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In Pro-Israel Victory, Methodists to Withdraw from BDS Coalition

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Church votes to reject efforts to isolate Israel ‘while overlooking anti-Israel aggression’

Just days after rejecting four resolutions calling for divestment from companies that profit from Israel’s control of the West Bank, the United Methodist Church voted to withdraw from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

By a vote of 478-318 at its general conference in Portland, Oregon, on Tuesday, the church approved a petition requesting its withdrawal from the group, Religion News Service reported.

A national coalition that “works to end U.S. support for Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem,” according to its website, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has been accused of being more anti-Israel than pro-peace.

The Methodist petition called the group a “one-sided political coalition” that seeks to isolate Israel “while overlooking anti-Israel aggression.” The US Campaign promotes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel and seeks to end U.S. aid to that nation.

“Blaming only one side while ignoring the wrongdoing of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran will not advance the cause of peace,” the petition added.

Not everyone was pleased with the decision.

The Rev. Armando Arellano, a delegate from Ohio, told RNS the US Campaign is “neither pro-Palestinian or pro-Israel, but pro-equal rights for all.”

“By withdrawing from the coalition,” he said, “we are withdrawing our commitment to be an agent of peace and justice.”

Over the weekend, a church committee rejected four resolutions calling for the church to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s control of the West Bank.

The resolutions called for divesting from three companies that pro-Palestinian activists have accused of working with Israeli security forces to sustain Israel’s West Bank settlement enterprise. They are Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola.

Similar boycott, divestment and sanctions petitions failed at general conferences in 2008 and 2012.

Last week Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination who was raised and remains a practicing Methodist, criticized the BDS movement in a statement that was believed to be directed at the church, though it did not specifically mention the church.

In January, the Methodists’ pension fund removed five Israeli banks from its portfolio, saying the investments were counter to its policies against investing in “high risk countries” and to remain committed to human rights. Read more at the Times of Israel.

Israel Successfully Tests “Iron Dome of the Sea”

The test of the Tamir Adir shipborne Iron Dome system. (Photo: YouTube screen shot)

The test of the Tamir Adir shipborne Iron Dome system. (Photo: YouTube screenshot)

IDF unveils new weapon that can block short-range ballistic missiles while aboard a moving ship, expected to protect offshore rigs and other assets

Israel has successfully tested a maritime missile interception system that can shoot down short-range missiles, dubbing it the “Iron Dome of the Sea,” the navy announced on Wednesday.

The Tamir-Adir system, which the IDF said can shoot down short-range rockets similar to those fired from Gaza, successfully destroyed “several” missiles, Col. Ariel Shir, head of operational systems in the navy, said.

Shir said that during tests carried out two weeks ago, a battery mounted to a ship shot down every one of a salvo of short-range ballistic rockets fired from the shore.

He said the test “proved the Israeli navy’s ability to protect Israel’s strategic assets at sea against short-range strategic rockets.”

A video provided by the army showed a rocket launcher installed on a ship firing at targets in the sky and later intercepting a missile.

During the 2014 Gaza war, Israel deployed its Iron Dome system on land to shoot down rockets fired by Hamas and other terror groups across the border, calling the system a game-changer.

The Tamir Adir system uses technology developed for Iron Dome but adjusted for the operational needs of a moving vessel.

The system was in development for several years, but was only unveiled to the public Wednesday.

The battery is designed to be placed on a moving ship traveling up to cruise speed and will be used to protect strategic assets, such as natural gas rigs, in Israel’s territorial waters.

Included in Israel’s sea assets is a major offshore gas rig around 16 nautical miles from Gaza which the Hamas terror group has previously targeted unsuccessfully. Read more at the Times of Israel.

Terror Victims Win Supreme Court Judgment against Iran

Iran Has Not Changed Graphic

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a judgment allowing families of victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism to collect nearly $2 billion.

The court on Wednesday ruled 6-2 in favor of relatives of the 241 Marines who died in a 1983 terrorist attack in Beirut and victims of other attacks that courts have linked to Iran.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the court rejecting efforts by Iran’s central bank to try to stave off court orders that would allow the relatives to be paid for their losses.

Iran’s Bank Markazi complained that Congress was intruding into the business of federal courts when it passed a 2012 law that specifically directs that the banks’ assets in the United States be turned over to the families.

The law, Ginsburg wrote, “does not transgress restraints placed on Congress and the president by the Constitution.”

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented. “The authority of the political branches is sufficient; they have no need to seize ours,” Roberts wrote.

More than 1,300 people are among the relatives of the victims of the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, the 1996 terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia which killed 19 service members, and other attacks that were carried out by groups with links to Iran. The lead plaintiff is Deborah Peterson, whose brother, Lance Cpl. James C. Knipple, was killed in Beirut.

Congress has repeatedly changed the law in the past 20 years to make it easier for victims to sue over state-sponsored terrorism; federal courts have ruled for the victims. But Iran has refused to comply with the judgments, leading lawyers to hunt for Iranian assets in the United States. Read the rest at Fox News.

What’s a Nice Jewish Girl Doing With a Bishop, a Pastor and a Rabbi in Southfield, Michigan?

Word of Faith - Day to Honor Israel

Photo credit: Keith A. Butler Facebook page / The Word of Faith Digital Media Department

By Cathy Lanyard
Executive Director, American Friends of ALYN Hospital

It’s not every Sunday morning that a nice Jewish girl (well, OK, to be honest, more a woman of a “certain age” than a girl) finds herself in the center seat of the center row of a 5,000-seat sanctuary in an Evangelical church listening and foot tapping to a 200 member choir and a 100-person orchestra! And if that wasn’t enough of a shell shock for me, I was a scheduled speaker at this special service and knew not only would I have to climb the steps to that enormous stage and face 5,000 people but that I would follow world renown Pastor John Hagee!

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself so let’s start the story back at the beginning. In November of 2015, I had the incredible opportunity to take Bishop Keith Butler, the founder and spiritual leader of Word of Faith Church, on a private tour of ALYN Hospital in Jerusalem. ALYN is a well-kept secret. It’s a jewel in Israel’s crown of accomplishments that too few have heard about or seen. It’s the most amazing pediatric rehab center where absolutely everything needed to rehab a physically disabled child (and his or her family) is under one roof. Bishop Butler flew expressly to Israel to see ALYN for himself on the recommendation of his dear friend Rabbi Jonathan Hausman. The Rabbi has been connected to ALYN for decades and I am lucky enough to count on him as my friend, my personal rabbi and a member of my Board; therefore one of my bosses.

In November, in Israel, Bishop Butler reacted as everyone does after seeing ALYN. He was deeply moved. I honestly believe that if someone tours ALYN and doesn’t have that reaction they should go — immediately without stopping — to their cardiologist and find out what’s wrong with their heart. Butler’s heart is in tip top condition and minutes after we left ALYN, he extended the most incredible invitation to me. He asked me to come to Southfield on Sunday, April 3rd and be a part of his church’s CELEBRATE ISRAEL DAY. I was asked to talk about ALYN and told that Pastor John Hagee, Founder and Leader of CUFI — the largest organization of Evangelicals devoted to Israel — was another invited guest and would give the morning’s keynote address.

To be in the company of two giants in the Evangelical world is an experience I will never forget. Butler and Hagee could not be more different physically. But their hearts and minds are one — as if they were identical twins. Both are so committed to Israel and so dedicated to the safety of wellbeing of all Jews and especially the continuity and future of the State of Israel. They both spoke on Sunday and both quoted the Bible and I learned much about how the Christian and Jewish scriptures coincide which I did not know. But it is their shared passion and commitment to Israel that is still resonating with me.

I’m also reflecting on how much we have in common despite our very different outward appearances and our very diverse lives. There was not a person in that sanctuary that did not sing Israel’s praises. When the Word of Faith church sang the Star-Spangled Banner everyone stood and cheered. And when they sang Israel’s anthem, Hatikva, there was not a dry eye in the house. I’ve never heard Hatikva sung so beautifully and soulfully and it reminded me how precarious Israel’s existence is and how crucial to democracy in the Middle East she is. I was enveloped in the love that Bishop Butler has infused into the creation of Word of Faith and that Pastor Hagee has infused into the creation of CUFI. The feeling that I had sitting there in awe and appreciation for the service and the day reminded me of how I feel every time I am at ALYN. I feel enveloped in the love that was infused into the creation of the ALYN Hospital and the love that I see there every single day as they treat the heroic kids.

So I addressed the congregation. I speak publicly all the time but I admit to being nervous having to follow the giant that Hagee is and nervous hoping I would meet Butler’s expectations. I told the audience about ALYN, of course, but I also told them that I know that peace is possible in the Middle East because it exists at ALYN. In addition to the rehabilitation miracles that we perform there every day with children who many others deem “not worth the effort” we also are world leaders in cultural diversity.

The entire span of Israeli society can be seen at ALYN. Our patients, families and staff are white, black, Jewish, Christian, Arab, Orthodox, Muslim, secular and more. Learned prejudices and hatred are put aside to face the seemingly insurmountable challenges of living with severe physical disabilities. Yes, in the face of adversity, teamwork and love can rule the day.

Then I looked into this massive sea of faces and quoted Pastor Hagee who had said in his remarks “Doing shows your love” and invited everyone to do the most they can for the kids of ALYN so that these courageous kids can stand up and dance with joy and love — whether on their own legs or with the help of crutches, walkers and wheelchairs — just like every single one of the 5,000 at Word of Faith did in Southfield. Read the rest at the Huffington Post.