatening national unity, according to lawyer Naguib Gibrail who filed another lawsuit.

As a reaction to his statements, Minister of Endowments Mokhtar Gomaa said on Thursday that Abdel Galil would not be allowed to lead Friday prayers unless he retracts his comments.

Hassan Rateb, head of Al-Mehwar TV, said on Thursday that he canceled Abdel Galils contract with the station. Rateb offered apologies to all Christian brothers.

Furthermore, the Islamic Research Complex, which is affiliated to Al-Azhar, held a meeting on Thursday, headed by Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb. It issued a statement to denounce what Abdel Galil said.

The Complex said that Salem Abdel Galil represents himself and does not represent Al-Azhar, which refuses apostatising anyone.

After the wave of criticism, Abdel Galil claimed in a statement published on his Facebook page that he was explaining a Quranic verse and did not mean to hurt the feelings of Christians.

He added that he apologises for hurting Christians feelings but would never apologise for his religion.

He explained that even if Muslims view non-Muslims as followers of corrupt religions, it does not legitimise killing them or stealing their belongings.

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May 13, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Egypt: Islamic cleric suspended from ministry after denouncing Christians and Jews – Catholic Culture

Catholic World News

May 12, 2017

Egyptian authorities have suspended an Islamic preacher from public ministry, after he denounced Christians and Jews as infidels.

During a television broadcast, Salem Abdel Galil referred to Christianity and Judaism as corrupt faiths, whose practitioners cannot go to heaven. His comments were roundly criticized by other Muslim leaders, who observed that his language was similar to that of radical preachers who had stirred up violence against the countrys Christian minority. In his own defense, Galil said that he believed Christians and Jews hold corrupt doctrinesjust as Christians and Jews believe that Islamic doctrines are corrupt. He declined to retract his statements.

The Egyptian ministry of religious affairswhere Galil once workedannounced that the preacher could not make television broadcasts or lead public prayers until he apologized for his comments. A television station that had broadcast his sermons, issued its own apology.

Galil also faces criminal charges, under a law against defamation of religious faiths. Naguib Gobrali, a Christian lawyer, filed a complaint, saying that Galils words constitute confessional defamation. A court will hear the case in June.

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Czech Parliament Slams UNESCO Move as Multifaith Gathering Celebrates Jerusalem – Breaking Israel News

Pray for the peace of Yerushalayim; may they prosper that love thee. Psalms 122:6 (The Israel Bible) Jewish and Christian leaders preside over a multifath gathering celebrating Jerusalem Day in the Czech Republics St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. (Courtesy) As an act of unity with the Jewish State, top politicians and leaders of Christian and Jewish communities, along with several hundred citizens of the Czech Republic, gathered in a historic cathedral to celebrate Jerusalem Day on Tuesday. The event was based in interfaith support for Israel. Cardinal Dominik Duka, hosting the solemn assembly in famous St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle, spoke about the common spiritual heritage shared by Christians and Jews. He expressed hope that peace would come when all nations come together to embrace the faith of Abraham and the Ten Commandments of Moses. Daniel Fajfr, Chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, quoted Psalm 122 in his address, assuring the audience that Czech Christians follow the precept of praying for the peace of Jerusalem. Pray for the peace of Yerushalayim; may they prosper that love thee. Psalms 122:6 The festive meeting integrated both Christian and Jewish customs, starting with the ringing of cathedral bells and including a musical performance of Hebrew songs such as the famous Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold). Also performed was a song which bridged both communities: The Vlatava, a symphonic Czech nationalist poem composed in the 19th century by Bedich Smetana which shares a heritage and melody with the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah(The Hope). In his address, the newly installed Israeli Ambassador Daniel Meron noted that the unification of Jerusalem opened the holy city not only to Jews, but to Christians as well. In honor of Jerusalem Day, Parliament Speaker Jan Bartosek announced that the government body had officially condemned a recent UNESCO resolution declaring Israeli sovereignty over its capital illegal. The Czech parliament called on the government to promote respect for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The parliament describe the UNESCO resolution as yet another confirmation of a continuing biased and antagonistic approach of UNESCO towards one of its member states, as well as improper politicization of this organization, clearly overstepping its mandate. [The parliament calls] to oppose such actions of international organizations or common positions of the European Union which in a falsified and misleading way interpret the current situation or distort historical facts and which are imbued with the spirit of hatred of Israel. The motion was adopted by an overwhelming majority, with 112 of 156 deputies voting in favor. The event was organized jointly by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), the Ecumenical Council of Churches, the Federation of Jewish Communities, the Czech-Israeli Friendship Society, the Zion Center and the Israeli Embassy under the patronage of Cardinal Dominik Duka and Minister of Culture Daniel Herman. Relations between the Czech Republic and Israel have been quite close. Voting in favor of Israel in the 1948 UN vote, the Czech Republic was one of the very few nations that would sell arms to the fledgling Jewish State. In 2013, soon after being elected, Czech President Milo Zeman called for his country to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His subsequent attempts to convince the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were unsuccessful.

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May 24, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Trump Effect Inspires Radical Christians in Military – Newsweek

Donald Trumps election has led to such a steep rise in fundamentalist Christian evangelizing and religious bigotry in the U.S. armed forces that the matter is reaching the level of a national security threat, according to information shared exclusively with Newsweek by an organization that represents and advocates for secular and minority religious views in the military. Related: Christian sex advice websites reveal evangelical political agenda The number of complaints from servicemen and -women in the Army, Air Force, Marines and other service branches to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has doubled in number since November 2016, according to lawyer Michael Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force officer who founded the organization. Subscribe to Newsweek from $1 per week Many of the recent charges are coming from members of minority religions, including Roman Catholics, Jews and Muslims, and from atheists. Among the complaints: military family and marital therapy programs are being infused with Protestant Christianity, which would violate the U.S. Constitution; open anti-Semitism; anti-LGBTstatements, posters, symbols and bullying; openly anti-Muslim teachers and Islamophobic attacks; a rise in on-base evangelizing; and increased pressure on recruits or lower-level personnel and service members to convert to fundamentalist Christianity. With the advent of Trump as the commander in chief of our armed forces, MRFF has experienced a massive influx of new military and civilian personnel complaints of religion-based prejudice and bigotry, most of them coming from non-fundamentalist Christians being persecuted by their military superiors for not being Christian enough, Weinstein tellsNewsweek. He saysnoncommissioned officers at one Air Force base reported that their superiors told them Trump would make it USAF policy that in order for disbelieving Jewsto be allowed into the USAF or deemed fit for promotions, they would have to show via objectively established behavior that they were at least honestly considering the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At another base, the wife of a combat-decorated Muslim U.S. Naval officer, who was wearing a Muslim headscarf, was surrounded in the commissary and spit upon and cursed as not being a true American and being a spy and a terrorist. She was with her children at the time. In both situations, the targets complained to the MRFF because they feared retaliation if they went through their chain of command. The MRFF then lodged formal complaints with the service branches, and the incidents were addressed, Weinstein says. The military recently backtracked on an edict requiring thousands of married couples in a marital program called Strong Bondsto participate in Protestant prayer sessions. As of 2014, more than 37,000 Army personnel participated in the Strong Bonds program. On May 19, Brigadier General Christian Rofrano told the MRFF via email that the complaints had been heard. Presently, the Air National Guard leadership is in the process of rescinding and re-issuing its program guidance, Rofrano wrote. Numerous other complaints remain unaddressed. For example, 36 Air Force GlobalStrike Command personnel complained in March about a plan to include prayer among the activities in its Year of the Family program. The AFGSC has approximately 31,000 personnel at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana. It is responsible for the nations three intercontinental ballistic nuclear missile wings, the Air Forces bomber force and operational and maintenance support for organizations within the nuclear enterprise. More than 100 service members also complained in March when Army Major General Julie Bentz, vice director of the multiservice Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization, gave a speech at the 56th Annual Kansas Prayer Breakfast, during which she stated, But my greatest privilege is standing in front of my king and my God, carrying every member of my organization to his throne and asking for his protection, his mercy, his love on each of them and their families and whatever are their concerns and burdens of the day. One of those who objected to her statement was a senior military officer who wrote to the foundation, saying,As someone whos served more than 25 years in uniform, including one assignment at the very organization to which she is now assigned as the deputy, I just cant imagine a much more inappropriate or disconcerting message. In February, the American Civil Liberties Union and the MRFF challenged the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego over its annual Christmas crche, arguing that it must allow Jews and other religions to erect religious symbols on its grounds as well. The staff judge advocate declined to review the complaint, judging it premature. The commingling of radical Christianity and the U.S. war fighter has been under way for some time now. In 2007, the Department of Defenses inspector general issued a report regarding a cadre of ranking DoD officials and officers who abused their authority by promoting a video for Christian Embassy, a Washington-based, high-level evangelizing outfit with a website designed to make it look like an arm of the U.S. government. Fundamentalist views are decidedly in the minority in the general population, but they have adherents in some of the U.S. militarys most powerful positions, especially in and around Washington, D.C., and in Colorado Springs, home of the U.S. Air Force Academyand the nations nuclear command center. The U.S. military has long been seeded with radical Christian fundamentalistssometimes called Christian Dominionists or Christian Reconstructionistswho believe a Warrior Jesus has their backs while they fight against Islam. They believe they are establishing a Kingdom of God on earth, starting with the United States, and are predictably anti-LGBTand unfriendly to females among their ranks. The MRFF was founded in 2005 by Weinstein to counter that spread and advocate for broad religious freedom and freedom from religion within the military. More than 50,000 complaints have been filed with the foundation, the vast majority coming from Protestantsoffended by being hectored with radical interpretations of their own religion. Since last November, theres been a spike in anti-Semitism and attacks on minority religious views. The MRFF estimates that 84 percent of military chaplains are evangelicals, and about a third of them are fundamentalists, defined by the MRFF as Christians who have decided that their evangelizing and proselytizing need not conform to the U.S. Constitution, case law or any DoD directives restricting their behavior. The Christian rights willingness to see Trump as a savior for their causeif not a messianic figure, despite his living as an urban libertine who has had three wives and a history of lewd acts and statementscontinues to grow. His selection of an evangelical as vice president, plus the appointment of at least nine evangelicals to his Cabinet, has apparently soothed any concerns the religious right had about his personal life. Last week, defrocked ex-felon Jim Bakker, no stranger to licentious behavior with women himself, said Trumps critics were channeling the spirit of the Antichrist. It seems like there is a hatred among peoples and this is satanic, said Bakker, who is back to evangelizing on television. You want to know what the Antichrist spirit looks like? Thats whats going on in America. These people mocking the president. The words they use. The speech they use. Thats the spirit of Antichrist. Thats the spirit of hatred. Weinstein also shared with Newsweek dozens of hate-filled emails directed to him from former and current service members, stating that they pray for his death and eternal life in hell. He says small victories like the one involving the Strong Bonds program last week cant keep up with the changed tone at the top, and its effect on behavior in the middle and lower ranks among the fundamentalists in the military community. The reality of Trump being commander in chief has unleashed a raging battle cry along the lines ofTheres a new sheriff in town, and he loves white, male, straight, Christian fundamentalists one hell of a lot more than anyone else, Weinstein says. The fundamentalist/Dominionist bullies have been emboldened by Trumps own bigotry and that of his henchmen to such a profound degree that MRFF considers the dire situation to be nothing less than a full-fledged national security threat to our country.

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May 22, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Mr. Trump, stand with Israel: The Western Wall is Jewish – Fox News

On the eve of President Trumps first overseas trip, an unfortunate dispute has emerged over the question, whose wall is it? But who is the rightful owner of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem should be indisputable. It is, after all, the last remaining piece of the Jewish Temple compound, destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 CE, and thus the primary destination for Jews in Israel and around the world to gather for prayer to this day. Thankfully, one member of Trumps cabinet, U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, is clear on the matter. I believe the Western Wall is part of Israel and I think that that is how weve always seen it and thats how we should pursue it, Haley said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Weve always thought the Western Wall was part of Israel. Haley has been indefatigable in defending Israel at the UN, rigorously pressing other UN member states to end their longstanding hostility toward Israel on a range of issues, including the status of Jerusalem, Israels capital. Suprisingly, however, one U.S. diplomat in the presidents advance team told his Israeli counterparts that the Western Wall “is not yours,” that it is in the West Bank. Follow-up remarks by Press Secretary Spicer and National Security Advisor McMaster did not offer the clarity needed, certainly falling short of Haleys direct statement. Denying any Jewish connection to Jerusalem has been a Palestinian tactic, supported by the wider Arab and Muslim worlds, for decades. UNESCO member states have shamefully accepted the con and joined in Palestinian historical revisionism. Last October, UNESCO member states passed two resolutions referring to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, only by its Muslim name, Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, ignoring any Jewish, as well as Christian, connection to this site. While another resolution was adopted earlier this month with less support than before, it mostly repeated the same assertions regarding Jerusalem, Israels capital city, and holy sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The U.S. opposed those measures, which makes the sudden vagueness on the Western Wall somewhat odd. Judaism — and its centrality to Jewish identity, worship, and history — predates Islam by millennia, and Christianity, with its linkage to Biblical sites in Jerusalem, predates Islam by centuries. The only time adherents of all three religions have enjoyed complete freedom of worship in Jerusalem has been under Israeli administration. Whenever Israelis and Palestinians have negotiated peace, going back to Camp David in 2000, there were discussions about sharing sovereignty over Jerusalem. But years of Palestinian violence and Palestinian Authority refusal to engage in bilateral talks raised and reinforced doubts about the possibility of agreeing on the final status of Jerusalem, and the topic was left on the back burner. That President Trump will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall, assuming it happens, is profoundly significant. He should accept Prime Minister Netanyahus offer to join him and his family at Judaisms holiest site. That would provide a powerful visual statement of U.S. recognition that Jerusalem is central to the Jewish people, and therefore should be recognized as Israels capital. As Ambassador Haley told CBN, Obviously I believe that the capital should be in Jerusalem and the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem. All their government is in Jerusalem. So much of what goes on is in Jerusalem and, I think, we have to see that for what it is.” During his visit, President Trump should make clear, consistent with his efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace, that he will fulfill his promise and begin the process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Kenneth Bandler is the American Jewish Committee’s director of media relations.

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Christians will also celebrate Balfour’s 100th anniversary – Jewish News (blog)

What a year of anniversaries for the Jewish community! One hundred and twenty years since the first Zionist Congress; 70 years since UN Resolution 181; 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem and, of course, the centenary of that little piece of paper so controversial yet so dynamic in history: the Balfour Declaration. As a Christian, I lament that most of my co-religionists have never heard of the Declaration, the foundation stone of todays Jewish state and all its achievements. Yet in this centenary year, thousands of Christians across the UK are getting as excited about the Balfour Declaration as our Jewish friends. Major events in UK cities involve both Jewish and Christian organisers and participants working together. This could prove to be the biggest year yet for Jewish-Christian cooperation in Britain. So why are Christians so enthusiastic about a particularly Jewish anniversary, besides recognising the chain of events that led to the creation of our favourite pilgrimage destination? Backtracking from 1917, we should realise that back then, British Christians generally took the Bible much more literally than today, especially the prophecies in the Tanach, of Gods intention to restore Israel to her land. In fact, this literal acceptance of the prophetic writings concerning Israel was almost the default position among Bible-believing Christians. Would that it were so today. This worldview meant British Christians were generally supportive of Jews. Bishops and ministers taught, preached and wrote about the return from exile to the land of Israel. Charles Wesley even wrote hymns about the restoration of the Jews. One of Theodor Herzls closest friends and mentors was an Anglican clergyman, Rev William Hechler. Lord Shaftesbury, known as a philanthropic Christian, also advocated for the return to Zion. He even wrote an address to the leaders of Europe challenging them to produce a second Cyrus to deliver the Jews from exile. One impact of these beliefs was that, amazingly, seven out of 10 of the wartime Cabinet that issued the Balfour Declaration were Christians with this biblical worldview. Clearly, strategic and political factors also drove the government of the day to issue such a declaration of support to the Jewish community, but we cannot dismiss the underlying faith and devoutly-held beliefs of these powerful men as they deliberated. Lord Balfour himself, who did not hide his Christian credentials, began his address to the Zionist Federation in 1920 with the words: For long I have been a convinced Zionist He reflected British Christian beliefs of his time. In the same speech, at the Royal Albert Hall, he referred to Britain and the Jews as partners in this great enterprise of recreating the Jewish homeland in Israel. Balfours speech is one reason Christians have organised Partners In This GreatEnterprise, a unique event at the Royal Albert Hall on 7 November to mark the Balfour Declarationss centenary. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Jews and Christians to celebrate together the partnerships that led to the Balfour Declaration and its eventual outcome in the modern state of Israel. With both Jewish and Christian performers, and through music, dance and drama, we have created an unmissable evening in an iconic venue worthy of this historic centenary for both our communities.

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Donald Trump’s risky religious pilgrimage – CNN

In his first foreign trip as President, which begins Friday, Trump has planned a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting the homelands of all three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — before heading to Europe for meetings with Pope Francis and NATO leaders. In all, it’s an ambitious nine-day, five-country tour that will test the religious acumen and diplomatic skills of a President who, beyond courting conservative Christians and casting suspicion on Muslims, rarely talks about religion. Trump’s itinerary includes Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, where he aims to erase his Islamophobic image and urge Muslim leaders to address extremist ideologies. In the Holy Land, Trump wants to jumpstart the stalled peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, while visiting touchstones like the Western Wall. And in Europe, the President seeks to repair frayed relations with two of the continent’s most venerable institutions, the Vatican and NATO. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, called the President’s plans unprecedented. “No President has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslims faiths all on one trip,” he said at a press briefing last week. Actually, other Presidents have visited Saudi Arabia and the Holy Land on the same trip. But no President has included the Vatican, Catholicism’s holy headquarters, on the itinerary. The White House says Trump has three main goals: to project American power abroad, build relationships with world leaders and “broadcast a message of unity” to Jews, Christians and Muslims. “What President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity,” McMaster said. Religious accord is a smart way for the White House to frame Trump’s trip, said Chris Seiple, former president of the Institute for Global Engagement and an expert on faith and foreign policy. “Most of the American people are utterly fed up with the Middle East, and this framework is a way to get their attention,” Seiple said. But some experts question whether Trump is the right messenger to preach about religious unity. Trump was raised Christian, but as an adult he has rarely attended worship services, nor had he cultivated relationships with religious leaders before running for president. During the campaign, his remarks on religion were sometimes seen as uninformed and divisive. He was accused of tweeting an anti-Semitic image and trafficking in anti-Jewish tropes; he said “Islam hates us” and pledged to temporarily bar Muslims from the United States; he even feuded with Pope Francis, who said that someone who talks only about building walls instead of bridges isn’t Christian. Trump called the Pope’s comments “disgraceful.” Concerns about Trump’s views on religion have carried over into his administration. He pleased his conservative Christian base with the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and an executive order promising greater legal latitude to pastors who want to preach about politics. But Jews complained for weeks about his reluctance to condemn dozens of bomb threats at Jewish community centers, and Muslims say his executive order halting immigration from several Muslim-majority nations discriminates against their religion. “Up until now, Trump’s message on Islam has been very confrontational, a clash-of-civilizations type narrative,” said Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an expert on political Islam. “For him to talk about the great faiths unified in a common civilization would be quite different.” Posing for photos with the Pope and praying at the site of Jesus’ tomb may alter aspects of Trump’s image, but the his pilgrimage bears considerable risks, especially for someone with a tendency to improvise in delicate diplomatic situations. “If he takes advantage of this trip to bring people together, that would be good,” said Seiple. “On the other hand, the whole thing could blow up in our face.” With those challenges in mind, here are the key religious events during Trump’s trip. Where: Riyadh When: May 20-21 Key religious event: Speech to leaders of 50 Muslim countries McMaster said Trump plans to deliver an “inspiring yet direct” speech to leaders from Muslim countries on Sunday. The topic is the “need to confront radical ideology” and the “President’s hope for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world.” “The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate our commitment to our Muslim partners.” The President is fairly popular among Muslim heads of state, experts say, because of his hardline stance on Iran and reluctance to lecture Middle East dictators on human rights. But Trump’s speech risks alienating or even insulting many Muslims who are weary of Western politicians conflating their faith with terrorism. Elliott Abrams, who supervised President George W. Bush’s Middle East policy, said Trump will have to navigate between “very dangerous portals.” “If he says nothing about Islamic extremism, then supporters at home will say he bit his tongue; if he says too much about it, he could conceivably offend some of those who are there.” “The President is not known for nuance, which is what a speech like this requires to escape the potential wrath of his multiple audiences,” McCants said. McCants and other experts on Islam also warned against projecting Saudi Arabia’s strict theocracy as a model for “moderate Muslims.” While the country is the custodian of Islam’s “two holy mosques,” it has also spread a toxic theology, Salafism, that has inspired extremists like al Qaeda and ISIS. What’s more, the country has a horrible human rights record, according to international watchdogs, particularly on religious freedom. Where: Jerusalem and Bethlehem When: May 22-23 Key religious events: Speech at Israel Museum, prayer at Western Wall, visit to Church of the Holy Sepulchre In some ways, Trump is sending a message just by setting foot in Israel, Jewish leaders say. President Obama, during his first Middle East trip, skipped the Jewish state, a slight that some Israelis were reluctant to forgive, said Robert Danin, a former State Department official and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. In Jerusalem, Trump will lay a wreath at Yad Vashem, a memorial to the Holocaust victims, before delivering a speech “reaffirming America’s unshakable bond” with Israel at the Israel Museum, the White House says. Danin said some Israeli leaders appear apprehensive about Trump’s speech, mainly because they don’t know what he’s going to say. “That uncertainty is very anxiety-provoking for the Israeli government because they fear that he is going to ask the Israelis to do things that this government may not want to do, may not be in a position to do.” Other Jewish leaders say they’ll be looking for more than pacifying political rhetoric from Trump. “We want to see if the President understands Israel’s traumas, its security dilemmas and its unique importance in the region,” said David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee. “It’s about chemistry and tonality and feelings. We want to know if he feels Israel in the kishkes,” the Yiddish word for gut. According to reports, an American diplomat said Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu could not accompany Trump to the holy site because it’s not in Israel. Previous administrations have considered East Jerusalem, where the wall sits, to be Israeli-occupied territory, but Trump’s position is unclear. Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as their capital. McMaster dodged questions about Trump’s stance on the wall, saying the President aims to send a religious, not political, message. “He’s going to the Western Wall mainly in connection with the theme: to connect with three of the world’s great religions — and to pay homage at each of these religious sites that he’s visiting.” Earlier that day, Trump will travel to Bethlehem, where he will encourage Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to come to the negotiating table with Israel, the White House says. Trump has eased the way for talks to restart, Middle East experts say, by delaying a campaign promise to move the US embassy to disputed Jerusalem, a change that would irk Palestinians and other Arabs. But Trump will still have to address the embassy question, Abrams said. “If the President says nothing about it, then he is, in essence, moving away from the campaign promise.” Where: Vatican City When: May 24 Key religious moment: Meeting Pope Francis When Trump visits the Vatican Wednesday, it will be the most highly anticipated meeting between Pope and President in recent memory. But those expecting a donnybrook will likely be disappointed, church experts say. Neither the President nor Pope Francis seem eager to replay their brief spat over Trump’s border wall. Asked about the upcoming meeting, Francis said he’s keeping an open mind. “I will say what I think, he will say what he thinks, but I never, ever, wanted to make a judgment without hearing the person,” the Pope said at a recent press conference aboard the papal plane. Francis also said he will not seek to change Trump’s mind on policy disagreements. Instead, he’ll try to find avenues of agreement. “Look for the doors that are at least a little bit open, enter and talk about common things and go on. Step by step. Peace is handcrafted. It is made every day. Also friendship among people, mutual knowledge, esteem, is handcrafted.” Churchwatchers say the Vatican is eager to open lines of communication with the new American President, especially after their rocky start. “At this point, there doesn’t seem to be much common ground between the new President and the Pope,” said John Thavis, author of “The Vatican Diaries” and a longtime reporter on the Catholic Church, “and that’s probably pretty worrying for the Vatican.” McMaster said Trump looks forward to paying his respects to the Pope and discussing religious freedom, as well as cooperation in humanitarian missions and combating religious persecution and human trafficking. Much of the meeting consists of elaborate protocol: the Swiss Guard will welcome Trump as a head of state, and the Pope and President will exchange gifts. The private meeting between Francis and Trump is expected to last just half an hour, as the Pope is scheduled to speak in St. Peter’s Square shortly after the encounter. Rep. Francis Rooney, US ambassador to the Vatican from 2005-2008, said the real diplomatic decisions often occur when the secretaries of state and other diplomats convene on the sidelines. One such meeting covered 16 countries, Rooney recalled, in which the Catholic Church and United States worked together on political and humanitarian missions. “The Holy See doesn’t have business to promote or consular activities to direct,” Rooney said. “It’s all about the big ideas and the power of persuasion.” For a President who likes to think big and make splashy deals, this trip offers plenty of opportunities, as well as a few potential pitfalls.

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May 18, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Who’s an anti-Semite? – Jewish Journal

The Jewish left has been calling conservatives anti-Semites not to mention fascists and racists for as long as I have been alive.Yet, outside of the Muslim world, virtually all anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred comes from the left. Of course, to most left-wing (as opposed to liberal) Jews, Israel-hatred is not the same as anti-Semitism. One can even help those who wish to destroy Israel through supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, for example and still be honored by Jewish institutions. Two local examples: Ed Asner was just given a lifetime achievement award at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival. and Cornel West was invited by the UCLA Department of Jewish Studies to give a keynote address. But no matter how destructive the left is not only to Jews and Israel, but to civilized society as demonstrated by the intolerance and violence at our left-wing universities its the right that frightens most American Jews. Which brings me to an advertisement in the May 12 edition of the Jewish Journal by a Jewish leftist attacking Ann Coulter as an anti-Semite and me for defending her against that charge. I dont know what prompted the ad, since none of the allegations against Coulter is recent. The issue is gone and largely forgotten. My best guess is that precisely because there is so much Israel- and Jew-hatred emanating from the left, the man who took out the ad felt it necessary to find a prominent right-wing example of anti-Semitism. And since it is so rare, he revived the Coulter issue. The irony is that even if Ann Coulter were an anti-Semite, this lone voice would hardly come close to matching the anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism coming from the left that permeate Western universities, intellectual life and the media. But even that irony doesnt apply, since Ann Coulter is strongly pro-Israel. But, again, neither matters to most Jews on the left, since, as far as these Jews are concerned, being pro-Israel doesnt make you a friend of the Jews and being anti-Israel doesnt make you an enemy of the Jews. Now, to the charges. During the course of the second Republican presidential debate, Ann Coulter, tweeted: How many fing Jews do these people think there are in the United States? Her explanation was that she was frustrated with the candidates remarks that concentrated on things nearly all Republicans agree on admiration of Ronald Reagan, opposition to abortion and support for Israel while ignoring what she considers Americas biggest domestic problem: illegal immigration. She regarded the candidates remarks as pandering to various Republican constituencies and tweeted out a series of critical and angry comments, including the one about Jews. If all non-Jews were as anti-Semitic as Ann Coulter, we Jews would be living ina Jewish utopia,a world without enemies. She was condemned by Republicans myself included and Democrats for the tweet. It was wrong, and it damaged, at least temporarily, Republican and conservative supporters of Israel. But as I wrote at the time in a piece published by both The Jerusalem Post and the Forward, Ann Coulter is not an anti-Semite. She constantly has defended Jews and Israel. Every mention of Jews or Israel Ive read in any of her books is a spirited defense of Jews and Israel, or an attack on those who attack Jews and Israel. I should add, for the record, that she has been to my home twice for Shabbat dinner. If all non-Jews were as anti-Semitic as Ann Coulter, we Jews would be living in a Jewish utopia, a world without enemies. Those Jews, like the ad writer, who label her an anti-Semite point to that 2015 tweet and to something she said in a 2007 interview with Jewish TV personality Donny Deutsch. She said that America (and presumably the world) would be better if everybody were a Christian. Deutsch asked if that meant all Jews should become Christian. Coulter said yes, and Deutsch was offended. He was further offended when she labeled Christians and Jews who became Christians as perfected Jews. But those are hardly anti-Semitic sentiments. Believing the world would be better if everyone were a Christian hardly renders one a bigot, let alone a Jew-hater. Dont progressives believe the world would be better if everyone were a progressive? And why is the belief that Jews who become Christian are perfected Jews anti-Semitic? Why is that different from a Jew believing that a Christian or anyone else who converts to Judaism becomes a member of the Chosen People? Or from Orthodox Jews who believe that Christianity is idol worship? I dont agree with that view, but that hardly makes Orthodox Jews Christian-haters. I know a prominent Orthodox rabbi who thinks Christianity is idol worship and who works constantly with evangelical Christians whom he adores. We need to be very careful before labeling people anti-Semites. This is especially so with regard to Christians who believe that the only way to salvation is through belief in Christ. The fact is that the Jews and Israels best friends in America are largely those evangelical Christians who believe that only faith in Jesus saves. In addition, epithets are not always a good indicator of who our enemies are. Harry S. Truman wrote home when he visited New York City that he was in Kike-town and wrote very disparaging things about the Jews in his diary. Yet, as president, he became the man who had America recognize the newly formed State of Israel within minutes of its declaration of independence against the advice of his entire State Department. When Hillary Clinton was accused of calling a campaign aide a fing Jew bastard an account attested to by three witnesses I wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal defending her against the charge of anti-Semitism. Unlike the ad writer who, like so many others on the left, smears ideological opponents, I defended Hillary Clinton, even though I have no respect for her. I defended Clinton because it was the right thing to do. And because if Jews cry wolf by calling virtually every opponent an anti-Semite, when the real anti-Semites come, no one will take us seriously. And one more thought: With our universities more hostile to identifying Jews than at any time in American history, with many young Jews fearing to wear a Star of David or a yarmulke on more and more left-wing campuses, a Jew looks pretty foolish taking out an ad in a Jewish publication to attack Ann Coulter and Dennis Prager. Dennis Pragers nationally syndicated radio talk show is heard in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) 9 a.m. to noon. His latest project is the internet-based Prager University (prageru.com).

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May 17, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Christian film ‘In Our Hands’ brings Six Day War to the big screen – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Jerusalem Post Israel News Christian film 'In Our Hands' brings Six Day War to the big screen Jerusalem Post Israel News We believe the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled the Jews are back, and Israel has been reborn, he said. The Jews have been set apart, unable to assimilate into the cultures of the dispersion and are being gathered once more to the land of … Israeli President: Christians Are Our brothers Israel Today 50 Jerusalem Facts for the 50th Anniversary of Its Reunification Algemeiner Jewish nation-state bill: Israel's precarious identity is Palestine's nightmare Arab American News National Post  – Christian Daily  – The Christian Times all 1,008 news articles »

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May 17, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Muslim cleric faces lawsuits after describing Christians and Jews as followers of corrupt beliefs – Daily News Egypt

Prominent Islamic cleric and former deputy minster in the Endowments Ministry Salem Abdel Galil faces a lawsuit accusing him of contempt of religion and threatening national unity after he claimed last Thursday that Christians and Jews follow corrupt religions and are non-believers. Members of the Egyptian parliament (MPs) announced that they have filed the lawsuit against Abdel Galil on Thursday after his remarks during an episode of his television show Muslims Ask, aired on 3 May on Al-Mehwar TV. MP Emad Gad said in press statements that Abdel Galils statements are not suitable for a phase of establishing national unity among all Egyptians. Gad added that the problem is that Abdel Galil is a prominent cleric who represents the Ministry of Endowments and that a television channel is not the right place for what he said. The MPs who filed the lawsuit against Abdel Galil are Tharwat Bakheet, Emad Gad, Mohammed Abu Hamed, Ehab Mansour, Reda Nassif, Nadia Henry, John Talaat, and Margaret Azer. Moreover, Abdel Galil is set to face a trial at the Cairo Misdemeanor Court on 24 June on charges of contempt of religion and threatening national unity, according to lawyer Naguib Gibrail who filed another lawsuit. As a reaction to his statements, Minister of Endowments Mokhtar Gomaa said on Thursday that Abdel Galil would not be allowed to lead Friday prayers unless he retracts his comments. Hassan Rateb, head of Al-Mehwar TV, said on Thursday that he canceled Abdel Galils contract with the station. Rateb offered apologies to all Christian brothers. Furthermore, the Islamic Research Complex, which is affiliated to Al-Azhar, held a meeting on Thursday, headed by Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb. It issued a statement to denounce what Abdel Galil said. The Complex said that Salem Abdel Galil represents himself and does not represent Al-Azhar, which refuses apostatising anyone. After the wave of criticism, Abdel Galil claimed in a statement published on his Facebook page that he was explaining a Quranic verse and did not mean to hurt the feelings of Christians. He added that he apologises for hurting Christians feelings but would never apologise for his religion. He explained that even if Muslims view non-Muslims as followers of corrupt religions, it does not legitimise killing them or stealing their belongings.

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May 13, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Egypt: Islamic cleric suspended from ministry after denouncing Christians and Jews – Catholic Culture

Catholic World News May 12, 2017 Egyptian authorities have suspended an Islamic preacher from public ministry, after he denounced Christians and Jews as infidels. During a television broadcast, Salem Abdel Galil referred to Christianity and Judaism as corrupt faiths, whose practitioners cannot go to heaven. His comments were roundly criticized by other Muslim leaders, who observed that his language was similar to that of radical preachers who had stirred up violence against the countrys Christian minority. In his own defense, Galil said that he believed Christians and Jews hold corrupt doctrinesjust as Christians and Jews believe that Islamic doctrines are corrupt. He declined to retract his statements. The Egyptian ministry of religious affairswhere Galil once workedannounced that the preacher could not make television broadcasts or lead public prayers until he apologized for his comments. A television station that had broadcast his sermons, issued its own apology. Galil also faces criminal charges, under a law against defamation of religious faiths. Naguib Gobrali, a Christian lawyer, filed a complaint, saying that Galils words constitute confessional defamation. A court will hear the case in June. References: Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in. All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

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May 12, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed


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