By Shira Sorko-Ram
“It’s not unreasonable at the end of an election campaign, when the polling stations close and three television stations in Israel release highly sophisticated exit polls, to expect that you will know definitely who has won. “That modest hope was denied the Israeli electorate on Tuesday night, [February 10].”
So began a mournful analysis of the nation’s elections by editor David Horovitz of the Jerusalem Post as he bemoaned the reality of what virtually everybody agrees: Israel’s government system is absolutely, incurably, intolerably dysfunctional. (12Feb09)
For the last 25 years, Israel has muddled through a series of prime ministers who rise and fall every couple of years. The coalitions - needing 61 seats out of parliament’s 120 - are so wobbly, so untenable, that any prime minister who finally puts together a coalition must continually spend an inordinate amount of time just trying to stay afloat rather than governing the nation.
Long-term critical needs such as an adequate water supply for the nation or a national railway infrastructure simply go unattended. Often cabinet ministers play musical chairs; systematic planning and strategizing of long-term goals is non-existent.
Imagine! We now have 12 different parties in the current Knesset. (Another 18 failed to get enough votes to make the threshold.)
Of course the Knesset could change the laws of this dysfunctional coalition-type government. But until now, the ultra-Orthodox parties, afraid they might lose seats, have always blocked all parliamentary attempts. Accordingly the crippled lawmakers continue their pitiful attempt to govern the nation.
NOW WHERE ARE WE?
So - to the current situation. Coalition negotiations could go on for another four to six weeks. What possible combinations for a new coalition do we have at the time of this writing?
If a potential prime minister succeeds in putting together a minimum coalition of 61 Knesset seats, his government would still be unable to sustain itself for long with this borderline number - the reason being that any party within the coalition could demand the moon - on threat of pulling out of the coalition - which would cause the government to instantly fall.
Therefore, a candidate for prime minister wants in his coalition a couple of extra parties over the 61 seat minimum. Theoretically (but not always true) the larger the coalition, the more stable the government.
In past elections, the party that won the most Knesset seats was always given the opportunity to form the next coalition as prime minister. Now, here comes the joker. In the February 10 elections, the centrist Kadima party won the most seats, but the Likud rightist party has a larger block of rightist parties than the Kadima center/leftist block.
*Before reading further, you might want to glance at the description of the top five parties in the next article.
Even though Tsipi Livni gained one more seat than Bibi Netanyahu, because of his larger rightist block, he will almost certainly be asked by Israel’s president to form the new government.
ISRAELI DREAM TEAM
According to the opinion of most commentators, the dream team in the present case would be for the three most moderate parties to form a coalition:
Labor 13 Total: 68 Knesset Seats
Or, instead of Labor, possibly
Israel Beiteinu 15 Total: 70 Knesset Seats
In our opinion Bibi Netanyahu could make the best prime minister and control the financial ministry.
Tsipi Livni would probably be the best person for foreign affairs because of her extensive experience under former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the many foreign leaders with whom she is acquainted.
Ehud Barak of the leftist Labor party would make a good defense minister, the position he held under the last administration. He certainly has the most experience as a military man, and having directed the recent war against Hamas, did the best possible job in Gaza, given the few days he had to minimize Hamas’ power (because of the UN and world pressure on Israel to cease attacking Hamas). But right now Barak says he wants to remain in the opposition so that his party can build up its power base in order to win in the next election!
In other words, in this case, Israel’s politicians could swiftly bring about a stable government even under this unwieldy structure were it not for the immense egos of the political leaders of these parties.
BIBI’S ALTERNATIVE COALITION
If Tsipi Livni will not join Bibi Netanyahu in a unity government, then Bibi has only the possibility of a narrow rightist block with powerful ultra-Orthodox partners - who will be easy enough to please as long as they get money and “keep the status quo,” meaning control of who can marry whom, who can receive citizenship, and who can convert to Judaism, and under what circumstances. They have used their power, often illegally, to keep many Messianic Jews from immigrating to Israel. Only after intense legal suits in the Supreme Court against the ultra-Orthodox, have some Messianic Jews won their citizenship.
But that brings to the fore another difficulty for Bibi Netanyahu and his Likud party. The fourth largest party, Israel Beitenu (Israel our House), and its leader Avigdor Lieberman won many of his 15 seats through the votes of Russian immigrants who want to end the stifling control of the ultra-Orthodox over their civil rights. In short, it would be difficult for Lieberman and Shas and the other religious parties to serve in the same coalition.
Furthermore, Netanyahu could not be excited about facing the world with an extremely narrow rightist block perceived both in Israel and abroad as inflexible and obstinate as regards to progress with the Palestinians. This type of coalition would probably not last long.
THE ARAB KNESSET MEMBERS
We, of course, cannot leave out the three Arab parties who garnered 11 seats, although they cannot be depended upon to be coalition partners with any Jewish party. When it suits them they can vote for or against or abstain on an issue, but no ruling government would want to count on them for support.
Since Israeli governments fall with ease and are formed with enormous difficulty, the best thing to come out of this fiasco so far is the pubic campaign gaining momentum to call for a long overdue reform of the defunct electoral system.
The Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan group, is gaining traction calling for electing individual Knesset members who represent regions, instead of voting for national parties.
Of course, while the players play the game, the world around us doesn’t stop at all.
1. Hamas continues to dig tunnels.
2. Hizbullah continues to arm for the next round.
3. The U.N. continues to blame Israel for the violence in Gaza, and is looking for real ways to punish Israel, such as through devastating sanctions.
4. Teheran continues to build nuclear bombs.
5. Mahmoud Abbas, the “moderate” head of Fatah in the West Bank, on whom all the hopes of the world rest to make peace with Israel, is diligently working to have the International Court of Justice in The Hague indict Israel for war crimes over its war against Hamas.
Truly, Israel does not have the luxury of squandering precious time on coalition bargaining.
On all fronts we need leadership of the highest caliber. It is clear, says the press, that the two top winners need to join forces in a national unity government. And, they are quick to point out, if Avigdor Lieberman of Israel Beitenu will assure civil rights and equality for all Israel’s citizens, including Arabs, he could play a very valuable role in the new government.
As a Messianic Jewish believer, I firmly believe that the most important need for Israel today - from God’s point of view - is to have a government that will give to its population freedom of religion and freedom to preach the Good News to all Israel. A government that will give us rights on radio, television and all the media to acquaint our people with what the Bible really says.
God has promised that His people will return to their own Land - specifically the area that the Muslim populations are claiming as their own.
God has promised in His written word that His people will return to their own God - specifically through the atonement made by Yeshua, King of the Jews.
Israel will not receive her physical inheritance without her spiritual inheritance. But when Israel turns back to the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua, the Lord of all the earth will give back the land that He promised 4,000 years ago to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
He will cause it to happen - but not until his people repent and return to Him.
Let us pray for help from the Guardian of Israel that He will come to our aid in this critical hour.
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The Top Five Players
Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, Likud: Won 27 seats. Knows that his greatest challenge as prime minister would be preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Is willing to have a Palestinian state, but promises to maintain a united Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and Judean Desert.
Advocates a free, competitive economy with social awareness. Did an amazing job as finance minister, 2003-2005, achieving an astounding 5.7% economic growth.
Tsipi Livni, Kadima party: Won 28 seats. Central/Left. Has been serving as foreign minister under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Favors forming an international and regional alliance to handle the Iranian threat. Favors toppling Hamas via diplomatic and military
Will continue negotiations with Palestinians in an effort to create two states for two peoples, while maintaining areas needed for security, religious sites and as many settlers as possible.
She is, of all candidates, considered to be the cleanest in a climate of rampant corruption.
Ehud Barak, Labor party: Won 13 seats. Although not considered a good prime minister, he is held in high regard as a military leader. If his party joins a coalition he would be a natural candidate for defense minister. Is more socialistic in his economic outlook.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader, Shas party: Won 11 seats. Ultra-Orthodox, Sephardic (Jews originally from Middle Eastern countries). Rightist, notwithstanding the most important issue for Shas is gaining stipends for its large families (welfare), of which the majority are nonworking.
Since only 28% of ultra-Orthodox men work, and as the religious families are growing at twice the rate of non-religious Israelis, the burden to the average working Israeli will soon become unbearable.
Would not be willing to divide Jerusalem. Wants to keep Judea and Samaria (West Bank) but would consider compromise in exchange for heavy funding.
Shas and the other religious parties actively persecute the Messianic Jews and all who believe in Yeshua, and would, if at all possible, prevent the preaching of the Good News to the Israeli people. They, in turn, receive millions of taxpayers’ shekels to fund their religious and educational institutions, including their own strong missionary outreaches.
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel Beitenu (Israel Our Home): Won15 seats. Right wing. Will most likely be the kingmaker of the next Israeli prime minister. It is he who will choose to join Bibi Netanyahu’s rightist coalition or Tsipi Livni’s center/leftist party. Being of Russian background, he wants civil marriages, and easier conversions to Judaism.
Lieberman’s most controversial policy is that he wants Arabs to take a loyalty oath to the Jewish state of Israel. In the last few governments, all Arab Knesset Members have called for the destruction of Israel. Lieberman wants to put a stop to that. Advocates a two-state solution if there is real peace. Is for trading heavily-populated Arab sections of Israel for Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Is considered a pragmatist by some, a racist by others.
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New Prime Minister’s #1 Challenge
There are few things in this world that all Israeli politicians agree on. But there is a consensus across the Israeli political spectrum - virtually without a single dissenting voice. Israel is faced with an Iran that is about to produce a nuclear weapon.
Iran has sent a satellite into space with a missile that has the power to carry a nuclear payload
to Israel - or Europe. Iran and its mullahs have declared they will wipe Israel off the map. America, under George W. Bush did not attack these nuclear sites and there is little or no hope that Barack Obama will do anything except continue the same weak diplomatic sanctions of the
The outspoken John Bolton, former U.S. representative to the U.N., told the Jerusalem Post in an interview: “With the end of the Bush administration, the possibility of U.S. use of military
force against Iran’s nuclear program has dropped essentially to zero.”
Bolton believes that American efforts aren’t going to make any difference; just from publicly
available information from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has enough low-enriched
uranium which, “if enriched to weaponsgrade levels, would allow it one nuclear weapon now, and possibly another one or two this year.”
And then he says what all Israel dreads to hear: “And with no likelihood of American use of force, that leaves Israel.” Of course, the military option is a terrifying one for Israel; it would be stretching Israel’s air force capacity beyond any limits it has ever known. (Jerusalem Post, 6 Feb 09)
Even if Israel goes it alone - and if it has the technical ability to attack Iran’s nuclear sites without U.S. consent, there is still no proof that Israel could succeed in taking out Iran’s nuclear-
related facilities. At best, Israel could perhaps delay Iran’s bomb-building capacity for two, three or five years, cautioned Bolton.
The ancient Persian Empire whose ruler Cyrus once helped rebuild the Temple of God, has now
risen anew to become her implacable enemy. Just as Hitler clearly laid out his plan to destroy the Jewish people, so now are the rulers of Iran.
How many years could Israel continue to exist without being attacked by a nuclear-armed Iran?
This, then, in my opinion, is one of the strongest signs that the Lord’s coming is not too far away. For numerous Biblical prophecies have foretold that Israel will in the end turn to God and be a light to the nations. And she has to exist in order to do that!
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If you don’t remember anything else...
THE BOTTOM LINE
1. As Israelis see it: The Americans and the Israelis want a Palestinian state more than the Palestinians. The Palestinians simply want to replace Israel. Because the Palestinians have not been able to rise above the political culture of hate for Jews and the Jewish state that has dominated their existence for a century, progress for a Palestinian state is stalemated.
2. Some 750,000-800,000 Arabs fled Israel during the War of Independence. The Palestinians are demanding their return to Israel proper, along with all their descendants - a few million. The Arabs have never offered to repay the 850,000 Jews who during that same time fled for their lives from Arab countries. Most Jewish refugees were forced by Arab governments to leave all their
3. Israel’s dilemma as her leaders and as much of the populace see it, is that Israel as a democratic country does not want to rule over three and a half million disenfranchised Arabs on the one hand, and as a Jewish country, does not want to make them voting citizens who would very soon vote in an Arabled government, thus ending the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
4. World media acts as if the peace process is completely dependent on Israel. All Israelis crave peace. All major parties would, as Netanyahu said, “be delighted to find a formula that allows Palestinians to govern themselves and Israel to live in security." The media does not report that Israel accepted and the Arabs totally rejected the U.N.’s 1947 Partition Plan of two nations side by side. From that time on, the Arabs have fought against the existence of the Jewish state.
5. All major parties (not including ultra-Orthodox) are ready to accept a two-state partition - one for a Jewish state and one for a Palestinian state - if they are assured the Palestinians will live in peace with them. Parties such as Kadima and Labor are ready to give part of Arab-settled areas of Jerusalem to the Palestinian state. Others, such as Likud and Israel Beitenu and Shas stand for an undivided Jerusalem.
6. Remember the current situation that has made building a coalition so difficult. Both Netanyahu and Livni are claiming they should be the prime minister. Livni won the most seats but Netanyahu has the largest block of parties to the right.
7. As Israeli believers in Yeshua the Messiah, the freedom and the right to reach out to our own people with the Good News preempts every other consideration, barring none. Our prayers must be, Lord, in Your Mercy, help our leaders to put together a coalition that will insure civil rights and religious freedom for each individual in this land dominated by utocratic
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European Christians stand up
against growing Anti-Semitisim
European Coalition for Israel Chairman Helmut Specht called on the European Union to raise their voices in protest against the current Iranian threat to wipe Israel off the map. The appeal came at the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day event which is organized in the European Parliament by the ECI under the patronage of the president of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering.
The event in Brussels was part of a pan-European campaign to raise awareness of the Holocaust in churches and faith communities in Europe. When offered the chance to save fleeing Jews from Nazi-Germany and Austria in 1938 the nations of the world said simply no.
At the event, Christian clergy from the Roman-Catholic and the Protestant side acknowledged the sins of the past about not reacting in time.
Head deacon of the Roman-Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna, Johannes Fichtenbauer, brought a message from the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn where he said that “Holocaust was only possible because the church did not understand its Jewish roots... Church
unity can only be established when we understand and appreciate these Jewish roots.”
In closing, Fichtenbauer quoted Cardinal Schönborn by saying that “we sinners of the past are called to become the allies of the future and stand faithfully by our Jewish friends.”
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Growing up with YESHUA in Israel
GOD ASKED ME IF I WAS READING THE BIBLE
A couple of days ago I dreamed that I was dead and I had gone up to heaven. Then I saw God and He began to ask me questions.
He asked me to tell Him if I was reading the Bible, and to tell Him what I did in my life. I answered His questions and then He opened the gates into heaven for me.
I also saw my sister Stav. I dreamed that God also asked Stav questions about her reading the Bible and what she did in her life. She answered Him and He opened the gates into heaven for her too.
Then from the gates I saw a huge light. I can’t exactly describe them but I saw angels with golden light and with wings.
Elior, age 11
Elior When I was a little boy I wouldn’t listen to my parents and I was always getting into trouble. But I always thought about God. As I grew a bit - to age seven, my mother began to teach me about the way of Yeshua. I started to read the Bible and that was really interesting. I started growing in faith. Then our family began praying together. Today I have a lot of friends at the congregation - we play together. Yeshua is more important to me than anyone else!
Olga Our son used to watch a lot of violent or scary movies on TV - like all the kids. But Elior
began to see that when he watched something bad on television, or he would play violent video games he would have terrible nightmares. When he watched the wrong thing or something bad happened at school, he would wake up in the night and see evil shapes and figures moving around him.
About that time, I committed my life to the Lord and began to pray with Elior concerning the ongoing nightmares. We would pray together, and little by little, even he began to know the difference between right and wrong and realize what was causing his nightmares.
Ronen I had a hard heart, but I began attending Tiferet Yeshua Congregation with my wife and children. I loved my wife but I know I was not a good husband. At the congregation I found people were different than many of my friends and neighbors. These people had a lot of love - and were not looking for what was bad in others, not judging others. Now I have a changed heart because God changed me.
I am not allowing my children to partake of everything in the world around us. Elior, at 11 is invited to birthday parties that take place in night clubs and the kids don’t get home until 11:00 or 11:30p.m. We are not part of that scene.
Olga Some five or six months ago, our congregation prayed for Elior and the nightmares became less and less. And then a couple of days ago he had this dream. He woke up so happy as he described to me what he saw. That day he came home after school and said he had decided to throw away all of his violent play station games.
Although Elior has found school pretty boring, he has discovered something that he absolutely loves - to play the piano. His teacher (whom Elior loves!) says that he will be a great pianist. Also Stav is playing the flute. I’m her mother, but I have to say she sounds like she was born for this instrument. We are so thankful that our children are able to study music - our whole family
knows they will be playing for Yeshua!
Through Maoz partners’ help, Congregation Tiferet Yeshua has begun a program to give the children of the congregation an opportunity to learn a musical instrument or to take voice lessons.
The vision is to raise up a new generation of worshipers and praisers to lead our people into the presence of God.
From Left: Olga, Elior, Ronen, Stav
Few children among believers are able to afford such lessons, so Maoz underwrites 90% and the parents 10%.
We are already working on putting together a children’s band!
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New Testament Recording in Hebrew
We are now ready to produce these New Testament audio CDs for distribution. Each set of 18 CDs plus packaging will cost us $13.00. The money from sales will go toward producing more audio New Testaments. But we need help to get the first 1000 produced at a cost of $13,000.
We invite you to help us produce these audio New Testaments.
Each $13.00 (£9.00; €10.00) produces one set. You can partner with us to get the precious gift of the audio New Testament into the hands of the Israeli people.
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The Gospel of Matthew
Giving Life through
the Book of Life
The book of Matthew is a wonderful way to introduce an Israeli to the Good News. Matthew starts with the genealogy of Yeshua, showing that He is from the line of King David often a big shock to Israelis who know little about Yeshua whom many only identify as the “founder of a gentile religion.”
Yeshua gave his life for the nations, but as King of the Jews He longs to see His own people come to Him!
We want to distribute 10,000 sets of the audio Gospel of Matthew (on 2 CDs) with an attractive cover to interested Israelis. Each set will cost us $1.20 (£ 0.80; €0.90).
Will you invest in giving Israelis the chance to hear the Gospel of Matthew? (10 sets $12.00, 100 sets $120.00 etc.)
What a great opportunity!
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Dear Maoz Partner,
As of this writing, nobody in Israel has a clue who will be the next Prime Minister.
Well, it will almost for sure be Bibi Netanyahu. But if he has to form a narrow coalition of ultra-Orthodox parties plus the controversial Lieberman party, it will be a very unpopular administration with the rest of the world - which would see it as a rigid, uncompromising government.
As Israel’s enemies close in around her, there is no doubt that many Israelis, from professors to the simplest man on the street, are wondering what in the world is going to happen to this tiny nation.
It is difficult to imagine how an Israeli living in Israel who does not believe in God and does not know about His promises to Abraham and his descendants, can live a normal life.
Think of the difference of how we live our lives -with the knowledge that God will not let this land be destroyed. With the knowledge that He is determined to bring this whole nation back to
And now the action point! We as believers have been entrusted to share the Good News of the Bible with the people of Israel so that whosoever will, can be saved.
One of the ways we at Maoz are doing this is to concentrate on building a strong congregation in Tel Aviv.
We are concentrating on building up a group of leaders for the new generation, while not forgetting the little children who within a decade will be able to impact their generation - if not already!
We are using all the modern means that God has put into our hands - enabling our congregants to reach so many more people than ever before - like getting the New Testament on CD with musical score out to friends, families, neighbors and business associates.
We are translating and publishing books to build up the Body of Messiah nationally - as quickly as we have the funds to do so.
And we are not forgetting the needy among our numbers. As did the disciples in the Book of Acts, Maoz, through its supporters, is helping many believers who have real immediate needs of food and shelter, or who are suffering persecution at the hands of the ultra-Orthodox.
But we are not satisfied simply to “give them a fish.” Istandwithisrael.com is helping many believers learn vocations and professions by providing scholarships to all kinds of educational institutions.
This month we especially want to get the New Testament produced on CD, and for special outreach, 10,000 CD copies of Matthew.
Every New Testament set on CD will cost $13.00. Every Book of Matthew, $1.20.
We still need $9,886 to produce the New Testament and $7,248 for the Book of Matthew. Because the price is much lower when we produce a large quantity, we can place the order only when we have the full amount.
Everybody is telling our politicians there is no time to lose in long drawn-out coalition negotiations.
How much more can we say we do not have time to lose to get the message of the King of the Jews to a nation looking, longing for a real Prince of Peace.
The verse, “Work for the night is coming,” means more to us than ever before!
You, together with us, hold the answer in our hearts.
May the blessings of the Lord be with you,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
Partner with Maoz today by supporting our projects:
Maoz Israel Ministries | istandwithisrael | Hebrew Books
Congregation Tiferet Yeshua | Coffee House Outreach
Gospel of Matthew | Hebrew New Testament | Burkina Faso
Arab Congregations | Persecuted Believers
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