Understanding Israel & Anti-Semitism

Israel Impact Online Course

Online Course Part 1

Understanding Antisemitism

In part 1 of the Israel Impact Online Course, we explore questions and issues relating to anti-Semitism. What is anti-Semitism? What happened to anti-Semitism after the Holocaust? How is anti-Semitism expressed today?

The need to confront anti-Semitism where it exists, and to prevent it from spreading, is an urgent need and a concern for all wanting to live in societies that are free from hatred. Israel needs people to stand up now more than ever as it faces more threats from enemy states, terrorists, and those seeking to delegitimize Israel like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The need to build support for Israel among young adults is particularly important given the limited knowledge and lack of connection many students have when it comes to this unique nation.

Online Course Part 2

The Restoration of Israel

In part 2 of the Israel Impact Online Course, we will explore key moments and people who have helped shape Israel over thousands of years.  What is the Jewish People’s connection to the Land of Israel? What sets Israel apart from other nations? What are the Jewish roots of Christianity?

Throughout Scripture, Israel is promised a last-day restoration in the land. This promise rests on the faithful character of God, that He can be trusted to carry out His promises. The Restoration of Israel studies track consists of readings from both the Old and New Testaments, giving you an increased understanding of the Jewish roots of our Christian faith, the implications of Scripture as it relates to modern Israel, and an increased connection to the Bible from a personal faith standpoint.

Understanding Antisemitism

A makeshift memorial to the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. (AP photo)

The horrific Pittsburgh synagogue massacre at Tree of Life left American Jews scrambling to erect new layers of security around their communal lives. Sadly, they are not far behind the Jews of Europe, who have already felt under siege for years. Indeed, there are now metal detectors and armed guards posted outside every Jewish synagogue, day school, and community center across the continent.

The list of recent terror attacks on “soft” Jewish targets is long and far-flung: a Jewish deli in Paris, a day school in Toulouse, a museum in Brussels, and a synagogue in Copenhagen. Even as far as Mumbai, India, and the quiet beach resort of Bondi in Australia, violence against Jews is lurking. Whether Muslim extremists, radical leftists, or far-right neo-Nazis like the Pittsburgh predator, Jew-haters are on the march everywhere.

No doubt, much of the resurgence in anti-Semitism today is fueled by hatred of Israel. Frustrated by their inability to dent or destroy the Jewish state, many anti-Semites lash out at vulnerable Jewish communities nearby. Still, they will never be satisfied until Israel is forced to disappear. And their latest strategy for achieving this goal is quite cunning.

Origin and Meaning of the Term

In 1879, German journalist Wilhelm Marr originated the term anti-Semitism, denoting the hatred of Jews. The Holocaust, the state-sponsored persecution and murder of European Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945, is history’s most extreme example of anti-Semitism.

3 Types of Anti-semitism

Scholars who study anti-Semitism have identified three main types of this uniquely persistent hatred— religious, racial, and conspiratorial. In the past, Christians were the worst practitioners of the religious form of bigotry toward the Jews, while the Nazis championed racial and conspiratorial theories that slandered and dehumanized them. Today, in the post-Holocaust era, it is blended with the hard-right, far-left, and radical Islamists.

For instance, they have accused IDF soldiers of killing Palestinians just to sell their organs on the black market. The Mossad was blamed for shark attacks on tourists at Sinai resorts. Israel is purportedly behind all the hurricanes and earthquakes of recent years. While Jews are deemed racially and mentally inferior, they somehow are clever enough to control the world. Anti-Semitism is so irrational that some scholars even consider it to be a mental disorder that requires treatment.

At its core, anti-Semitism is a spiritual malady—a spirit of jealousy and rejection against the Jewish people. In these darkening times, it is crucial that Christians confront the anti-Semites of our day. The forbearers of our faith made grave errors when they spread outrageous lies against the Jews, with destructive results. Thus, we have a special moral duty to tell the Jew-haters of today that it was wrong then and it is wrong now.

Anti-semitism in History

The specific hatred of Jews, however, preceded the modern era and the coining of the term anti-Semitism. Among the most common manifestations of anti-Semitism throughout history were pogroms, violent riots launched against Jews and frequently encouraged by government authorities. Pogroms were often incited by blood libels—false rumors that Jews used the blood of Christian children for ritual purposes.

In the modern era, anti-Semites added a political dimension to their ideology of hatred. In the last third of the nineteenth century, antisemitic political parties were formed in Germany, France, and Austria. Publications such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion generated or provided support for fraudulent theories of an international Jewish conspiracy. A potent component of political anti-Semitism was nationalism, whose adherents often falsely denounced Jews as disloyal citizens.

The nineteenth century xenophobic “voelkisch movement” (folk or people’s movement)—made up of German philosophers, scholars, and artists who viewed the Jewish spirit as alien to Germandom—shaped a notion of the Jew as “non-German.” Theorists of racial anthropology provided pseudoscientific backing for this idea. The Nazi Party, founded in 1919 and led by Adolf Hitler, gave political expression to theories of racism. In part, the Nazi Party gained popularity by disseminating anti-Jewish propaganda. Millions bought Hitler’s book Mein Kampf (My Struggle), which called for the removal of Jews from Germany.

Nazi Anti-semitism

With the Nazi rise to power in 1933, the party ordered anti-Jewish economic boycotts, staged book burnings, and enacted discriminatory anti-Jewish legislation. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws racially defined Jews by “blood” and ordered the total separation of so-called “Aryans” and “non-Aryans,” thereby legalizing a racist hierarchy.

On the night of November 9, 1938, the Nazis destroyed synagogues and the shop windows of Jewish-owned stores throughout Germany and Austria (an event now known as the Kristallnacht pogrom or Night of Broken Glass). This event marked a transition to an era of destruction, in which genocide would become the singular focus of Nazi anti-Semitism.

Holocaust Denial and Distortion

Holocaust denial is an attempt to negate the established facts of the Nazi genocide of European Jewry. Holocaust denial and distortion are forms of anti-Semitism. They are generally motivated by hatred of Jews and build on the claim that the Holocaust was invented or exaggerated by Jews as part of a plot to advance Jewish interests.

These views perpetuate long-standing antisemitic stereotypes, hateful charges that were instrumental in laying the groundwork for the Holocaust. Holocaust denial, distortion, and misuse all undermine the understanding of history.

Why It’s Important To Confront Denial

The Nazi persecution of the Jews began with hateful words, escalated to discrimination and dehumanization, and culminated in genocide. The consequences for Jews were horrific, but suffering and death was not limited to them. Millions of others were victimized, displaced, forced into slave labor, and murdered. The Holocaust shows that when one group is targeted, all people are vulnerable.

Today, in a world witnessing rising anti-Semitism, awareness of this fact is critical. A society that tolerates anti-Semitism is susceptible to other forms of racism, hatred, and oppression.

The denial or distortion of history is an assault on truth and understanding. Comprehension and memory of the past are crucial to how we understand ourselves, our society, and our goals for the future. Intentionally denying or distorting the historical record threatens communal understanding of how to safeguard democracy and individual rights.


Events Surrounding the Holocaust

Take a moment now to familiarize yourself with these dates.



Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses and Jewish professionals



Nazis shut down Jewish businesses and force them to hand over securities and jewels



Liberation of Nazi Camps. The unspeakable conditions the liberators confronted shed light on the full scope of Nazi horrors



During the Wannssee Conference, Nazi officials discuss the ‘Final Solution’ – their plan to kill all European Jews



About 80 to 85 percent of the 6 million Jews who would die in the Holocaust were already murdered by 1943


During the Wannssee Conference, Nazi officials discuss the ‘Final Solution’ – their plan to kill all European Jews

Media Misconceptions

Most “Media Misconceptions” fall into one of two categories: those that speak about the very character of Israel, and those that focus on the actions of Israel, specifically with the Palestinians. We have assembled some of the most common misconceptions in both groups.

MEDIA MISCONCEPTION #1: Zionism is a racist ideology

Misconceptions on the Character of Israel


Zionism is the Jewish national movement of rebirth and renewal in the land of Israel—the historical birthplace of the Jewish people. The yearning to return to Zion, the biblical term for both the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, has been the cornerstone of Jewish religious life since the Jewish exile from the land two thousand years ago, and is embedded in Jewish prayer, ritual, literature and culture. Rooted in the liberal principles of freedom, democracy, equality, and social justice, Zionism is fundamentally opposed to racism. Israel is a color-blind society, comprised of Jews and non-Jews from at least 100 different countries from diverse ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.

Israel’s Law of Return, which some critics of Israel accuse of being “racist,” is for Jews, a potent testimonial to the safe and free haven they will always have in the State of Israel after centuries of persecution and isolation. Israel’s uniqueness as a country which grants automatic citizenship to Jews (as well as their non-Jewish immediate family members) who seek to settle there is in no way racist. Individuals ineligible for automatic citizenship under the Law of Return are eligible for Israeli citizenship under regular procedures equivalent to such requirements in other countries.

The false equation of “Zionism equals racism” has its origins in the passage of the Arab and Soviet-sponsored United Nations resolution of November 10, 1975 which declared Zionism a “form of racism and racial discrimination.” The highly politicized resolution was aimed at denying Israel its political legitimacy by attacking its moral basis for existence. The resolution, which U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan described as a “low point” in the history of the U.N., was finally repealed on December 16, 1991. Unfortunately, there have been numerous efforts by Arab representatives at international conferences to reintroduce this heinous equation, most recently at the 2001 United Nations Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

Source: Anti-Defamation League; www.israelaustin.com/israelnow/inaccuraciesaboutisrael6.asp

MEDIA MISCONCEPTION #2: Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to the treatment of blacks in apartheid South Africa


Even before the State of Israel was established, Jewish leaders consciously sought to avoid the situation that prevailed in South Africa. As David Ben-Gurion told Palestinian nationalist Musa Alami in 1934: We do not want to create a situation like that which exists in South Africa, where the whites are the owners and rulers, and the blacks are the workers. If we do not do all kinds of work, easy and hard, skilled and unskilled, if we become merely landlords, then this will not be our homeland.

Today, within Israel, Jews are a majority but the Arab minorities are full citizens with voting rights and representation in the government. Under apartheid, black South Africans could not vote and were not citizens of the country in which they formed the overwhelming majority of the population.

The situation of Palestinians in the territories—won by Israel in a defensive war forced upon it by its neighbors—is different. The security requirements of the nation, and a violent insurrection in the territories, forced Israel to impose restrictions on Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip that were not necessary inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders. The Palestinians in the territories typically dispute Israel’s right to exist, whereas blacks did not seek the destruction of South Africa, only the apartheid regime.

If Israel were to give Palestinians full citizenship, it would mean the territories had been annexed.[Webster’s Dictionary: Annex—to take possession of a territory and incorporate it.] No Israel government has been prepared to take that step. Instead, through negotiation, Israel agreed to give the Palestinians increasing authority over their own affairs. It is likely that a final settlement will allow most Palestinians to become citizens of their own state.

Meanwhile, Palestinians from the territories are allowed to work in Israel and receive similar pay and benefits to their Jewish counterparts. They are allowed to attend schools and universities. None of this was true for South African Blacks.

Source: Anti-Defamation League; www.israelaustin.com/israelnow/inaccuraciesaboutisrael6.asp

MEDIA MISCONCEPTION #3: As a self-described “Jewish State,” Israel is by nature an undemocratic and discriminatory country


People feel uncomfortable referring to Israel as a Jewish State because it suggests a Theocracy—i.e., a government run by priests or men claiming to know the will of God. Israel is NOT a Theocracy. It is governed by laws drafted by a democratically-elected parliament. It is influenced by Jewish values and adheres to many Jewish religious customs like Shabbat and holidays, but this is no different than the United States and many other “Christian” nations that are shaped by Judeo-Christian values and celebrate Christmas and Easter as national holidays.

Democracy, not religion, is the cornerstone of the State of Israel.As exemplified by its Declaration of Independence, Israel guarantees that its government will be “for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice, peace as envisaged by the Prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”1When its Declaration of Independence was

being written, much debate surrounded the issue as to whether they would even mention the name of God in this foundational legal document of their nation’s birth; the religious Jews felt it was essential, while the nonreligious Jews felt it would infringe upon the FREEDOM OF RELIGION that Israel was to model in a sea of religious intolerance. The result is that God is NOT mentioned by name in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, and is only indirectly referred to as “The Rock of Israel.”

Israel has no state religion and ALL faiths enjoy freedom of worship.Unfortunately, Israel is attacked for its Jewish character, yet the twenty-one Arab States—that have Islam as their official religion and do not allow religious freedom—are regarded as legitimate. It is not unusual that one community should be a majority within a nation and seek to maintain that status; this is true for almost every nation. Moreover, societies usually reflect the cultural identity of the majority. “India and Pakistan were established at the same time as Israel through a violent partition, but no one believes that these nations are illegitimate because one is predominantly Hindu and the other has a Muslim majority, or that these nations shouldn’t be influenced by those communities (e.g., that cows in India should not be treated as sacred.)”2

Basically, the Jewish people are a nation with a shared origin, religion, culture, language, and history . . . like almost all of the other nations of the world; such as Australia, Germany, Norway, and so on. “And why shouldn’t the Jewish people have a state? No one suggests that the Arabs are not entitled to a nation (and they have not one, but 22**) of their own . . . or that Catholics are not entitled to a state (Vatican City) headed by a theocrat (the Pope). To suggest that Zionism, the nationalist movement of the Jewish people, is the only form of nationalism that is illegitimate is pure bigotry.”3

1 www.israelaustin.com/israelnow/inaccuraciesaboutisrael6.asp

2 Myths & Facts Online: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli conflict by Mitchell G. Bard [www.JewishVirtualLibrary.org]

3 Myths & Facts Online: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli conflict by Mitchell G. Bard [www.JewishVirtualLibrary.org]

MEDIA MISCONCEPTION #4: Israeli treatment of the Palestinians today is comparable to the treatment of Nazis toward the Jews, and policies of “ethnic cleansing”or “genocide”

In a speech to visiting delegates of Europe on Dec. 12, 2004 by Arnold Roth—and reported in Unity Coalition for Israel on December 14, 2004—it was stated that “a German survey of German-born Germans found that more than half think there is no difference between Israel’s current treatment of the Palestinian Arabs and what the Nazis did to the Jews. 68 percent of Germans believe that Israel is waging a ‘war of extermination’ against the Palestinians.”


Absolutely no comparison can be made between the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jews. The Nazis’ “final solution” to the “Jewish problem”was the deliberate and systematic extermination of European Jewry. Hitler’s final solution led to the calculated, pre-meditated murder of six million Jews and the destruction of many thriving Jewish communities across Europe. Israeli policies toward the Palestinians are dictated solely by its need to defend its population and combat threats to Israel’s security, while promoting a negotiated resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nor can Israeli actions or policies be characterized as acts of ethnic cleansing or genocide.Nothing of the sort is occurring, or has occurred.

At the outbreak of violence in September 2000, 99% of the Palestinian population was living under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and not under Israeli administration. While there have been tragic casualties through this conflict and instances when Israel has felt compelled to impose harsh measures in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, there is no Israeli ideology, policy or plan to persecute, exterminate or expel the Palestinian population. Labeling Israeli treatment of the Palestinians as akin to the Holocaust, “ethnic cleansing” or “genocide” is an attempt to conjure up an emotional reaction through inflammatory rhetoric.

Those that make the comparison between the Jewish state to the Nazis and Hitler, who perpetrated the greatest and largest act of anti-Semitism in world history, have not chosen this comparison innocently or dispassionately. It is a charge that is purposefully directed at Jews in an effort to associate the victims of the Nazis’ crimes with the Nazi perpetrators, and serves to diminish the significance and uniqueness of the Holocaust. To make such a comparison is such an act of blatant hostility toward Jews and Jewish history that it clearly bespeaks of a deeper hatred.

Source: www.israelaustin.com/israelnow/inaccuraciesaboutisrael6.asp

MEDIA MISCONCEPTION #5: Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens


Israel is one of the most open societies in the world. [Out of a population of 7,282,000, Jews make up 75.5%, Muslims 16.2%, Druze 1.6% and unaffiliated citizens 3.9%. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_groups_in_Israel) As of May 2008, the percentage of Israeli residents who are Arab is 19.8%], about the same as it was when the country was established in 1948.(www.palestinefacts.org/pf_basics.php,2002)

“Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. [In 2001,] Arabs held 10 seats in the 120-seat

Knesset. Israeli Arabs have also held various government posts, including one who served as Israel’s Consul-General in Atlanta. Ariel Sharon’s cabinet includes the first Arab minister, Salah Tarif, a Druze who serves as a minister without portfolio. Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language in Israel. More than 300,000 Arab children attended Israeli schools. At the time of Israel’s founding, there was one Arab high school in the country. Today there are hundreds of Arab schools.

The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli Army. This is to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren. Nevertheless, Bedouins have served in paratroop units, and other Arabs have volunteered for military duty. Compulsory military service is applied to the Druze and Circassian communities at their own request.

Some economic and social gaps between Israeli Jews and Arabs result from the latter not serving in the military.Veterans qualify for many benefits not available to non-veterans. Moreover, the army aids in the socialization process.

On the other hand, Arabs do have an advantage in obtaining some jobs during the years Israelis are in the military. In addition, industries like construction and trucking have come to be dominated by Israeli Arabs.

. . . The United States has been independent for [over 230] years and still has not integrated all of its diverse communities. Even today, nearly 40 years after civil rights legislation was adopted, discrimination has not been eradicated. It should not be surprising that Israel has not solved all of its social problems in only [60] years.”

Source: Anti-Defamation League; www.israelaustin.com/israelnow/inaccuraciesaboutisrael6.asp


Making You an Educated Ambassador

It is our intent that through the Israel Impact Online Courses every student becomes an educated ambassador for God’s purposes involving Israel. As Christians we are commanded to stand with Israel and pray for this nation, as God has not forgotten Her. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may those who love you be secure.” – Psalm 122:6

Many Christians, especially in the United States, are unaware of the acts of discrimination, harassment, and violence against Jews and their homes, schools, cemeteries and synagogues throughout Europe and Canada. This is not surprising since much of the news media writes little about it, and when they do, it is often found in the back of the paper. Many Christians are also shockingly unaware of the anti-Semitism that is happening with even more regularity on various college campuses throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. The Anti-Defamation League has verified countless incidents of anti-Semitism against Israel and harassment of Jewish students even at many “normal” U.S. colleges, such as the University of California, Colombia University, University of Oregon, University of Denver, University of Colorado-Boulder, San Francisco State University, and Rutgers in N.J., to name a few. It is as if a “politically correct madness” seems to have taken over most North American and European universities, filling campus life with a steady stream of anti-Israel conferences, demonstrations, petitions, debates, and articles.

It doesn’t seem to matter that much of the anti-Israel symbolism is based upon distorted facts, half-truths, and the misuse of language, all used by the media to sell more papers, because very few people are providing any ALTERNATIVE voice on these issues. When Israel does speak out, it is primarily dismissed by the world as defensive and self-serving, so we who understand God’s heart for Israel and the Jewish people must speak out on their behalf. We can no longer be silent.

As believers it is extremely important that we are able to engage in intelligent conversations with nonbelievers about our solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people and present them with an alternative view in language to which they can relate. We need to do the same with many people inside the Church as well. So often, people do not know the facts and when we are able to calmly present accurate statistics and information to them that support our position, they usually will listen and their viewpoints can change. If we can discredit just one false belief that they have about Israel with the truth, it then casts doubt upon all of their other false beliefs about Israel, and we begin to change the world around us . . . one person at a time.

The Restoration of Israel

The Jewish People and the Land of Israel

Israel, a nation as small as the state of New Jersey, occupies center stage of the world’s attention. While vilified by some circles, the Jewish State is also admired by many for a story that is unique from that of all other nations. Having defied the odds against the survival of this tiny people group—no more than 14 million worldwide—the Jewish people have built a nation that is thriving and is leading the world in many ways. Here are a few of the things that make her story not only unique but remarkable.

The Jews are a remarkable people. Consider, for instance, that they are the only people who have been violently uprooted from their homeland not once but twice, only to return to that land each time to re-establish their national sovereignty. You could search far and wide and still not find another people who have managed to do this even once, and yet the Jews have done it twice!


A Biblical Mandate

What makes the Jews all the more remarkable is that they have given us a book which tells us all this was going to happen even before it started to take place. The Bible tells the unusual story of the miraculous inception of the Jewish people some 4,000 years ago and their calling to be God’s instrument of blessing in the world. Their role was to “bless all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12:3) by being the vehicle of God’s redemptive plan. This calling required that they follow certain laws and practices that marked them as His and caused them to stand out as different from other peoples. This uniqueness was also dangerous and made them an easy prey of cruel leaders who sought conformity to ideologies and practices at odds with Judaism. But God promised the Jewish people would survive, and one day, would return to their God-given land.

The Bible foretold beforehand that there would be two scatterings and two returns of the Jewish people – the first from Babylon and the second from the ends of the earth.

And indeed, this has been the testimony of history. The ancient Israelites were first exiled to Babylon and began to return home some two generations later. Then the Romans forced a second Jewish dispersion out into all nations, where they wandered for nearly 2,000 years before their second return to Eretz Israel in modern times. Over the past 120 years or so, more than 3.5 million Jews have immigrated to the land of Israel from all over the world – from the north, south, east and west, in literal fulfilment of God’s promises like that in Isaiah 43:5-6.

“Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.”

So the Bible is a truly amazing book which tells the story of a remarkable people. It is not a collection of fables and fairy tales. Rather, the Bible is the proven Word of God! And the modern-day return of Israel is proof of its reliability, as well as of God’s faithfulness to His promises and His sovereignty over the affairs of men.

A Return to Their Land

When Israel became a modern Jewish state in 1948, Arab nations expelled hundreds of thousands of Jews who had lived in their lands for millennia. Israel—a tiny nation of 600,000 Jewish people barely out of the horrific Holocaust with scant resources—welcomed a million Jewish refugees between 1948 and 1960. They arrived with barely anything since the Arab nations kept all the Jewish wealth, homes, and businesses.

Israel has subsequently absorbed many waves of immigrants throughout her short history. One such wave has been that of Ethiopian Jews beginning primarily with Operations Moses and Solomon in the 1970s and 1980s. Israel once again demonstrated its remarkable DNA. It holds the distinction as the nation that brought African peoples to freedom rather than slavery.

Israelis have adopted a special term from the Hebrew Bible to describe this process of returning to the Land. They call it Aliyah, which means “to ascend”. It was used in ancient times in reference to Jewish pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem for the three great biblical feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.

Thus, the process of making Aliyah is seen by many Jews as having spiritual meaning as well, beyond just the physical act of returning to their homeland. Many also view it as an act of teshuva (repentance) and return to God. They truly believe He is drawing them back to the land and to Himself.

Takele made Aliyah to Israel from Ethiopia

Takele’s Aliyah Journey

The fate of the last Ethiopian Jews, called the Falashmura, has been some of the most fascinating chapters in modern Jewish history. After some 2700 years an ancient tribe of Israel finally returns to their homeland. But it has also been one of the most difficult chapters, and until today, their return to Israel is an Aliyah journey filled with challenges.

The story of Takele is one of many stories of Ethiopian Jews. Takele made this journey at the age of 17, and still remembers the many threats he faced coming to Israel. Like numerous other Ethiopian Jews, he set out from his village on foot along an often-used escape route through Sudan. The month-long journey was dangerous and mostly he walked at night: in a Muslim country like Sudan, Jews if captured, could be killed on the spot. Thankfully he found shelter in a refugee camp in Sudan.

After waiting for an entire year Takele finally made it to Israel. To arrive in Tel Aviv, the modern, technologically-highly advanced city, was shockingly different from his remote village in Ethiopia. Everything was different: the culture, education system, job market, not to mention the language. As a man of faith, Takele was surprised to discover not all Jews were religiously observant. And not all Jewish people were black!

Takele quickly realized he needed an education to survive this new environment, and went on to successfully complete engineering studies and then serve in the Israeli Air Force. Despite his personal success, Takele remained deeply concerned for his community, where many of the new Ethiopian immigrants were not successfully integrating into the society.

Today Takele is one of the many Ethiopian Social workers the ICEJ (International Christian Embassy Jerusalem) partners with to assist Ethiopian Jews with their absorption process.

Genia made Aliyah to Israel from Poland

Genia’s Story

Genia was born in Poland in 1923 and was 15 years old when the Germans invaded. She lived at the time with her mother, father, older brother and younger sister.

Her father was sadly taken to a concentration camp and never returned. Her brother fled to the forests to join the underground resistance. Her mother was sent to a forced labour camp. This left Genia to look after her little sister and the two were hidden by kind neighbors. About six months later, Genia got word her mother had died and the body was at the regional hospital.

“I travelled to the hospital to look for her and they took me to a big room where there were about 150 Jewish corpses”, she recounted recently. “I looked for my mother and finally discovered she was in a bag on a shelf. I ran home to bring new clothing and to clean and dress her, but when I returned to the hospital the room was completely empty. They told me they had buried everyone in one big grave. Until this day I have no idea where she is buried.”

Genia continued to raise her sister until the war ended and then moved to Israel in 1957. She started a family, but lost her son in one of Israel’s wars. Today, she lives in the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors.


Aliyah Highlights in Pictures

Take a moment now to familiarize yourself with Aliyah highlights from 1882-2014.



The Hovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) arrive from southern Russia and settle Rishon LeZion (First in Zion).



A second wave of Aliyah begins as pogroms in Czarist Russia escalate



Large numbers of Jews begin arriving from Poland in the wake of the government’s anti-Semitic policies.



The Nazis begin their ascent to power, forcing many German Jews to flee to Mandate Palestine.



As World War II ends, as many as 400,000 European Jews who survived the Holocaust begin making their way to Israel, some via underground Aliyah operations.


After Israel wins its independence, some 800,000 Jews expelled from Arab lands begin streaming home.



In Operation Magic Carpet, Yemen agrees to let 45,000 Jews quietly leave on a series of 380 flights on Israeli, British and American planes.



In Operation Moses, Israel launches an emergency airlift under a strict news blackout of some 8,000 Ethiopian Jews from make-shift camps in Ethiopia and Sudan.


With the collapse of Soviet communism, over one million Russian-speaking Jews begin arriving in a massive Aliyah from the former Soviet Union.



In Operation Solomon, Israel airlifts in one weekend nearly 15,000 Ethiopian Jews endangered by civil war, using 34 flights with the seats taken out to accommodate more passengers. The operation still holds the world record for most passengers on a single flight when 1,122 people were packed onto a Boeing 747 aircraft.



The first flights of the Bnei Menashe community in India arrive in Israel.


Economic woes and rising anti-Semitism stirs an up-tick in Aliyah from the West.



Unrest in the Ukraine stirred a fresh wave of Aliyah from the North.

An Ancient Language Revived

Israel still holds the distinction as the only success story in world history where an ancient language achieved modern usage. The Hebrew language was preserved in sacred, written form, yet as a spoken language it had become extinct in the Diaspora. That is, until 2,000 years later when lexicographer Eliezer Ben Yehuda set out to resuscitate Hebrew in the late nineteenth century. Ben Yehuda immigrated to then-called Palestine in 1881 and lived in Jerusalem where he began his arduous task. Gabriel Birnbaum, a senior researcher at the Academy of Hebrew Language, said, “By 1914, Hebrew as a spoken language in the land of Israel was a fact.” Ben Yehuda’s legacy continues every time new immigrants of any age enroll in Israel’s free intensive Hebrew classes.

Israel and Innovations

Israel is leading the world in innovation, technology, and problem-solving. Following are just a few of the thousands of examples: IDE Technologies is recycling salt water into fresh, drinkable water; Netafim’s smart drip and micro-irrigation have improved crop production worldwide; Mobile Eye has helped reduce auto accidents; ReWalk is helping paraplegics walk; and WoundClot bandages are saving lives. These innovations have made possible 65 Israeli companies on the NASDAQ. Only the United States and Canada have more.

Tiny Israel has survived war, terror, and anti-Semitism for decades while blessing the world in the process. Her oversized achievements not only make her unique but also truly remarkable amongst the nations.

4 Facts About Israel

1 – Jews have maintained a continuous presence in the Land of Israel for more than 3,000 years – a fact that is supported by substantial archeological and historical evidence.

  • There was a politically independent Jewish Kingdom from approximately 1000 BC until 586 BC – and from 165 BC until 63 BC, when the Kingdom became a client state of the Roman Empire.
  • Roman emperors have long acknowledged Jewish traditions and Jerusalem’s centrality in Judaism. Augustus issued the following edict in 1 BC: “Jews shall use their own customs in accordance with their ancestral law…and their sacred offerings shall be inviolable and shall be sent to Jerusalem; and they shall not [be required to appear] in court on the Sabbath.”
  • Jews got their name from their land of origin, Judea. It was not until the Romans expelled many Jews from Israel in 135 AD that they renamed the area Palestine in an attempt to de-Judaize it.
  • There is extensive documentation of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.


2 – Jerusalem has been the Jewish people’s capital for more than three millennia.

  • There are nearly 700 mentions of Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible.
  • More than a hundred generations of dispersed Jews prayed three times a day to return to Jerusalem.


3 – The sacred texts of both Christianity and Islam confirm the Jewish people’s connection to the Land of Israel.

  • The New Testament confirms the Jewish connection to the land in St. Stephen’s sermon in Act 7 and in Hebrews 11.
  • “…and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.” (Acts 7:3-4)
  • “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” (Hebrews 11:8-9)
  • The Koran refers frequently to Jews and identifies them with Israel and the Promised Land.
  • “And thereafter We said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land.” (Sura 17:104 The Night Journey).
  • The Koran describes Solomon’s construction of the First Temple (Sura 34:13) and recounts the destruction of the First and Second Temples (Sura 17:7).


4 – Jews have been a majority in Jerusalem for the last 150 years.

  • The Jewish population was decimated by the Crusaders in the 12th century AD, but it eventually rebounded. By the 1880s, when the Ottoman Empire ruled the city, Jews once again became the largest religious group in Jerusalem. At that time, there were 9,000 Jews and 7,000 Arabs living in the city.

Source:  https://www.israelanswers.com/israel/your-questions-answered


Significance of Israel to Christians

The Abrahamic Covenant

The return of the Jewish people to the Land of Canaan – their everlasting possession – is in fulfillment of the promises God made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. The Abrahamic Covenant has greatly influenced the course of human history, as it was the watershed moment in God’s decision to save the world from sin (Galatians 3:8). It is affirmed as an everlasting covenant throughout the Bible (Genesis 17:7-8; Psalm 105:9-12), and the Apostle Paul confirmed that it could never be annulled (Galatians 3:17). Most theologians agree that the covenant was unconditional, although some believe it was conditional upon Abraham showing his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:15-18) – an act that Abraham fulfilled completely.


Why is the Land Important?

The God of the Bible is the God of the whole earth. Yet, His promise of this one little piece of land to one family – the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and then Jacob – is confirmed and repeated in the scriptures 46 times. Clearly, this attention affirms the importance of the land in God’s purposes. Land is a necessary element for forming a nation, and here it provided an essential foundation for the children of Israel to grow in numbers and build a national identity with national institutions.

The land also provided a stage on which the Almighty God carried out his plan of world redemption. Since the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29), and Israel would never cease to be a nation before Him (Jeremiah 31:36), their possession of this land is also everlasting (Genesis 17:8). Indeed, God’s faithfulness to this Covenant is held up before discouraged believers in the Book of Hebrews as proof that He will be faithful to the promises made to them in the New Covenant (Hebrews 6:13-20).

The Jewishness of Jesus

The focal point of our Christian faith is Jesus Christ Himself. Although His teachings were radical to the religious leaders of His time, Jesus was not an anomaly—i.e. His life was not contrary to the general rule of His culture. The crucible from which He emerged was a Jewish one; he was born to Jewish parents, he was raised as an observant Jew following all the law and traditions, and He later lived as a Jewish religious teacher—a Rabbi—with many followers. To fully understand the depth and scope of what Jesus taught and who He was and is, we need to examine Him in the Jewish context into which He was born and the community in which He lived, taught and performed miracles.

Jesus was born into a Jewish family, followed Jewish tradition and lived and taught as a faithful Torah-observant Jew. He never intended to abrogate the Law, and made that clear in Matthew 5:17, 18: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass away from the law till all is fulfilled.”

Christianity: Birthed from Judaism

The early Church did not embrace an identity apart from Judaism. The twelve apostles, followers of Jesus, the Rabbi from Nazareth, were known as the sect of the Nazarenes. (Acts 24:5) Tertullas, when accusing Paul before Governor Felix, called him a “ringleader of the Nazarene sect.” It was viewed at that time as one of the more than twenty sects that existed within first-century Judaism.

Paul and other leaders observed the Jewish rituals, taught in the synagogues, honored the Sabbath and the feasts. They continued to bring offerings to the Temple and took Nazarite vows. Nowhere does Scripture suggest that the disciples intended to break from Judaism, or lose their Jewish identity. The Gospel was to be preached to the Jew first, then to the Greek. Gentiles were invited to be partakers of the covenant relationship. It was only later, in Antioch in 42CE, that the term “Christian” was first used to refer to the followers of Jesus. (Acts 11:26)


We are Indebted to the Jews

Addressing the Samaritan woman in John 4:22 Jesus declares, “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” It was the Israelites “to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternal blessed God.” (Romans 9:4,5)

God declared in Genesis 12:3 that through Abraham all the nations of earth would be blessed. Indeed, the Jews have been a blessing to the world. It is through Abraham and his descendents, the Jews, that we have the patriarchs, the prophets, the Scriptures, the promises and the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

“. . . [R]emember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 12:12,13) [It is this:] that the Gentiles are now to be fellow heirs [with the Jews], members of the same body and joint partakers [sharing] in the same divine promises of Christ through [their acceptance of] glad tidings (the Gospel). Ephesians 3:6 Amplified.

Paul, a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee, speaking to Gentile believers regarding the Jews exhorts, “Again I ask, did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgressions, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous . . . For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead! . . . If some of the branches have been ‘broken off’, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others, and now share the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches . . .” (Romans 11:11,15,17,18)


Where the Church Left its Jewish Roots

After some of the most severe persecution in the three hundred year history of the Church, the 4th century conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine would eventually lead to the greatest disconnect from the Church’s Jewish roots. The seat of influence shifted from Jerusalem to Gentile Rome and with it a change in world view that helped to redefine Christianity in form and substance.

As Christianity was legitimized in the western world, church buildings were erected, formalizing a new style of worship. Observance of the Jewish Biblical feasts were prohibited. The Sabbath was changed to Sunday. Many Christian days of observance were taken out of context from the Biblical calendar and synchronized with more secular (some refer to them as pagan) observances. For example, Easter was no longer part of the Passover weekend, but was forever to be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox. These and other changes within the early Church continue to lead to discussion as to the effect of the pagan culture upon Christianity.

While various councils, beginning with the Council of Nicea in 324CE, worked to establish Church doctrine, they also authenticated a world view that moved the Church further away from its roots. The influence of the Hebraic world view was replaced by a Greek world view. To the Hebrews, learning and seeking knowledge was the means by which one prepared one-self for a life of worship, service and obedience to God as found in the Torah (the sacred and secular life were one in the same). To the Greeks, seeking knowledge itself was the goal. This opened the door to a new way of viewing Scripture that ultimately made way for differing doctrines that have impacted the Church today.


Every year I travel to Israel for the Feast of Tabernacles with ICEJ!

Paul Howard Feast Volunteer, 2019

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John Irwing Feast Volunteer, 2018

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