Thursday, 31 December 2020

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople blasts Moscow Patriarchate

A recent backlog item; as reported by Russian Faith, August 13, 2020:

Patriarch Bartholomew is a citizen of Turkey. He leads all Greek Orthodox churches in the United States of America, as well as the handful of Christians remaining in Istanbul, Turkey.
As reported by Tatyana Chaika of the Union of Orthodox Journalists, February 6, 2020 (links in original):

The Patriarchate of Constantinople is revered by spiritual children across the world, still there are the ungrateful who do not value its gifts, said Pat. Bartholomew.

On February 5, 2020, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople met with a group of clergy, professors, and students from Armenia, Romfea reports.

In his speech, Patriarch Bartholomew noted, “Constantinople is the spiritual womb of our nation, the ark in which everything that is sacred to our nation is preserved.”

He emphasized, “We consider this a special blessing and privilege from God, because we were granted this spirituality, this blessing to continue the tradition of many centuries, according to which our patriarchy is founded and worshiped not only by our own spiritual children but also by others, by the entire Orthodoxy, by the Christian world, by the whole mankind.”

According to him, the Patriarchate of Constantinople "is of particular value to us, the Greek Orthodox, as well as to all Orthodox faithful", while "the new Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, which were born from here, found healing. Unfortunately, there are unborn children and there are ungrateful ones who do not appreciate what they received from Constantinople – their Baptism, culture, the Cyrillic alphabet or otherwise.”

“The Church of Constantinople sacrificed itself, gave itself to others and, as grateful people tell us, the Mother Church, because She is the mother and still loves them all,” added the Phanar leader.

As reported by the UOJ, earlier Metropolitan Maxim (Vgenopoulos) of Silivria assured the head of Phanar that the Holy Theotokos is on his side “in the struggle of the Ecumenical Throne with its opponents, including the ungrateful Moscow Church.”
As reported by Yekaterina Filatova of the Union of Orthodox Journalists, August 11, 2020 (links in original):

Pat. Bartholomew spoke explicitly of visible and invisible enemies of the Mother Church, stressing that "we have ungrateful children, but we embrace them all with love."

The Head of the Phanar, Patriarch Bartholomew, called the Moscow Patriarchate, which broke off Eucharistic communion with Constantinople after the latter had granted autocephaly to Ukrainian schismatics, enemies and "ungrateful children." It was reported by the Orthodox Times.

Thus, according to the resource, Patriarch Bartholomew made a direct reference to both the visible and invisible enemies of the Mother Church of Constantinople and about the ungrateful children who benefited from the Church of Constantinople and yet “lifted heels of contempt against their benefactor.”

“We have enemies, it is not that we do not have, and in fact many,” the publication cites the patriarch. The enemies are not only who are declared, whom we know to be our enemies, but they are also the beneficiaries of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, its descendants, its spiritual descendants. So, we also have ungrateful children, but we embrace them all with love.”

The Phanar head recalled that on the occasion of the granting of Autocephaly to Ukraine, the Church of Russia “interrupted the Eucharistic communion and ceased to commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

“However, the Ecumenical Patriarchate did not interrupt communion with the Church of Russia. Even this morning, while officiating at St. Panteleimon in Galatas, we commemorated Patriarch Cyril of Moscow,” the Ecumenical Patriarch stressed.

“We continue to embrace everyone, enemies and friends, with our love and our prayer and our understanding,” Patriarch Bartholomew upheld.

He made special mention of the continuous interest of the Mother Church for her direct flock in Constantinople, and for her care for every believer, “regardless of his/her national origin, as she takes care of the worship needs and the spiritual support of the Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Moldavian, Gagauz and, more recently, of the Georgian Orthodox Christians, who came as immigrants and now live permanently in Constantinople, being a flock of the Mother Church.”

As reported by the UOJ, earlier Patriarch Bartholomew claimed that the Patriarchate of Constantinople "is of particular value to us, the Greek Orthodox, as well as to all Orthodox faithful", while "the new Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, which were born from here, found healing. Unfortunately, there are unborn children and there are ungrateful ones, who do not appreciate what they received from Constantinople – their Baptism, culture, the Cyrillic alphabet or otherwise.”
As reported by the Union of Orthodox Journalists, August 11, 2020:

The Ecumenical Patriarch made another direct reference to both the visible and invisible enemies of the Mother Church. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke about ungrateful children who benefited from the Church of Constantinople and yet, as he stressed, “lifted heels of contempt against their benefactor.”

“We have enemies, it is not that we do not have, and in fact many…. The enemies are not only who are declare, whom we know to be our enemies, but they are also the beneficiaries of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, its descendants, its spiritual descendants. “So, we also have ungrateful children, but we embrace them all with love.”

This direct shot, of course, was aimed at the Church of Russia, which on the occasion of the granting of Autocephaly to Ukraine, interrupted the Eucharistic communion and ceased to commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

“You know that on the occasion of the Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine the Moscow Patriarchate interrupted the communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, that is, with its Mother Church. However, the Ecumenical Patriarchate did not interrupted communion with the Church of Russia. “Even this morning, while officiating at St. Panteleimon in Galatas, we commemorated Patriarch Cyril of Moscow,” the Ecumenical Patriarch stressed, adding that “We continue to embrace everyone, enemies and friends, with our love and our prayer and our understanding.”

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew made special mention of the continuous interest of the Mother Church for her direct flock in Constantinople, and for her care for every believer, regardless of his/her national origin, as she takes care of the worship needs and the spiritual support of the Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Moldavian, Gagauz and, more recently, of the Georgian Orthodox Christians, who came as immigrants and now live permanently in Constantinople, being a flock of the Mother Church.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

U.S. federal court of appeals rules against New York restrictions on houses of worship

It's not guaranteed, but if you dare to stand up for your rights, there's a chance you might win; of course, you won't win if you cravenly bow the knee to Caesar, as many churches have done. As reported by Shira Hanau of Jewish Telegraphic Agency, December 28, 2020 (link in original):

A federal court of appeals ruled that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s capacity limits on houses of worship in areas with rising COVID-19 cases constituted a violation of religious liberty.

The ruling on Monday comes after a Supreme Court injunction last month blocking Cuomo from enforcing the rules until the lower court could reevaluate an earlier ruling that upheld state guidelines limiting synagogue attendance to 10 or 25 people.

The case, brought by the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America, an advocacy organization representing haredi Orthodox Jews, was one of the first religious liberty cases to be decided by the court’s new conservative majority. The appeals court ruling was celebrated by Agudath Israel as confirmation that it had achieved a victory for religious liberty.

“The courts have clearly recognized that the restrictions imposed by New York State violate the constitutional rights of those seeking to attend religious worship services,” Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, said in a statement Monday.

The court of appeals did not rule on the constitutionality of percentage capacity limits, which would have impacted smaller houses of worship. Houses of worship in zones with the highest rates of COVID-19, so-called red zones, were subjected to capacity limits of ten people or 25% of building capacity, whichever is fewer. In orange zones, the limit was 25 people or 33% of capacity, whichever is fewer.

The court ordered the district court to reevaluate its ruling on the percentage capacity limits imposed by Cuomo to determine if they discriminated against houses of worship.

Crimes against church buildings in Saskatchewan are increasing

As reported by Canadian Press, December 23, 2020:

REGINA - RCMP say they are dealing with a new trend in Saskatchewan involving a significant increase in crimes affecting churches.

Mounties have issued a "Crime Pattern Alert" about a growing number of thefts, break-ins, attempted break-ins and mischief involving places of worship.

Police say that from January to November there were 64 such crimes involving 55 churches — a 60 per cent increase in break-ins from 2019.

In most cases, the doors of churches were opened by force at night and thieves took money, electronics, computers, guitars, safes, freezers and refrigerators.

Investigators says all denominations are being targeted and nothing indicates the crime trend is motivated by hate, racism or ideology.

RCMP crime analyst Monica Deters says people and communities are being urged to make their churches more secure.

"This increase in church break-ins is concerning enough that it creates a pattern," Deters said Wednesday in a release.

"This new criminal trend is noticeable because these break-ins happened all year and across Saskatchewan. It is imperative that we all get involved to better secure these buildings."

RCMP say most of the crimes that affected churches this year are in the central part of the province.
I suspect this is the result of the buildings not being used during the plandemic; one thing that might deter crime would be for the buildings to reopen.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Vatican's 2020 nativity scene displays occult symbols

To quote renowned cultural observer James Stolee out of context: "What utter blasphemy!" As reported by Vigilant Citizen, December 15, 2020 (bold, links in original):

On December 11th, the Vatican unveiled its 2020 Nativity scene in St-Peter’s Square. And, once the red drape covering the scene was removed, the crowd discovered a towering, brutalist, and totem-like Angel Gabriel staring back at them, along with an astronaut and a masked executioner (yes, those guys who kill people who are sentenced to death).

Let’s say that the applause following the unveiling was “polite”. Here are some pictures of the Nativity scene.

An ominous-looking angel looks down at the crowd while Jesus remains covered in red cloth for a while (not sure why). Behind the figures is a neon light that is probably meant to look like mountains on the horizon. However, at first glance, it looks like lightning striking the Nativity scene.

An astronaut and a masked executioner are also included in the Nativity scene.

In a press release, a Vatican City Governorate announced that the manger “aims to be a sign of hope and faith for the whole world especially in this difficult time due to the COVID-19 health emergency.”

But this thing did not bring “hope and faith” at all. In fact, nearly all observers absolutely hated it.

In no way does this horned creature bring me Christmas joy. And to think, in a few weeks, he's going to be standing over a Baby Jesus at the Vatican.

How did we get here?

--The Catholic Traveler

It is almost as if the Vatican created – on purpose – something that is so ugly that it causes devout Christians to hate piece depicting the birth of Jesus. Satanists wouldn’t have done better.

Weaponized Ugliness

Titled “Monumental Nativity”, this Nativity scene was originally created between 1965 and 1975 by students and teachers from the FA Grue Art School in Castelli, Italy. The original work contained over 50 pieces, but only a few were selected for the Vatican’s Nativity scene and they chose an executioner wearing a horned mask.

“Monumental Nativity” is said to be a tribute to the world-renowned ceramic works of the Abruzzo region while giving a post-modern twist to the classic Nativity scene.

Speaking with a local newspaper, Italian art historian Andrea Cionci asked if it was a “nightmare or a masterpiece”.

“Forget the sweet face of the Madonna, the tender, luminous incarnation of the Child Jesus, the paternal sweetness of St. Joseph and the devout wonder of the shepherds. For the first time in the middle of Bernini’s colonnade, the Vatican has erected a brutally postmodern work dating back to the sixties. In the choice of this crib, all the themes of Francis’ pontificate are recognized: Above all, heavy modernism and a drastic break with Tradition.

The figures resemble the masks of the ancient and ferocious Samnites, ancestors of the Abruzzese, who had a pantheistic, animist, fetishist, magical religion, a bit like the Andean fertility goddess Pachamama.

Castelli’s “Nativity scene” is an outdated work and the product of a strongly ideological art school. The work offers an image of Castelli’s ceramics that most certainly does not correspond to reality, given that this admirable art is famous for its formal elegance and exquisite, delicate decorative inspiration that are completely absent here.

The references to the Greek, Egyptian and Sumerian sculptures of the characters suggest the liberal historical-critical method of interpreting Scripture. Liberal biblical scholars have hypothesized various aspects of the Bible as adaptations of pagan cultures rather than the result of divine revelation.”

Although “ugliness” is subjective, this Nativity scene nearly goes out of its way to be as unpleasant to the eye as possible which, in turn, is unpleasant to the soul. The least one can say is that this scene is anti-devotional. I mean, who would actually pray to this thing? You just can’t. And that’s kind of the goal of the twisted minds behind this thing.

Furthermore, beyond its overall ugliness, the Nativity scene also contains many symbols and historical references that convey a rather blatant message: This is actually an anti-Nativity scene.

Anti-Nativity

Usually, the center focus of Nativity scenes is baby Jesus. However, in this thing, Baby Jesus is basically a random toddler, just standing there, looking like a giant cork.

WORSHIP ME

The center focus of this piece is not Jesus but rather the angel Gabriel. He is surrounded by a massive aureola while Jesus is still standing there looking like a giant cork. Furthermore, the angel towers over everything atop a rib ribbed pillar. The overall shape of this pillar is highly reminiscent of an important symbol in Ancient Egypt: The Djed pillar.

On the right: A djed pillar dedicated to the goddess Hathor.

The djed is a common symbol in Ancient Egypt and is believed to represent the god Osiris, more specifically his spine. While this symbol probably bears an esoteric meaning relating to the chakras (which are said to be based on the spine), the djed is also phallic in nature and associated with fertility rites. In fact, the “raising of the djed” was an important ceremony in Ancient Egypt.

Did the Vatican deceptively make its believers witness a “raising of the djed” ceremony? One thing is for sure, the Egyptian influence of this Nativity scene blends well with what’s immediately behind it.

Right behind the Nativity scene is St. Peter’s obelisk (which is originally from Egypt).

The general layout of the Vatican is Egyptian magic in plain sight. The phallic obelisk (representing Osiris and the male principle) faces the womb-like dome of the St. Peter’s Basilica (representing Isis and the female principle). The same exact layout can be found in various power centers of the world, including Washington DC.

In Washington DC, an obelisk (the Washington monument) faces the dome of the U.S. Capitol.

In Egyptian magic, the union of male and female principles (Osiris and Isis) produces a “star child” (Horus). In esoteric terms, that star child is potent magical energy...

...the Vatican’s Nativity scene also features an astronaut. Why? God knows.

The astronaut appears to be holding/giving birth to something. Also, there’s an eight-pointed star on the helmet.

Considering the fact that this figure was created between 1965 and 1975, it might be a reference to the moon landing of 1969. But why, in 2020, did the Vatican select this thing to stand next to Jesus?

Even more baffling, why is there an executioner wearing a horned mask standing next to Jesus?

Even he’s thinking to himself: “What am I doing here?”.

In ancient times, executioners carried out the death sentences of legally condemned persons by chopping their heads off. In some cases, they wore grotesque masks with macabre and menacing traits to further terrify the prisoners while depersonalizing them as an individual. In short, that’s a bizarre figure to place next to a newborn baby Jesus, especially considering the fact that Jesus himself was ultimately sentenced to death.

According to Religion News Service, the executioner is there to represent the Vatican’s opposition to the death penalty. That’s a pretty weak argument that barely makes any sense. I mean, I’m pretty sure that the Vatican is also against crystal meth. Should they also add a meth dealer to the Nativity scene as well?

In a scene that is literally called “Nativity”, this horned figure represents death. It is the antithesis of a “Nativity”. I don’t think that Satanists would have done a better job desecrating a scene representing the birth of Jesus.

In Conclusion

In a way, this year’s Nativity scene is a sad reflection of the year 2020. It is a collection of expressionless and socially-distanced figures who do not interact with each other while standing under the neon glow of phone and computer screens.

It also reflects how the occult elite reared its ugly head this year, poisoning every aspect of our lives with its toxic agenda. Through a display that is thoroughly anti-Christian, the elite sought to prove that its toxic ideology is also embedded in the Vatican.

While “Monumental Nativity” was created decades ago, it was selected for this year’s 2020 Nativity scene for a specific reason: It contains specific symbols while conveying a specific energy. Like everything else that happened this year, this scene is about showcasing the control of the elite and the demoralization of the masses.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Pope Francis approves Covid-19 vaccine despite its links to abortion

If any pope ever deserved the title of "Antichrist," it's Cardinal Bergoglio from Argentina; he gets more brazen in his promotion of ungodliness every time you look around. As reported by Tyler Van Dyke of the Washington Examiner, December 21, 2020 (links in original):

Pope Francis approved a note released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith on Monday, condoning the use of coronavirus vaccines that have an indirect connection to abortion, saying it is "morally acceptable" to receive the vaccine.

"It is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process," the CDF wrote. "All vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive."

The letter was signed by Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, the Vatican prefect, and Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, Vatican secretary. Pope Francis approved the text on Dec. 17 and released the note Monday.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were involved in a commonly employed "confirmatory test" that relies on HEK293, a cell line derived from a human embryonic kidney cell from a fetus that was aborted in the 1970s. Because of this, some Catholics have expressed concerns about the ethics of getting the vaccine, with some calling for Catholics to "reject a vaccine which has been produced immorally."

The papal notice follows a similar missive from bishops in the United States who sanctioned getting the vaccine despite concerns from members of the Catholic community. One Texas church leader, Bishop Joseph Strickland, said that he "urge[d] all who believe in the sanctity of life to reject a vaccine which has been produced immorally."

"In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use, despite their remote connection to morally compromised cell lines," the committees wrote, referring to the use of HEK293-derived tests. "Being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good."

The CDF's note continues a trend in previous pronouncements, according to Vatican News. As recently as 2017, the Holy See said the value of vaccines and their distance from contemporary abortion practices "lead us to exclude that there is a morally relevant cooperation between those who use these vaccines today and the practice of voluntary abortion."

"The morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good," the CDF said. "In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed."

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Morocco follows United Arab Emirates, Sudan, and Bahrain in normalizing diplomatic relations with Israel

Israel and her neighbours seem to have formed a "Peace Agreement of the Month Club" in recent months. First, there was the United Arab Emirates, as reported by Linda Gradstein of VOA News, October 20, 2020:

JERUSALEM - A senior delegation from the United Arab Emirates arrived in Israel for the first official visit since the two countries signed a peace agreement last month. They signed a series of bilateral agreements, including a visa waiver agreement.

A very happy Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the UAE delegation, saying “today we are making history.”

"The enthusiasm for this peace agreement among our people is enormous. It’s real, it’s broad, it’s deep, and it reflects the potential that is realized today," said Netanyahu.

One of the agreements says that Israelis will not need visas to visit the UAE, and Emiratis can visit Israel freely as well. With direct flights expected to start by January, the Israeli tourist industry, which has been hit hard by COVID-19, hopes for 250,000 Emiratis to visit a year. Some Israeli tour companies are already marketing trips to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The two also inaugurated a three-billion dollar trilateral fund among Israel, the UAE and the US to encourage investment.

For Netanyahu, the UAE’s short delegation visit was a welcome break from his electoral woes. His popularity has plummeted amid criticism of his handling of the pandemic, and his trial on several charge of corruption is set to start in January.

President Trump also hopes the accord, which was signed last month in Washington, will give him an electoral boost. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the accords could transform the Middle East.

"The Abraham Accords established direct economic ties between two of the Middle East’s most thriving and advanced economies," said Mnuchin. "These ties create a tremendous foundation for economic growth, opportunity, innovation and prosperity."

For the UAE, Israel offers high tech innovation and business opportunities. UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Huamid Al Tayer said both countries offer opportunities."The UAE will continue to be a regional leader in terms of economic reform, openness in international trade, political stability and peacemaking," said Al Tayer.

"The economic cooperation in finance and investment will be realized after signing today the agreement for the promotion and protection of investment.

Because of COVID-19, the delegation did not leave the area of the airport. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu invited them back for a sightseeing trip when the pandemic passes.
Then there was Sudan; see my post Israel and Sudan agree to normalize relations (October 23, 2020).

Bahrain was next; as reported by France 24, November 18, 2020:

Bahrain and Israel said on Wednesday they would open embassies, establish online visa systems and launch weekly flights between the countries soon, in a broadened cooperation promoted by Washington as an economic boon and means of isolating Iran.

On the first official visit by Bahraini officials to Israel, the Gulf kingdom’s foreign minister, Abdellatif al-Zayani, was welcomed Wednesday at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport by his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi, a live Israeli television broadcast showed.

Bahrain and its Gulf neighbour the United Arab Emirates both signed US-sponsored normalisation accords with Israel at the White House on September 15, pacts that were condemned as a "betrayal" by the Palestinians and their allies.

The agreements shattered a longstanding Arab consensus that there should be no normalisation with Israel until it reaches a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.

The Bahraini envoys went on to Jerusalem, which Israel, with US backing, considers its capital. Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem for a state, have been outraged by the Arab countries' engagement with Israel while their own goals are unmet.

In a possible sign of a rethink, a senior Palestinian official told Reuters that Palestinian ambassadors would return to Abu Dhabi and Manama after having been recalled in protest.

Al-Zayani's trip coincided with a visit to Israel by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who hailed the regional rapprochement brokered by the Trump administration as it presses sanctions against Iran.

The normalisation deals "tell malign actors like the Islamic Republic of Iran that their influence in the region is waning and that they are ever more isolated and shall forever be until they change their direction", Pompeo said alongside his Bahraini counterpart and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Al-Zayani announced that, as of December 1, Bahrainis and Israelis will be able to apply online for entry visas. He also submitted a request to open a Bahraini embassy in Israel and said an Israeli embassy had been approved for Manama.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Askenazi, who is due to visit Manama next month, said he hoped opening ceremonies for the embassies would be held by the end of 2020.

Sudan followed Bahrain and UAE in announcing last month it would move towards ties with Israel...

...The United States has very close relations with Bahrain too. The tiny but strategic kingdom just across the Gulf from Iran is home to the US Fifth Fleet.

All three allies – Israel, Bahrain and the US – see the mainly Shiite Muslim regional power Iran as a common threat.

Al-Zayani's visit is expected to be followed by others.

On Tuesday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin sent an official invitation to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayad Al-Nahyan, seen by many as the UAE's de facto ruler.
The latest to join the club is Morocco; as reported by Steve Holland of Reuters, December 10, 2020:

WASHINGTON -Israel and Morocco agreed on Thursday to normalize relations in a deal brokered with U.S. help, making Morocco the fourth Arab country to set aside hostilities with Israel in the past four months.

It joins the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in beginning to forge deals with Israel, driven in part by U.S.-led efforts to present a united front against Iran and roll back Tehran’s regional influence.

In a departure from longstanding U.S. policy, President Donald Trump agreed as part of the deal to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara, a desert region where a decades-old territorial dispute has pitted Morocco against the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, a breakaway movement that seeks to establish an independent state...

...Trump sealed the Israel-Morocco accord in a phone call with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Thursday, the White House said.

“Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Mohammed told Trump that Morocco intends to facilitate direct flights for Israeli tourists to and from Morocco, according to a statement from Morocco’s royal court.

“This will be a very warm peace. Peace has never - the light of peace on this Hanukkah day has never - shone brighter than today in the Middle East,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, referring to a Jewish eight-day holiday starting on Thursday night.

Palestinians have been critical of the normalization deals, saying Arab countries have set back the cause of peace by abandoning a longstanding demand that Israel give up land for a Palestinian state before it can receive recognition.

Egypt and UAE issued statements welcoming Morocco’s decision. Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979.

“This step, a sovereign move, contributes to strengthening our common quest for stability, prosperity, and just and lasting peace in the region,” Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, wrote on Twitter.

But Senator Jim Inhofe, the Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Armed Services Committee, denounced Trump’s “shocking and deeply disappointing” decision to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. Inhofe said people living in the area should vote in a referendum to decide their future.

“The president has been poorly advised by his team. He could have made this deal without trading the rights of a voiceless people,” Inhofe said in a statement.

A senior U.S. official said Trump knew about Inhofe’s opposition to recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. But Inhofe’s argument lost ground with the president when the senator refused to hold up the annual defense spending bill when Trump demanded it be used to repeal a law granting liability protection to tech companies, the official said...

...Under the agreement, Morocco will establish full diplomatic relations and resume official contacts with Israel.

“They are going to reopen their liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv immediately with the intention to open embassies. And they are going to promote economic cooperation between Israeli and Moroccan companies,” Kushner told Reuters.

Trump’s agreement to change U.S. policy on the Western Sahara was the linchpin for getting Morocco’s agreement and a major shift away from a mostly neutral stance.

In Rabat, Morocco’s royal court said Washington will open a consulate in Western Sahara as part of Morocco’s deal with Israel.

A White House proclamation said the United States believes that an independent Sahrawi state is “not a realistic option for resolving the conflict and that genuine autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only feasible solution.”

“We urge the parties to engage in discussions without delay, using Morocco’s autonomy plan as the only framework to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution,” it said.

Washington had supported a 1991 ceasefire between Morocco and the Western Sahara’s Polisario Front independence movement that called for a referendum to resolve the issue. Last month, after a border incident, the Polisario pulled out of that deal and announced a return to armed struggle.

A representative of the Polisario Front said it “regrets highly” the U.S. change in policy, which it called “strange but not surprising.”

“This will not change an inch of the reality of the conflict and the right of the people of Western Sahara to self determination,” the Polisario’s Europe representative Oubi Bchraya said.
For further reading, see Joel Rosenberg's views: Peace on earth? Arab-Israeli peace deals seem like Hanukkah miracles (December 15, 2020).

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

250 members of "lost" "Sons of Manasseh" make aliyah from India to Israel

And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,
And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
Deuteronomy 30:1-5

As reported by Israel365 News, December 14, 2020:

Jerusalem – Tonight, 250 members of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community of northeastern India will make Aliyah via a special flight chartered by both Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and the Jerusalem-based nonprofit Shavei Israel.

The Bnei Menashe, or sons of Manasseh, from Mizoram and Manipur claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel who were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago. Their ancestors wandered through Central Asia and the Far East for centuries, before settling along the borders of what are now Burma and Bangladesh. Throughout their sojourn in exile, the Bnei Menashe continued to practice Judaism just as their ancestors did, including observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, celebrating the festivals, and following the laws of family purity. They continue to nourish the dream of one day returning to the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.

The effort was coordinated by Shavei Israel, a nonprofit organization founded by Michael Freund, who immigrated to Israel from the United States with the aim of strengthening the ties between the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the descendants of Jews around the world. The organization is currently active in more than a dozen countries and provides assistance to a variety of communities such as the Bnei Menashe of India, the Bnei Anousim (referred to by the derogatory term “Marranos” by historians) in Spain, Portugal, and South America, the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, the Jewish community of Kaifeng in China, descendants of Jews living in Poland, and others.
See also my posts: Jews from "lost tribe" move from India to Israel (December 24, 2012)

More descendants of "lost tribe" from India arrive in Israel (April 19, 2017)

Ancient oil lamp factory discovered in Israel

As reported by Israel365 News, December 14, 2020:

One of the largest ceramic oil-lamp workshops in Israel has been discovered by Israel Antiquities Authority excavations in Beit Shemesh. Hundreds of ceramic oil lamps, two bearing symbols of the menorah and stone lamp molds for their production were found along with terracotta figurines which were made about 1600–1700 years ago. In the past few months, the Israel Antiquities Authority excavations aided by dozens of pre-military program students. The large-scale archaeological excavations are being carried out prior to the establishment of a new neighborhood by the Ministry of Construction and Housing.

The discovery of the lamps, used for lighting in ancient times, surprised the archaeologists not only because of their quantity and quality, but also because it solved an archaeological mystery connected with them:

In 1934, archaeologist Dimitri Baramki, an inspector on behalf of the Department of Antiquities during the British Mandate, discovered a water cistern in the region of Beit Shemesh. On excavating the cistern, he was surprised to uncover an ancient ‘treasure’ — a huge quantity of intact oil lamps bearing animal and plant motifs and geometric designs. The lamps are dated to the Late Roman period (third–fourth centuries CE) and became known as ‘Beit Nattif lamps’ after the name of the nearby village and have become an archaeological hallmark. Together with the lamps, Baramki recovered stone lamp molds and a wide variety of pottery figurines depicting animals, horse-riders, women, and birds.

After the British Mandate-era discovery, the location of the cistern was lost and has remained a mystery, despite all efforts to re-locate it.

“As part of the Beit Shemesh development program, we examined an area on the edge of the ancient remains of Khirbet Beit Nattif,” explain excavation directors Moran Balila, Itai Aviv, Nicolas Benenstein and Omer Shalev. “We uncovered a water cistern that looked, at first sight, like many others in the region. But to our surprise, excavation beside the cistern began unearthing massive quantities of oil lamps, stone lamp molds and figurine fragments.” When the archaeologists entered the cistern, which was still intact, they were amazed to find that they recognized it from photos appearing in Baramki’s excavation publication. The cistern also contained items left behind by Baramki himself, including leather baskets used to extract soil and an empty metal box. “The Beit Nattif oil-lamp cistern has been brought back to life!” the archaeologists say. “We are extremely excited, since this is not just an important archaeological discovery in its own right, but also tangible evidence of archaeological history.”

“The figurines and the motifs on the lamps from the Beit Nattif region tell the story of the Judean Hills in the period following the Bar Kokhba Revolt,” explains Benyamin Storchan of the Israel Antiquities Authority, an expert on the Beit Nattif lamps. “From the writings of Josephus, we know that in during the Second Temple period, Beit Nattif was a regional administrative center — one of the ten principal cities under Hasmonean rule. After the failure of the Bar Kokhba Revolt and Roman takeover of the region, the local Jewish population of the Judean Hills was greatly diminished and in turn, the region was settled by pagans. The many figurines unearthed at the site attest to this. At the same time, a small number of the ceramic oil lamps area decorated with distinctively Jewish symbols such as the shofar, incense burner and seven branched menorah. The fragment tell us that Jewish life continued to exist in the Judean Hills, well after the rebellion’s failure. Obviously, the oil-lamp workshop produced these lamps in response to a continued demand in the region. During this period, Christianity also began to emerge and some of the Beit Nattif oil-lamps carry fish motifs, one of the symbols of Christianity. The sheer variety of lamps and figurines therefore proves that the local population featured a mix of pagans, Christians and Jews..."

...“The festival of Hanukkah is a wonderful opportunity to tell the public about the recovery of these oil lamps, which was the main method of lighting in ancient times,” the archaeologists say. In light of the importance of the find and its location, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Ministry of Construction and Housing plan to preserve the site and incorporate it in a large park that will be open to the public.
Beit Nattif lamps (Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Finds from the Beit Nattif excavation (Itai Aviv, Israel Antiquities Authority)