Sunday, 28 February 2021

Equatorial Guinea plans to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem

As reported by Ron Kampeas of Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 21, 2021:

Equatorial Guinea is the latest country that plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

The pledge came in a conversation Friday with the oil-rich African nation’s president, Teodoro Mbasogo, Netanyahu’s office said.

Netanyahu has throughout his 11 years in continuous leadership pressed for greater Israeli engagement with Africa. Netanyahu “noted that Israel is continuing to deepen its cooperation with African countries and said that Israel is returning to Africa and Africa is returning to Israel in a big way,” his office’s statement said.

The United States and Guatemala have moved their embassies to Jerusalem since 2018, and about half a dozen other countries have pledged to do so as part of a diplomatic initiative launched by former President Donald Trump.

A handful of nations had embassies in Jerusalem until the early 1980s; most keep embassies in Tel Aviv, not recognizing Israel’s claim to the city until its status is resolved in a peace deal with the Palestinians.
See also my posts:

El Salvador denies that it's moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Ramallah (January 28, 2016)

U.S. President Donald Trump declares Jerusalem to be Israel's capital (December 7, 2017)

Guatemala follows U.S.A.'s lead in announcing that it will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (December 25, 2017)

South Africa downgrades its embassy in Israel to a liaison office (January 2, 2018)

Czech Republic recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital (January 2, 2018)

Romania reportedly intends to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem (January 2, 2018)

Philippines denies reports that it intends to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem (January 2, 2018)

Conservative Party of Canada promises to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital--if they ever get back into power (March 1, 2018)

Paraguay and Honduras are reported to be ready "in principle" to move their Israeli embassies to Jerusalem (March 16, 2018)

Honduran Congress votes to move the country's Israeli embassy to Jerusalem (April 18, 2018)

Australia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel's capital (December 17, 2018)

Israel punishes Paraguay for moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, and then back to Tel Aviv (December 31, 2018)

Brazil to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in 2020 (December 17, 2019)

Israeli and Sudanese leaders agree to move toward normalization of relations, while Uganda studies moving its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem (February 3, 2020)

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Jews not mentioned among religious groups invited to Pope Francis' inter-religious prayer service in Iraq

Pope Francis continues his efforts to unite the world's religions; as reported by Mohammed Aty of Reuters, February 22, 2021:

BAGHDAD - Pope Francis is due to hold an inter-religious prayer service at the ancient Mesopotamian site of Ur when he visits Iraq next week - an event local archeologists hope will draw renewed attention to the place revered as the birthplace of Abraham.

Popular with Western visitors in the 1970s and 1980s, Ur is scarcely visited today after decades of war and political instability shattered Iraq’s international tourism industry. The coronavirus crisis now also keeps local tourists away.

Located about 300 km (200 miles) south of the capital Baghdad, the site comprises a pyramid-style Ziggurat and an adjacent residential complex as well as temples and palaces.

It was excavated about 100 years ago by Leonard Woolley, a Briton who recovered treasures rivalling those found in Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt. But little work has since been doneon one of the world’s oldest cities, where urban dwelling, writing and central state power began.

According to the State Board for Antiquities and Heritage director for Ur, Ali Kadhim Ghanim, the complex next to the Ziggurat dates back to about 1900 BC...

...According to Ghanim, the housing settlement was restored in 1999, after Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope John Paul II, announced a trip to Iraq. But his visit was cancelled when negotiations with the government of then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein broke down.

This time, Ghanim hopes that Pope Francis’ visit will attract international attention to the site, which he says is badly needed to fund restoration works on its palaces and temples.

“Not only tourism, but we believe that there will be a Christian pilgrimage season,” Ghanim said.

Un Ponte Per, an Italian-based organisation, is working with the United Nations Development Programme on infrastructure works such as paths, rest areas and signposts to help visitors.

Roads around the site are being renovated and powerlines extended ahead of the pope’s visit.

But without adequate funding, Ghanim says his administration has been limited to containing further damage to the site, such as digging trenches to divert rainwater from the ruins.

Basra’s Archbishop Habib al-Naufaly stressed the symbolic importance of the pope’s March 5-8 visit as Iraq is still recovering from the war against Islamic State that destroyed scores of Christian heritage sites.

The inter-religious prayer service will be attended by Christians, Muslims, Mandaean-Sabaean, Yazidi and other religious minorities present in Iraq.

The focus will be on harmony between religious groups in a service the Vatican has named “Prayer for the sons and daughters of Abraham”.
As reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz of Israel365 News, February 24, 2021 (links in original):

...Iraq declared war on the newly established Jewish state in 1948 and since then the two countries have technically been in a state of war. Iraqi forces participated in wars against Israel in 1967 and 1973.

The plight of the Christians in the Muslim country is not much better. Twenty years ago, Pew Research Center reported there were 1.4 million professing Christians in Iraq, but today there are only about 270,000.

Despite the oppression of Christians and suppression of Christianity, Iraq seems to hold a fascination for the Vatican. Pope John Paul II, planned a trip to Iraq in 1999 but his visit was canceled when negotiations with the government of then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein broke down...

...The pyramidic ziggurat, located about 200 miles south of the capital Baghdad, is a Neo-Sumerian structure located in what was the city of Ur near Nasiriyah, in present-day Dhi Qar Province. In ancient times, this ziggurat served as a religious center as it was part of a temple complex dedicated to idolatry. The recovery of about 2,000 burials by archaeologists indicates that the site, excavated about 100 years ago by Leonard Woolley, was used for the practice of human sacrifice on a large scale. The bodies were buried in elaborate graves nearby. The sacrificial murders were carried out by a sharp instrument being driven into their heads after which they were buried in elaborate funerals. Their bodies were usually arranged neatly, the women in an elaborate headdress, the men with weapons at their side.

The ziggurat also holds great significance to modern despots. In the 1980s, Saddam Hussein restored the façade of the massive lower foundation of the ziggurat, insisting that his own name be stamped on all of the modern bricks used in the reconstruction. He also built his personal palace to mirror the ziggurat. In 1981, the site was where celebrations took place to commemorate the first anniversary of the Iraqi invasion of Iran, with officials using the slogan, Nebuchadnasar al-ams Saddam Hussein al-yawm (yesterday Nebuchadnezzar, today Saddam Hussein). During the war led by American and coalition forces, Saddam Hussein parked his MiG fighter jets next to the Ziggurat.

The timing of the papal visit is auspicious and perhaps even prophetic. It will come right after the Jewish holiday of Purim commemorating the salvation of the Jews of Iraq from Haman, the descendent of Agag, King of Amalek and whose connection to the future war of Gog is hinted at by the Prophet Ezekiel.

As those who traverse the country make their rounds, any one of them who sees a human bone shall erect a marker beside it, until the buriers have interred them in the Valley of Gog’s Multitude. Ezekiel 39:15

The Hebrew word for ‘multitude’ is הֲמוֹן (Hamon, similar to the name Haman). Haman is known as an Agagite, also connecting him at least etymologically with Gog.

The visit also comes a few weeks before the “twenty-fourth day of the first month (Nisan)”, the day on which Daniel had his vision, described in chapter 10, that took place on the Mesopotamian River Tigris. In his enigmatic vision, Daniel saw, “a man dressed in linen, his loins girt in fine gold,” and the “sound of his speech was like the noise of a multitude.” The man in the vision gave Daniel a message:

“Do you know why I have come to you? Now I must go back to fight the prince of Persia. When I go off, the prince of Greece will come in. Daniel 10:20

Many modern interpretations of prophecy identify Persia as Iran and Greece, a country founded by the offspring of Esav, as Catholicism.

Since ascending to the papacy in 2013, Pope Francis has been working openly to bring Esau and Ishmael together by enhancing Christian-Muslim relations. On the return flight from a recent visit to Morocco, where the official state religion is Islam, the Pope spoke with journalists about his vision for uniting the descendants of Esau and the descendants of Ishmael.

In 2016, Pope Francis hosted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Vatican.

These efforts by Pope Francis culminated in 2019 when he signed the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azha, an agreement that was harshly criticized by Catholics and Muslims alike.

Jewish tradition contains a prophecy that the children of Esau (today’s Western nations) and the children of Ishmael (today’s Arab nations) will unite against the Jewish people at the End of Days.

This alliance was forged at the very beginning of the Bible when Esau married Ishmael’s daughter, Mahalath, whose name means ‘disease’.

So Esau went unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives that he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife. (Genesis 28:9)

This is explained by Rabbi Yechiel Weitzman explains in his book The Ishmaelite Exile “During the End of Days, Ishmael and Esau will join forces to seek the destruction of the Jewish people.”

Rabbi Weitzman concluded his introduction to the End of Days alliance with good news. “At the very outset of their history, Ishmael and Esau forged a bond through marriage. And so it shall be at the End of Days. This alliance between them will bring history to its culmination in the redemption.”
While Jewish tradition and eschatology may be interesting, the Bible itself is the only authoritative and reliable source of truth.