VFI News May 19, 2020

Just Released: Brand New Music Video from Barry & Batya Segal

“But your many enemies will become like fine dust, the ruthless hordes like blown chaff.” -Isaiah 29:5

Shalom Aleichem / Peace to You (שלום עליכם) is a traditional song that is sung on Shabbat eve by many Jewish families around the world. Its traditional text and haunting melody welcome the angels of peace as the Sabbath enters. Enjoy it with your family, and Peace to You.


Knesset Approves First New Israeli Gov’t Since 2015

After more than 500 days of deadlock, the Thirty-Fifth Government of Israel was officially voted into power Sunday afternoon—ending nearly a year and a half of political deadlock and three successive general elections within the span of less than one year.

The new unity government, led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and alternate premier Benny Gantz, is set to last just three years—rather than the standard four years for a government—with Gantz rotating in as prime minister after eighteen months.

The new unity government includes a total of 74 MKs from both the Right and Left, including 36 members of the Likud, 15 MKs from the center-left Blue and White, nine lawmakers from Shas, seven from United Torah Judaism, three from the Israeli Labor Party, two from the centrist Derech Eretz (which split off from Telem), one from the Jewish Home, and one from Gesher. (VFI News)

Prayer point: “God, we ask that you give our leaders wisdom and courage as they guide us through the course of history, according to Your will.”

He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. –Isaiah 11:12

Israeli Gov't Research Center Files Patents for 8 Coronavirus Antibodies

Earlier this month, the Defense Ministry revealed that IIBR had completed a groundbreaking scientific development, identifying an antibody that neutralizes the coronavirus, a development that Bennett called “a major breakthrough.”

That scientific breakthrough had three key parameters: The antibody is monoclonal, new and refined, and contains an exceptionally low proportion of harmful proteins; the institute has demonstrated the ability of the antibody to neutralize the novel coronavirus, and the antibody was specifically tested on the aggressive coronavirus.

“Based on comprehensive scientific publications from around the globe, it appears that the IIBR is the first institution to achieve a scientific breakthrough that meets all three of the aforementioned parameters simultaneously,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement on behalf of the institute. (VFI News)

Prayer point: “God, we ask that you aid those who are researching treatments for this terrible pandemic—that you would give them wisdom and encouragement, and that you would speed their progress.”

Israel and India Collaborate to Battle Covid-19

Dana Kursh, Consul General of Israel to South India, highlighted in an article Friday to New Indian Express News the shared methods and approaches both India and Israel have taken in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the shared approaches she mentioned included solutions for respirators, an important medical device used to combat coronavirus, in addition to hand sanitation, symptom detection, antimicrobial fabrics and other instruments.

Another area noted by Kursh, includes recent innovations such as telemedicine and drive-in testing centers, along with the development of a unique low cost and "open source" respirator by the Israel Air Force, in collaboration with Microsoft Israel, Magen David Adom, and other national services and companies.

India and Israel have extensive economic, scientific, military, cultural and strategic bilateral relations, which have continued to grow in recent years. Currently, India is the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment, while Israel is the second-largest defense supplier to India after Russia. (VFI News)

Holy Jewish Site of Esther and Mordechai Set Ablaze in Iran

The Tomb of Mordechai and Esther, located in the Iranian city of Hamadan, was reportedly set on fire overnight Thursday, according to a Friday tweet by National Director of Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Jonathan Greenblatt.

"Disturbing reports from Iran that the tomb of Esther & Mordechai, a holy Jewish site, was set afire overnight. We hope that the authorities bring the perpetrators of this antisemitic act to justice & commit to protecting the holy sites of all religious minorities in Iran,” he wrote.

Prior to the arson of the tomb, one Twitter user named Mohammad Mahdi Akhyar threatened to destroy the holy site on May 14 in response to a tweet by Israel's Foreign Affairs' Farsi Twitter page.

It is unclear if the arson is connected to Israel's Independence Day.

US Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr strongly condemned the attack on the Tomb of Esther and Mordechai and said, "Iran's regime is the world's chief state sponsor of antisemitism."

(VFI News)

Think Tank Urges US to Designate Lebanese NGO as a Terror Entity

A report published Thursday by The Washington Institute urges the US Treasury Department to add the Lebanese environmental NGO Green Without Borders (GWB) its list of Specially Designated Global Terror entities, citing their “clear and undeniable material support to Hezbollah”.

The authors urged the United States to place sanctions against GWB, which is not currently classified as being a terror entity. The report also cites Hezbollah’s construction arm, Jihad al-Binaa, which has been designated by the US Treasury Department since 2007, as “…among GWB’s closest collaborators.

“By building surveillance posts, denying the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) unrestricted access in southern Lebanon, and granting Hezbollah logistical and operational platforms from which to fire rockets into Israel, GWB has effectively become part of Hezbollah’s military infrastructure,” it said.

The IDF has accused Hezbollah of establishing GWB observation posts near the Blue Line bordering Lebanon and Israel since April 2016 in order to gather intelligence. (VFI News)

“God, we ask that you guide our leaders to the decisions that are best for your children.” Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. –Romans 12:19-21

Israel’s Pluristem Shows Promise with High Survival Rates

A Haifa-based regenerative medicine company that has been treating COVID-19 patients with its biological therapeutic products reported that 75% of those treated were off any mechanical ventilation within 28 days.

Last month, Pluristem began testing its PLX cells on patients with COVID-19 in hopes of reducing the effects of the virus-induced pneumonia or pneumonitis and leading to a better prognosis.

Eighteen patients were treated under a compassionate use program in Israel, and the FDA single Patient Expanded Access Program. They were all in intensive care units, on invasive mechanical ventilation and suffered from Acute Respiratory Syndrome at the time of treatment.

So far, eight of the patients have completed a 28-day follow up period, with a survival rate of 87.5%.

In the New York area, only 3.3% (38 out of 1,151) patients who required mechanical ventilation during April and May were discharged alive, as reported by The Journal of the American Medical Association.

(VFI News)

Poll: Majority of Religious Americans Interpret Corona virus as a Sign From God

Nearly two-thirds of religious Americans feel the corona virus pandemic is a sign from God telling humanity to change its ways, a new online and telephone poll of 1,002 adults finds.

The University of Chicago Divinity School and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that many Americans, both religious and unaffiliated, appear to see a deeper message in the pandemic.

31% of American respondents who said they believe in God said they believe the virus is a sign from God indicating that humanity needs to change, and another 31% responded that they somewhat believe that the virus is a sign.

Interestingly, over half of the American believers said they feel at least somewhat that God will protect them from being infected—with Evangelical Protestants more likely than other groups to believe that.

Jews and Muslims, a much smaller religious population, did not make up a large enough sample size for the survey. (Daily Caller/VFI News)

Prayer point: “God, we ask that in this time of trial, you impress upon our hearts the changes that we, ourselves can make—to spread your mercy and your love when it’s most needed.”

Chinese Ambassador to Israel Found Dead

Du Wei, Chinese Ambassador to Israel, was found on Sunday without vital signs in his apartment in Herzliya, just three months into his position.

The circumstances of his death have not been confirmed—but according to KAN, the initial assessment of teams at the scene is that the ambassador died of natural causes, never waking up from his sleep.

A professional diplomat who, in his previous role, was China's ambassador to Ukraine—his death comes after he accused other countries last month of trying to make China the scapegoat of the corona virus pandemic.

“That is despicable and should be condemned,” Du said. “The disease is an enemy of the entire humankind and the world should fight it together.”

The ambassador, 58, leaves behind a wife and son, who were not with him in the country at the time. (NY Post/BBC/INN/VFI News)

Prayer point: “God, we pray for the comfort and healing of this man’s family—and that Israel may find peace and prosperity with her neighbors.”

Iran’s Khamenei Lashes out in Tweets Against Israel, UK

On Sunday, Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a series of tweets railing against Israel and Britain.

He wrote that “The Zionist regime & its criminal supporters recognize no bounds in brutality & trampling of moral norms. They consider genocide, destruction, the massacre of children & women, & any oppression permissible in Palestine. This rabid, predatory dog attacks innocent ppl.”

Khamenei wrote that “Britain has always been a source of evil & catastrophe for the nations in our region. They've hurt the lives of nations in ways unparalleled in the world. In a malicious move in Palestine, they displaced a nation & destroyed a country with a history of thousands of years.”

Khamenei has frequently denied the Holocaust, and in 2012 declared the need to "cut out the cancer" of Israel. (VFI News)

“God, we ask that you challenge the wicked, and those who seem set on their path of violence and hatred. We ask that you open their hearts to your love, and that you help us to show them your mercy.”