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The Battle for Jerusalem

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.” Psalm 122:6

Israel’s liberation of eastern Jerusalem in June 1967 was a pivotal moment in the nation’s modern history, forever captured in the iconic image of IDF troops gazing in awe at the Western Wall.

The Enduring Struggle

When Jerusalem was reunited fifty years ago, the heaviest fighting occurred not inside the Old City but several blocks north, at Ammunition Hill. It was one of the most intense clashes of the Six Day War, with Israeli and Jordanian soldiers engaged in hand-to-hand combat for control of a key arms depot and artillery position guarded by a dense network of trenches and bunkers. Once they gained control of this strategic fortress, the troops of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade circled around to the top of the Mount of Olives, which had such a commanding view of the Old City that its fall was inevitable.

The new CBN docudrama, In Our Hands, tells this story with gripping detail by using archival footage, first-hand testimonies, and captivating re-enactments. The film allows soldiers who fought in the battle for Jerusalem to speak with candour about what they were fighting for. Some felt it was not just a victory over the Jordanians, but also over the Romans who had destroyed Jerusalem and exiled the Jews almost 2,000 years ago. Other IDF troops said the focus of the victory celebrations should not have been around the Western Wall but on the Temple Mount, which was not fully possessed by Israel largely due to fears it would rile the entire Islamic world.

We see the consequences until this very day, as the Temple Mount remains a point of heated contention between Israel and the Palestinians, who constantly exploit the site to stir Muslims to hatred and violence against the Jewish state. Jesus prophesied that Jerusalem would be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled (Luke 21:24). The Six Day War certainly liberated Jerusalem from direct Gentile rule, but as long as the most important part of the city is still trodden under foot by Muslim Gentiles, the city is not entirely free and in Jewish hands.

The Spiritual Battleground

No doubt, the battle for Jerusalem is not over. It has been the most contested city in world history, and the struggle over its future will continue. The real battle over Jerusalem is not in the physical realm, however. Rather, it is a spiritual battle waged against principalities and powers who do not want the promised Messiah, Jesus, to take up the throne of David in Jerusalem. Ultimately, this battle will draw all nations up against the city, where God will humble them and bring them all under subjection to the righteous reign of His Messiah (Psalm 2, Isaiah 2:1-4, Joel 3, Zechariah 12 & 14, etc.).

The prophet Isaiah assures us that one day Jerusalem’s warfare will be over (Isaiah 40:1-2). Until then, we can expect more birth pangs of the Messianic kingdom centred around God’s prophetic purposes for this city. Jerusalem has a unique destiny as the throne of the Lord and a “House of Prayer” for all peoples (Isaiah 56:7).

Jerusalem also stands out as the only city in the entire world that the Bible explicitly directs us to pray for. The city’s role and calling in God’s redemptive plan is simply too central and important to leave to chance. So we are to pray for her peace, and for her righteousness to go forth as brightness (Psalm 122:6, Isaiah 62:1).

Prophetic Destiny

Right now our prayers are needed more than ever, as the spiritual battle over Jerusalem is intensifying. The battle is always there, but those of us here in the city can sense we are at a critical juncture concerning its future. Yet, we also have a great expectancy that a momentous victory is coming in this Jubilee year for a reunited Jerusalem. Thus, we are believing for the city to be released even more into its prophetic destiny in God this very year.

For more than fifty years now, the international community has been intimidated into denying the Jewish people their rightful place in Jerusalem. To this day, no nation has their embassy in Jerusalem, or recognizes Israeli sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem. Although other excuses are often put forward, the main reason for these diplomatic snubs is simply fear of a violent Islamic response.

Heroes of Old

There were other times in Israel’s history when the enemy tried to make the Jewish people afraid to fully possess their inheritance in Jerusalem. For instance, when King David and his forces drew near, the Jebusites taunted him from the walls of their fortified city. But he did not cave in to the fears and instead challenged his loyal troops to forge ahead, and they easily conquered the city (2 Samuel 5:6-9).

In a similar fashion, Ezra and Nehemiah encountered much opposition and intimidation from local tribal leaders when they were rebuilding the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem, but they pressed on with their work nonetheless. When Sanballat and Tobias sought to trick Nehemiah into stopping construction on Jerusalem, he realized “they all were trying to make us afraid.” He then prayed: “Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.” (Nehemiah 6:9)

Today, we need to pray that Israel will not be cowered by Islamic threats into ceasing to possess and build Jerusalem, and that the nations also will not cave in to the fears which Israel’s adversaries are trying to cast over the holy city. We also need to pray for world leaders to become like Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes – each of whom saw through the lies and tricks of the enemy and were used by God to empower the Jews to build again the city of Jerusalem. Finally, we need to pray for the peace, or shalom, of Jerusalem, which in Hebrew also means “wholeness” or “completeness.” That is, we must pray for the continued unity of Jerusalem in Jewish hands.

Over 6,000 Christians Arriving in Jerusalem for ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles

This week, more than 6,000 Christians from almost 100 nations will be arriving in Jerusalem to take part in the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration, which is sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and runs this year from 6 to 11 October. “We are expecting one of our biggest crowds ever at this year’s Feast,” said ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “Thousands of Christians are once again being drawn here from all over the world by the dynamic worship experience which surrounds this unique biblical festival. But there also is the added attraction of celebrating the fifty-year Jubilee of a reunited Jerusalem, and this means we are truly in for a banner Feast.”

The 38th annual Feast gathering will kick off on Friday night, 6 October with an outdoor meal and concert at the Ein Gedi oasis, along the shores of the Dead Sea. The festival then moves up to Jerusalem for the rest of the week of Sukkot, with most events held at the Jerusalem Pais Arena. Other highlights include the popular Jerusalem March through the streets of the capital, special tours to such sites as the ancient City of David, and a concluding Prayer Vigil at the historic Tower of David inside the walled Old City.

The ICEJ’s Feast gathering will once again be the largest solidarity mission to Israel this year, and the country’s most popular annual event for Christian tourists. The Feast’s economic impact on Israel is expected to be $18 to $20 million.

Over the past four decades, the Christian celebration of Sukkot has impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christians and Jews alike. Multitudes of Feast pilgrims have been enriched by the colourful worship experience and by their encounters with both ancient and modern Israel.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was birthed out of the very first public Christian celebration of the Feast in September 1980, at a time when Israelis felt a sense of isolation concerning their historic claim to Jerusalem. That summer, the last thirteen national embassies left the city for Tel Aviv in protest of the Knesset’s passage of the “Jerusalem Law.” In response, over 1,000 Christians from some 40 nations attending that first Feast decided to open an International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem as an act of comfort and solidarity with the 3000-year old Jewish claim and connection to this city.

Given that the issue of Jerusalem has once again come to the fore, this year’s Feast is also dedicated to reaffirming Christian support for a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. Among our Feast participants will be some 30 national and state parliamentarians from around the globe affiliated with the Israel Allies Foundation who have come at Sukkot to stand in solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people in their claim to a united Jerusalem.

For more information, contact:
David Parsons, ICEJ VP & Senior Spokesman
Email: david.parsons@icej.org
Cell:  052 381 6214

Herzliya Conference 2017

Photo Captions:
ICEJ President Dr Jürgen Bühler delivers the opening address at the annual Herzliya Policy Conference.

Herzliya panelists (from left) Gottfried Bühler, Luis Fernandez Solares, Jerry Johnson, David Parsons, Abdou Maiga, Joseph Chou and Akiva Tor. 

ICEJ focuses Herzliya Conference on growing Christian support for Israel

The Christian Embassy was a major contributor at the annual Herzliya Policy Conference in June, delivering a strong message that Christian support for Israel has become a strategic asset for the Jewish state and that Israeli leaders and policymakers need to give due weight and attention to this growing movement in the decades to come. 

“I know for many of you it seems strange that the representative of an evangelical Christian organisation is addressing you at the opening session of the Herzliya conference,” Dr Bühler stated. “However, there is a major demographic shift taking place in the world today that is so significant that in the years to come Israel and this conference cannot ignore it any longer. Over recent decades the global Evangelical community has become the fastest growing religion in the world, and is on the way to overtake Catholicism… I want to challenge you to think about the strategic opportunity that the Evangelical world can offer to Israel today and in the future.”

The panel discussion the next day was moderated by ICEJ Senior Spokesman David Parsons, and Adam Abrams of the Jewish News Service reported, “…one session stood out from the rest due to how it opened: with prayer, “Heavenly Father, we thank you for this time of engagement together between Israel and the Jewish people and Christian friends…we just ask that this be productive and effective.”
Panel participants moved on to provide first-hand accounts from all five continents on the expanding influence of pro-Israel Christians worldwide.

North America was represented by Revd Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters, who explained why he and so many other American Christians support Israel. “The Jewish people have been a blessing for Christianity,” he said. “When you read the Hebrew Scriptures you read about liberty, freedom and the rule of law. Israel stands alone in this region in defence of these values.”

Speaking for Latin America, Revd Luis Fernandez Solares, national director for ICEJ-Guatemala, described the many efforts Hispanic Evangelicals are undertaking on Israel’s behalf, such as holding mass rallies and dedicating streets and public squares to Israel. He noted that recent studies confirm Latin America is increasingly Evangelical, and therefore pro-Israel.

Gottfried Bühler, head of the ICEJ’s German branch, insisted that despite a rise in anti-Semitism and the BDS movement, “there is a growing positive trend in many Christian churches across Europe. Not only are growing numbers of Christians becoming more aware that the roots of their faith are in Judaism… but they are also ready to take action.”

Revd Abdou Maiga, ICEJ’s special coordinator for West Africa, noted the recent warming in Israel-Africa relations. “Israel has frankly more friends than enemies in Africa,” he declared. “We are working under the radar of the international media, and even in some cases Israeli authorities are not even aware of our efforts on their behalf.”

Joseph Chou, ICEJ-Taiwan national director, assessed that there are now approximately 200 million pro-Israel evangelical Christians in Asia. “My conservative estimation is that there are at least 20 million Chinese Christians who are praying for Israel in their morning, weekly and monthly prayer meetings.”

Akiva Tor, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ended the roundtable by affirming that Israel “sees the success of Christian Zionism as an important national interest.”

Bomb Shelters Future-proof Communities

 

 

Four thousand rockets over the course of 34 days, driving 500,000 people from their homes – this was the fiery crucible of the 2006 Lebanon War that gave birth to Operation LifeShield. Motivated to meet the need for secure and easily accessible bomb shelters, two Jewish Israeli-American businessmen came up with the idea for providing above-ground bomb shelters. Rabbi Shmuel Bowman joined soon after, and in 2009 became the organisation’s Executive Director.

Beyond physical structures – Building communities
Bowman’s name derives from Bojman, which means builder. The impact of his efforts go beyond concrete and reinforced steel, however. He is also building relations with and between Jews, Christians and Muslims. The mandate and mission of Operation LifeShield is to protect and save ALL lives in Israel, because every person is created in God’s image, and this is why he is an exceptional partner to the ICEJ.

Visionary approach to reconciliation
This May, Bowman visited ICEJ’s German branch, galvanizing his audience with the following visionary words, “Picture this sight: Shelters built by Jews, donated by Christians, delivered to a Bedouin Muslim village! Messiah is on his way! What makes this seemingly optimistic attitude truly remarkable and profound is Bowman’s own family history. Most of his family on his maternal grandfather’s side perished in the Holocaust. As a grandson of Holocaust survivors, Bowman has made several visits to Germany. Yet his approach to reconciliation is both soothing and sombre, “You cannot sweep history under the rug.” It remains too “dark” and the wounds are still too raw. “[How can Jews who were not in the Holocaust forgive on behalf of others? And how can young Germans continue to carry the guilt and ask forgiveness on behalf of previous generations?]”

Despite the lack of a conclusive solution, there is a way forward, and Bowman seeks to overcome the ruined past by building the future, forging new relations between disparate communities, both in Israel and abroad.

The ICEJ partnership
Rabbi Bowman deeply values his ongoing partnership with the ICEJ, which has lasted for over 10 years. He believes that the Christian Embassy does not have a “deeply hidden agenda, other than standing with Israel.” He continues to convey to other Israelis, “‘Comfort, Comfort my people’ is the marching orders for the ICEJ (…) They are an organisation that recognises the fulfilment of prophecy in the land of Israel.” 

The ICEJ recognises their partnership with an indispensable and nimble partner, who effectively liaises with Homefront Command to channel projects and resources to where they are needed the most. Operation LifeShield is a dedicated, selfless, and powerful organisation that goes into dangerous situations to deliver bomb shelters to save as many lives as possible. Shmuel and his team do not shy away from entering war zones.

During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, while everyone else was running from cities or towns under heavy bombardment, Shmuel and his team drove in with rockets flying over their heads. They are committed to completing their mission of delivering bomb shelters to help save as many lives as possible!

To be a part of this great endeavour, please donate your gift today!

Aliyah After Arrival

From take-off in Addis Ababa to touchdown on Ben Gurion’s tarmac, the flight time is roughly 5 hours. Truly arriving in the Promised Land, however, is a much longer endeavour. Aliyah is both an event and a process, especially if you are an Ethiopian immigrant to Israel.

A basic metric such as everyday cost of living skyrockets when moving from Ethiopia to Israel. At the same time, your earning power as a new immigrant from a developing county is likely to plummet due to the challenges of participating in a modern economy, regardless of your will to work. Despite these hurdles, Ethiopian Aliyah to Israel is a special type of investment that offers great returns. Therefore, the ICEJ is privileged to invest in the longer-term trajectory of Ethiopian immigrant integration into the Land of Israel. 

One particular journey began in 2014 with a large family arriving from Ethiopia to settle in Israel’s desert capital, Beersheba. One of the family’s teenage daughters was already carrying an offshoot to a family of her own, though the father of the child settled in a different town in Israel. 

A few years later, the now 18-year-old mother, having difficulty managing her finances and finding employment, was referred to a mentoring program for new immigrants sponsored by the ICEJ. Communicative challenges in mastering Hebrew, shyness and lack of confidence were exacerbating the situation, causing her to remain on the sidelines, unable to realise her potential. However, her situation could be turned around with guidance, understanding, and someone to help her tackle the challenges before her.

Revital, the mentor who came alongside this lost young girl, reports, “The work with her was very slow and full of challenges.” Yet the young mother also displayed an admirable attitude and put in her full effort to amend and improve her own situation. Gradually, she gained a better understanding of her own capabilities and competencies, grew in independence, learned how to organise her financial life, and took practical matters into her own hands. 

The process has not been without curveballs, though, and a baby daughter of a different father was born during this period. Today, this young mother is slowly finding her place in that she is now able to work almost full-time at a centre for the mentally ill. She is advancing in her language capabilities and has grown in confidence, so much so that Revital has now moved on to help others.

Having a mentor aided in two crucial elements of the integration process: one of a practical dimension and the other personal. She helped the young mother navigate her rights as a new citizen and unlock government assistance in the form of food security and a social pension programmes, a complicated two-year long process usually not granted to teenagers. 

The personal aspect focused on drawing out the true personality hidden inside this shy girl who didn’t believe in herself. Having a mentor to encourage and show her that she had skills to develop and competencies to nurture was crucial to her growth. ICEJ Aid provided a helping hand during the messy uprooting that took place when this Ethiopian girl left Africa, and now she is successfully replanted in her ancient homeland.

Each new immigrant faces their own unique challenges on the path to integration into Israeli society. God’s people are returning home and the ICEJ is helping to give them a soft landing by easing the stresses of adjustment. Without this additional support, there is no successful Aliyah. Join with us! Your investment in new immigrant integration strengthens Israel and her newest citizens. 

Partner with us today!

ICEJ International

JERUSALEM JUBILEE CELEBRATED IN THE PHILIPPINES

By Sally Maddatu, ICEJ Representative - Philippines

On 8 June 2017, the ICEJ Philippines branch celebrated the Jerusalem Jubilee with other Christian Churches and organisations, commemorating the 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem, the city of our God. Proclaiming this prophetic event moves us in anticipation towards the day of the Lord’s coming. The celebration in the Philippines was one of great joy and excitement. The event was enriched by guest speakers, Ambassador of Israel to the Philippines, His Excellency Effi Ben Matityahu, and Itamar Gero, the President of the Israeli Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines.
    

“ISRAEL IS COMING BACK TO AFRICA”

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, visits Liberia for the ECOWAS Summit

By Apostle J. Aaron Wright, Snr

The 51st Ordinary Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was attended by 15 West African States and the Prime minister of Israel. This event is remarkable for two reasons: it was the first Economic Summit to be held in Liberia and the first to be guested by a non-African leader.

The two-day Summit began on Saturday, 4 June 2017, in Harbel, Margibi County, Liberia. All ECOWAS delegates were present with the exception of the king of Morocco who cancelled his trip due to tensions between Israel and his country.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was nonetheless welcomed and received by Liberian president and outgoing chairperson, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) Liberia’s secretary and Margibi county membership. Netanyahu later spoke to the ECOWAS delegates at the summit on the theme: ISRAEL IS COMING BACK TO AFRICA.

ICEJ-Liberia headed by Apostle J. Aaron Wright Snr welcomed the prime minister with a host of ICEJ churches from all over the County. Due to the intense security measures, a grand march showing welcoming banners was conducted through the main street, followed by an indoor programme in honour of the prime minister of Israel with more than five hundred in attendance. The programme was mainly focused on the development of the churches in Liberia and its relationship with Israel. Representative Apostle J. Aaron Wright was the keynote speaker focusing on this theme: LIBERIA-ISRAELI RELATIONSHIP PAST AND PRESENT. Overall, the programme was a huge success!

Inside the Embassy: Publications Director

The ICEJ Publications Team has said goodbye to a highly valued publications director.

Estera Wieja began her career at the ICEJ as a volunteer in 2010. Serving effectively and faithfully, she was quickly given additional responsibilities and proved herself worthy of taking on the responsibility for the ICEJ’s main publication, the Word from Jerusalem.

During her time at the ICEJ, Estera has been a true asset to her superiors and an inspiration to her fellow servants in Christ. Her degree in journalism and personal accomplishments as a writer helped her set a high standard for the Publications Department. She’s a dear sister in Christ, who will be greatly missed. 

Estera will continue to serve Israel in her home country of Poland and in the United States, as she takes on new challenges as a writer and public speaker. Her new book on Israel is set to be published in Poland by the end of 2017. 

The new person at the helm of the ICEJ Publications Department is Dan V. Herron, a native of both Denmark and the United States, who has long had a heart and passion for Israel, even before he came to faith. Prior to moving to Israel three years ago, he taught English and Political Science for the Danish Armed Forces. Dan has graciously and tenaciously received the baton of Publications Director and is running full steam ahead!

Isaiah 62 Prayer Campaign

THE GOD WHO ANSWERS PRAYER!

By: David Parsons, VP Senior International Spokesman

“Certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.” (Psalm 66:19)

We are very grateful for all those who have taken part in our Isaiah 62 Prayer Campaign over the past six years. Today, thousands of believers, prayer groups and entire churches from dozens of nations are joining with us every Wednesday to pray for Israel, the region and the ICEJ. It has turned into more than just a prayer initiative and is now a global prayer movement with great power and potential to impact heaven, and thereby the earth.

The ICEJ recently had a clear answer to one of our prayer concerns, which we are eager to share with you. Last year, we urged everyone to pray that the Israeli government would allow the final remnant of Ethiopian Jewry to come home to Israel. The cabinet then made a historic decision to allow the last 9,000 Jews in Gondar and Addis Ababa to make Aliyah. The first two flights of the renewed Ethiopian Aliyah landed last fall, which was sponsored by the ICEJ. Yet, new obstacles arose, both in Israel and in Ethiopia. It seemed like the Ethiopian Aliyah would again be delayed for years. Even still, we pressed on in prayer calling on the Lord God to open wide the door for the last of this ancient Jewish community to return to their people and nation. He has answered our cry!

In late May, the Israeli government decided once again to resume the Ethiopian Aliyah, and three more flights sponsored by the ICEJ have already arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport. During a recent visit to the Knesset, our leadership was approached by two different officials who congratulated the ICEJ for successfully lobbying the government to let the flights begin once more. They insisted it was our pressure which had finally swung the door wide open for the Ethiopian Aliyah. Yet, the only real lobbying we have been doing is calling out to God to make it happen. God has done this, and we praise Him alone for the victory!

So please be encouraged that our prayers are being heard. God has attended to our voice!  

 

ISAIAH 62 TESTIMONY

By: Pastor Barry Rooks

The Isaiah 62 prayer initiative endeavours to encourage a corporate lifestyle of prayer, calling out to our great God and strengthening the body of Messiah. This is why we are greatly encouraged when we see and hear reports about God’s answers to prayer. This year Pastor Barry Rooks came to the ICEJ’s Envision Conference, and since then, the impact of his time in Israel has been taking root and bearing much fruit for God’s kingdom. Here is his testimony:

Root and Fruit
This year, I was blessed to be sponsored by the ICEJ UK to attend the annual pastors and leaders conference in Jerusalem. We visited the site where the Ark rested in Shiloh, and while I was praying I looked down and saw a root on the ground. Picking up the root, I felt God tell me to take it back home. Before going to Israel, my hope and prayer was that I would be a blessing to Israel and also to bring something of powerful spiritual nature back to the UK. And the Lord answered.

Returning home to my congregation, I shared about the root in a sermon, saying, “I believe God has sent me back with something, and I will pray for anyone that wants prayer to receive what God has for them.” Most of the congregation came forward. Nearly the entire youth group came forward for prayer, prayed for each other, and some even started speaking in tongues for the first time. After praying for everyone, the young people then prayed for me.

When I talk about what the root symbolises, I remind people who are born again that they are now grafted into a different family tree. The roots of their family line are now found in Israel and go back to Jesus, David and Abraham. What a family we belong to and what a heritage! I encourage people to boast about our 'great uncle' Paul, and our 'great-great-great grandfather' Moses. With that heritage behind us, how can we fail? 

Please visit our website to join the Isaiah 62 Prayer Initiative!

Mali's Story

Hope inspires because it runs contrary to expectations. We base our expectations on what we can see, while hope deals with what we cannot see and is beyond our control. Mali’s story shows how her life was infused with hope beyond her expectations.

At age five, Mali’s childhood world began to crumble. Her parents’ divorce tore the family apart. Both her parents remarried and started new families, leaving Mali and her 7 siblings abandoned and relegated to foster homes. Mali ended up in a group home, but as soon as she turned 18, she had to leave the group home with no money, no food, no job and no understanding of how to live in this world.

The streets became Mali’s new home with her bed changing each night as she slept on benches, in bomb shelters and in stairways of buildings. Sometimes she would spend the night wandering in fear, afraid that something might happen to her if she slept. Mali was constantly hungry and soon became malnourished, as her food for the day was sometimes only half a sandwich. 

After several years of living on the streets, Mali finally decided to call her mom on a payphone. She wanted to tell her that she was on the streets with no food and no safe place to go. Mali asked her mom if she could go to her house, but to Mali’s detriment her mom just hung up on her. Shortly after this, Mali ended up in the hospital because her body was severely weakened from starvation. 

While in the hospital, Mali’s nurse gave her the number of a social worker named Iris. Mali connected with Iris and discovered that the group home Iris ran was full. Instead of just abandoning Mali, just like her mom had done, Iris showed love and care for her by taking Mali into her own home. With amazement, Mali explains, “She just took me home with her! A strange little girl she didn’t even know. My new life began in that moment.” Iris taught Mali about daily life, managing a bank account, nutrition, how to cook, and how to work hard. “Iris became like a mother to me. She saved my life,” Mali said with deep gratitude.

Today, Mali works with children, and she loves what she does because she realises the great importance of investing in a child’s life. In the future, Mali would like to start her own organisation to help other kids who are in the same situation she was in. 

Mali expressed her gratefulness towards the partners of the ICEJ, “Through receiving an educational scholarship from the ICEJ, and realizing people around the world believe in and support me, I know I will achieve my dream.”

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Join us in being a part of giving a hope and a future to many others just like Mali.

Join us in being a part of giving a hope and a future to many others just like Mali.

Partner with us today, at icej.org/aid.

Watch Mali's story at int.icej.org/mali

Poverty Gap in Israel

Down and out in the start-up nation – the two-way split in Israel’s economy

Ever since its inception, Israel has faced and overcome numerous existential challenges. Just think about what the nation has been through in terms of military confrontations and unrest since 2000. It’s amazing that the country is now in its 14th straight year of economic growth, even when counting the years of the financial crisis.

However, at the heart of the start-up nation’s truly remarkable achievements lies a serious paradox. For all its successes, Israel has the second-highest poverty rate among OECD countries (i.e. developed nations) at 18.8%, only surpassed by Mexico’s. Measured on childhood poverty alone, nearly one in three of Israel’s children lives in poverty. So even though the overall economy as such is not in crisis, many of its individual participants are, and Israel’s economy is headed for a two-way split.

This is not an unusual problem for today’s advanced economies, but one that may have serious repercussions for a nation that needs to maintain a high level of military readiness and qualitative superiority, along with strong social cohesion to keep fighting and / or deterring its adversaries. But how to properly address this issue? First of all, we need to understand Israel’s current strengths and weaknesses.

Here’s where Israel is successful
You cannot but marvel when you consider the long-term dynamic and innovative contributions Israel has made to the global economy. Israel’s brainchildren span all business sectors from smart-drip irrigation to Intel chips for computer processors. The country is the number one generator of startups outside of Silicon Valley, boasting its own Silicon Wadi. Further world-beating statistics concern Israel’s number one ranking in medical patents per capita and the fact that the country outspends the world in R&D relative to its economy. In macroeconomic terms, these successes have translated into:

1) Low unemployment
2) High GDP growth
3) A relatively low level of public debt and inflation

Here’s where Israel’s success is lacking
Israel’s economy is growing and dynamic sectors are outperforming, but the country’s current growth pattern is not inclusive. Israel’s main challenges lie within the following domains:

1. Low wage and productivity growth
2. Cost of housing and living is becoming unaffordable
3. Low government expenditure on education and infrastructure

These lagging indicators can be put down to the cost of dealing with Israel’s security challenges, its import-dependent economy and fractious political system, and its peculiar demographic challenges in the Ultra-Orthodox, immigrant, and Arab-Israeli population segments.

It is important to point out that these issues are part of the national debate and that steps are being taken at the government level. Calls for reducing Israel’s poverty rate (18.8% overall and 31% for childhood poverty, with some communities suffering poverty rates over 50%) and accompanying proposals have been put forth in the Knesset. Yet funds still fall short of carrying out many of the good intentions. Israel’s economy overall is not in crisis but many of its citizens are, and they are falling further and further behind with ramifications for the future strength of Israel.

Why timely action is important
Even though these developments are a social issue, the reason to act is not primarily social or ideological but economic and strategic. Excessive inequality implies wasted potential, which by some estimates cost 2-3% in GDP growth. This is poor business and leaves Israel less leeway to bolster its defence systems or its social and educational programmes.

The solutions are out there
Israelis continue to display a high level of societal ethos but this is very much a real crisis, which is why action at both the grassroots and governmental level is necessary to change the negative trends.

The ICEJ wants to be an active partner in these efforts, which is the reason we want to brief our readers on the backdrop for ICEJ Aid’s efforts and projects in Israeli society. Indeed, because of the political gridlock and sensitivities, some people see dedicated non-profit organizations, such as the ICEJ, as the best way forward. Our strength lies in building strong partnerships and nimbly implementing workable programmes and solutions.

The ICEJ wants to actively tackle this problem and help Israel’s down and out get back in the game and up to speed with the successful sectors of the start-up nation. 

Partner with us today at: icej.org/donate

 

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