VFI News August 25, 2020

US to Lebanon: No Financial Assistance Without Meaningful Change

A top State Department official said that the United States will not provide funds directly to the Lebanese government until it undergoes major reforms.

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale said that the U.S. will continue to provide humanitarian assistance directly related to the explosion in Beirut, but it will not provide the government with assistance unless it roots out rampant corruption and mismanagement. Hale, on Wednesday, described his recent visit to Lebanon and said that some in Beirut told him: “Please no bailout of the government of Lebanon."

Hale said that Lebanon hit “rock bottom” after the blast earlier in August, which killed more than 170, injured 6,000, and left up to 300,000 people homeless.

Hale said that “for the kind of substantial assistance that the Lebanese are asking for in order to restructure their finances and their economy, it’s going to take leadership that’s committed to these deep reforms that we’ve been talking to the Lebanese about for years now."

(WE / VFI News)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. —Jeremiah 29:11

“God, we ask that you bring common sense to the leadership of Lebanon—that they may see healing and meaningful change for their people.”

Palestinian Authority's Grand Mufti Banning Muslims from Prayer at Al-Aqsa

The Palestinian Authority's Grand Mufti has issued a fatwa banning Muslims from praying at al-Aqsa Mosque within the framework of the UAE-Israel peace deal.

Muslims from outside Israel and the Palestinian territories are now able to visit the mosque to pray, under the conditions of the recent deal normalizing relations between Israel and the UAE. However, the Palestinian Authority considers the deal a betrayal of its cause, and religious leaders have declared that any Muslim visiting the site, considered the third holiest in Islam, is a traitor.

“We absolutely won’t accept the [UAE’s] treason. One grain of sand from the soil of pure Palestine and from the soil of Al-Aqsa Mosque is more precious than our blood and our lives," Supreme Sharia Judge Mahmoud al-Habbash said on official PA TV on Saturday, according to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch.

He continued: "Whoever wants to come visit the Aqsa Mosque through the gate of Palestine: Welcome, and we will rejoice over him. But whoever wants to come through the Israeli gate is unwanted, and he will find nothing but the shoes of the people of Jerusalem and the spit of the people of Jerusalem in his face." (JPost / VFI News)

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. —John 4:24

Following UAE-Israel Deal, Hebrew to be Taught in Gulf

Coming off the heels of the announced peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, a new groundbreaking initiative has been launched to bring virtual ulpan programs to teach Hebrew to Arabic-speakers in the Gulf states.

Announced Thursday by the World Center for Jewish Education (WCJE), an organization that specializes in training educators and designing curriculum plans in Hebrew language and Jewish studies, it was first launched in June 2020, but the geopolitical reality at the time prevented it from really going public.

The UAE-Israel normalization, however, changes things. Not only is it now possible to make it public, but with the Economy Ministry estimating Emirati investment in the Jewish state to reach up to $350 million, interest is growing in learning Hebrew among the Gulf's business, tourism and academic sectors. And, in addition, there is much speculation in Israel and abroad regarding which Gulf states could soon follow suit. (JPost / VFI News)

They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the Lord’s majesty. —Isaiah 24:14

Israel Opens Cooperation Office in Honduras

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Thursday inaugurated an Israeli office of cooperation in Honduras.

Through a video call, Ashkenazi attended the inauguration of the office, along with his Honduran counterpart Lisandro Rosales and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

The Israeli office in Honduras will focus on promoting joint projects in the fields of economics and development.

The Foreign Minister thanked senior Honduran officials for their support of Israel in the international arena and promised to deepen friendly relations and cooperation in the various fields.

The office in Honduras was inaugurated after Honduras recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and opened a trade office in Jerusalem about a year ago.

The opening of offices in the two capitals is another step towards the opening of a Honduran Embassy in Jerusalem and the reopening of the Israeli Embassy in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. (INN / VFI News)

“God, we ask that you continue to spread peace and goodwill among all of Your people.”

Turkey Reconverts Another Church Into Mosque

Turkey is turning another church into a mosque a month after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the Hagia Sophia to also be reconverted, numerous sources reported.

Istanbul’s Church of St. Saviour in Chora, a Byzantine church dating back to the 4th century, was handed to Turkey’s religious authority to be turned into a mosque Friday.

The church served as a mosque during the Ottoman Empire before it was turned into a museum in 1945. The church was built near the ancient city walls of Constantinople, and contains 14th century Byzantine mosaics depicting biblical stories that were plastered over by the Muslim Ottomans in 1453, but then recovered when the building was turned into a museum.

A court decision in 2019 to cancel the building’s status as a museum, making its fate similar to that of the Hagia Sophia, which was turned into a mosque in July, a move that created a rift between Christians and Islamists. (DC / VFI News)

Survey: Nearly Half of Israelis Pessimistic Israel Can Beat COVID

Close to half of Israelis are not optimistic about the country's ability to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, but a majority still plan to send their children to schools on September 1 if they are opened, according to a survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI).

According to the study, some 45% of Israelis expressed pessimism regarding the ability of Israeli society to overcome the ongoing crisis. Comparing to data from earlier studies, this shows a significant drop in public optimism.

Also, trust in the leadership is still low, with 61% of Israelis claiming to not trust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to properly manage the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. By contrast, coronavirus coordinator Prof. Ronni Gamzu was viewed more favorably, with 59% of Israelis placing their trust in him.

Despite the low amount of trust in Netanyahu, over half (57%) of Israelis claim political opposition to the prime minister is the main motivation for the ongoing nationwide protests, with only a third crediting the state of the economy. (JPost / VFI News)

Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. —Jeremiah 33:6

“God, we ask that you end this Coronavirus crisis quickly, and with as little loss of life as possible.”

Incendiary Balloons Spark 35 Fires in Southern Israel

Incendiary balloons were launched throughout Saturday, sparking 35 fires in Israeli towns surrounding the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli media.

Experts from the Fire and Rescue Services determined after examining the sites that all 35 fires were caused by incendiary balloons.

On Friday, which saw a similar number of fires, teams of volunteers and members from various authorities spread out to contain the fires and prevent them from spreading to nearby towns. The teams operating to contain the fires include members from the Fire and Rescue Services, the Jewish National Fund, the Nature and Parks Authority and the IDF.

Also, on Friday, a bundle of balloons with a suspicious item attached to it was located in Kiryat Gat's industrial area. During efforts by police sappers to neutralize the item, which turned out to be an explosive device, a nearby residential building was slightly damaged.

Later that day, another explosive device attached to balloons was located on a residential rooftop in Beersheba. Police said its personnel dismantled the device without causing any injuries. (JPost / VFI News)

“God, we ask that you continue to protect the people of Israel from all harm.”

World’s First Robot Employment Agency

Musashi AI, which bills itself the world’s first robot employment agency, believes that it can revolutionize manufacturing with its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered robots.

A joint venture between Japan’s Musashi Seimitsu – a Honda Motor Corporation Affiliate Company – and Israeli company SixAI, MusashiAI treats robots as a service that companies can lease on a flexible basis.

“Basically, if you are a company that has a need for a robotic solution, you partner with us like with any [staffing] agency,” Fenig said.

According to Fenig, the cost of leasing the technology varies according to a business’s specific needs but generally ranges anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 per month. At the moment MusashiAI is focusing their products on automating the manufacturing floor and offer two AI solutions: a forklift, and a quality control visual inspector.

The firm has also developed a proprietary kit that can transform any traditional forklift into a fully autonomous mobile robot. (JPost / VFI News)