But the end of all things is at hand;
Therefore be serious and watchful
In your prayers.
I Peter 4:7

~ Land Sale Death Penalty ~

      Although largely unreported in this country, one of the hot stories in Israel is the imposition, by Yasser Arafat, of the death penalty for any Palestinian Authority resident who sells land to a Jew. This penalty has now been imposed, not by legal trial, but merely because of the comments of Arafat who says he supports an old Jordanian law to that effect. Arafat said; "We are talking about isolated traitors and we will impose against them what is on the law books. That is our right and our obligation to protect our land." (All without any local Palestinian law or due process, however.)
      As of June 1st, two land dealers have been found dead. The first was Farid Bashiti, 70, of east Jerusalem. He was found dead on May 9 in Ramallah. His hands were tied behind his back, his mouth was sealed with tape, and his skull was crushed.
      The most recent body is that of Harbi Abu Sara, 46, of Em Yabrud which is near Ramallah. He was found in Ramallah with four bullet holes in his head.
      Eighteen other Arab land dealers have been arrested and are being held. Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority Justice Minister, Frieh Abu Medein, said he had a list of 200 other suspects.

      Both the United States and Israel have condemned Arafat for his unconscionable remarks which led to the murders. Israeli Internal Security Minister, Avigdor Kahalani, criticized Arafat before the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) saying; "We haven’t seen this style, which allows someone to murder someone else without a trial, for a long time in the Middle East. Does Arafat allow every person on the street to take the law into his own hands?"
      It has long been known, by those who are close observers of the Middle East situation, that Yasser Arafat, despite his smooth words when he talks to Western reporters and politicians, is bent on removing all Jews from the Middle East. His current game plan is taken from the example of his spiritual mentor, Mohammed, the founder of Islam. Arafat is not strong enough to defeat Israel so he alternately talks peace and war in order to gain what advantage he can with as little bloodshed as possible. When the Moslem Arabs again believe they can completely destroy Israel, they will once more bring out their weapons of war. 1948, 1967, and 1973 all over again.
      (All quotes from The Jerusalem Post International Edition, for the week ending May 31, 1997.)

~ ~ ~

~ Genetic Link Discovered ~

      (The following article was sent to us by a reader from England. While we are not sure of the exact source, we have also heard the story from others as well, so we believe it to be true. The complete article is quoted below.)
      "Jews of the priestly tribe (Kohanim) -- both Ashkenazi and Sephardi -- have been found to share a variation of the Y chromosome, linking them as descendants of Aaron the High Priest who lived 3,300 years ago, as reported briefly in last week’s Jewish Telegraph.
      "This was the result of a study conducted by Prof. Karl Skorecki, a senior nephrologist at Rambam Hospital in Haifa and head of molecular medicine at the Technion’s medical school, along with colleagues in Haifa, London and Arizona.
      "Their finding was published last week in the British science journal Nature. The researchers took samples of genetic material from unrelated Jewish men in the three countries, and asked them whether they were from the priestly tribe. Tissue was taken by swabbing the inside of their cheeks.
      "The phenotypes of 188 secular and religious Jews who said they were Kohanim were different from those who said the weren’t. Skorecki said the researchers did not identify Kohanim according to their names (such as Cohen or other names of Kohanim such as Rappaport or Shapiro), but by asking them to state if they were Kohanim. Skorecki, who is himself a Cohen, said the idea for the study came to him when he was attending synagogue services and saw another Cohen being called up to the Torah for the first aliya. ‘I looked at him and noted we didn’t look alike,’ he said, ‘but that nevertheless, according to tradition, we both descended from the priestly tribe. I wanted to know if it were possible to find a genetic connection.
      "Based on surveys of Jewish gravestones, about 5% of the seven million male Jews around the world belong to the priestly tribe. The priesthood performed major Jewish rituals from the time of Aaron and received fixed portions of the sacrifices in the First and Second Temples.
      "Since the destruction of the Temple, the priesthood -- handed down from father to son -- has bound its members by certain obligations, such as keeping ritually pure at a distance from the dead and not marrying a divorcee. Skorecki and his team found a preponderance of the YAP,DYSI9B haplotype in Kohanim of both Ashkenazi and Sephardi origin (as well as a few Yemenites), but not in the non-Kohanim.
      "‘This served as further evidence that the Jewish priesthood predated the division of world Jewry into these two major ethnic groups more than 1,000 years ago. Any differences in the gene structure would reflect molecular-biological changes due to mutations; these are useful in calibrating the rate of mutations in the genes and observing human molecular evolution,’ he added.
      "The Y chromosome, carried only by men, is passed patrilineally; mitichondrial DNA is transmitted by the mother’s X chromosomes.
      "‘The Y chromosome is not very important; half of the world’s population manages fine without it. But it can provide some anthropological information,’ Skorecki explained. He added it was impressive how the characteristic Y chromosome was passed down to today’s Kohanim despite periods of assimilation over the millennia.
      "‘Even secular Jews seem to know if they are of the priestly tribe,’ says the professor. But he added that if the trends of secularism, assimilation and intermarriage continue in the Diaspora, the number of Jews with this priestly haplotype will probably decline." (JPFS)

~ ~ ~

~ Israelis Return ~
~ To Religion ~

      According to a recent poll, the Israeli people are returning to their Jewish Roots.
      The poll was conducted by Dr. Mina Tzemah and it found that 17% of the Jewish population had become more observant during the last six years.

~ Israeli Believers ~
~ Face Persecution ~

      While many Believers hailed the election of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last May, few realized that his election would bring a new era of persecution upon those who hold that Yeshua is the Messiah of the Jewish people (as well as the entirety of the world). However, this is what is about to happen in Israel unless God intervenes to stop it.
      The problem is a bill that has been introduced into the Knesset which is referred to as; "Prohibition of Inducement for religious Conversion, 174C." The bill reads as follows: "Anyone who possesses, produces, imports, copies or disseminates material which may be used in any way to induce another to change his religion is to be imprisoned for one year and the material is to be confiscated."

      The bill enjoys overwhelming support in the Knesset by both the right wing religious parties and the left leaning Labor Party. The bill is co-sponsored by Moshe Gafni (Torah Judaism Party) and Nissim Zvili (Labor Party). The bill is currently in committee but is due to be voted on soon. Unlike the United States, a bill in the Knesset cannot die in committee since Israel’s legislative system requires that Committees present bills to the Knesset floor within six months of the Committee’s approval.
      Not only does the bill make written material about Yeshua illegal, it also contains provisions that would make current non-profit Messianic Jewish organizations in Israel, such as colleges, congregations and other organizations illegal.
      There is a knee-jerk reaction among most Israeli Jews (whether they are observant, agnostic or atheist) against the proselytizing methods of many Christians. This natural antagonism was ignited into a fierce flame last fall when Morris Cerullo sent one million unsolicited books entitled, HaShalom (The Peace) to Israeli households.

      The reaction was immediate and vitriolic. Hundreds of Orthodox Jews demonstrated by burning the books in bonfires. One Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi was reported to have said that observant Jewish Postal workers should destroy the book if they see it coming through their Post Office.
      According to the Spring 1997 issue of the Messianic Times; "The Orthodox definition of ‘missionary materials’ is anything that propagates the name of Messiah Yeshua."

      "The Orthodox community is preparing for action as soon as the proposed bill becomes law. Two bearded men walked into the Bible shop in Be’er Sheva last week, surveyed the books on display and said to one another in a manner meant to be overheard; ‘The law hasn’t passed yet. We can’t do anything at this stage.’ They then intimated to the lady in charge of the shop that they ‘would be back’ and ‘take her away.
(Moaz Newsletter, June 1997).

~ Proposed Letter of Protest ~
(from Moaz Newsletter, June 1997)

To be sent to the Israeli Embassy
in your country and to:

The Honorable Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister’s Office
Jerusalem, Israel

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

      The Knesset has passed, in a Preliminary reading, a Private Members’ Bill (Amendment to Penal Law 5737 - 1977, proposed paragraph 174C) which would restrict freedom of expression in Israel. Your Government has intimated its support of such a bill by its consistent refusal to assure the many who have protested that you will take positive action against it, and by assuring us that it is not likely to be adopted by the Knesset. We have reason to believe that it has the support of a majority in the Knesset.

      We look upon such legislation in Israel with surprise and disappointment. How can a people that has suffered religious discrimination for so long now consider discriminating against its own minorities? The proposed law is an affront to all democratic nations and a blot upon your people’s reputation as being in the fore front of the struggle for civil liberties and for equal rights to all. It is also an overt action against many of Israel’s best friends -- the evangelical Christians -- and against some of its -most loyal citizens -- Messianic Jews. If passed, it would subject Israeli society to a repressive censorship which has no place in a democratic society and would place Israel squarely alongside nations in which religious and political freedoms are not preserved.

      We have been disappointed by the ambivalent answers Israeli embassies around the world have been giving to earlier letters of protest. There have been no indications that your Government looks upon a law such as the one proposed as a denial of democratic liberties. There has been no commitment to use your good services to resist any legislation of this nature.

      We call upon your Government to preserve Israel’s democracy. Please use your influence to ensure that this bill is rejected in the Knesset. We look forward to hearing from you in confirmation of your opposition to any restrictions on freedom of religious expression in Israel, and continue to remain good friends of your country and people.


~ ~ ~

Other methods of communication to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Office:
      Tel 972-2-670-5555
      Fax 972-2-566-4838
      E-mail: likudl@likud.orgoil

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee,
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
(Num. 6:24-26)

~ Shalom ~


The Beginning and the End

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~