VFI News December 31, 2019

New York Synagogue Attacker Apprehended

“The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever." Ps. 28: 8-9

A machete-wielding assailant stabbed five people in a rabbi’s basement synagogue in Monsey, NY during a crowded Hanukkah celebration on Saturday 28 Dec. 2019. One victim remains in critical condition with knife wounds to the head following the assault which took place at around 10 p.m. when a man walked into the basement synagogue in Monsey with a machete and began attacking congregants. Some 50 to 60 people had gathered there to light candles to mark the seventh night of Hanukkah. The attacker was forced to flee when several people hurled chairs and a small table at him. Police arrested him at around midnight, after identifying his car via the license plate number. The suspect has been identified as 37-year-old Thomas Grafton. Grafton will face five counts of attempted murder for the attack. Authorities have yet to determine the motives behind the violence, but Governor Andrew Cuomo said the stabbings were clearly an act of “domestic terrorism”. This year during Hanukkah at least nine anti-Semitic attacks have been reported in New York City.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y. blames New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for the latest string of anti-Semitic attacks: "There's a massive leadership failure in New York City and Bill de Blasio's answer has been to have another press conference, and if it happens again, have another press conference," Zeldin said on Saturday 28 Dec. 2019, before praising the decision to increase police security. "It needs to happen more. You need to see, on all levels of government, elected officials and community leaders going all out to confront and crush this," said Zeldin. USA President Donald Trump also condemned Saturday night’s terrorist attack and called for a united front to “eradicate” anti-Semitism. In a tweet published Sunday evening, the president wished the five victims of the attack a “quick and full recovery”.  In Israel, PM Binyamin Netanyahu said the country "strongly condemns the recent displays of anti-Semitism including the vicious attack at the home of a rabbi in Monsey, New York. We will cooperate however possible with the local authorities in order to assist in defeating this phenomenon." (VFI News) 

Please intercede for the swift recovery of all who were wounded in last weekend’s brutal attack.  Pray for the comforting of all who were present in the New York Hanukkah celebration that turned to terror.  Pray also for the protection of the NY Jewish community against  further acts of anti-Semitism.

Netanyahu Retains Likud Leadership After Primary Elections

Primary elections took place in Israel on Thur. 26 Dec. 2019 for the Likud party chairman. Netanyahu was again voted into Likud’s leadership position by a landslide majority following a failed attempt to dethrone him by a former cabinet minister. With all the ballots from the latest primary election tallied, Netanyahu received support from 72.5% of the party members, compared to 27.5% for challenger Gideon Sa’ar. Netanyahu was unable to form a governing coalition following an unprecedented two elections in 2019 – with a third election scheduled for March 2020. The prime minister is also facing corruption charges, bringing into question his qualifications to continue leading the party. Nevertheless, many of his critics were doubtful as to whether Sa’ar, who has never held more than a mid-level cabinet post, is qualified to lead a country facing security threats on several fronts. The September 2019 vote left the Likud in a virtual tie with the centrist Blue and White party led by former army chief of staff Benny Gantz. Neither were able to form a national unity government partly because Blue and White refused to accept an indicted prime minister. Polls indicate the March 2020 will produce a similar outcome, rounding out more than a year of uncertainty in which Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, has led a caretaker government.  Israel’s Supreme Court plans to meet this week to consider whether an indicted member of parliament can be prime minister. (VFI News)

Please continue to intercede in this vitally important issue that Israel will be able to form a strong and stable government in the early months of 2020.

Israel Again Falsely Targeted In ICC Accusations

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The ICJ comprises a panel of 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms. When the ICC was created two decades ago it was already clear that Israel would be a primary target. Such has repeatedly been the case since then. Most recently, this month Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, said she is prepared to begin an investigation into so-called Israeli "war crimes" during the 2014 Gaza war during which Israel was accused of using disproportionate force and willfully killing and injuring civilians. She also alleges that the IDF committed war crimes against Gazans violently attempting to breach the border into Israel in 2018 and 2019, as well as crimes in the disputed territories of Judea & Samaria. In an investigation into the 2014 Gaza war by a body of retired generals from Western armed forces and human rights experts, the group unanimously concluded that: "The IDF not only met its obligations under the Law of Armed Conflict but often exceeded these on the battlefield." Gen. Martin Dempsey, at the time Chairman of the USA Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: "Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties. My first-hand observations during the Hamas-instigated Gaza border violence in 2018-19 echo these assessments."

The probe into the so-called "war crimes" instigated by the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been deemed by high-profile legal and political sources as just the latest evidence that the PA would rather seek to wage legal war against Israel than to negotiate with it. The PA has rejected Israeli peace offers that would have given it statehood over nearly all of Judea & Samaria, Gaza and a share of Jerusalem. It refused because doing so would require it to give up the hope of eliminating the State of Israel altogether. The PA wants to delegitimize Israel in the international courts because it is incapable of living in peace with a Jewish state, no matter where its borders are drawn. Israel has tried to persuade ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that the tribunal has no authority to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since Israel is not a signatory to the Court's Rome Treaty and the Palestinians are not a state. Israel correctly argued that it has a strong and independent judiciary investigating every incident, and does not hesitate to prosecute and frequently convict whenever there is even the shadow of a violation of the law. As such, the ICC has no authority to act as a super-review court for the Israeli justice system. Sadly all of Israel’s defensive arguments at the ICC seem to have fallen on deaf ears. (VFI News)

Pray according to scripture: “Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the plots of evildoers. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.” Ps. 64:2-3

UN Has No Authority To Recognize A State

VFI editors remind readers that the United Nations is neither a state nor a government, and therefore does not possess any authority to recognize either a state or a government. As an organization of independent states, it may admit a new state to its membership or accept the credentials of the representatives of a new government. Palestinians do not have a state and are not in a position to demand the ICC rights of statehood.Internationally accepted criteria for statehood include unified territory, the capability of responsible governance and readiness to abide by international obligations. With Judea & Samaria controlled by Fatah which continues to promote and glorify terrorism – and Gaza controlled by Hamas/Iran backed terror groups indiscriminately lobbing rockets and fire balloons into Israel's towns the Palestinians have a long way to go until they fulfill these requirements. (VFI News)

“He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.” Ps. 57:3

Dutch Lawmaker: Expel ICC Prosecutor

Geert Wilders, head of the Netherlands Party for Freedom (PVV), and a staunch supporter of Israel, is calling on his country to expel the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, who days ago announced her intention to investigate Israel for “war crimes” in the disputed territories. “The International Criminal Court has no authority at all here and behaves as a biased pro-Palestinian institution and an anti-Semitic kangaroo court,” said Wilders. “The ICC prosecutor Bensouda should be declared persona non grata and be evicted out of the Netherlands,” he added. Bensouda’s decision has been denounced by Israeli officials, including PM Netanyahu, who said last week her decision to investigate Israel is “pure anti-Semitism”. (VFI News/Arutz-7)

Mossad: Iran Remains Our Chief Concern

Iran heads the list of Israel’s concerns both in political circles as well as in the Israeli Intelligence Community. Late last week, the Chief of Israeli Mossad, Yossi Cohen, announced that Iran is at the top of Mossad’s priorities. “All Iranian nuclear, long-range missile and precision missile activities, Iran’s regional spread and its support for terrorist organizations are a challenge to the security of the state of Israel and its citizens.” He added that all the bodies and "men and women" of the intelligence agency work together "as a single fist" to achieve results. Cohen’s remarks were made at an annual ceremony hosted by President Reuven Rivlin, who praised the intelligence agency. “In the Mossad’s dictionary, you will not find the word ‘impossible,'" he said. "For the Mossad, excellence is not a luxury, it is the only way to survive in the world of the shadows.” Rivlin said Israel's enemies "lay in wait" looking for an opportunity to attack. "They are frustrated by their failure to harm us, and never stop searching for a way to catch us unawares. To protect ourselves in the neighborhood we live in, we have no option but to be sharper and better." (VFI News)

Iran, Russia, China Hold Joint Naval Drill

These three countries deemed by Iranian Rear Admiral Gholamreza Tahani to be "the new triangle of power in the sea", began four days of naval drills in the Gulf of Oman on Friday 27 Dec. 2019, following Iran's activation of advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium at greater speeds. Iranian State news said the drills, launched from the southeastern Iranian port city of Chahbahar, were designed to show that American endeavors to strangle the regime had failed. "The effect will be to show that Iran cannot be isolated,” said Tahani. State television echoed him by calling the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian alliance "the new triangle of power in the sea." Also on Friday, Russia's Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu confirmed that the Avangard, its new nuclear-capable hypersonic missile system that can travel at 27 times the speed of sound, is ready for "combat duty." President Vladimir Putin boasted that the Avangard missile can reach anywhere in the world and places Russia as the world leader in a new class of weapons. (VFI News)

These are ominous reports and a dangerous military alliance of nations. Continue to intercede that Israel will be exceedingly cautious in its relationship with Russia.  While excellent rapport between the two powers is claimed by both Israeli and Russian leaders, Russia has its own agenda in the Middle East.  This agenda has repeatedly accommodated Israel’s worst enemies including Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah while claiming goodwill towards the Jewish state. Pray also for Islamist power to be toppled in Iran and every nuclear ambition which threatens Israel and the nations to be thwarted.