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Support for Israel

Why Israel Deserves Golan Heights

By | News and Events, Support for Israel | No Comments

President Trump recognized “Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights[1] on March 25, 2019. Not only did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu see the United States’ recognition as a tremendous victory, he also unveiled a small settlement in the Golan Heights named “Trump Heights,”2 after President Donald J. Trump only a few months later on June 16. In both instances, dissenters claimed that Israelis have no right to the territory.

The Golan Heights is considered to be “occupied Syrian land”[2] as international law states that territory cannot be taken by force nor should territory taken by force be recognized as legitimate by other states.[3] However, Israel acquired the Golan Heights in self-defense during the Six-Day War as a response to Syrian forces “firing regularly and accurately upon Israeli settlements throughout April and May of 1967.”[4] Today, Israel continues to maintain control of the Golan Heights as a strategic buffer zone on the Syrian border.

Since Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, much of the Arab world has refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of Israel, the only Jewish state in the world. In 1948, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon united to attack the newly formed state in a war known as the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Israel, despite its infancy as a state, was able to successfully repel these attacks. Emerging from this conflict victorious, Israel gained control of “about 78% of the Mandate area”[5], that is of the portion of Palestine allotted to Israelis and Palestinians by the British Mandate for Palestine.

Critics of Israel claim that following 1948, Israel called for its borders to reflect the territory they gained upon achieving victory in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948.[6] The significance of this is that this would allow Israel to maintain more territory than was originally allotted to them in the United Nations Partition Plan of 1947. Nonetheless, Israel was willing to take necessary measures to pursue peace by giving back to their aggressors the land they won in the war of self-defense.

Then again in 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser spoke about the strength and unity of Arab armies, positioned on Israeli borders, with the explicit intention of destroying the Jewish state.[7] Because of this grave threat, Israel made the difficult decision to tactically strike and destroy the Egyptian and Syrian air forces and begin a ground offensive on multiple fronts, capturing “the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.”[8]

Despite the preemptive attack, Israel was not the aggressor in the Six-Day War. Israel was encroached upon by armies of the Arab World, and its decision was indeed one of self-defense as it sought to and succeeded in silencing “the artillery that had been firing with impunity on the settlements below.”[9]

Today, Israel continues to occupy the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights provides a high ground barrier and means of protection for northern Israel against potential shelling and attacks from Syrian forces. Critics argue that underlying Israel’s expressed need for security is its “deeper desire to control the natural resources of the territory Israel occupies.”[10]  The resources referred to include Lake Tiberias and the larger part of the Jordan River, which were allotted to Palestine as laid out in the Anglo-French Agreement of 1923. However, “two of the three main rivers that feed the Jordan River”[11] lie in the Golan Heights.

Still, this accusation of ulterior motives is a political misdirection to detract from the primary reason for acquisition of the territory. Apart from these sources of water lie other options for Israel having sufficient water for its population and sustainability. These include the purchasing of fresh water from Turkey and “the building of desalination plants.”[12]

There is indeed a benefit from the natural resources of the Golan Heights, but maintaining control of natural resources is not the primary motivator, as Israel had been willing to part with the Golan Heights in exchange for peace. This offer came on June 19, 1967, when Israel offered Egypt the newly acquired Sinai Peninsula and Syria the Golan Heights in exchange for peace. Neither state accepted this offer as both were a part of the Khartoum Conference in 1967, at which the Arab League “pledged there would be no peace, no negotiations and no recognition of the Jewish state.”[13] Peace with Israel was not an option despite Israel winning a war of self-defense and being willing to part with the land it acquired from the aggressors.

Following the Yom Kippur War in October of 1973, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin agreed to a peace treaty where Israel would return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for peace. Many years later, Israel chose to disengage from Gaza where the final “Israeli soldier left Gaza”[14] on September 12, 2005. Israel had hoped that disengagement from Gaza would create a path towards peace with Palestine. As many viewed Israel’s presence in Gaza as occupation, disengaging from Gaza put an end to the nearly four-decade-long Israeli Occupation in Gaza. Israel has showed a willingness to work with its neighbors in the pursuit of peace in the region.

So why has this yet to happen for Syrians and the Golan Heights? Syria and Israel have not been able to find common ground in terms of what the proper boundaries should be. Syria insists on returning to the boundaries it held prior to the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel believes they won a war of self-defense and desires to at least adhere to the “pre-1948 borders.”[15] The real question is why Israel would decide to return the Golan Heights to Syria when Syria refused to agree to peace with Israel and previously used the Golan Heights to shell Israelis living in Northern Israel? It would not.

While Israel acquired the Golan Heights as an act of self-defense and still needs it as a continued border of self-defense, peace will require compromise on both sides of the aisle. Syria must realize it may not be plausible for them to receive every inch of territory they lost in the Six-Day War. Not only did Syria seek the annihilation of the Jewish state, they also denied Israel’s offer to return the Golan Heights in exchange for peace following the Six-Day War. Because of this, the international community should recognize Israel’s acquisition of the Golan Heights as being necessary to Israel’s survival and indeed to their very existence.

Join with Concerned Women for America as we pray for Israel’s protection and stand with Israel in support of their national sovereignty and control of the Golan Heights. May God bless Israel.

___

[1] Romo, V. (2019, March 25). Trump Formally Recognizes Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights. Retrieved June, 2019, from https://www.npr.org/2019/03/25/706588932/trump-formally-recognizes-israeli-sovereignty-over-golan-heights

2 Lieber, D. (2019, June 16). Israel Unveils New Settlement in Disputed Golan Heights Named ‘Trump Heights’. Retrieved June, 2019, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/israel-unveils-new-settlement-in-disputed-golan-heights-named-trump-heights-11560712629

[3] Kontorovich, E. (2009). International Responses to Territorial Conquest. Retrieved June, 2019, from https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/facultyworkingpapers/180/ , p. 1

[4] Reisman, M. (1970). The Art of the Possible: Diplomatic Alternatives in the Middle East. Retrieved July 19, 2019 from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x11c6.9 , p. 62

[5] (n.d.). Retrieved July 25, 2019, from https://mfa.gov.il/mfa/aboutisrael/maps/pages/1949-1967 armistice lines.aspx

[6] Slater, J. (2002). Lost Opportunities for Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Israel and Syria, 1948-2001 Retrieved from: http://jstor.org/stable/3092153 , p. 84-86

[7] (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sixdaywar.org/content/threats.asp

Referring to quote from: Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser on “May, 30, 1967 after signing a defense pact with Jordan’s King Hussein”

[8] Britannica, T. E. (2019, May 29). Six-Day War. Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.britannica.com/event/Six-Day-War

[9] Reisman, M. (1970). The Art of the Possible: Diplomatic Alternatives in the Middle East. Retrieved July 19, 2019 from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x11c6.9 , p. 61

[10] Agha, Z. (2019, March 26). What’s Driving Israeli Claims to the Golan Heights? Retrieved June, 2019, from https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/israel/2018-11-01/whats-driving-israeli-claims-golan-heights

[11] Slater, J. (2002). Lost Opportunities for Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Israel and Syria, 1948-2001 Retrieved from: http://jstor.org/stable/3092153 , p. 83

[12] Slater, J. (2002). Lost Opportunities for Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Israel and Syria, 1948-2001 Retrieved from: http://jstor.org/stable/3092153 , p. 103

[13] Subscribe to the FT to read: Financial Times Peace is blocked by the Three Nos of Jerusalem. (2007, April 18). Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.ft.com/content/24cea230-edb5-11db-8584-000b5df10621

[14] Rynhold, J., & Waxman, D. (2008). Ideological Change and Israel’s Disengagement from Gaza. Political Science Quarterly,123(1), 11-37. doi:10.1002/j.1538-165x.2008.tb00615.x , Retrieved from: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20202970?seq=1&cid=pdf-reference#references_tab_contents , p. 11

[15] Hinnebusch, R. A. (1996). Does Syria Want Peace? Syrian Policy in the Syrian-Israeli Peace Negotiations. Journal of Palestine Studies,26(1), 42-57. Retrieved from: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2538030  , p. 53

 

Yesica Goblirsch is part of the 2019 CWA  Summer Interns Class.

House Condemns BDS, but Will Not Act on Bipartisan Sentiment to Advance Anti-Semitism Legislation

By | National Sovereignty, News and Events, Religious Liberty, Support for Israel | No Comments

This week the House expressed opposition to the anti-Semitic BDS Movement by passing H. Res. 246, “Opposing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel.” The vote on the resolution was 398-17 with 5 voting present.

This is a good first step, but further action is needed in the House for there to be any meaningful impact. The next step is to pass H.R. 336, which contains the Combatting BDS Act of 2019 and passed out of the Senate as S. 1 by a vote of 77-23 reflecting significant bipartisan support.

A resolution, H. Res or S. Res, expresses a sense or sentiment of Congress. It is a way for Congress to take a position without passing actual law. There is no action resulting from a resolution. A bill, titled H.R. or S., is legislation that if passed, becomes law—it has teeth where a resolution does not.

It is helpful that the House is on record against the BDS movement, but we need the House to do more than say BDS is bad; they need to take a stand and do something about it.

And that something is passing H.R. 336, a bill that mirrors the Senate-passed S.1, which was the top priority of the Senate in the 116th Congress. This legislation affirms states have the ability to choose not to do business with entities that participate in the BDS Movement. It provides legitimacy for states to enact anti-BDS legislation and ensure tax dollars aren’t going to entities participating in a movement that contradicts the foreign policy interests of the United States. States make their own laws regarding BDS; this just equips them to do so.

Despite the statement of opposition to BDS, Speaker Pelosi has been unwilling to bring H.R. 336 to the House floor. Republicans are using a procedural tactic called a discharge petition to try and force a vote. The petition needs a majority of the House, 218 votes, to bring H.R. 336 to the floor for a vote. It is puzzling that with 348 members opposing BDS with H. Res. 246, only 196 have signed the petition to take action and combat BDS by passing H.R. 336.

We are calling on Congress to take the next step and translate the high level of bipartisan cooperation standing against the BDS Movement into action by supporting and passing H.R. 336.  Please urge your member to sign the discharge petition opposing anti-Semitism.  Thank them if they already have.  To see the list of members who have signed, click here.

Global Rise of Anti-Semitism

By | International, News and Events, Support for Israel, United Nations | No Comments

Europe is facing a resurgence of anti-Semitism less than 75 years after the Holocaust. Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry cites a 13 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks worldwide in 2018, with the U.S., United Kingdom, France, and Germany having the highest number of occurrences.[1]

According to a CNN survey, forty-four percent of Europeans believe anti-Semitism is a growing problem in their countries with about 20 percent saying it is the result of the everyday behavior of Jewish people. This means they believe that in some way the Jews are responsible for the increase in anti-Semitism.[2] Furthermore, more than one-third of the Europeans polled had no or very little knowledge of the Holocaust, with 20% of ages 18 to 34 saying they’ve never even heard of it. Unfortunately, the same statistic is true of American millennials.

When history is forgotten, the sins of the past are repeated.

The UK, Anti-Semitism, and Labour

The United Kingdom experienced a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, the third calendar year in a row that the Community Safety Trust (CST), similar to the Anti-Defamation League, has reported a record-breaking year in anti-Semitic acts.[3]

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and the party itself have come under fire for inappropriate handling of anti-Semitism within the party and have been accused of participating, whether inadvertent or not, in anti-Semitism on and offline. The concern about Jeremy Corbyn is so significant that three rival Jewish British newspapers took unprecedented action in July of 2018 and published a joint editorial on the front page of their respective papers titled, “United We Stand”. This editorial declared, “The stain and shame of anti-Semitism has coursed through Her Majesty’s Opposition since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.”[4]

Much of their argument centered on the fact that the Labour Party, under Corbyn, has refused to fully accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism. Labour accepted the definition with very significant exceptions such as “accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to the state of Israel than their home country and requiring higher standards of behavior from Israel than other nations.”[5] Both exceptions are central to the definition of anti-Semitism. Excluding them is to undermine the very definition of anti-Semitism recognized internationally.

Nine Labour MPs (Members of Parliament) left the party in February due to Labour’s weak handling of anti-Semitism and partly due to its stance on Brexit. One of these MP’s, Luciana Berger, a British Jew, has received death threats and been the target of anti-Semitism online.[6]

Last September, while still a Labour MP, Berger needed a police escort to attend the Labour Party’s Annual conference. The Atlantic reports it was discovered six weeks later that Labour had known about a specific threat made against her by a fellow party member for six months and covered it up—keeping it from both Berger and the police. It was only revealed by a leak to the press.[7] Five months later when Berger announced her exit from the Labour Party in February 2019 at a press conference, she stated, “I cannot remain in a party that I today have come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic.”[8]

France and Violent Anti-Semitism

Just across the English Channel, France is also seeing a rise in anti-Semitism, though in a different manifestation. Joshua Safran, an American Jew and board member of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Portland, shared his experiences writing:

The last time I was in France, in the fall of 2001, I was routinely confronted by strangers yelling, “Juif, Juif!” (Jew, Jew!). On Yom Kippur, a man hurled a piece of rebar through the stained glass window of the little stone synagogue in Bastia, Corsica. The hunk of metal just missed my wife’s head. And when the services were over, we were forced to walk a gauntlet of shoving, spitting men shouting racist anti-Jewish slurs.

The anti-Semitism Safran experienced in the early 2000’s has only worsened. In 2018, France saw a staggering 89 percent increase in violent anti-Semitism and 74 percent increase in anti-Semitism overall, according to the Kantor Center report.[9]

CNN’s survey showed half of the people in France did not think they had ever socialized with a Jew. It also revealed 20 percent of people in France and Germany believe Jews have too much influence in the media, and twenty-five percent of people from those countries think Jews have too much influence on wars and conflicts.

This is not new anti-Semitism; these are the same lies and tropes resurrected.

Germany, Anti-Semitism, and BDS

The Kantor Center report also shows Germany has had a 70 percent increase in violent anti-Semitism since 2017. [10] Germany’s increase in anti-Semitism is so significant, the German anti-Semitism commissioner Felix Klein warned Jews that it may not be safe to wear a kippa (skullcap) everywhere in Germany. He has also called for additional training for police and other officials on how to specifically deal with anti-Semitic crime.[11]

During a CNN interview, Klein spoke of the history of anti-Semitism in Germany and how it is resurfacing. He said, “The word ‘Jew’ as an insult was not common in my time when I went to school. Now it is…”[12]

The German parliament stepped in a few weeks ago and passed “Decisively Oppose the BDS Movement and Fight Anti-Semitism” resolution. BDS stands for Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions. The BDS Movement is international economic warfare against Israel veiled in an argument of equal rights for Palestinians. The movement’s goal is the economic isolation of Israel by encouraging institutions, individuals, colleges, private companies, and even countries to stop investing in, trading or doing business with Israel and Israeli corporations or products.

The resolution by the German parliament strongly condemned the BDS Movement as anti-Semitic and accused the movement of using methods similar to Nazi propaganda and economic disenfranchisement of Jewish businesses.[13]One of the tactics of the BDS Movement in Germany is activists placing “Don’t Buy” stickers on Israeli products. German legislators argue this is reminiscent of the Nazi slogan “Don’t Buy From Jews!”[14]

The BDS movement is gaining traction as anti-Semitism, supported by both those on the far left and far right, seeps more and more into the mainstream both in Europe and in the United States.[15]

Closer to Home: The Threat in the U.S.

The BDS Movement that forced the German parliament to take action is spreading in the United States, especially on college campuses. And anti-Semitism is also emerging in the media both domestically and internationally.

Assaults on American Jews more than doubled in 2018 according to a recent report by the Anti-Defamation League.[16] The number of anti-Semitic incidents are 48 percent higher than they were in 2015, and 99 percent higher than in 2015.[17] And all but four states had anti-Semitic incidents.[18]

When Joshua Safran wrote of his experiences of anti-Semitism while traveling in Europe as a practicing Jew, he was painting a picture of what he fears could be America’s future. He described how America has been a haven for Jews to worship freely and without fear.

Yet in light of the Tree of Life and Chobad of Poway synagogue shootings, Safran laments the potential loss of this exceptional and historic freedom of worship for Jews in the United States.  He fears the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States puts America on the path of Europe writing:

I was used to being harassed, abused and put in danger when I prayed in synagogues abroad. Never did I think America would become just as dangerous.[19]

The editorial board of The New York Times recently called itself to account for the anti-Semitic cartoon published in its international edition. In a piece titled, “A Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism” the board addressed their concern that The New York Times had not learned lessons from its own history, confessing “In the 1930’s and 1940’s, The Times was largely silent as anti-Semitism rose up and bathed the world in blood”. They went on to warn the cartoon “is evidence of profound danger—not only of anti-Semitism but of numbness to its creep, to the insidious way this ancient, enduring prejudice is once again working itself into public view and common conversation.”[20]

There is nothing new under the sun– Europe is traversing down the dangerous road of anti-Semitism with America not far behind. Holocaust survivors still living, now bear witness to the reincarnation of the rhetoric and hate that precipitated historic bloodshed and plunged the world into war less than a century ago.

Some may argue the data presented represents a minority, albeit a large one, rather than majority opinion. But without education and action, that minority will grow. One in five millennials in both Europe and the United States have little to no knowledge of the Holocaust. Two generations from World War II and memories are fading.

Therein lies the point– we forget our history. It is the hateful few, unchallenged and unchecked by society, who infect the heart of a nation.  We must not stand idly by.

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-antisemitism/anti-semitic-attacks-rise-worldwide-in-2018-led-by-us-west-europe-study-idUSKCN1S73M1

[2] https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2018/11/europe/antisemitism-poll-2018-intl/

[3] https://cst.org.uk/news/blog/2019/02/07/antisemitic-incidents-report-2018

[4] https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/voice-of-the-jewish-news-united-we-stand/

[5] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-45030552

[6] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-45030552

[7] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/corbyn-and-anti-semitism-files/586990/

[8] https://www.vox.com/world/2019/3/8/18249953/uk-labour-party-anti-semitism-jeremy-corbyn-juliana-berger

[9] http://www.kantorcenter.tau.ac.il/sites/default/files/Antisemitism%20Worldwide%202018.pdf

[10] http://www.kantorcenter.tau.ac.il/sites/default/files/Antisemitism%20Worldwide%202018.pdf

[11] https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/26/europe/germany-antisemitism-kippah-intl-scli-ger/index.html

[12] Ibid.

[13] https://www.wsj.com/articles/growing-international-movement-to-boycott-israel-is-condemned-by-germany-11558108099?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1

[14] Ibid.

[15] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-antisemitism/anti-semitic-attacks-rise-worldwide-in-2018-led-by-us-west-europe-study-idUSKCN1S73M1

[16] https://www.adl.org/news/press-releases/anti-semitic-incidents-remained-at-near-historic-levels-in-2018-assaults

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2019/05/03/poway-synagogue-anti-semitic-jewish-shooting-column/3649866002/

[20] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/30/opinion/cartoon-nytimes.html

Anti-Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Language Fails to Pass in the House

By | International, News and Events, Press Releases, Support for Israel | No Comments

This afternoon an attempt to add anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) language to H.R. 1994, a retirement enhancement act, was narrowly defeated in the U.S. House with a vote of 200 to 222. Though bipartisan, the vote was largely along party lines with only 12 Democrats joining the Republicans in support. Anti-BDS language within this legislation would end foreign tax breaks for companies who boycott Israel. Shea Garrison, Concerned Women for America’s Vice President of International Affairs had this to say:

“At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise all around the world, it is a travesty that the U.S. House is unable to unite to support Israel, our most critical ally in the Middle East. Make no mistake, BDS is anti-Semitic. The founders of the BDS Movement have been explicitly clear: The BDS Movement opposes the very existence of Israel, or any Jewish state.

Although H.R. 1994 passed without the anti-BDS language, 12 Democrats and the majority of Republicans chose to stand with Israel, voting to send H.R. 1994 back to committee to ensure American’s don’t pay for foreign tax breaks of companies who engage in anti-Israel activity. However, those same 12 Democrats have yet to sign the petition to release the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East (SASME) Act of 2019, which contains the Combatting BDS Bill of 2019, to the House floor for a vote. An identical bill passed in the Senate with strong, bi-partisan support; yet Speaker Pelosi has blocked this legislation from getting a vote on the House floor.

Concerned Women for America calls on those same members who supported the anti-BDS motion today to immediately sign the discharge petition and get SASME to the House floor for a vote.

It is in America’s national interest to stand strong against anti-Semitic BDS. Support for Israel should be a non-partisan issue with complete bi-partisan cooperation. We ask the House to come together and condemn anti-Semitism in all forms.”

CWA Stands in Solidarity with Jewish Communities across the Nation

By | Blog, News and Events, Press Releases, Support for Israel | No Comments

Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, eleven people were murdered and six more were wounded in a senseless act of violence against a Jewish community in Pittsburgh. This shooting in a synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood was a blatant act of anti-Semitism.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America issued the following statement in response: 

“Today, the over 500,000 Concerned Women for America’s activist supporters around our nation join hearts and hands with the nation’s Jewish communities. We are deeply saddened by this evil attack. We pledge our love, prayers, and support and will continue to fight anti-Semitism, especially on college campuses though our over 40 (and growing) Young Women for America chapters. This Sunday, we call on Christians everywhere to make your support known to your local Jewish communities so that they know love abounds.”

 


For an interview with Penny Nance, contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.

YWA in Israel: Gaza and Tel Aviv (Days 9 & 10)

By | Blog, News and Events, Support for Israel, Uncategorized | No Comments

DAY 9

This was one of the most impactful visits for our bus! We drove from Jerusalem to the border of the Gaza Strip and toured Nativa Elseron, a Kibbutz right on the border.

A woman from the community, Ronni, shared her story and the realities of living on the border with constant threats, bomb shelters, and missile alarms. On our way to visit with Ronni, we walked past a children’s daycare. Toddlers played outside as Ronni explained the reason for the layout of the play area and the system for gathering children inside when there are security threats. It was sobering to understand the reality of their life. Many of our girls raised the question, “Why do you stay here?” Their response, “Why would we leave? This is our home.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Israel is a small nation, and there aren’t many places to which you can run. The Israelis who live in the border towns near Gaza are not willing to uproot their lives and allow Hamas terrorists to win. They have adjusted. They rely on excellent Israeli security, the Iron Dome, and the Israeli Defense Forces to keep them safe. They understand that there is risk to living there. In actuality, they explained how their daily lives are similar to Israelis across Israel. Walking through their Kibbutz and driving in the bus, it was easy to understand their point of view that day. It was a beautiful sunny day with no threats from across the border. Kids were playing outside, and moms were sitting on their porches. It was a normal day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the flip side of the same coin, Sderot, the city where we were, is different from other cities in Israel. In Sderot, it is hard to look around without seeing a bomb shelter. At first you might not see it, but that bus stop is a shelter and so is the play structure at the playground. This is an area where when the siren goes off, you have eight seconds to find shelter. Israel has made sure that bomb shelters are abundant. Each house is equipped with one room that acts as a shelter. This is their reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our young ladies were thankful for the opportunity to tour this area, meet Ronni and tour this Kibbutz. Because of fire kites sent from Gaza to ravage the Israeli border towns and intense rocket fire from Hamas that has significantly increased this summer, we were one of the few buses who were cleared to visit Sderot on their tour.

 

DAY 10

We spent our last full day in Tel Aviv before flying out late that night to the United States. We toured Jaffa, the port from which Jonah fled, and the House of Simon. We also visited Independence Hall where Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948. We sat in the room and listened to recordings of David Ben-Gurion pronouncing the establishment of the State of Israel.

The 10 days spent in Israel were FULL, a little exhausting, but absolutely life-changing. Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and followed along!

Here are some closing thoughts from participants:

“From being baptized in the same river where Jesus was baptized to floating in the Dead Sea, sailing on the Sea of Galilee, reading the Scripture in the land where the stories took place, praying and crying at the Western Wall, observing traditional and modern Israeli culture, visiting the Garden Tomb where Jesus was buried and where He rose again, learning about the geopolitical issues that plague the region, worshipping in Jerusalem, and making new best friends, Israel was an absolute dream! I embarked on this journey to discover the roots of my faith, and I left having accomplished that and so much more. I was blessed to grow not only in my faith, but in my role as a leader and advocate for the peace of Israel. I am in awe of the resilience of this nation and its people, and I am eternally grateful to have been a part of God’s story in the Holy Land.” Brittany McMillian, YWA Chapter member, University of Alabama

“When I first heard about the YWA trip to Israel, I was instantly interested and had a desire to go; however, I thought that I would just forget about it and never follow through. Fast forward to the day that the application was due, I found out the cost of the trip, the details of the schedule, and that three of my best friends had decided to apply. I had gotten the “okay” from my parents to apply, and the only thing that was holding me back from attending the trip was an overwhelming sense of fear and worry. I was fearful of going to a country with such controversy, fearful of traveling there, and was feeling as if the Lord was telling me that this trip might not be for me. I prayed about it and went to a worship night on campus to gain some clarity and realized that fear and worry are not of the Lord; they are from Satan. I realized that only fruitful and glorifying things for the Lord would occur from a trip to Israel, and that I was letting Satan get ahold of me. With only about 10 minutes left until the deadline, I quickly submitted my application, and am so grateful I did. This trip to Israel blessed me in so many ways, and I had the most incredible experience learning more about who Jesus is and taking some of His very same steps in the Holy Land. I grew in my relationship with Him and was constantly encouraged and inspired by the amazing group leaders and other girls on the trip. It truly was an experience of a lifetime!” Olivia Szolack, YWA participant, Liberty University

“My time in Israel changed my life. From picking up rocks at the Sea of Galilee to visiting the peace wall along the Gaza Strip, I learned so much about all that has happened and is happening there. Coming home I brought with me a bag of Israeli snacks, but also a passion for Israel and all of its people! I will never stop praying for the Israeli people, especially the ones that had such a huge impact on me while I was there. And to the amazing girls I got to travel with; each one of you taught me so much about life and friendship. I am so, so blessed. The past eleven days have given me memories that I will carry with me forever. Thank you to each person who poured into me during this trip; our God is real. He is alive! And we all got to walk in His holy land! I am so thankful.” Abby Voggenreiter, YWA member, Liberty University

YWA in Israel: Patriarchs, Kings, Prophets and the Jewish State (Days 7 & 8)

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DAY 7: Patriarchs, Kings, Prophets

Our morning began in the historic Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. It encapsulates exactly what you picture Jerusalem to be. Compared to the other quarters in the Old City, it is calm and quiet while simultaneously bustling and full of life.

We walked through the City of David, parts of which are still being excavated, and trekked through Hezekiah’s tunnel. Hezekiah’s tunnel was carved during the reign of Hezekiah to allow water to go from one side of the city to the other. It is considered one of the greatest works of water engineering in the pre-classical period.

The water from Hezekiah’s tunnel fed into the Siloam pool where Jesus healed the blind man. We did a little interpretive Bible story reading with Dr. Allen Quine, Vice President of International Relations at Museum of the Bible, before heading back to the hotel to hear from our speakers for the night, David Nekrutman and Steven Khouri.

“Traveling to, and through, The City of David as well as the Jewish Quarter was yet another piece of the Bible coming to life. The Jewish Quarter is unlike any other quarter in Israel. It is pristine, full of beautiful shops and, of course, lots of history. Later we traveled to the City of David. Overlooking the City of David and knowing where David resided and the things he did makes the Bible come to life. You truly realize David was no different than any other man; his heart was full of sin just as is ours. God does not call the perfect to lead, He instead perfects the called and that is such a beautiful thing to be remembered.  From the lookout before entering the tunnels, you see this beautiful view of limestone buildings and land that goes as far as the eye can see; you see the beauty that is Israel. From there we traveled through the tunnels known as “Hezekiah’s Tunnels”; it is as if you are traveling back in time walking through these tunnels carved so long ago. These experiences added a new perspective to my life for which I am forever grateful.” Alixanne Kramer, YWA President, Tucson, Arizona Chapter

 

DAY 8: The Jewish State

There weren’t many pictures from day eight as we spent it at two museums and ended with another speaker.

We were given the opportunity to go to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum which is recognized as the most impactful holocaust museum in the world. It was an incredibly sobering experience.

“As a self-proclaimed history buff, I thought I had learned all there was to know about the Holocaust. And yes, I did know most of the statistics, facts, and numbers, but it wasn’t until visiting Yad Vashem that I learned what the Holocaust truly means to the people whom it affected. Instead of numbers, I saw brothers, sisters, friends, mommies and daddies. I heard their beautiful stories of survival and sorrow. I felt a tiny fraction of the hole this tragedy left in a people already so scarred, but I also felt the hope and resilience of that same people. After each exhibit, the design of the building allows you to see the sunshine coming through the floor-to-ceiling window at the end of the hall. After each horror, you are able to see the light waiting for you, just as the Jewish people always do. Yad Vashem is not just a museum or a memorial. It is the embodiment of a people whose hope comes from the Lord and can, therefore, never be taken from them.” Ashley Henson, YWA Chapter President, University of Alabama

After Yad Vashem, we headed to the Israel Museum, Israel’s National Museum where portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls are on display.

Our day ended with a speaker, Rami Nazzal, who is a Palestinian journalist. Learning and understanding differing perspectives was a key component of our trip. Israel is a diverse nation with diverse opinions, religions, and cultures. To go to Israel and only hear one point of view would not be an accurate portrayal of the only democracy in that part of the world. Because of that, we were so thankful to have the opportunity to hear the Palestinian perspective.

“One of the highlights of our trip was getting to explore the complications of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Each night, we heard from a diverse set of speakers who further expanded our understanding. A particular speaker who stood out to me was Rami Nazzal. Rami is a Palestinian journalist who speaks to the experiences of Palestinian people in the land. When it comes to developing a political stance on any issue, I think it is crucial to fully explore both perspectives, as we know it is people’s personal narratives that have shaped their perspective of the world. Rami shared with us “the other side” of the conflict, particularly through narratives of Palestinians living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas’ control. On the forefront of his lecture was the failing economy of the West Bank and Gaza. Similar to what I had learned in prior Terrorism classes in school, Rami believed that the failing economy was a main contributing factor to the radicalization of terrorists. This point of his lecture raised various questions about proposed solutions; particularly, is it the responsibility of Israel to intervene? Has Israel done too much already? A particular point of Rami’s argument that stood out to me was when a student asked him about his view of the BDS movement. Coming from a campus where the student government passed BDS, I was familiar with the issue, but surprised at what Rami had to say regarding it.  He said that while BDS might seem like a good idea to people who support Palestine, in reality, it hurts Palestinians more than helps. He gave the example of a Palestinian manufacturing employee working for an Israeli company; at the end of the day, divestment would be hurting the Palestinian man working on the manufacturing line before it would hurt the CEO. I am grateful to have heard from Rami and even more grateful that Israel’s commitment to democracy allowed for this type of dialogue to occur in the Middle East. The conflict is complex, even more so than I initially thought; however it is these types of discussion that need to occur so we can see peace in the land!” Alba Ibraj, YWA Chapter President, University of Michigan

YWA in Israel 2018

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We are back from our 10-day trip to the Holy Land! If this is the first time you’re reading about our trip, we partnered with an organization called Passages and took 34 of our Young Women for America leaders to Israel! It was absolutely incredible in every way possible. Each of us are returning back to the U.S. changed. God worked in the hearts of our Young Women for America leaders, and it was a true blessing to watch their eyes and hearts open and transform. Each day was packed full of tours, sites, and speakers giving us a comprehensive overview of Israel.

Here’s an outline to our trip and feedback from a few of our leaders!

Day 1 “In the Beginning”

We arrived in Israel after a long 18+ hours of sitting in airports, security, and flying. When we landed, we drove straight to Caesarea! We were able to learn about and explore King Herod’s old palace, see what’s left of this ancient city and how they use it today! We stayed in a hotel right on the Mediterranean Sea in Netanya that night; it was beautiful!

Day 2 “Home Town of Jesus”

We visited Alfei Menashe, a town overlooking the West Bank. We explored the archeological site of Tel Shimron in the Jezreel Valley. Then we went to Nazareth, Jesus’ childhood home, where we visited the museum, the old village, had an authentic Nazarene lunch, and toured the Church of Annunciation. We ended the day at Mount Precipice, where you can see Mount Carmel, Mount Tabor, and the Valley of Armageddon. Then we drove to the Sea of Galilee and stayed at a hotel right by the water! Amazing!

Day 3 “Neighbors to the North”

We traveled to Jish, a northern town in Israel, where the Christian minority Aramaic Maronite church meets, one of the highlights of our trip! The pastor, Shadi Khalloul, met with us and shared his heart to protect their heritage and give a voice to his people, and about the persecution that Christians in the Middle East face. He also taught us the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, the language in which Jesus prayed it. We then visited the Golan Heights, which overlooks the borders of Lebanon and Syria. The United Nations has a station of soldiers there to whom some of our YWA leaders talked and asked questions. We ended the day at Caesarea Philippi and with an incredible speaker, Dr. Feydra Shapiro, who discussed what she wished Christians and Jews knew about each other.

Day 4 “Ministry of Jesus”

We spent this entire day around the Sea of Galilee. The first site was the excavation and remains of the town of Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene. They have a beautiful church there with amazing mosaics; we sang “Amazing Grace” together in the dome. Second, we went to the Mount of Beatitudes. Janae led a devotional about the Sermon on the Mount, and the girls were given time to reflect and spend some time with God. Third, we traveled back down to the shore of the Sea to Tabgha. I (Kelsey) was able to lead our group through Jesus’ shore miracles. As we sat on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, we were able to envision Jesus feeding the 4,000 men and then appearing to His disciples after the Resurrection. From there we went to Capernaum, discussed some of Jesus’ teachings there, and saw the excavation site.  Before boarding a boat at the Sea of Galilee, some of us enjoyed a traditional “Saint Peter’s Fish” lunch right on the shore! While we were on the boat, we reflected on Jesus calming the storm and walking on water. (So cool!) From the Sea of Galilee, we went to the Jordan River, where 19 of the girls were baptized — five of them for the first time!

Day 5 “Desert Day”

We went to Masada, which is the part-natural, part-manmade fortress that Herod the Great created in 37 A.D.  It was attacked by Rome in 73 A.D. after the Romans destroyed the Temple. From there, we went to the archeological site at Qumeran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  We had lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon floating in the Dead Sea! After some mud baths and the saltiest bath ever, we got ready for Shabbat. We welcomed Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath) at the Western Wall with hundreds of Jewish men and women. We were then hosted by different Jewish families for a traditional Shabbat dinner. We were able to experience what these dedicated religious families do every Friday.

Day 6 “New Covenant”

This was our “Jesus Day.” We started at the Mount of Olives, which is the most beautiful view of Jerusalem. From there we walked down to the Garden of Gethsemane, read Jesus’ prayers in the garden, and took time to reflect. We then entered the city of Jerusalem and walked the “Via Dolorosa,” ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We ended the day at the Garden Tomb, with a time of reflection, worship, and communion. Personally, this was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Whether this is the exact place that Jesus was buried and resurrected (while there is reason to believe it is), the truth of what Jesus has done remains the same and more real to us after this site.

Day 7 “Patriarchs, Kings, Prophets”

It was “Old City” day, where we toured each quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem. We started at Mount Zion and visited the location believed to be the “upper room” where Jesus and the disciples had the Last Supper. Next, we visited the City of David, archaeological site of ancient Jerusalem of the pre-Babylonian era, including the overlook where David would have seen Bathsheba.  We then toured the Southern wall excavation, Hezekiah’s underground water tunnel and water reservoir.  We finished the day at the Siloam pools, where Jesus healed the blind man.

Day 8 “The Jewish State”

This was a sobering day, as we spent the morning at Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum and memorial.  In the afternoon, we went to the Israeli Museum which houses a model of old Jerusalem and the Dead Sea Scrolls. That evening, we heard from a female soldier in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). This was another highlight for our leaders who asked many questions and stayed after to speak with her one-on-one.

Day 9 “Neighbors to the South”

We drove from Jerusalem to the border of the Gaza Strip and toured Nativa Elseron, a Kibbutz right on the border. A woman named Ronni shared her story and the realities of living on the border with constant threats, bomb shelters, and missile alarms. This was one of the most impactful and intense visits for our group; we were one of the few tour buses able to make this stop. There had been fires in the area from kites sent over from Gaza the week before and rocket fire the next week. It was eye-opening to see firsthand the tension at the border, the fear that is their reality. “Why would we leave? This is our home,” was a common answer to the question “Why do you stay here?”

Day 10 “Tel Aviv Day”

We spent our last full day in Tel Aviv, before flying out late that night to the United States. We toured Jaffa, the port from which Jonah fled, and the House of Simon. We also visited Independence Hall, where Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948. We sat in the room and listened to recordings of David Ben-Gurion pronouncing the establishment of the State of Israel.

As you can tell, this trip was FULL, a little exhausting, but absolutely amazing. I left out so many details, speakers, and shorter visits, but I think you get the gist. Thank you for praying for us! Check out our @YWforA Instagram, the #YWAinIsrael2018 hashtag on Instagram, and our Young Women for America page on Facebook for more photos! Here are some thoughts from our leaders:

Ashley Henson, YWA President at the University of Alabama:

“How could I ever begin to describe the 10 days that changed my life forever? This land and its people have touched my life in countless ways. I watched as the pages of the Bible came to life before me, and God revealed Himself to me through every place and person. I felt His presence like I never have before, and I left with an indescribable peace that I never imagined I could feel.  I went on this trip expecting to find a nation ravaged by years of war, a people exhausted from constant tension. Instead, I found a nation of joy. Every person I encountered, no matter their religion or nationality, greeted me with a smile and a joke. Despite the conflict in the region, hope lives on in the people who call Israel home.

“I pray that hope never fades. I pray that we, as Americans, can one day feel even a fraction of that hope for our nation. I pray that we never take for granted the freedom and security we are blessed with. and I pray that we never forget those who struggle around the world for the same freedom and security.”

Valeria Tkacik, YWA President at Ave Maria University:

“My Israel experience was more than great; it was life changing. From Nazareth to the Western Wall, I felt God’s presence everywhere I went. When I shared a smile or a laugh with any of my YWA members, I knew that I shared that moment with Jesus Himself. I cannot wait to see how God blesses these girls’ lives! So thankful to travel to the Holy Land with my concerned women!!

“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.” ~ St. Augustine of Hippo

Abby Voggenreiter, YWA member at Liberty University:

“My time in Israel changed my life. From picking up rocks in the Sea of Galilee to visiting the peace wall along the Gaza Strip, I learned so much about all that has happened and is happening there. Coming home I brought with me a bag of Israeli snacks, but also a passion for Israel and all of its people! I will never stop praying for the Israeli people, especially the ones that had such a huge impact on me while I was there (Efrat!!). And to the amazing girls I got to travel with; each one of you taught me so much about life and friendship. I am so, so blessed. The past eleven days have given me memories that I will carry with me forever. Thank you to each person who poured into me during this trip; our God is real. He is alive! And we all got to walk in His holy land! I am so thankful.”

 

 

 

YWA in Israel: Days 3 & 4

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DAY 3

We started day three in a town called Jish in the Upper Galilee where we heard from Shadi Khalloul, an Aramean Christian Maronite Israeli. He is the founder and chairman of the Israeli Christian Aramaic Association and spokesperson for the Christian Israel Defense Forces Officers Forum. He previously served as a lieutenant in a paratrooper division of the IDF and today is a captain in the IDF reserves. Shadi loves his community, his heritage, his homeland, and serves the Lord and everyone around him by seeking unity between Christians, Jews, and other communities. Among many issues that he tackles, Shadi is currently working to revive the Aramean identity that has been stifled by centuries of persecution. We were hosted in the town that he is working to rebuild, in an Aramean church, where he showed us 350-year-old Aramean Bibles, and taught us to say the Lord’s prayer in Aramaic. His passion for his people and zeal for unity is contagious. Shadi has visited CWA headquarters in the past to share about the work he is doing in Israel and we were excited to be there visiting him in his home. Many girls talked about the fact that he was one of their favorite speakers!

From there we traveled to the Golan Heights, an area of land recaptured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. When you stand on Mt. Ben Tal in the Golan you look out at see where Lebanon, Israel, and Syria meet.

“Surveying the Golan Heights this past June was a surreal experience. It has been a disputed territory since before Israel’s supernatural victory in the six-day war. Standing at the observation point made me feel so small, as I stood on the border and looked into Syria and Lebanon. I felt safe traveling with Passages, with the IDF and other tourists all around. However, seeing the UN peacekeepers at their posts in the Golan Heights made the reality of where I was sink in. There was a reason for their presence, and a reason there were so many soldiers around. As an American who has never truly seen or felt the effects of war, it is easy to have a false sense of security when traveling around Israel. But the people of Israel live their lives on defense because of what they have endured in the past and continue to endure today.  Visiting the disputed territory was an incredible reminder of the power of God and His love for Israel and its people.” – Rachel Prusak, former Communications Officer, and now alumni, of the YWA Liberty University Chapter

That night we heard from a Jewish speaker, Dr. Faydra Shapiro. Coming full circle from our morning with Shadi, Dr. Faydra addressed the importance of Jewish-Christian relations from a Jewish standpoint.

“Hearing Dr. Faydra Shapiro speak was an incredible opportunity to understand how Jews and Christians view and relate to each other. Her talk explained what Jews and Christians should know in order to foster a fruitful and respectful engagement between the two groups of people. The points Dr. Shapiro brought to my attention gave me a new insight to understanding the Jewish people. The most impactful points were that the Jewish people are suffering from post-traumatic stress and how evangelism alienates the Jewish people. The Jews have been persecuted throughout history. This history of persecution will not allow the Jews to feel too safe or comfortable with their current situation. After all, one of the safest places to be Jewish was Germany before World War II. This is one of the reasons Jews may seem reserved or guarded when approached with a conversation about faith. We also discussed how many Jews are uncomfortable with Christianity because they do not know enough about it as they do not need to have an understanding of Christianity in order to practice their faith. The same thing cannot be said for Christians. The roots of our faith lie in the Jewish Bible and in order to have a better understanding of our faith we need to have at the very list a minimal knowledge about Judaism.” – Marija Pritchard, member of the YWA

DAY 4

Today was one of our busiest days. We were on the go from breakfast to dinner!

Our morning started at Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene. From there we went up to the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus taught his counter-cultural Sermon on the Mount. Janae Stracke, CWA National Field Director, led the devotions reading from Matthew 5, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

We spent time in Capernaum studying the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and miracles on the Galilee, had a traditional lunch right on water’s edge, and took a Cruise on the Sea of Galilee.

“One of the most memorable parts of the trip for me was being on the Sea of Galilee. Our group cast our burdens into the Sea and let God take them from us. When doing this, I prayed that these constant lies that I had been feeding myself for so long would no longer have any power over me and that these hateful words and thoughts would no longer be in my mind. Once I finished praying and threw my rock (representing these burdens) into the sea, I began to cry, not because I was sad, but because I felt liberated. I felt the burdens I carried for so long finally leave. This is something I will never forget.” – Annie Martinez, YWA Chapter President at Stephen F. Austin State University

We ended the day at the Jordan River where 19 girls chose to be baptized. Five of them were baptized for the first time, and as we gathered together on our last day in Israel to remember our favorite portions, a number of girls who were baptized took this away as the highlight of their time in Israel.

YWA in Israel

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DAY 1

Everyone was tired when we landed in Israel, but our excitement trumped our lack of sleep! We landed around noon and headed straight to Ceasarea, a town on Israel’s Mediterranean Coast. Ceasarea was a magnificent port city built by Herod the Great. The 2000-year old Roman Amphitheatre, the city’s center of entertainment, still stands and is used today. We actually sat inside while a band set-up for a concert that night.

Ceasarea is breathtaking. It was our first glimpse of the Mediterranean before we got to our hotel that night which was right on the beach.

Photos by Annabelle Rutledge, CWA Communications Coordinator and Alixanne Kramer, YWA Tucson Chapter President

DAY 2

In the morning we visited Alfei Menashe, a town overlooking the West Bank and took a tour of an archeological site, Tel Shimron, in the Jezreel Valley. From there we went to Nazareth, Jesus’ childhood home. We visited a museum, toured the old village of Nazareth, had an authentic Nazarene lunch and toured the Church of Annunciation. We ended the day at Mount Precipice. This is the cliff where Jesus passed through the crowds who attempted to throw him off the edge. (Luke 4:16-30)

Photos by Alixanne Kramer, YWA Tucson Chapter President

“The grounds of the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth were remarkable.  I marveled at the beautiful mosaics along the walls, which showcased different depictions of Jesus’ Mother from around the world. Once I entered the basilica, I began to contemplate how impactful Mary’s ‘yes,’ or fiat in Latin, was to the life of Christ.  By Jesus calling her ‘woman,’ she became the ‘New Eve’ whose ‘yes’ to Gabriel overcame Eve’s ‘yes’ to the serpent in the Garden of Eden.” -Valeria Tkacik, former YWA Chapter President, now alumni, of Ave Maria University

Photos by Valeria Takcik, former YWA Chapter President, now alumni, of Ave Maria University

“As I look back on our first full day touring Israel, I am touched by how fitting it was that one of the first sites we visited was the Basilica of the Annunciation. Our pilgrimage began where salvation history began all those centuries ago. It was here that Our lady’s humble and obedient ‘yes’ procured for humanity, Salvation itself, through the immaculate conception of Our Lord Jesus Christ. As I looked upon that Holy grotto where the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary, I was struck by the unassuming and lowly nature of the place. How modest and plain the spot where the Divine would make an entrance into our everyday world. This mystery is so compelling because it mirrors the interior experience of our souls, as Our Lord reveals Himself to us, though unfit and limited, and we are to then respond to His grace. And so I uttered once more, yes, to Our Lord, in that same place as did The Sweet Virgin, whose trust was so fearless and so complete in The Divine Will.” -Veronica Hays, YWA Member at George Mason University

Young Women for America Tour of Israel

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CWA had the pleasure of partnering with Passages to bring 34 of our Young Women for America campus leaders to Israel for a 10-day tour accompanied by Janae Stracke, National Field Director, Kelsey Gold, Young Women for America Coordinator, and Annabelle Rutledge, Communications Coordinator.

Each day was packed with new sites, Biblical lessons, and impactful speakers. Our YWA leaders were given a comprehensive overview of Israel – biblical, geo-political, religious, and cultural.

We had Bible studies in Gethsemane and on the Mt. of Beatitudes. We hiked Masada and swam in the Dead Sea. We toured Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Museum, and visited a kibbutz on the Gazan border.

Over the next 5 weeks, we invite you to join our 10-day tour. Each update will include two days of this amazing journey and you will also hear from some of our YWA leaders and members!

Here is why the U.S. Embassy Move is so important to American Christians

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On May 14, 1948, just after the provisional government of Israel proclaimed the new state of Israel, President Truman said: “This government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the provisional government thereof. The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel.”

In that moment, the United States made history as the first nation to recognize the legitimacy of the new state of Israel. And now, 70 years later, the U.S. is making history again as our great nation will legitimize the state of Israel, our ally and friend, by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital.

American Evangelicals are responding, “It’s about time.” Moving our Embassy to Jerusalem is a promise that was made to the American people and Israel in 1995, when Congress voted almost unanimously to locate our embassy in the nation’s capital, just as we do in every other nation in the world. May 14 will be an historic moment. We are thankful to President Trump for making good on a promise that his predecessors chose to ignore.  I am honored to represent Concerned Women for America supporters as I attend this historic event.

While the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a game changer on the world stage, it is uniquely important to American Christians.

Although imperfect, like any nation, Israel is a representation in the Middle East of the ideals and principles that we hold dear as Christians. It is much more than a political performance; it is about giving Israel the respect it deserves as a nation that is dedicated to democratic ideals.

Israel stands for human rights. Israel cares for the least of these. Israel is inclusive. Every Israeli is supported and represented, regardless of whether they are Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Christian, male or female, young or old.

Women have been an integral part of the modern state of Israel since its beginning. Golda Meir, the original “Iron Lady,” served as Minister of Labor and Foreign Minister before becoming Israel’s Prime Minister in 1969. She was Israel’s fourth Prime Minister and the third female prime minister in the world, and she led Israel during the Arab-Israeli (Yom Kippur) War.

Israel has always prioritized diversity within the Knesset, their unicameral legislative body. Minorities, including women, Arabs, and Druze, have been represented in the Knesset since its inception. Today, 33 members of the Knesset are women, and 18 members of the Knesset are Arab.

The Israeli people have proven their dedication to upholding justice and always working towards improvement.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Israel had become a destination country for trafficked women, and prostitution became a prominent issue. Because of this, in 2001, Israel was ranked as a Tier 3 country for human trafficking on the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report — the worst possible ranking. The Israeli government took definitive action against sex traffickers, working to protect women and children and bring criminals to justice. For six years in a row, Israel has been ranked a Tier 1 nation in their efforts to combat human trafficking, signaling their success in fighting this gross injustice.

Although they receive little recognition on the global stage, Israel continues to go above and beyond in their service to the world. Last summer, Israel unveiled Operation Good Neighbor, the secret operations they had been conducting in Syria to keep starvation away from thousands of Syrians while also providing free medical care. The Good Neighbor is an appropriate name for Israel.

Since its beginning as a small nation in the midst of the Middle East, Israel has been committed to wide-reaching humanitarian relief and global development. Despite the animosity from much of the world, they continue to always be a helping hand, often being the first responders to natural disasters, whether it be the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan or Hurricane Katrina in the United States.

In 2016, the United Nation’s World Health Organization recognized the Israeli Army’s field hospital as “number one in the world.” The U.N. has been known for having a negative attitude towards Israel, but they could not ignore the humanitarian efforts of Israel. Their army field hospital is regularly sent abroad to provide aid at natural disaster sites. Israel was its first and, so far, it’s only “Type 3” field hospital — the highest rank that can be received.

The United States is making history with this embassy move.  Once again, we hope to see others around the world do the right thing and follow our lead.

 

Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published by FoxNews.com. Click here to read it.

U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem

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Washington D.C. — Today marks the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, issued the following statement:

“Today is an historic moment — not just in Israeli history or American history, but in the history of the world. Today, the U.S. Embassy in Israel is open in Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital.

“America has a history of defying the naysayers and standing by our principles in defending our ally, Israel. Seventy years ago, President Truman made history when he recognized the State of Israel just 11 minutes after the provisional government of Israel announced its statehood. Today, America has again made history under the leadership of President Trump.

“This has been an issue of importance to Concerned Women for America from the beginning.

“Thank you, President Trump, for making good on your promise to the American people, to Israel, and for paving the way for other nations to follow our example.”

 


For an interview with Penny Nance, contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.

CWA Supports Historic Events Strengthening U.S.-Israeli Relations

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Last week, Concerned Women for America joined in celebrating Israel’s friendship with the Christian community at the sixteenth annual Christian Solidarity Event at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.  The celebration coincides with three major events surrounding U.S.-Israeli relations that were the main topics of discussion: Israel’s celebration of 70 years of the State of Israel and Jewish independence, President Trump’s historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the president’s announcement that the U.S. will pull out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. In addition to the Christian community, among those in attendance at the embassy were Counselor to the President of the U.S., Kellyanne Conway, Ambassador of Israel H.E. Ron Dermer, and the Reverend William Graham, grandson of the late evangelist Billy Graham.

After the crowd in attendance sang The Star Spangled Banner and the Hatikvah (Israeli National Anthem meaning “The Hope”), Rev. William Graham opened the event in prayer. Then, Kellyanne Conway spoke about why investing in relations with Israel was personally important to her as a Catholic woman whose faith was founded on “Judeo-Christian principles.” In her role as Counselor to the President, she highlighted why Israel is vitally important to the U.S., citing our shared values of democracy and freedom and calling Israel the greatest ally to the U.S. in the Middle East.  She then called President Trump “a man of action in a town of talk” as the first U.S. president to act on his promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move which symbolizes our acknowledgement of Israel as a nation state. She also underscored the dangers of the Iran Nuclear Deal to the U.S. and to Israel, a deal which President Trump declared “defective at its core” and announced the U.S. “termination of participation” in and withdrawal from on May 8.

Ambassador Dermer continued in this vein, praising President Trump for the upcoming move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem and pointing out that Israelis are not foreigners to this land as some have declared, but inhabited Jerusalem before Christ — King David having written psalms in Jerusalem three thousand years ago. He then focused on the Iran Nuclear Deal, saying the “insane” deal had damaged Israel’s national security and helps no one — not the U.S. and not Israel — no one, in fact, except for Iran, who refuses to recognize Israel as a nation and whose leaders have vowed Israel’s destruction.

Next week on May 14, Concerned Women for America CEO and President Penny Nance will attend the opening of the Embassy of the United States in Jerusalem at the invitation of Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, on behalf of you, our members. We are proud to support Israel and participate in such an historic event that will have lasting significance in the Middle East and on the strength of U.S.-Israeli relations. Please pray for wisdom and protection as CWA joins with U.S. leaders in Israel and for the continued support of a safe and prosperous Israeli nation.

 

CWA in California

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CWA at University of California, Berkeley

CWA’s Communications Coordinator, Annabelle Rutledge, and CWA’s National Field Director, Janae Stracke, were able to set up a meeting with the Vice President of the College Republicans on Berkeley’s campus in Oakland. Anti-Semitism has been on the rise on college campuses, and we had hoped to be a resource to students as they engage their peers in dialogue. This meeting was intended to find out what the greatest need is and to assess what CWA’s role could be.

The student with whom we met has himself been attacked on campus several times and every day has a target on his back for his conservative views. Other students will tweet his location so he can be targeted. He was incredibly grateful and encouraged by CWA’s interest and support.  He was also able to connect us with the only two outspoken conservative professors on campus and students at other universities, such as Stanford and San Francisco State. He invited us to speak at one of their meetings and gave a lot of insight on Berkeley regulations for tabling and demonstrations. We were surprised at how easy it is for groups, even groups not affiliated with the campus, to table on UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza. The key to success being large, eye-grabbing banners and pop-ups, a plethora of materials for both hanging up and handing out, as well as support for students who are opening themselves up to persecution from their peers by standing for their beliefs.

CWA on the ground in Montecito, California

Last week our latest Prayer Action Chapter co-leaders, Joy Bohlinger and Naomi Van Wyk hosted an event in Montecito, California, which drew around 50 women from the surrounding area! Each one of these women are God-fearing world changers ready to fight for their values. Each woman has a unique circle of influence—whether it is as the wife of a prominent pastor, connections to Hollywood elites, a background in the policy realm, or a mother in a homeschool group.

We spent time worshipping before showing a few videos and giving them an overview of Concerned Women for America.  We closed the event by going over action items and pouring praying over our country, the state of California, CWA, and the action items shared. Two of the action items discussed were the upcoming Governor’s race and AB 2756.

AB2756 was a bill that would place strict regulations on homeschooling families, including curriculum specifications and required teaching certification for parents, among other regulations. We spent a good portion of time praying over this bill and asking the women to contact their State Assembly members.

The very next day, Wednesday, April 25, in a stunning late-night victory for California homeschoolers and parental rights, AB 2756 was defeated in the Assembly Education Committee.

All of the attendees were also urged to vote in the June 5 primary election, knowing California will only allow the top two candidates on the final ballot, no matter their party.

 

Israel and the Embassy Move: the Administration Heard Your Voice

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December 6, 2017 was an historic day – President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, 22 years after the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 was affirmed by the Senate. The Jerusalem Embassy Act urged the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and respond by moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but for 22 years formal recognition and our embassy move were put on hold.

No one is naïve to the reality that moving the U.S. embassy is a bold move with potential ramifications. Nevertheless, it is a necessary move – this move says that the United States will not be bullied into inaction but we will stand by our strongest and only democratic ally in the region, that our presidents will uphold their campaign promises and listen to the voices of the American people.

CWA was honored to be your voice on this issue. Concerned Women for America has been advocating for the U.S. embassy to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem since President Trump took office.

Penny Nance was on CNN early this spring urging the President to “stand in lockstep with Israel” especially in the area of any disputed territory.

In May, before President Trump signed the Jerusalem Embassy Act waiver, CWA participated in the twitter campaign, #MoveTheEmbassy, in an effort to engage the public on the issue.

On behalf of each of you, Penny has personally discussed the issue with U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy, Dina Powell, Ivanka Trump, and President Donald Trump, thanking them for their work to repair our damaged relationship with the state of Israel.

Finally, CWA was party to letters sent to the administration regarding support for Israel which urged that our embassy be moved in acknowledgement that Jerusalem is the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state. One such letter can be read here.

We could not be more thankful for the supportive stance the Trump Administration has taken towards the state of Israel. Moving the United States embassy will leave a lasting impact in the Middle East.

President Trump Declares Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and Announces Embassy Move

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Washington, D.C. – Today, President Donald Trump made a statement officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel. He ordered the State Department to begin the process of moving the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, issued the following statement:

“Today, I am thankful for President Trump’s courage in declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel and for his directive to the State Department to begin the process of moving our embassy. This has been years in the making, but no president has prioritized our relationship with Israel enough to take this important step.

“The United States has done little for Israel over the past eight years – this move will be restorative to U.S./Israeli relations.

“Thank you, President Trump, for working to fulfill your campaign promises. Moving our embassy will create a new legacy in the Middle East and prove the United States’ support for our strongest and only true democratic ally in the region.”

President Trump to Declare Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

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Washington, D.C. – President Donald Trump is expected to make a speech next week recognizing Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, had this to say:

“I happily anticipate President Trump’s upcoming statement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital city of the Jewish state of Israel. Six months ago, UNESCO chose to ignore history when they passed a resolution denying Israel any claim to the city of Jerusalem.

“Such a responsive statement from our nation will send a clear message – we support Israel, our strongest and only true democratic ally in the Middle East, despite the U.N.’s attempt to undermine Israel’s very existence. Concerned Women for America is thankful for President Trump’s dedication to the Jewish state.

“This is an excellent first step, and I hope it is exactly that – a first step in fulfilling President Trump’s campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Israel’s eternal and indivisible capital city of Jerusalem. Recognizing that Jerusalem is the capital assumes that the United States respects Israel’s capital city and will at some point move our embassy.”

For an interview with Penny Nance contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.

Capitol Hill Brief — Peace for Israel

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This week, we’ve been discussing the good news of the restoration of the U.S.’s strong relation with Israel under the Trump Administration.

America’s relationship with Israel is vital to our national security, as well as our foreign policy strategy in the Middle East. Israel is among the United States’ closest allies and is the nation that most closely shares our values of freedom and democracy in the Middle East.

I was so grateful to share with the president CWA’s thanks for the White House’s unequivocal support and commitment to Israel’s security in such an important part of the world.

As Christians, we also know and trust in God’s promise to bless those who bless Israel. And so, pray for Shalom, peace for Israel.


Join us on the front lines. Fight to defend critical issues like Support for Israel and Religious Freedom. Together, we’ll bring Biblical, constitutional values back to our nation. Visit www.CapitolHillBrief.org to give today. If you’d like to hear these commentaries on the radio, find me on your local radio station.

 

Capitol Hill Brief — Israeli Anthem

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I hope you realize that anti-Semitism is alive and growing in some parts of the world.  Did you see the recent video of Israel’s Tal Flicker who won the gold medal in judo at a recent event in Abu Dhabi?

Flicker took his place atop the winner’s podium, gratefully accepted his gold medal, and stood straight for the playing of winner’s national anthem, as it is customary. But, Israel’s anthem was not played. Instead, they played the anthem of the International Judo Federation. The Israeli flag was not raised either.

In the video you saw Flicker humbly singing the anthem for himself, while they publicly humiliated him.

Friends, this makes me fighting mad. We must stand against anti-Semitism wherever it is found.


Join us on the front lines. Fight to defend critical issues like Support for Israel and Religious Freedom. Together, we’ll bring Biblical, constitutional values back to our nation. Visit www.CapitolHillBrief.org to give today. If you’d like to hear these commentaries on the radio, find me on your local radio station.