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UNESCO 'fails' to recognize Israel’s historic connection to Temple Mount & Western Wall

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UNESCO has intervened in the long-running Israeli-Arab conflict over Jerusalem's holy sites of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. It passed a resolution for the sites to be referred to only by their Arabic names - Haram al-Sharif and the Buraq Wall - thereby ignoring any Jewish connection.

 

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    • By Arauna
      Interesting article and video.....
      On 11 December most countries will sign the UN Compact in Morocco.  It is part of the "Agenda 21" plan for the 21 st century  started in 1992.  Read up about Agenda 21, agenda 2030 and about this Compact for Migration which will criminalize anyone saying anything against the UN plan.  Those countries who signed are obliged to assist migrants financially and basically all people have a right to migrate....(no more borders).   About 20 nations are now fighting  it and will be forced by fines for not complying.  It is part of the UN plan for one world government...  Is this real? Or a conspiracy.... ? Watch this little video and give comments of the implications.    I have the original documents and on this Youtube link you can also download the UN document "agenda 21".   NGOs have already been receiving funds to implement it for the past 20 years and both republican and democratic governments has been changing laws to implement is..... It has been going on  under our noses and the general public does not know.  My interest in this is the fulfillment of prophecy which indicates the UN or coalition of governments to rule for short period of time before Armageddon.  There are huge implications to this .... but first watch this little video to begin the discussion....   here is the link.....
       
       
    • By Israeli Bar Avaddhon
      "Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” - Revelation 18:24
       
      If Babylon the Great is the modern nation of Israel, why does the book of Revelation say that "in her was found the blood of all those who were slaughtered on the earth"?
      Obviously the objection is that if Israel exists only since 1948, it can not be responsible for all the blood spilled!
      To answer this question we must understand when the Revelation and the context of this writing are fulfilled.
      In the meantime, it is useful to reflect on the words of Our Lord when, addressing precisely to the scribes and the hypocritical Pharisees of that nation, he said: “Serpents, offspring of vipers, Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. how will you flee from the judgment of Ge·henʹna?For this reason, I am sending to you prophets Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. and wise men and public instructors. Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. Some of them you will kill Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. and execute on stakes, and some of them you will scourge Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. in your synagogues and persecute Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. from city to city, so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood spilled on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. to the blood of Zech·a·riʹah son of Bar·a·chiʹah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation" - Matthw 23:33-36
      Now we know that when the Lord said "this generation" did not mean something strange, like a generation that intersects with another generation or such absurdity.
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      This also applies to the "sign of His presence" and should make each of us reflect when, trying to hide a series of errors and wrong intentions, we try to make Scripture say what it does not say.
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      At the time of Abel, the nation of Israel did not even exist!
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      If when Jesus condemns those who are guilty of the blood of "all those who have been slaughtered on earth" meant this phantom "world empire of false religion" because, instead, the judgment strikes only on Israel? - compare Luke 21:22
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      Why, then, did this condemnation starting with the murder of Abel?
      This is because God considers those who have "known God" to be especially responsible, yet they commit unspeakable crimes - Amos 3: 2
      What other nation in the world has had a "special relationship" with the Creator of the universe so that they have a greater responsibility for their mistakes? - compare Matthew 11: 21-24; 12: 38-41
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      Although these scribes and Pharisees were not directly responsible for the death of Abel or all those who had been killed until that day, they had clearly manifested the same mental attitude of Cain and for this reason they were already subject to judgment - John 8 : 44-47; 1 John 3:12 However, the legitimate next objection could be "Why should God condemn Israel again, since it has already paid for its mistakes in 70 AD?"
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      However we will deepen this "bold statement" in a future article.
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      The next article will see another characteristic of Babylon the Great and this will also help us to identify it as the nation of Israel.
    • Guest Nicole
    • By Jack Ryan
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    • By Israeli Bar Avaddhon
      In our path of study of the prophecies, as already seen in various previous articles, we will have come across something that we would not have believed possible. The understanding of Babylon the Great, as well as that concerning Armageddon, the Jerusalem above or the Heavenly Jerusalem, have indeed constituted great changes in the official understanding of Jehovah's Witnesses. We can not ignore the chain effects that these "changes of vision" have produced and continue to produce on many other more or less important doctrines. The author of this blog would like above all to clarify that all the theses presented so far have never been considered inspired or infallible and therefore each reader is invited to make their own evaluations (and maybe to contribute) by comparing and meditating on the Scriptures without any injury. At the same time, however, the author is equally convinced that the articles showed respect for the Bible and used it as a guide and supreme authority. Every affirmation, whenever it was possible, was accompanied or confirmed by one or more Scriptures and therefore, although certain arguments went against the official teaching, it was decided to do so in good conscience. The possible firm conviction of the author as well as certain categorical expressions used are exclusively due to this: the support of the Scriptures - John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 2 Corinthians 10: 4, 5 The article that will be developed now, will also consist of a significant change of vision and we will see how, changing the conditions, real or possible scenarios become real that, until the day before yesterday, we would have considered really far-fetched - Job 42 :2; Mark 10:27 The wisest thing that each of us can do is to evaluate that every thesis presented is really in harmony with the Scripture, and nothing else, without closing up in shell or reshaping the power of God to what we think possible - Mark 12:24 ; Job 38: 4 Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. What do we know, with certainty, of the battle of Armageddon?     What do we know about the Armageddon war? Speaking of the war of the great day of the Almighty God, what do we know for sure? - 1 Thessalonians 5:21 Well, we know that it is not total destruction due to a human war, a solar flare, a meteorite or other Hollywood nonsense - Isaiah 45:18; Psalm 78:69; Ecclesiastes 1: 4 We know it is the crucial war in which God takes revenge on his enemies and on the enemies of His people - Psalm 2: 3-6; Sofonia 1:18; Zechariah 2: 8 We also know that it is the occasion when Jehovah is magnified and makes himself known to the nations - Ezekiel 36:22, 23 It is the war that will free His people from oppression and slavery and will finally begin the Millennial Kingdom - Exodus 15: 11-13; Revelation 7:10 These are reliable informations. For the rest, when it will happen, what means it will use, which scenario will present itself just before the outbreak of this war, etc., only assumptions are made. One of these assumptions, which seems to have a strict logic, is that the place in Hebrew is called Har-Maghedon, is not a literal place but a situation. In practice it would be the situation in which all the enemies of God find themselves fighting against His People, wherever they are. This conclusion seems absolutely logical because how could a war of such proportions, which should encompass all of humanity and therefore billions of people, take place in such a small geographical area? It is absurd to even think about it. However, before closing our faculties of perception on any contrary subject we try to consider the following - James 1:19 First of all we have seen that the war between the king of the north and the king of the south, which is a prophecy to come, could greatly reduce the number of people present on earth including their armies - compare Revelation 6: 3, 7, 8 It's a raw topic we would not like to talk about but the prophecies seem clear. This topic has been dealt with in various previous articles, including the one entitled "Who is the horn that became very great?". Furthermore, as we saw in the article titled "Which nations disappear in Armageddon?" We know that the war of Armageddon will not destroy all nations and people on the planet. This war will indeed destroy the satanic system which includes the savage beast, the kings of the earth and their armies - 1 John 3: 8 Seen from this point of view, perhaps the fact that this war can be fought in a specific and relatively restricted place becomes a possibility? Furthermore it is necessary to make a couple of clarifications. Har-Magedon, which means "Mountain of Megiddo", is not a specific reference to that "tell" that you see in Volume 1 of the book "Insight" (page 953 in the edition in Italian). What you see in photography is what remains of ancient Megiddo, a small hill built on 26 layers of ruins of ancient cities. That is "Megiddo" but where's the mountain? Since there is no mountain called "Mount of Megiddo" we try to make assumptions without prematurely concluding that the whole argument is symbolic. Megiddo is located at the entrance of the pass through the chain of Mount Carmel, which overlooks the valley of Esdraelon from the south-west. So the Mount of Megiddo might be Mount Carmel (compare 1 Kings 18:19, 20, Jeremiah 46:18, Amos 1: 2; 9: 3; Naum 1: 3, 4) and could include all the hilly countryside that surrounds the valley of Megiddo, one hundred kilometers north of Jerusalem, including the valley of Esdraelon. Space is noticeable, but before assuming any calculation, we try to ask ourselves according to what logic or why the kings of the earth should / could be there. To a superficial judgment it would seem a stupid thing. The kings of the earth and their armies will not be able to fight against Christ and his elect (though they will try to - compare Revelation 19:19, 20) and so it is evident that they will take it upon His people. Why, then, to concentrate in one area of the earth (whatever it is) to try to destroy the people of God if it is found in all the inhabited earth? Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. we have seen that the earth chosen by God for His people is still the Promised Land and the gathering of Israel will be literal.
      The article in part said, "When nations have run out of time, including both the trampling of Jerusalem and the persecution, Armageddon will begin to destroy this beast and all the compact peoples in the fight against the Lamb. At that moment Jerusalem will have been freed and the people of God, after the necessary period spent in the "inner rooms", will be able to go to that country which is still part of the promise and where in a short time it will begin to flow milk and honey - Isaiah 26: 20 " What have we seen so far? We have seen that Babylon the Great is modern apostate Israel but this has to do with the people who occupy it, certainly not with the geographical area which, in itself, can not have merit or guilt - Zechariah 5: 6-8 So, once Israel is liberated from Babylon the Great, Jehovah will bring His people back to that land that bears His name and will be inhabited from generation to generation - Joel 3:20 The crucial question is therefore: will this rallying and consequent exodus to the Promised Land begin after Armageddon or its approach? Some scriptures suggest that this happens just before the final battle. How can we say it? We have seen that during the last war between the king of the north and the king of the south, some nations are able to escape - see Daniel 11:41 The writing mentions Edom, Moab and Ammon and, coincidentally, these are the same nations in which a part of the people of Israel found shelter in the past - compare Psalm 60: 8, 9; Isaiah 16: 4; Jeremiah 40:11 The logical conclusion is that the people of God who survived the war, since they will have to live again Israel now liberated by the Great Whore, are in the vicinity of the Promised Land at least some time before the final battle. This situation would also be similar to what happened in the past but on a much larger scale. If the meeting takes place before Armageddon, then it becomes logical and plausible that the "kings of the earth" will gather in the place that in Hebrew is called Har-Maghedon. This is done to prevent the achievement of the Promised Land (and kill them all at once - compares Psalm 2: 1-6) or simply to kill them once they reach. This hypothesis makes reasonable not only the literal gathering of kings and armies but also the specific place of the gathering. Let's try, for a moment, to read Revelation as if it were the first time and as if they had not taught us anything. The writing says “And I saw three unclean inspired expressions Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. that looked like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. and out of the mouth of the wild beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  They are, in fact, expressions inspired by demons and they perform signs, Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. and they go out to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. of the great day of God the Almighty ( ... ) And they gathered them together to the place that is called in Hebrew Armageddon" – Revelation 16:13, 14, 16 Without doing any disquisition on what terms and what it means, the first image that would come to mind are the kings who are gathered together somewhere, is not it? In fact, the writing says that these frogs "gathered them", which makes one think that these kings are heading towards a specific place. After all we have never done any disquisitions on the idea that these frogs actually go to the kings of the earth; we have never hypothesized that their "going to" the kings of the earth was symbolic because it is evident that, if these kings live in different and distant nations, these frogs have to go or go towards them. But we have re-discussed that the kings go somewhere. So frogs go literally (they must reach these kings) while kings go in a symbolic sense. That is, they do not go anywhere. The question that would be spontaneous to those who did not know anything about the issues at stake would be ... "Why do the kings of the earth, at the approach of the war, go to the place called Har-Maghedon (whatever place it is)?" In a war scenario, the answer would become simple: because the object of contention is in that area or near that area. Any nation that would place its army on the borders of another nation would send a strong and clear message. He is preparing for the war. In this case, however, the question does not concern the conquest of the territory of Israel but the extermination of the people who intend to live there - Psalm 2: 1-4 Finally we must distinguish the kings of the earth from their armies. The writing of Revelation says that only the kings of the earth are gathered at Har-Maghedon. How many will be the kings of the earth, following their ministers, their officials in various capacities, their bodyguards, etc? A few thousand? A few tens of thousands? Is the entire hilly area of Carmel and the valley of Esdraelon it’s sufficient to accommodate a few tens of thousands of people? Obviously yes, even only the Carmel. Where will the armies be and for which aircraft will they be extended? We do not have a precise answer but we can make some reasoning based on what we know from the scriptures. The simple distinction, which perhaps few have noticed, between the kings of the earth and their armies, should make every hypothesis fall "of the impossibility of the event" because if the Bible does not specify the area of armies extension they could really be hundreds of millions and even billions of people. The final battle would take place "around the Mount of Megiddo" for an indefinite area (why could not they cover all of Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt, Syria and Iraq for example?) God's people would still be surrounded, the writing would not it would fail and Jehovah would rise above the nations. So, regardless of all the reasoning we have just made, if the Bible does not specify the extent of the armies deployed against the people of God, all the discourse on the secure symbolic nature of writing lapses or at least is not as reasonable as it initially seemed. We will try however to "build" the extension of this army only on the basis of what we know and keeping as close as possible so that all the talk will acquire heaviness and it is really the Bible to speak - Romans 3: 4 Regarding the last dominant king described in Daniel chapters 11 and 12 we know that he will place his tents "between the great sea and the holy Mount of the Adornment" - Daniel 11:45 After this event "he will have to come to his end, and there will not be a rescuer for him" and then it is understood that "pitching the tents" is the last action he performs before his final destruction. We have also seen that the destruction of Babylon the Great (or the nation of Israel) is the prelude to Armageddon and not to the great tribulation. As a result, the army of the last ruling king should already be present on the territory of Israel before the final battle * (see footnote). He simply has to wait for all the others to come (it is to be noted, in fact, that the writing which calls for the gathering of the kings of the earth at Har-Maghedon makes no mention of the wild beast. He is not mentioned because he is among the kings or simply because it is already there?). However, for the moment we do not know whether this immense army will stand as a shield to prevent Israel from entering or whether it will wait for "the people gathered from all the earth" to actually enter the country and then surround it - see for example Joel 3: 9- 12; Nehemiah 6:16; Psalm 44:13; 59: 5, 6; 76:11, 12; 97: 1-3; Jeremiah 1: 14-16; 6:25; 25: 9; Lamentations 1:17 For the moment we can imagine both situations since concepts do not change. So, to obstruct any access to the coming people, the armies will have to cover Israel at least for its entire length. Does this seem reasonable to you? So we have to hypothesize an extension that goes from the Great Sea (the Mediterranean) to the Mount of the Adornment west of Israel and an extension at least similar to the east side of Israel (in terms of width). So a length at least equal to that of Israel if not more. What area are we talking about? We can only make an estimate but a territory equal to twice the current Israel should cover an area of 45 / 50,000 square kilometers. With this in mind, let us now assume how powerful this army could be. A site makes a list of the ten most numerous armies (updated to 2015). This is the list with the respective numbers.   CHINA (number of staff: 2.285.000). UNITED STATES (1.458.000). INDIA (1.325.000) NORTH KOREA (1.106.000) RUSSIA (1.027.000) TURKEY (666,500) SOUTH KOREA (639,000). PAKISTAN (617,000) IRAN (523,000). EGYPT (468,000)   The total number of staff would be just over ten million people. We also consider that, as we saw at the beginning, the war between the kings of the north and the king of the south by then will have greatly reduced the numbers and at least a part of the nations listed above may not exist anymore. For the benefit of the numbers, however, it must be said that in case of conflict the "effective" would not be the only ones to go to war. The numbers could be greatly underestimated (it is doubtful, in fact, that the official numbers correspond to the real ones). Finally we must consider that this is the last move of Satan before being thrown into the abyss for a thousand years so he would have every interest in making the armies as numerous as possible. So we multiply by five these numbers and assume that the final attack includes 50 million armed soldiers to the teeth. The area we estimated could contain fifty million people? Yes and fairly well if we consider that these people are not there to live or stay but simply as soldiers waiting to launch a furious attack. Every soldier would have a living space of about one square meter. Do you remember the photographs in which Hitler had his huge troops? In those large gatherings there were probably three or four people every square meter. Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.   In Hitler's huge gatherings there were probably 3 or 4 people per square meter   It is evident that we are making assumptions and the estimates, both of the army and of the militarized area, could vary a lot, but the point we want to illustrate is simply one. Despite the ideas that we made about the war of Har-Magedon, and how they are rooted in us, we can not exclude that the final battle takes place in this geographical area and that it will prove to be the biggest fight in the history of humanity. Indeed, the scriptures mentioned in support of the argument suggest that this is not simply a possibility. Any new understanding, however, can make other scriptures harmonious or create forcing. Forcing should be an indicator that "something is wrong". What happens with the other scriptures, understanding that the place of the final battle will be a specific and relatively restricted place? Meanwhile, as we have mentioned, this situation would be very similar to several biblical episodes we know - see for example Exodus 14: 10-14; 2 Kings 18: 19-25 Jehovah would be exalted in the midst of the nations precisely because, not being really all destroyed, the distant peoples and nations would speak of this event with terror and for centuries - compare Joshua 2: 9-11; Deuteronomy 2:25; Psalm 112: 10 Isaiah 63: 1-6 describes Jehovah coming from Edom who, as we have seen, is one of the places where God's people find refuge, and from there he begins to "tread peoples into His wrath." Psalm 2: 2 describes all the peoples and national groups united "as one man" and this gives the idea that the rulers of the earth, and therefore their armies, are effectively gathered somewhere as one army, a single mass and compact. Finally (but not "finally" because you will find many other similarities if you want to look for them) suddenly becomes clear why the king of the north is troubled because of news from the east and the north - see Daniel 11:44 So far what have we been told? In other words ... we have been told that we do not know. In the book "Pay attention to the prophecies of Daniel" on page 283 (Italian edition) we speak of Gog of Magog (among other things in the understanding that it is Satan the Devil) and paragraph 26 concludes with the words "But what at the end they will contain the news from the east and from the north only God will establish it and time will tell it ". Instead, understanding the scenario that will be created shortly before the final battle we can guess why this king is so upset. He sees the people of God, who evidently believed he had eliminated, gathered and on their way to the Promised Land! Depict the scene. It is easy to imagine that he understands that there is God, the True God and not the farce built by the false prophet behind all this. Despite his immense power and his fury, he has not succeeded in eliminating the people of God who are now reaching the Promised Land in fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It is not surprising that this causes great anger in him and comes out "with great fury to annihilate and to vote many to destruction", or the people of God gathered there - Daniel 11:43 And this explains why he "will pitch the tents of his palace between [the] great sea and the holy mount of the Adornment". Let's take a moment to imagine the scene and see us there, intent on reaching the promised land as the Israelites were in the time of Moses. Perhaps we may find ourselves imprisoned between the Great Sea and the army or we may be a few kilometers from the border and see "men of extraordinary stature" - Numbers 13:33 Perhaps some of us, seeing such a colossal army, might doubt Jehovah's power or his will to protect us - Isaiah 43:10, 11 Try to imagine how many situations described in the Bible would become the mirror of those last moments of the system of things. It is not difficult to see the harmony of the Word of God and to understand what will happen if we free ourselves from our conditioning and do not associate the word "impossible" with God. Is not it a wonderful prospect? One day, towards the end of the terrifying events that will occur on earth, someone will call us to lead us to the Promised Land, but the journey will be reserved only for those who will understand the prophecy and act accordingly. Next stop: Israel. Take the ticket. Make reservations now. The forecasts say that the area will be quite crowded.     Footnote. The article entitled "1290 and 1335 days" shows a difference of 45 days between trampling on God's people and achieving his "happiness" - see Daniel 12:12 These 45 days could include the time of the gathering of the people of God and the consequent exodus that will lead them to cross the boundaries of the Promised Land.   It is necessary to specify that even if the lowering of the waters of the Euphrates has to do with the destruction of these peoples and not simply with the loss of the defenses, this could refer to the peoples that surround Israel and not with Israel - compare Joel 3 : 4 This could mean that the payment of the sixth cup of the angel is not yet the actual destruction of Babylon the Great and therefore the people of Israel might still be alive and active when God's people approach it to "repopulate". As strange as this may seem, this seems to be in harmony with Revelation 16:19 which says that God would have remembered Babylon "to give it the cup of wine of the fury of his wrath" and by reading the context this happens during or near of the judgment of armageddon - compare Revelation 16:13 Other Bibles translate in a similar way and therefore it would seem evident that when nations gather in Armageddon, God still has to pour his wrath upon Babylon the Great. If this understanding is correct, when the king of the north "will come out with great fury to annihilate and vote many to destruction" it is possible that in his blinding fury he will strike first the nation that had always been their lover - compare Revelation 18 : 10, 15, 18 (see also Zechariah 14:13, 14) And obviously this will happen by God's will - Revelation 17:17 This possibility makes very probable the situation in which the people of God are effectively blocked between Israel (still populated) and all the armies of the world.  
    • By Israeli Bar Avaddhon
      Thanks to the coherence of the Word of God we have arrived at an unprecedented understanding of the Holy Writings.
      This understanding, far from complete but constantly growing, would not have flowed freely if we had not approached it with the utmost care of mind and without prejudice - compare Acts 17:11
      One of the fundamental concepts that would have prevented the understanding of many things is that related to the identity of modern Israel.
      Even today this subject confuses and makes it impossible to understand the Bible to the vast majority of religions as well as to individual scholars.


      Is an attack on Israel coming?   In this regard, Charles Taze Russell spoke several times to a large audience of Jews in New York and also in Europe on the theme "Zionism in Prophecy" and in 1925 published the book entitled "Comfort for the Jews".
      In time, however, it was clear to some that "something was wrong" in part because the Bible very clearly predicted that this return home would bring blessings to humanity and also because it was strange that God Almighty used the empire Anglo-American and United Nations to restore His people on earth.  It is true that in the past a similar thing happened, but the Jewish people of that time did everything to restore pure worship, something that certainly can not be said of the current Jewish people.
      And there would be so many other things to be said that would severely outweigh the biblical prophecy indicated.
      In light of world events, some have revised this interpretation but for many that remains a biblical prophecy fulfilled.
      So two distinct groups were created: those that no longer give any importance to Jerusalem and those who say that God's people are in present-day in Jerusalem.
      Through the study of the Word of God and His undeserved kindness we have understood that both positions are wrong.
      Both positions will prevent any deep understanding of the Word.
      What happened in 1948 is indeed a biblical prophecy only that it is not what most religions have imagined - Daniel 4: 20-25 Jerusalem, and Israel as a consequence, still has a great importance in the Word of God (it has never ceased to have it) only that the present one today is not the one that would have brought blessings to humanity but a mystification, a deception.
      A deception in which we all fell.
      All who are convinced that Jerusalem no longer has any importance in biblical prophecy are invited to reflect on scriptures such as Nehemiah 1: 9, Isaiah 34:17; 60:15, Joel 3:20 or Luke 21:24 Obviously it will become difficult to understand such direct and clear scriptures if every time we read "Jerusalem" we use that filter known as "symbolic meaning" or "spiritual sense".
      So also the return of the people of God to their homeland is to be understood in a literal sense, and Russell was right in this, only that this did not happen in 1948.
      In its place appeared a sordid prostitute who, far from being the legitimate bride as she herself asserts, has seduced the peoples with her influence and has initiated a series of events that have caused (and will cause) death , pain and despair - compare Revelation 18:24 From the comparison of the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation we understand that a world war is coming, that is, that which will end the king of the south. This is a prophecy to come and not something that concerned 1914 or so.
      We understand that "behind the scenes" of this war, there will be this prostitute. Although Jehovah allow this war, as it happened in the past, even to discipline His people, He will not leave unpunished this prostitute.
      We know that it will be definitively destroyed at Har-maghedon (not at the beginning of the great tribulation) and therefore "we will have to keep it" until the end of the satanic system. Its complete destruction is near but not so close. From now until the last moment any sincere person who truly wants to know God Almighty and do His will has the opportunity to take the necessary steps. Every single inhabitant of Israel may decide to ask Jehovah for forgiveness and save himself from the destruction that will inevitably fall upon the nation.
      The biblical prophecy makes us understand that before its definitive destruction, the king of the north will turn his attention to it - Daniel 11:30 This "attention" does not seem to have anything positive because the same writing speaks of "complaints". In harmony with this we have seen, comparing with Revelation, that the fifth trumpet that torments "those men who do not have the seal of God on the forehead" is most likely aimed precisely at the old people of God.
      Since the fifth trumpet is concomitant with the first trouble it is possible to hypothesize that this torment will be particularly painful.
      It is certainly not a coincidence that shortly thereafter (exactly five months later) this situation leads to a much wider and bloody war - Revelation 9: 13-20 ". As said, it is because of this prostitute that the great war will break out.
      Even the study of Jeremiah, a book we are investigating in recent days, has reinforced this vision.
      We do not have a precise date but from these Scriptural reflections we understand that an attack on Israel is coming and so we are right to pay due attention.
      Let us prepare ourselves mentally because the Word of God can not fail.
      Although this will not yet affect its ultimate destruction, it seems clear that such an attack will be there.
      It does not matter if many laugh or take this interpretation lightly; we have a chance to ascertain these things - 1 Thessalonians 5:21     * If someone has shared, even in part, this information, he is invited to warn people of what is going to happen.
      Above all those who have acquaintances or friends in that nation are invited to act according to their conscience.
      ** Since Revelation speaks of "torment" and not of death it is possible that this attack concerns a series of burning complaints (compare Daniel 11:30) from the king of the north and not a military attack. Most of the political intrasaces of this nation, which include lies, murders and abuses perpetrated against other peoples, could come to light.
      This would cause an atrocious pain to all those who, until the last moment, wanted to maintain an aura of holiness and justice and pass for victims of the world.  ***Spiritual drunks who have the privilege of carrying the name of Jehovah are invited to observe the next world events.      
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Guatemala trasladará su embajada en Israel a Jerusalén, en consonancia con la decisión de Washington condenada por la Asamblea General de la ONU y desatando el agradecimiento israelí y el rechazo palestino.
      “El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores recibe la instrucción presidencial (de Jimmy Morales) e inicia el proceso de ejecución de esta decisión de política exterior”, afirmó la cancillería guatemalteca el lunes en un comunicado.
      El proceso se inició al día siguiente de que Morales anunciara que dio instrucciones a su canciller Sandra Jovel para realizar el traslado.
      El primer ministro israelí, Benjamin Netanyahu, saludó este lunes en un comunicado la “importante” decisión de Guatemala.

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    • By Israeli Bar Avaddhon
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.     Una razón por la cual a algunos hermanos les resulta difícil aceptar que Babilonia la Grande es la nación de Israel (no es la única razón) es porque creen, en toda conciencia, que esta nación es "un paréntesis cerrado" y tenemos que entender qué significa esta expresión Si con "tema cerrado" nos referimos a que Jehová ya no usaría un país geográfico específico para "atraer a un pueblo por su nombre", tenemos toda la razón - Hechos 15:14 Si entendemos que este pueblo, en su tiempo, fue rechazado irreversiblemente, es correcto porque este concepto está sostenido por las Escrituras - Mateo 23:37, 38 Si entendemos también que cuando la Biblia habla de Israel espiritual se refiere al pueblo de Dios tomadas de todas las naciones, que no es todo "Israel", en este caso estamos en lo correcto - Romanos 9: 6 ¿Esto significa que este "paréntesis cerrado" no tendrá ningún papel en el tiempo del fin? ¿Significa que es tan insignificante, desde el punto de vista de Jehová, que ni siquiera lo he mas mencionado? Tratemos de pensar en algunos aspectos y siempre tratemos de que la Biblia hable lo más a menudo posible. Es cierto que según las últimas "directivas" del "esclavo fiel y discreto" ya no tenemos que encontrar tipos y antitipos (después de haber creado cientos, incluso de manera muy forzada, durante casi un siglo), pero es un hecho que los tipos y antitipos están presentes en una forma preponderante en la palabra de Dios. Es cierto que debemos ser precavidos y no buscar tipos y antitipos en cada coma ... en cada palabra dicha o no dicha, pero ¿significa esto que ya no tenemos que usar nuestras facultades mentales ni siquiera frente a un antitipo obvio del presente? - Hebreos 5:14 Más importante aún: ¿significa esto que debemos borrar las conexiones entre tipos y antitipos, incluso cuando es la Biblia misma a hacerlos? - 2 Pedro 1:21 En esto volveremos más tarde. Cuando Jerusalén fue destruida por primera vez en 607 a.E.V. esta nación, aunque apóstata y ahora reducida a un mínimo, no podría llamarse paréntesis cerrado - compárese con Jeremías 16:14, 15 Jehová mantuvo fe en el pacto hecho con Abraham al salvar un remanente a pesar de que la gente mostró, muchas otras veces, que no eran leales. ¿Se puede decir lo mismo cuando sucedió la segunda vez, en 70 E.V.? Cuando Jesús fue puesto en la hoguera, un acto que marcó el abandono definitivo de Jehová, el pacto permaneció vigente durante "media semana" en cumplimiento de la profecía de Daniel-Daniel 9:27; Mateo 21: 33-41 Entonces, después de la muerte de Jesús, que ocurrió alrededor del año 33 E.V., el pueblo de Israel continuó siendo un pueblo "especial" durante otra media semana, o hasta el 37 E.V. De hecho, ese año, con el bautismo de Cornelio, comenzó a formarse un nuevo Isreal: un pueblo que sería tomado de todas las naciones - Mateo 21:43; Hechos 10: 44-48 Entonces podemos decir que Israel, como pueblo especial de Dios, se convirtió en "paréntesis cerrado" en 37 E.V. Sin embargo, refiriéndose a lo que le hubiera pasado a este pueblo más de treinta años después de su abandono, Jesús dijo ... "" ¿No ves todas estas cosas? De cierto os digo que no quedará piedra sobre piedra que no esté en ruinas "- Mateo 24: 2 Uno debería pensar que, precisamente porque ahora estaba cerrado entre paréntesis, Jerusalén (e Israel en su conjunto) podría continuar existiendo y hacer su vida como cualquier otra nación, pero no fue así. Está claro que Jehová le prestó atención a esa nación que evidentemente nunca habría sido una nación como cualquier otra, independientemente si ahora era o no del pueblo de Dios. Podemos discutir si la destrucción de Jerusalén de 70 E.V. fue empujado directamente por Jehová o si esto fue solo la consecuencia del hecho de que Dios Todopoderoso retiró su protección de la nación (pero lees las palabras de Luca 21:22) pero ciertamente no podemos argumentar que esta última destrucción, ya cerrada como paréntesis, había sido predicha por las Escrituras y que este evento tendría consecuencias directas para los cristianos de la época. ¿Israel continuó teniendo alguna importancia después del abandono de Dios pero antes de la destrucción antes mencionada? Sí! Israel continuó siendo de fundamental importancia tanto para los cristianos de ascendencia judía como para todos los demás, de hecho, el apóstol Pablo hizo muchas referencias al Israel carnal para ayudar a entender la "sombra" de las cosas, la manera de actuar de Jehová. (así como su personalidad) y qué posición tenían, como cristianos, antes de todo esto - Compare Colosenses 2:16, 17 El apóstol Pablo también nos ayuda a entender, a través de la existencia del Israel carnal, quien es la "Jerusalén de arriba" - Gálatas 4:25, 26 El apóstol Pablo habló de muchos tipos y antitipos y esto no hubiera sido posible sin la existencia del Israel carnal. No habría habido un criterio, especialmente para la gente de las naciones - Efesios 2: 11-13 También en este sentido podemos decir que Israel, por lo que fue también cuando apostatò, no pudo ser realmente un "paréntesis cerrado". Ahora, sin embargo, la pregunta es ... ¿qué podemos decir de nuestros días? ¿Israel realmente ha caído en el olvido, desde Dios, desde el final del primer siglo hasta hoy? ¿Ha dejado de tener una importancia profética o antitípica? Para la segunda parte de la pregunta, podemos decir que no. Tanto en Apocalipsis como en Daniel, libros que hablan del tiempo del fin, se menciona a Israel. Incluso en Apocalipsis se habla del "canto de Moisés" y esta es, sin duda, una referencia no solo para Israel, sino también para el papel de Moisés como esclavo de Dios - Apocalipsis 15: 3 Moisés no era simplemente un israelita, sino que también era el mediador de la Ley (ley que realmente debería ser un "paréntesis cerrado", ¿no?). Hablando de la muerte de los dos testigos en cilicio Se dice que este crimen tiene lugar "donde también nuestro Señor fue empalado" - Revelación 11: 8 Sin buscar explicaciones articuladas, simplemente deberíamos preguntarnos: ¿dónde fue puesto en la hoguera el Señor Jesucristo? Por lo tanto, estamos convencidos de que la Revelación no menciona al antiguo Israel (o Jerusalén), que es el carnal, literal, ¿cuál debería ser "un paréntesis cerrado"? La revelación se cumple en el tiempo del fin, ¿no es así? También tratamos de ver si las escrituras de Daniel parecen confirmar o negar esta visión de los hechos. Daniel 11:30 dice, hablando de cierto rey, que "tendrá que volver y considerar a los que han dejado el santo pacto". ¿Quiénes son "los que han dejado el santo pacto"? Por supuesto, podría referirse al cristianismo, pero en los siguientes versículos se dirá algo que creará un serio problema de identificación de este último. Daniel 11:32 dice ... "Y a los que actúan inicuamente contra [el] pacto, Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. los conducirá a apostasía Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. mediante palabras melosas ". Entonces tenemos un problema. En el versículo 30 se dice que "lanzará denuncias contra el pacto santo" y, por lo tanto, este "tomar en consideración" a aquellos que han abandonado el pacto sagrado no parece tener nada positivo. En el versículo 32, sin embargo, el rey mismo, a través de palabras melosas, llevaría a la apostasía "a los que actùan inicuamente contra [el] pacto". Entonces, en el primer caso hay una acción enérgica, autoritaria y quizás violenta, mientras que en el segundo caso hay un halago ... Debe notarse que el mismo término – melosas, melosidad - se usa para aquellos que se unen a aquellos que "tienen perspicacia" - Daniel 11:32, 34, 35. Parece que siempre está hablando de un mismo grupo? De hecho, hay una profunda diferencia entre aquellos que han dejado un pacto y entre aquellos que actúan perversamente contra de eso. Cualquiera que deje un pacto no puede actuar en manera malvada o benignamente simplemente porque lo ha abandonado. Incluso aquí, sin demasiadas palabras, ¿qué personas han "abandonado el pacto"? La muerte del Hijo de Dios definitivamente sancionado el abandono de ese pacto que Jehová sacudió con Abraham y sus descendientes - Mateo 23:38 Si Daniel tiene una visión del "tiempo del fin", es evidente que aquellos que "dejaron el pacto" todavía se mencionan, están vivos y activos, y tienen un papel importante hasta el último momento del sistema mundial.   Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. ¿Hay alguna diferencia entre aquellos que "dejaron el pacto santo" y los que "actuan malvadamente contra el pacto"? Si piensas que la distinción entre "quien ha abandonado el pacto" y "actúa perversamente contra el pacto" es un forzamiento (¿por qué entonces, dado que los significados son profundamente diferentes?) tal vez será útil reflexionar sobre Daniel 11:45. Siempre hablando del último rey gobernante, la "cosa repugnante" según las palabras de Jesús en Mateo 24:15, la escritura dice que el rey "plantará sus tiendas palaciegas entre [el] gran mar Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. y la santa montaña de Decoración ". Ahora, si cada vez que se menciona a Israel en el tiempo del fin, se puede cuestionar si se está refiriendo al Israel literal o a los cristianos tomados de todas las naciones, y si aquellos que "actúan perversamente contra el pacto" pueden ser los mismos que han "abandonado el pacto" (es decir, que siempre se refiere al cristianismo), ¿qué podemos decir de la santa montaña de Decoración? ¿Cuál era la santa montaña de Decoración? El Monte Moria, por supuesto, donde una vez estuvo el Templo de Jerusalén.   Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. Monte Moria es "la santa montaña de Decoración"   De la misma manera que los soldados romanos ponen un pie donde no deberían (fueron algo desagradable), el último rey gobernante hará lo mismo a través del falso profeta como se especifica en Apocalipsis. El problema de eliminar tipos y antitipos, debido a errores pasados, pone el riesgo de pasar del otro extremo y no lograr a ver mas nada, aun cuando la lógica y las Escrituras nos pongon más de un motivo para reflexionar. ¿Necesitamos ser inspirados para encontrar alguna contraparte moderna? Absolutamente no, así como no debemos ser inspirados para leer y tratar de entender las Escrituras - 2 Timoteo 3:16, 17 Seguramente debemos ser cautelosos y no ir más allá de lo que está escrito, pero fue el mismo Jesús quien aplicó las palabras de Daniel en el tiempo del fin (lo que habría ido mucho más allá de la destrucción de Jerusalén en el año 70 E.V.). Así que pensar en el hecho que las palabras de Jesús, incluidos los detalles inherentes a la "cosa repugnante", habrían tenido un cumplimiento moderno, son parte del debate bíblico normal que incluye nuestra capacidad de razonar. La capacidad de razonar, hacer contrastes y paralelos es un regalo que el Creador nos dio. Entonces, volviendo a la montaña de Decoraciòn ... ¿qué significado podemos dar más allá de lo que està simplemente escrito? Por supuesto, podemos afirmar que el ángel usa un lenguaje simbólico que significa que este último rey habría interferido con la adoración verdadera ... pero este hecho, incuestionable, ya lo hemos visto cuando "suprime el sacrificio continuo". De hecho, Daniel dice que dejaría caer una parte de las estrellas, lo que habría hecho tropezar a los que entendieron y continuarían "arrojando la verdad al suelo". Además de todo esto, en cierto punto se dice que colocaría sus tiendas hasta la montaña de Decoraciòn. ¿Cuántos tipos y antitipos podemos darle a la montaña de Decoraciòn si ya hemos visto que el rey habría arrojado al pueblo de Dios a la tierra, exactamente como dice el Apocalipsis? - Apocalipsis 13: 5 Si no buscamos una explicación articulada a toda costa, tal vez porque estamos convencidos de que no puede referirse de alguna manera con el Israel moderno, entonces la respuesta es obvia. Quizás es demasiado obvia. En todo caso, tratamos de preguntarnos: ¿por qué el último rey dominante, bajo la apariencia del falso profeta, debería establecer su tienda en Israel?   Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. El falso profeta pondrá sus tiendas entre el gran mar y la montaña de Decoraciòn.   En un artículo anterior tratamos de descubrir quién es este falso profeta y cómo él representa una evolución del hombre de la ilegalidad que conocemos. Puedes encontrar el artículo en esta dirección (por ahora está en italiano) Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. Esta bestia es una decepción religiosa de proporciones mundiales y está vinculada a las palabras de Cristo cuando dijo que surgirían falsos cristos y falsos profetas. Sabemos que este tema tomará oficialmente el lugar de Dios y desviará a toda la tierra habitada. Entonces, ¿por qué debería poner sus tiendas en la montaña de Decoraciòn? Bueno, Israel, nos guste o no, es el punto de referencia de las religiones más grandes del mundo. No es coincidencia que sea la escena de las guerras más sangrientas porque cada religión reclama derechos sobre ella. Sin embargo, como Israel es la causa principal de todas las divisiones religiosas, también podría convertirse en el enlace de más de dos mil millones de personas. Si el falso profeta pretende ser Dios, entonces poner su morada en esa tierra parecerá lo más normal y las tácticas más inteligentes: 2 Tesalonicenses 2: 3, 4. Se instará a la gente a adorarlo y evidentemente es este episodio, un tiempo después de la gran guerra, que llevará a la gente a "unirse" bajo este engaño y creer que finalmente han alcanzado la paz y la seguridad. Obviamente, esta "paz y seguridad" será un engaño satánico y durará muy poco, ya que una destrucción repentina vendrá sobre todos ellos - 1 Tesalonicenses 5: 3 Poco antes de la Guerra de Armageddon, sin embargo, este falso profeta se verá obligado a "desalojar".   Las Naciones Unidas y el último rey dominante (es decir, el poder político que se esconde detrás de este engaño religioso) por voluntad de Dios, odiarán a esta ramera y la devastarán y desnudarán. Israel será destruido, contra todas las expectativas, en cumplimiento de la profecía bíblica. Solo en aquel tiempo Israel será realmente un "paréntesis cerrado" - Apocalipsis 19: 3 Sin embargo, solo este "pueblo abusivo" será un paréntesis cerrado porque la nación, o la tierra geográfica, tendrá un papel que nos sorprenderá. Veremos esto en un próximo artículo.
    • By TheWorldNewsOrg
      'Mismanagement' keeps UN from reaching full potential, Trump says in debut speech
       
       
    • Guest
      By Guest
      A day of rage? Shouldn't calling for that alone be a criminal act and cause for imprisonment?
    • By The Librarian
      Our Brother Bill Underwood wrote an interesting article in the newspaper:

       

      If you had to choose between Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, which would you choose?Now, you’re thinking, ‘I don’t have to choose, I already have both.’ Are you sure?Last August, the central district court of Tver – the oblast or ‘state’ in which Moscow resides, banned a religious website, jw.org. They did this secretly, not notifying the owners of the website until the day before the ban was to go into effect – January 22, 2014. Had they prevailed, their rationale would have been to claim, as they have in the past, that the ‘free speech’ on jw.org defames other religions. Jw.org won that battle in the court of appeals, but the foundation on which the attack was based still exists.In 1999, Pakistan brought a resolution to the UN calling for a ban on “Defamation of Islam.” Cooler heads prevailed and, after much discussion, the Commission on Human Rights passed instead a resolution banning “Defamation of Religion.”Over the years from 2000 to 2009 the resolution was added to, revised, strengthened, and re-worded, but it was consistently approved. Aside from the lack of elections, U.N. politicians are no different from any other type. It would have been politically incorrect to be seen as anti-Muslim, especially after 9/11, so passing a bill to protect them from defamation seemed like a good idea. Typical was the vote of the UN General Assembly in December, 2007: 108 for, 51 against, and 25 abstaining.In 2009, however, Pakistan pushed again. Their resolution that year stated that they were concerned that defamation of religion led to “the creation of a kind of Islamophobia in which Muslims were typecast as terrorists." They weren't opposed to freedom of expression, oh no. They merely wanted to ban "expression that led to incitement.”They said the hatred of Muslims was just like the hatred of Jews that Hitler had whipped up in pre-WWII Germany, and look what that led to. Has there been a Muslim “krystallnacht” that I didn’t hear about...the night of August 9, 1938 when Germans destroyed over 7,000 Jewish businesses and over 1,000 synagogues? Even in the days after 9/11 when there was enormous outrage against Muslims, the level of hatred never approached that.Pakistan’s proposed resolution said basically that freedom of speech sometimes has to yield in order to maintain peace. Governments such as Russia, Pakistan, and most of the middle east are quick to use this argument: some opinion or expression of yours is causing distress to others; therefore, instead of telling the ‘others’ to grow up and get over it, they tell you to stop expressing your opinion.In any case, this was a step too far, and the pendulum began to swing back. Pakistan’s argument was recognized for what it was, and over 200 civic groups, some Muslim, some Christian, some atheist, demanded that the UN push back.Over the preceding 10 years, the UN had assigned a “special rapporteur” to analyze the subject of defamation of religion and report back. The rapporteur’s report in 2009 included this telling statement:
      “[We] encourage a shift away from the sociological concept of the defamation of religions towards the legal norm of non-incitement to national, racial or religious hatred." Three months later when the United States and Egypt introduced a resolution which condemned "racial and religious stereotyping," EU representative Jean-Baptiste Mattei said the European Union "rejected and would continue to reject the concept of defamation of religions." Significantly, he said:
      "Human rights laws did not and should not protect belief systems." And the representative from Chile pointed out that,
      "The concept of the defamation of religion took them in an area that could lead to the actual prohibition of opinions." A month later, at a human rights meeting in Geneva, the United States representative admitted that defamation of religion is “a fundamentally flawed concept.” The rep from Sweden repeated what the Frenchman had said earlier: international human rights law protects individuals, not institutions or religions.By 2011 the backlash was complete. The UNHRC declared that "Prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with” the charter of the Human Rights Committee.In the years since then, any proposal in the UN attempting to ban ‘defamation of religion’ has been shot down. Freedom of speech has trumped freedom of religion.Last week, far from worrying about ‘defamation,’ the UN came out loudly and publicly chastising the Vatican.
      This has never happened before. Their purported justification for doing so went like this: The Vatican is a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 34 of which reads in part:
      “Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.” The UN accused the Vatican not merely of failing to protect children, but of actively endangering children by their policy of moving pederasts to new parishes where they could continue their predations, and of obfuscating all attempts by law enforcement agencies to find and prosecute the offenders.Now, here’s where it gets really interesting: The UN went further. They also condemned the Church’s doctrines regarding homosexuality, abortion, and ‘reproductive rights.’Chastising a signatory of a contract for failing to abide by the contract is one thing; Attempting to dictate to a church what their doctrines should be is something else. Where is the UN’s authority to do that? Yet they did it anyway.If, as the UN says, religions and belief systems are not protected by human rights - and I agree, they clearly are not – what prevents them from taking the next step: deciding that religions and belief systems are nothing more than ancient superstitions that are doing more harm than good, and that it’s time to ban them?It’s too bad the UN doesn’t have any teeth. Do they? We'll Investigate that next.
      Bill.underwood@mail.com
      Source
    • By TheWorldNewsOrg
      via TheWorldNewsOrg
      World News
    • By admin
      The UN should create a set of international rules to help stop the pandemic of fake news and Cold war-style disinformation, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said during a session of the UN Committee on Information in New York.
       
    • By Kurt
      GENEVA (4 April 2017) – Moves by the Russian Government to ban the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses using a lawsuit brought under anti-extremism legislation have been condemned as “extremely worrying” by three United Nations human rights experts*. 
      “This lawsuit is a threat not only to Jehovah’s Witnesses, but to individual freedom in general in the Russian Federation,” the experts said. 
      “The use of counter-extremism legislation in this way to confine freedom of opinion, including religious belief, expression and association to that which is state-approved is unlawful and dangerous, and signals a dark future for all religious freedom in Russia,” they stressed. 
      The condemnation follows a lawsuit lodged at the country’s Supreme Court on 15 March to declare the Jehovah’s Witnesses Administrative Centre ‘extremist’, to liquidate it, and to ban its activity.  
      A suspension order came into effect on that date, preventing the Administrative Centre and all its local religious centres from using state and municipal news media, and from organizing and conducting assemblies, rallies and other public events. 
      A full court hearing is scheduled for 5 April and if the Supreme Court rules in favour of the authorities, it will be the first such ruling by a court declaring a registered centralized religious organization to be ‘extremist’. 
      Concerns about the counter-extremism legislation have previously been raised in a 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  by the three experts to the Russian authorities on 28 July 2016.   The Suspension Order imposed on 15 March is the latest in a series of judicial cases and orders, including a warning sent to the organization last year referring to the ‘inadmissibility of extremist activity’. This has already led to the dissolution of several local Jehovah’s Witness organizations, raids against their premises and literature being confiscated.  
      “We urge the authorities to drop the lawsuit in compliance with their obligations under international human rights law, and to revise the counter-extremism legislation and its implementation to avoid fundamental human rights abuses,” the UN experts concluded. 
      (*) The experts: Mr. David Kaye (USA), Special Rapporteur on 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , Mr. Maina Kiai (Kenya), Special Rapporteur on  Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. , and Mr. Ahmed Shaheed (the Maldives), Special Rapporteur on  Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content. .   The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.  of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.   UN Human Rights, country page: 
      Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.    Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The Clean Seas campaign was launched last week, aimed at eliminating major sources of marine plastic and changing shopping habits.
      The United Nations has declared war on plastic. In an unexpected announcement that emerged from the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali last week, the UN officially launched its ‘Clean Seas’ campaign. The goal is to eliminate major sources of pollution, including microplastics in cosmetics and single-use disposable plastics, by pressuring governments and individuals to rethink the way goods are packaged and their own shopping habits.
      Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, stated:
      “It is past time that we tackle the plastic problem that blights our oceans. Plastic pollution is surfing onto Indonesian beaches, settling onto the ocean floor at the North Pole, and rising through the food chain onto our dinner tables. We’ve stood by too long as the problem has gotten worse. It must stop.”
      It’s a problem that must be dealt with as aggressively as possible. Scientists say that the equivalent of a dump truck load of plastic is deposited in the world’s oceans every minute, and this quantity will only increase as consumption and population grow, too. By 2050, it’s said there will be more plastic than fish in the seas. The UN writes, “As many as 51 trillion microplastic particles – 500 times more than stars in our galaxy – litter our seas, seriously threatening marine wildlife.”
      On the campaign website, people can commit to certain actions to combat their personal plastic pollution, such as not using disposable grocery bags, bringing their own coffee cup, avoiding cosmetics with microbeads, and pressuring firms to reduce excess packaging. The campaign’s press release says it will make announcements throughout the year, highlighting advances made by countries and companies to reduce disposable plastics.

      Some countries have taken noteworthy steps, with ten already signing onto the #CleanSeas campaign. Indonesia, for example, has pledged to reduce marine litter by 70 percent by 2025, and Costa Rica says it will “take measures to dramatically reduce single-use plastic through better waste management and education.” Other nations are turning to taxes on plastic bags.
      The UN Clean Seas campaign is a good place to start, as it will spread the awareness of a little-known problem much further afield. Awareness, however, is just the first small step. It must translate into real lifestyle changes in order to make any sort of difference. It requires people to think ahead – request no straw with a drink, pack containers and bags when going to the store, trade in the diaper wipes for a washcloth, kick the bottled water habit – and it requires municipal governments to take a strong, often unpopular, stance.

      Just as microbeads are being eliminated in many places, plastic shopping bags should be, too; or at least the tax should be high enough to deter anyone, say $5 a bag, instead of 5 cents. Every town should have a bulk food store where the use of reusable containers is incentivized. Styrofoam and plastic takeout containers should be made illegal. Places to return packaging directly to manufacturers should be built alongside recycling facilities, based on the successful model of returning wine and beer bottles for refund in the province of Ontario. Schools need to start teaching children to care proactively for the Earth and to live with a reduced footprint, much like the strong anti-littering messages taught in Japan.
      Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard quotes Wang Yang Ming in his book, Let My People Go Surfing: “To know and not to do is not to know.” Hopefully the Clean Seas campaign will be that crucial first step toward informing greater swaths of the world’s population and inspiring them to further action.
      http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/un-says-its-time-tackle-plastic-pollution-aggressively.html
    • By The Librarian
      United Nations Building, New York City
      Photo Credit: Flash 90
       
      For years, critics of the United Nations have been calling on the U.S. to defund and even quit the world body. Some have urged that a rival or successor organization be established. Now, the empty sheet of bitter discontent with the UN has been filled in with a new name and a new movement calling to “defund and replace” the troubled organization with the Covenant of Democratic Nations. This writer has been a participating witness to the birth of this movement.
      Just days after the passage of UN Resolution 2334, which declared, among other things, that Israel’s Jewish connection to the Western Wall was effectively illegal, concrete replacement action began. It has started with a conversation of ideas proposing an official international conference that would carefully propound a multilaterally-signed diplomatic convention to be ratified by countries as a binding treaty that would juridically forge the covenant into operational reality.
      The entire process would be limited to nations governed by democratic principles. Each member would or could defund the United Nations while it labored to construct a successor entity dedicated to world peace along democratic principles with equal respect for all people regardless of religion, gender, race, identity, or national origin, as well as formulating a mechanism to resolve disputes.
      A prime mission of the new world body would be to re-ratify, amend, or nullify all acts and resolutions of the United Nations and its agencies such as UNESCO. Thus, the Covenant would create a new body of long-overdue, reformed, clarified, and updated international law. Sensibly, most CDN nations would remain as vestigial members of the UN overseeing its collapse from economic and bureaucratic processes as was done when the League of Nations was dissolved after World War II and replaced with the present UN.
      Clearly, the history of world bodies, fluttering high-minded banners of peace on earth following wars that scorched the world and scarred all humankind, is not a good one. The League of Nations was born after World War I out of a quest for revenge by the victors, laced with a visionary desire to end colonialism and empower self-determination among nationally awakened peoples, so long as the whole business conquered the oil fields of the Mideast, lubricating the machinery of the post-Second Industrial Revolution West—and the multinational corporate palms that controlled it.
      Countries were invented that had never existed, carved and chipped off the toppled Turkish and German empires, with handpicked kings and sovereigns put into place who could legally sign lucrative petroleum contracts. Backstage, oil companies got the oil. But the flaccid League of Nations – which never included the United States –proved its utter uselessness during the Hitler regime.
      After World War II, the League was replaced by the United Nations. Although enshrined as a democratic enterprise, profoundly undemocratic and scheming governments penetrated the organization from its inception. Civil war-torn China and a tyrannical and hegemonic Soviet Union joined France, Great Britain, and the United States to create the Security Council. Expansion, inclusion, and extension eventually enrolled 193 nations, including such egalitarian democracies as North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Saudi Arabia. The world body began as a sick organ and deteriorated from there.
      The Covenant conversation launched in earnest on January 23 when a panel of like-minded voices assembled in a crowded Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office Building. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ,) who currently supports a bill to defund the UN, opened the Covenant Launch proceedings by declaring, “This is a critically important issue. The United Nations started out with a noble charter…but the United Nations has not only failed their charter, they have distinctly moved in the opposite direction and done actual harm…. They have become an anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-democratic, anti-freedom mob…. We need some type of alternative – a Covenant of Democratic Nations…. We need to repeal and replace.”
      Sarah Stern, founder of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), pinpointed America’s 22 percent share of the overall UN budget. Stern said America was not getting what it pays for when “despotic, ruthless, tyrannical regimes” such as Syria “could pass judgment on the one democracy in the Middle East.” The UN has, she said, proven to be “abysmal” and added, “It is now time to begin having this conversation about dissolving the United Nations and replacing with a Covenant of Democratic Nations that share our common values…of tolerance, human rights, and the rule of law.”
      Famed constitutional attorney Nathan Lewin, who has worked on 28 Supreme Court cases, proclaimed to the room, “The United Nations deserves an obituary…because the United Nations committed suicide when it adopted Resolution 2334. It wrote its own death warrant…. Today I am happy to join a group that would spell the end of the United Nations, the end of its funding, it presence and significance in the world order.”
      The Covenant launch in Washington was only the beginning. Additional panels and town hall meetings will convene in several locales in the coming weeks. The conversation has begun.
      Edwin Black
      About the Author: Edwin Black is the author of several books including “ IBM and the Holocaust” and the initiator of the Covenant of the Democratic Nations effort. For his prior efforts, he has been awarded the Moral Courage Award, the Moral Compass Award, and the Justice for All Award.
      http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/replacing-the-un-with-the-covenant-of-democratic-nations/2017/02/02/
    • By Kurt
      Jehovah’s Witnesses at an assembly in Rishon Letzion
       
      The state refuses to recognize them and they have been victims of harassment. But Jehovah's Witnesses insist that they lead normal lives and are not a dangerous cult.
      Haaretz
      By Netta Ahituv 
      December 1, 2016

      Yarden Zalimansky is only 25, but comports himself like a staid older citizen. He’s been married for a few years, and wears a white shirt, tie and dark slacks for our meeting; he has a tablet opened to a Bible app and speaks in a deeply serious tone of voice. Until age 19, he styled himself an atheist, now he’s a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He grew up in Tel Aviv in a secular family (“One Holocaust and three cases of cancer was enough for the loss of God”), and majored in film at an arts high school.

      “I was always interested in history and in religions, and I used to talk to a friend about it. One day, while I was in the army, she told me she was studying Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was bent on stopping her, but as we went on talking, I saw that what I believed in was incorrect and that she had tools to prove that her belief was right,” he relates.
      What did you find in Jehovah’s Witnesses that you didn’t find elsewhere?

      “One thing that bothered me in most religions is that at a certain stage, you are requested to stop asking questions – and I had plenty of concrete questions. For example, I couldn’t understand the Holy Trinity in Catholicism, and I felt that my questions about it were not welcome. In Jehovah’s Witnesses, I can always ask questions and get answers from the Bible. They don’t call for blind faith, but base themselves on evidence and on asking questions.”

      Most of the adherents I met while researching this article told a similar story. They discovered the creed via a friend, a pamphlet they came across or another Witness who “opened my eyes.” Initially skeptical, they were gradually won over, and decided to devote themselves to this mix of Judaism and Christianity.

      The approximately 1,600 members of the community in Israel obey the laws of the country, pay their taxes and believe that they are upstanding citizens, but refuse to fulfill one national obligation: to perform military service (as they explain below). As with Witnesses abroad, they believe in the Hebrew Bible (Torah, Prophets, Writings), which they call the “Hebrew Scriptures,” and also in the New Testament, or the “Christian Greek Scriptures,” in their terminology. Both together constitute the “Bible.” According to them, at the end of the first century C.E., after the New Testament was written, God ceased to reveal himself to mankind. Accordingly, all the answers about faith, way of life, prohibitions and commandments can be found in the Bible. Every other interpretation, such as that relating to Holy Trinity or full delineation of the laws of kashrut, are later additions and therefore not part of the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
      Given the community’s belief in the sanctity of the Hebrew Bible, it’s surprising to discover that there are many precepts that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not follow, such as observance of the three festivals (Sukkot, Pesach, Shavuot), or circumcision, which is permitted, but not mandatory. Their explanation is that according to the prophecies of Daniel, when the Messiah – namely Yeshua, or Jesus – comes, the offering of sacrifices will be stopped and the Temple destroyed, and from that moment the followers (i.e., the Jehovah's Witnesses) are no longer subjected to the Torah’s precepts.

      The community takes its name from Isaiah 43:10: “‘You are my witnesses,’ declares Jehovah, / ‘Yes, my servant whom I have chosen’…” (from the 2013 edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ “New World Translation” of the Bible).

      One word that irks them in particular when used in their context is “cult.” Contrary to the prevailing view in Israel, Jehovah’s Witnesses have no guru, they are not asked to transfer all their assets to the community, and no attempt is made to cut them off from family and friends. Still, it’s difficult for them to maintain full ties with their families, as they are forbidden by their faith to celebrate holidays, whether Jewish or Christian, as well as birthdays. Families who want to meet with their converted relatives do so on non-celebratory occasions. From the culinary aspect, hosting them is easy: Other than raw and very rare meat, and an injunction to go easy on drinking wine – they are free to eat everything.
      Smiling from ear to ear

      Several things strike one upon meeting Jehovah’s Witnesses. The first is their cordiality: They greet you warmly, and always seem to be smiling from ear to ear. They are also immaculately attired. The men wear a tie with a well-ironed shirt that’s tucked into suit pants; the women generally wear a skirt and an elegant blouse. The children, too, are well dressed, including their footwear. Order and cleanliness are also clearly important for the community’s members. In all the homes and meeting places of Jehovah’s Witnesses that I visited, I didn’t see a single item that seemed to be out of place, covered with dust or improperly maintained.

      Each of these elements is backed by at least one verse from the Bible. “The moment a person allows the spirit of God to influence his life and implements the principles of the Bible, he is imbued with a certain feeling that is perhaps expressed in what you call cordiality,” says Ran Kaplan (not his real name; he spoke under condition of anonymity), one of the community elders in Israel. “If you fill a person with pleasant things and with faith, his approach to life changes and becomes more positive.”

      As for the attire, he explains, “The idea is to dress in a way that honors God, internally and externally. Each community around the world dresses differently, according to local custom, but with dignity and relative modesty. Also, one of the principles that God demands is physical, mental and moral cleanliness.”

      Opponents of Jehovah’s Witnesses are legion. In Israel, what upsets people is their missionary activity. “We are not permitted to offer benefits for conversion, or to solicit minors. Beyond that, the law does not prohibit persuasion,” explains Oved Yitzhak, 42.
      Every Friday, members of the community set up stands at various spots around the country. This is done in shifts and according to the believers’ desire and availability. The stands, which are neat and tidy, of course, offer pamphlets explaining the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses and a few principles from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament in Hebrew, English, Russian and Arabic. The meticulously dressed members of the community do not solicit people at their initiative, conversing only with those who approach them and show an interest. 

      What they usually get from passersby are dirty looks, sometimes supplemented with curses.

      In addition to the goal of winning people over to their faith, another principle of Jehovah’s Witnesses that sparks an adverse reaction is their refusal to accept blood transfusions. As explained in the FAQ section on their website: “This is a religious issue rather than a medical one. Both the Old and New Testaments clearly command us to abstain from blood (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10; Deuteronomy 12:23; Acts 15:28, 29). Also, God views blood as representing life (Leviticus 17:14). So we avoid taking blood not only in obedience to God but also out of respect for him as the Giver of life.”

      Kaplan elaborates: “In the past, we were more stringent with regard to blood transfusions. Today we understand that in some cases, this is a life-or-death matter, so we will not take formal action [such as expulsion from the community] against someone who has chosen to accept a transfusion. Medicine is progressing and is now capable of offering treatment without transfusions. It is important for us to point out that, contrary to all kinds of myths that are spread about us we, do not object to medical procedures, only to receiving blood.”

      I ask Kaplan about another issue: the belief in the existence of Satan that seems to be present in the community’s faith and way of life.
      “According to the Bible, Satan exists – the Book of Job documents a conversation between Satan and God,” he says. “But Satan is not a central figure in our faith or a source of irrational fears. The Bible says, ‘oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you’ [James 4:7-8]. According to the Scriptures, Satan cannot make us do anything against our will and there is no hell populated by the devil and demons. Nor is all evil attributed to Satan: People themselves bear responsibility for their wicked deeds.”

      What is your attitude toward the authorities? In Israel, for example, you pay taxes but don’t do army service. Why?

      Kaplan: “We believe that when the kingdom of God is established, all the transitory kingdoms will disintegrate. God allows governments and international organizations, and as subjects we need to submit to them. We refuse to submit only when the government asks us to do something against our will, such as to use physical violence. That is why we do not join the army.”
      Young Jehovah’s Witnesses are permitted to submit a formal letter to the army declaring that they are members of the community who have been baptized, whereupon they receive an exemption from service – a process that is repeated every year until they reach the age 30, when they are officially discharged from military service. They thus undergo a process similar to those of Orthodox youths studying in yeshivas, though in the case of the Witnesses it is regulated by the military draft law, the last version of which was approved in 2015.

      "Jehovah's Witnesses are exempt from service since they belong to a special community, and must be presented with a proper alternative due to their way of life," the Israel Defense Forces Spokesman's Office says in response. "The exemption is not part of an agreement [with the IDF per se], but is anchored in laws regarding the security services."

      Kaplan, for his part, says: "We are not afraid to be different, but we are not out to provoke. Those who know us, including serious institutions in democracies, know that we are not a group of crazies with apocalyptic visions. Apparently, a religious minority is a convenient target for slanders and distorted facts, as the Jews themselves know from their bitter experience.”
      Another allegation vehemently denied by Jehovah’s Witnesses is that they forcefully separate believers from their families. Yarden Zalimansky says that he has excellent relations with his family. "We work together in the family business. It was hard for them when I was exempted from army service, because I come from a family of fighters and officers. But they got over it. And by the way,” he adds, “the friend who introduced me to Jehovah’s Witnesses is now my wife.”

      Are you and your wife thinking of expanding the family?

      Zalimansky: “Not at the moment. We devote most of our spare time to Jehovah’s Witnesses activity and we want to continue that. The biblical prophecies describe the present period as critical, and the activity of spreading the word as urgent and important. The idea is to inform as many people as possible, not necessarily to convert them. Many in the community therefore prefer to do intensive work of spreading the word for a few years before devoting themselves to children.”

      “Of course, the decision about having children is completely personal,” says Kaplan, explaining Zalimansky’s logic. “The vast majority of couples in the community have children. There are also couples who decide to defer parenthood for a time in order to be more active in the community, and there are a few who forgo having children altogether. Encouragement not to have children is overt and appears in the articles we distribute. At the same time, this is one of the issues on which the Bible does not contain detailed laws, so we do not treat it in the way that Jews, for example, treat a rabbinical ruling that obliges the believer.”
      Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that 1914 marked the end of a 2,520-year period called "the Gentile Times," after which human society would be replaced by the establishment of God's kingdom on Earth. They explain today that they do not know when the end-of-days period in which we are living is due to end, but say it will be soon. Which why it is so important to them to spread their message now.

      Kaplan is only 50, but he’s the elder of one of the Israeli communities. There is no position of teacher or religious leader; instead, the “elders” instruct the believers in assemblies without payment. The criteria for becoming an elder appear in the New Testament: “The overseer should therefore be irreprehensible, a husband of one wife, moderate in habits, sound in mind, orderly, hospitable, qualified to teach, not a drunkard, not violent, but reasonable, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (1 Timothy 3:2-3).

      A gathering of three or more elders has the authority to expel an errant believer from the community, a custom that recalls the Hasidic movement. This is rarely done, however, according to Kaplan. “My rough estimate is that we’re talking about 0.5 percent to 0.8 percent of the believers a year,” he says.
      ‘Urban monastery’

      In addition to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Israel, there are 300 more in the areas of the Palestinian Authority. Worldwide, they number about eight million, and in 180 countries – Israel is not one of them – they are recognized officially as a religion. The largest community, with some 1.2 million members, is in the United States, where the Witnesses had their beginnings in the 1870s. In Italy, Witnesses is the second largest religious community, after Roman Catholicism. According to estimates, they grow by 3 to 4 percent annually worldwide, that is, by 240,000 to 320,000 new adherents a year. Those figures do not include children born to adherents, who are not baptized until they so choose, at age 17 or above.

      Each community holds twice-weekly meetings at one of three centers in Israel, with a different topic discussed at each. The meeting I attended in Rishon Letzion, on the subject of “love and marriage,” opened with communal singing, after which one of the elders delivered a sermon. Everyone took an active part in the lesson that followed. Many had Bible apps on their smartphone or tablet. The lesson has a question-and-answer structure, and each member may reply to the elder’s questions. He appends “brother” or “sister” to everyone’s first name.

      The atmosphere was comfortable and relaxed, but the discussion seemed a bit childish, both in terms of the repetitive pedagogical instructions and the naïve content. For example, the discussion about the absolute ban on adultery made no mention of the desires and concrete difficulties involved.

      “It’s a format of meetings that has to be suitable for 8.2 million people of every background, educational level and age,” Kaplan explains. “Obviously, then, the method has to be simple. The depth and richness of the subject dealt with at each meeting depends on the composition of the local community. As for the messages, there are very simple biblical truths, and even if they sometimes seem utopian, according to the Bible, one can live by them.”
      A Jehovah’s Witnesses head office operates in every country or geographical region in the format of a “small kibbutz,” as Kaplan puts it. The office staff do their work on a voluntary basis, and the others look after their basic needs: housing, food, money for everyday needs. The main Israeli office has 43 permanent volunteers and 10 more who work in rotation as required. Globally, there are some 20,000 volunteers, who must be either single, or, if married, childless.

      “Think of it as an urban monastery,” Kaplan suggests, adding that parents with children do not do volunteer work for both spiritual and economic reasons: The community does not have the resources to provide services for children, too.

      The budgets come from donations. Each assembly room has a donation box, and people can give as much as they like. Communities also donate to one another. Thus, in Europe and the United States, where most such groups are self-supporting, money is also transferred to less solvent areas, such as Africa and Israel. Not surprisingly, this practice, too, is based on a biblical verse.

      Domestic and regular

      To show me how "normal" their life is, the Zeibert family invited me for Friday lunch in their central Tel Aviv home. The family consists of Sarit, 47, Ran, 48, and their two daughters, Or, 20, and her younger sister, who asked not to be mentioned by name and age in the article, because she is shy and also because she hasn’t yet told her new classmates about her religious affiliation. Their younger daughter is enrolled in the state-secular education system, as was Or for 12 years.
      There is nothing unusual about the family’s home. There are no crucifixes or icons on the walls, a custom prohibited by the Bible. The hospitality is extensive, and only the benediction recited before the meal indicates that this is a Jehovah’s Witnesses home.

      Sarit relates that one day, when Or was a baby, a woman from Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on the door. A conversation ensued and Sarit found the woman’s reasoning congenial, but found it difficult to stop smoking (which is also not permitted, since followers believe they have to take good care of their body and soul) and drinking heavily. She took Bible lessons and kicked her bad habits several times but relapsed, until finally she triumphed over them and decided to be baptized. It took her husband a few more years, in which he studied and investigated the subject himself, before he too underwent baptism.

      Sarit is from a traditionalist Jewish Israeli family, Ran’s background is secular. Both of their families now accept their conversion, following a difficult initial period. The grandparents grew accustomed to not giving the children presents on their birthdays, but make it up to them with plenty of gifts on other days.

      Or chose to be baptized at the age of 17 and did not do military service. The exemption process was simple, she says: She submitted an official form proving she is a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She is a volunteer at the community’s center in Tel Aviv, and has clearly taken upon herself the tenets of the religion she chose.

      An intriguing facet of an encounter with children from the community is how they cope with the prohibition on celebrating holidays or taking part in ceremonies, which means they are absent on days when the school marks religious or national events. The ban on birthday celebrations is another significant limitation. Don’t they feel deprived, especially given the fact that they attend regular schools?
      Or admits that every transition to a new school framework obliged her to explain why she couldn’t take part in her friends’ birthday parties. “After a while, I wasn’t invited to birthdays anymore, because they understood that our faith made it impossible to celebrate,” Sarit says. “Wherever the girls went to school, they found open, polite and respectful people around them. We’ve hardly ever encountered religion-based tension. But I have to say that this refers specifically to the center of Tel Aviv and to the schools the girls attended. I’ve heard harsh stories from other Jehovah’s Witnesses about how their children were treated.”

      Or, as a girl, wasn’t it hard for you not to celebrate birthdays?

      Or: “I always had a social life and terrific and happy things that filled my life.”

      Sarit: “Or liked parties, so we had parties that weren’t connected to birthdays. Until the fifth grade, she pressured me about the holidays. It was a challenge. One day I compromised and let her wear a ‘symbolic’ costume on Purim. Things haven’t always gone smoothly, which is only natural, especially because they were the only Jehovah’s Witnesses children in their schools. But no one, religious or secular, raises their children in total freedom and gives in to all their caprices. Everyone sets boundaries, whether for religious or other reasons.”
      While I was at the Zeiberts’ home, Sarit mentioned in passing that that day was the younger daughter’s birthday. “They know their date of birth, of course, like everyone, it’s not that we hide it from them,” she noted.

      Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that birthday celebrations have pagan roots – and the Bible condemns sorcery, fortune-telling, spiritism and the like. They believe it is not by chance that neither the Hebrew Bible nor the New Testament have a single mention of one servant of God who celebrated a birthday. After all, the birthdays of two people who did not serve God are mentioned negatively in the Bible.

      Sarit and Ran say their lives have been tranquil since they became Jehovah’s Witnesses. According to Sarit, her decision was the first time in her life that she felt she was making an independent choice. “Until that moment I went along with what I was born into and what happened to me. So, that was a formative and important moment in my life,” she says.

      Ran, who was a PR man for dance and music clubs, began working as a gardener – a profession he enjoys, he says, because it brings him close to nature and to people. He doesn’t miss his former life, which was “confused and lacked meaning.”

      Sarit is currently engaged in historical research about the tragedy that befell Jehovah’s Witnesses under the Nazi regime. Her studies, conducted in cooperation with noted researchers of the Jewish Holocaust, mainly from the Yad Vashem Holocaust Authority in Jerusalem, indicate that 20,000 to 25,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses lived in Germany during the Hitler years. Of them, 12,000 were incarcerated in concentration camps for refusing to sign a form renouncing their faith, and 2,000 of them were murdered. She has found 19 Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been designated Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

      The Yad L’Achim organization, an Orthodox counter-missionary group that sees its mission as “the saving of each and every Jewish soul from Christian cults,” has published a detailed pamphlet decrying Jehovah’s Witnesses and alleging that the community collaborated with the Nazi regime .
      Sarit rejects that claim outright: “Jehovah’s Witnesses were persecuted in Germany and occupied Europe from Hitler’s accession to power until the regime’s collapse, because of their religious belief and because of their military neutrality and their love of their fellow man, which did not allow them to cooperate with the regime.”

      Violent harassment

      Although Yad L’Achim claims to abstain from any violence against Jehovah’s Witnesses (or any other group), local adherents report being subjected to numerous forms of attack. Motti Danziger, 43, a former Jew who became a member of the community as a teenager, says that recently an ultra-Orthodox man followed him into the apartment building where he lives with his wife, who is also a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The next morning, all the building’s occupants found in their mailboxes a letter warning that, despite Danziger’s affable exterior, he is a dangerous person who will try to convert them.

      Danziger also encountered harassment during his missionary activity. In the town of Nes Tziona, south of Tel Aviv, he knocked on the door of an apartment and was invited in by the woman of the house. But when her husband arrived, he locked the door and threatened Danziger and his associate. After words were exchanged, and Danziger tried to call the police, the man agreed to let them go – on condition that they leave all their written material with him.
      In several large assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses from different cities, participants were met with violent demonstrations. The latest such incident occurred this past June, when adherents who attended an assembly in Rishon Letzion endured attacks that included stone-throwing and physical assaults, apparently organized by the ultra-right Lehava organization (the name is an acronym, meaning “flame”) for Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land.

      A similar event occurred a year earlier, in Ra’anana, which also involved a legal saga. On the morning of the assembly, the municipality announced that it was canceling the event, “for fear of offense to the public’s sensibilities,” after discovering that a public hall had been rented by Jehovah’s Witnesses. The issue reached the Supreme Court (after the municipality appealed a decision of the District Court that ordered that the gathering could take place), which ruled that the city cannot cancel a gathering on the grounds of religion, as this would infringe on freedom of religion and worship. When it became clear that the assembly would proceed as planned, the city’s rabbi, Yitzhak Peretz, organized a demonstration outside the venue. About 1,000 people showed up and tried to break in. Two demonstrators were detained by the police and released shortly afterward.

      But the primary confrontation Jehovah’s Witnesses have in Israel is with the state. Since 2000, they have been attempting to gain official recognition as a religious community. Recognition would accord them various rights, such as being able to marry according to their faith, as well as social, legal and cultural legitimacy, and certain tax benefits. They are currently in the midst of legal proceedings, in the course of which they realized – in concurrence with their lawyers and with the U.S.-based international center of Jehovah’s Witnesses – that most of the difficulties they encounter in the country are due to ignorance about them and their beliefs.
      “People don’t know what it means to be a Jehovah’s Witness, and so they are afraid of us,” Kaplan says.

      They hope that this article – the first to enter into the community's usually closed doors since their activity got underway in 1913, in Palestine and Israel – will help reduce the fear people feel about them.

      In other countries, too, Jehovah’s Witnesses anger people and institutions. They infuriated the regimes in China and Russia (both during the era of the USSR and today), angered the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s, and even irked the U.S. Department of Education, due to the refusal to allow their children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school (until a 1943 Supreme Court decision ruled that schoolchildren could elect not to utter the pledge). The Catholic Church doesn’t like their denial of the Holy Trinity, and some elements of Israel's religious establishment perceives them as a threat to Judaism.

      The irony of the situation is not lost on Keren Kimchi, 51, from Jehovah’s Witnesses: “Everywhere in the world we are regarded as enemies of Christianity,” she says. “Only here in Israel are we seen as Christians.”

      Unrecognized community
      In August 2000, lawyers for Jehovah’s Witnesses sought recognition for them as a formal religious community in Israel via the cabinet secretary, the attorney general and the Prime Minister’s Office. Fully three years later, the attorney general’s office replied that the decision was up to the government, as the community itself had noted in its request. Following another letter, they were told that only a cabinet minister could place the subject on the agenda, and therefore the attorney general was referring the matter to the interior, justice and religious affairs ministers. Seven years after that, the cabinet secretary informed Jehovah’s Witnesses that no progress had been made.

      In 2014, another request for recognition was conveyed to the cabinet secretary. A year went by without a reply. A month after the community sent a reminder, the legal adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office informed Jehovah’s Witnesses that she was rejecting their request. “There are many different groups in Israel that wish to be recognized as a religious community. Accordingly, in the past 40 years, given the broad implications entailed in recognizing new religious communities, the government has not seen fit to change the existing situation,” the legal adviser wrote.

      The “existing situation” is that the state recognizes only the following religious communities (in addition to Jews): Muslims, Christians, Druze, Circassians, Bedouin, Samaritans, Ahmadis and Bahais. (By comparison, Britain recognizes about 30 religious communities.) Jehovah’s Witnesses now believe that, all other possibilities having been tried, the only remaining alternative is the High Court of Justice. A petition to the court to that effect is now being drawn up by attorney Yael Nagar from the law firm of Eliad Shraga & Co.
      Concurrently, Jehovah’s Witnesses are seeking recognition as a public institution from the Tax Authority as a nonprofit organization engaged in religious activity. This process, which is being spearheaded by attorney Amit Moshe Cohen from the law firm of Doron Tikotzky Kantor Gutman Cederboum, has been ongoing for three years. During that time, representatives of the Israel Tax Authority, after visiting the Jehovah’s Witnesses offices in Tel Aviv and being persuaded that the required criteria were met, transmitted the request to the Knesset’s Finance Committee. In a meeting held last March, the committee’s chairman, MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), announced that he was referring the request to the attorney general because the issue is a matter of “deep public controversy.”

      No response was received from the Prime Minister’s Office, which is responsible for the attorney general's office, by press time.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The state refuses to recognize them and they have been victims of harassment. But Jehovah's Witnesses insist that they lead normal lives and are not a dangerous cult.

      Yarden Zalimansky is only 25, but comports himself like a staid older citizen. He’s been married for a few years, and wears a white shirt, tie and dark slacks for our meeting; he has a tablet opened to a Bible app and speaks in a deeply serious tone of voice. Until age 19, he styled himself an atheist, now he’s a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He grew up in Tel Aviv in a secular family (“One Holocaust and three cases of cancer was enough for the loss of God”), and majored in film at an arts high school.
      “I was always interested in history and in religions, and I used to talk to a friend about it. One day, while I was in the army, she told me she was studying Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was bent on stopping her, but as we went on talking, I saw that what I believed in was incorrect and that she had tools to prove that her belief was right,” he relates.
      What did you find in Jehovah’s Witnesses that you didn’t find elsewhere?
      “One thing that bothered me in most religions is that at a certain stage, you are requested to stop asking questions – and I had plenty of concrete questions. For example, I couldn’t understand the Holy Trinity in Catholicism, and I felt that my questions about it were not welcome. In Jehovah’s Witnesses, I can always ask questions and get answers from the Bible. They don’t call for blind faith, but base themselves on evidence and on asking questions.”
      Most of the adherents I met while researching this article told a similar story. They discovered the creed via a friend, a pamphlet they came across or another Witness who “opened my eyes.” Initially skeptical, they were gradually won over, and decided to devote themselves to this mix of Judaism and Christianity.
      The approximately 1,600 members of the community in Israel obey the laws of the country, pay their taxes and believe that they are upstanding citizens, but refuse to fulfill one national obligation: to perform military service (as they explain below). As with Witnesses abroad, they believe in the Hebrew Bible (Torah, Prophets, Writings), which they call the “Hebrew Scriptures,” and also in the New Testament, or the “Christian Greek Scriptures,” in their terminology. Both together constitute the “Bible.” According to them, at the end of the first century C.E., after the New Testament was written, God ceased to reveal himself to mankind. Accordingly, all the answers about faith, way of life, prohibitions and commandments can be found in the Bible. Every other interpretation, such as that relating to Holy Trinity or full delineation of the laws of kashrut, are later additions and therefore not part of the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
      Given the community’s belief in the sanctity of the Hebrew Bible, it’s surprising to discover that there are many precepts that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not follow, such as observance of the three festivals (Sukkot, Pesach, Shavuot), or circumcision, which is permitted, but not mandatory. Their explanation is that according to the prophecies of Daniel, when the Messiah – namely Yeshua, or Jesus – comes, the offering of sacrifices will be stopped and the Temple destroyed, and from that moment the followers (i.e., the Jehovah's Witnesses) are no longer subjected to the Torah’s precepts.
      The community takes its name from Isaiah 43:10: “‘You are my witnesses,’ declares Jehovah, / ‘Yes, my servant whom I have chosen’…” (from the 2013 edition of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ “New World Translation” of the Bible).

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    • By The Librarian
      Over the past year we have been celebrating 70 years of the United Nations and indeed, there is much to be proud of and grateful for. Over the past year alone, Member States adopted an ambitious development agenda – Agenda 2030 – as well as the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, a process in which I was honoured to play a role. These agreements demonstrate, once again, the power and the value of the UN when its Member States are united in purpose.
      At the same time, the world is facing complex challenges that the UN’s founders could have scarcely imagined 70 years ago. As our societies have grown more interconnected, so have our problems. The global migration and refugee crisis has demonstrated that armed conflict, environmental degradation and human rights violations in one part of the world can have repercussions across the world. We are already witnessing the effects of climate change, the impacts of which are being felt most acutely by the poorest societies that are least able to cope. We have also been made painfully aware that terrorism knows no borders and that violent extremists are increasingly adept at exploiting power vacuums, instability and discontent to spread hatred and destruction.
      Image: United Nations Working together to tackle the biggest challenges
      It is evident that we can no longer afford to deal with such challenges in an isolated manner or ignore the full range of their impacts – social, political, environmental and economic. Doing so risks inflaming vicious cycles of conflict. The only way to take on these challenges is by working collectively; either we figure out ways of winning together, or we will all lose together.
      In these complicated times, and in a fraught and shifting geopolitical environment, the United Nations remains the indispensable organization that can bring the world around the table to formulate collective responses to shared challenges. Even as these challenges grow increasingly complex, Member States continue to turn to the UN as the universal forum to build consensus and unity in the face of daunting obstacles. But in order to deliver on its crucial responsibilities in a fast-moving world, the UN as an institution has to evolve. This requires visionary leadership and creativity to adapt the way we think, the way we engage, and the way we work.
      Four priorities for peace and security
      For the UN to take on the global challenges of the 21st century, I believe the next secretary-general should focus on four broad priorities in the field of peace and security.
      First, conflict prevention and strengthened political engagement must be brought to the forefront of the UN’s agenda. This is not a new idea –three major reviews of the UN’s peace and security architecture over the past year have reiterated this point. The UN secretariat needs to be more creative in presenting to the Security Council the full spectrum of instruments we have at our disposal to prevent and de-escalate conflicts, from special envoys, regional political offices and political missions, to peacebuilding support efforts and specialized, interdisciplinary teams that can provide host governments with focused support. The UN should also use its greatest assets – its convening power and legitimacy – to be more active at bringing together stakeholders to negotiate political settlements and resolve conflicts before violence erupts.
      Additionally, we must remember that conflict prevention requires sowing the seeds of long-term peace through development and prosperity. Agenda 2030 highlights the old truth that there is no peace without sustainable development – and no sustainable development without peace.
      A second priority should be promoting full integration of UN system-wide efforts. Too often the UN’s political, developmental and human rights efforts are functioning at cross-purposes. This must stop. The multi-dimensional challenges we face require multi-dimensional thinking and action. We must overcome institutional inertia and instil a culture of systemic collaboration and inter-disciplinary thinking appropriate for the interconnected world we live in. The new secretary-general and their team should find innovative ways of harnessing the full capacities of the UN system, including the agencies, funds and programmes to be able to tackle issues on all fronts. This also requires undertaking renewed efforts to promote better internal governance, transparency and accountability. And we must heed the call from both Member States and UN staff to adapt our bureaucratic processes to be more agile and effective, and better respond to evolving realities in the field.
      Third, the UN must become a better partner. Regional and sub-regional organizations such as the African Union, European Union, Arab League, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and others play a critical role in conflict resolution and prevention. We must recognize that other actors are sometimes better placed to react more rapidly and effectively. In such cases, we should work together with these organizations to identify the ways the UN can best support and enable regional efforts. And our approach should be grounded in a spirit of mutual respect and recognition of comparative advantages.
      Finally, the next secretary-general should redouble diplomatic engagement with Member States, particularly the Security Council, through closer and more regular interaction aimed at finding and expanding points of consensus. While the Council has been criticized for its handling of the Syrian crisis, we must recognize that it found common ground on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons and on authorizing cross-border humanitarian access. Even in the most seemingly intractable conflicts, there is room for agreement on issues of common interest, and the secretary-general should use their diplomatic arsenal and creativity to facilitate consensus among Member States, even when consensus seems impossible.
      Making the impossible a reality
      Indeed, a universal agreement to combat climate change seemed impossible only a few years ago. But through persistent, hopeful leadership and old-fashioned multilateral diplomacy –the UN’s raison d’être and greatest strength – we were able to make the impossible possible. I am confident that together we can do the same for the multitude of challenges we face today. Billions of people around the world affected by conflict, poverty and hardship are counting on us. We cannot fail them.
      https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/08/these-are-the-big-challenges-awaiting-the-new-un-secretary-general
    • By g@gmail.com
      But academia only held the fervent Catholic's interest for a couple of years. . .......
      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37565570
    • By g@gmail.com
      https://www.sipri.org/news/2016/sipri-presents-latest-military-expenditure-data-un-headquarters
       
       

    • Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
    • By The Librarian
      Hossein Salami, deputy head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. (photo credit:REUTERS)
      President Hassan Rouhani said the last year’s nuclear deal “was the cheapest way to achieve Iran’s goals and interests.”

      Speaking in Tehran on Saturday at an iftar meal breaking the Ramadan fast, Rouhani said the pre-Iran nuclear-deal era is past and Iran now needs to take advantage of the new atmosphere to pursue its “national interests more than before,” Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

      The country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday called for student associations to establish a “unified anti-US and anti-Zionist front” among the Muslim world’s students, Tasnim News Agency reported.

      “By using advanced means of communication and in cyberspace, general campaigns can be formed by Muslim students based on the opposition to the policies of the US and the Zionist regime of Israel so that when needed, millions of young Muslim students create a big movement in the Islamic world,” he said.

      Khamenei also warned against plots by enemies seeking to sabotage the country.

      Separately, on Saturday, Fars News Agency reported a senior official of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards as having said Israel’s Iran Dome anti-rocket system has vulnerabilities that were revealed in recent wars.

      On a similar note, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Brig.-Gen.

      Hossein Salami, said on Friday “more than 100,000 missiles are ready to fly from Lebanon,” according to Tasnim.

      “Today, the grounds for the annihilation and collapse of the Zionist regime are [present] more than ever,” he declared, saying there are “tens of thousands of destructive long-range missiles” from Islamic territories aiming at all of “occupied” Israel.

      “If the Zionists make a wrong move, all the occupied territories will come under attack from dedicated fighters and, God willing, the territories will be liberated,” Salami warned.
      On Friday, Rouhani accused Western powers of trying to exploit differences between the world’s Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims to divert attention from the Israel-Palestinian conflict, state television reported.

      “We stand with the dispossessed Palestinian nation,” he said.

      Reuters contributed to this report.

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      Read more about the city they all want here:
       
    • By admin
      A bus has exploded in Jerusalem, leaving around 16 injured, Israeli media report, citing emergency medical services
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      By Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service
      Jehovah's Witness prisoner of conscience Bahram Hemdemov was not freed in the February amnesty and an appeal on his behalf is now being prepared to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18 News Service. Despite rulings from the UN Committee in 2015 that the rights of four imprisoned Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors had been violated (both by their imprisonment and torture during their imprisonment), the Turkmenistan government has failed to expunge their criminal records, offered recompense or taken measures to prevent similar violations in future. No alternative to compulsory military service has been introduced. Pirnazar Hudainazarov, Chair of Parliament's Legislative Committee, refused absolutely to discuss this with Forum 18. At the labour camp at Seydi where Hemdemov is being held, Muslim prisoners are too afraid to attend the prison mosque for fear of being branded "Wahhabis" and sent for harsher punishment, a former prisoner told Forum 18.
      Jehovah's Witnesses have expressed disappointment that 52-year-old prisoner of conscience Bahram Hemdemov was not included in the prisoner amnesty declared in February, when 1,485 prisoners were reportedly freed. All Hemdemov's attempts to overturn his sentence on appeal have failed. "Since his imprisonment, officers have pressured him to confess to fabricated violations, subjected him to hard physical labour, and severely beaten him in retaliation for judicial complaints filed by his wife on his behalf," Jehovah's Witnesses lamented to Forum 18 News Service. No civilian alternative to compulsory military service has been introduced. 

      An appeal on Hemdemov's behalf is being prepared to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18.

      Hemdemov is being held in the general regime section of the Seydi Labour Camp, in the desert in the eastern Lebap Region. Many prisoners of conscience have been held there in recent years, including Jehovah's Witness and Protestants. Many of these have been tortured in the camp in recent years (see Forum 18's Turkmenistan religious freedom survey http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1676).

      Muslims in the Seydi Labour Camp are too frightened to attend the prison mosque (see below).

      No conscientious objectors to military service are known currently to be imprisoned. The last known imprisoned conscientious objector, Ruslan Narkuliyev, was freed in February 2015 (see F18News 18 February 2015 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2039).

      UN: rights violated

      In March and October 2015 the UN Human Rights Committee found that Turkmenistan had violated the rights of four young men by imprisoning them for refusing compulsory religious service on grounds of religious conscience. The Committee also ruled that beatings and other maltreatment (such as a head being repeatedly bashed against a wall) of Zafar Abdullayev, Mahmud Hudaybergenov, Ahmet Hudaybergenov and Sunnet Japparov is torture and the government needs to provide reparations (see below).

      The government is also under an obligation to arrest those guilty of the torture.

      No one at the Foreign Ministry in the capital Ashgabad was available on 5 April to discuss with Forum 18 what measures – if any – have been put in place to compensate the four young men for the violation of their rights or to prevent others similarly having their rights violated.

      The official who answered the telephone at Turkmenistan's Mission to the United Nations in Geneva on 5 April told Forum 18 that Ambassador Atageldi Haljanov was unavailable and asked for questions to be sent in writing. The same day Forum 18 wrote to ask what steps the government has taken to recompense these four young men for the violations of their rights and what steps it has taken to prevent the violations (imposition of compulsory military service, torture) happening again. Forum 18 had received no response by the end of the working day in Switzerland.

      New Religion Law, but no alternative service law

      On 26 March, Turkmenistan's parliament, the Mejlis, adopted a new Religion Law. The text had not been made public by 5 April (see forthcoming F18News article).

      However, despite the UN Human Rights Committee's reminder to Turkmenistan that guaranteeing those with conscientious objections to serving in the armed forces requires the provision of a genuine civilian alternative, the country has not adopted an alternative service law or any other civilian alternative to compulsory military service.

      Turkmenistan offers no alternative to its compulsory military service. Article 41 of the Constitution describes defence as a "sacred duty" of everyone and states that military service is compulsory for men. Military service for men between the ages of 18 and 27 is generally two years. A proposed Alternative Service Law was reportedly drafted in 2013, but officials have been unable to tell Forum 18 if and when it might be adopted (see F18News 29 September 2014 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2002).

      Pirnazar Hudainazarov, Chair of the Mejlis Legislative Committee, refused absolutely to discuss why no civilian alternative service has been introduced. "You shouldn't call me – you need to speak via the Foreign Ministry," he insisted to Forum 18 on 5 April. He then put the phone down without explaining why the Foreign Ministry needed to be involved. The telephone of Atamurad Tayliev, Chair of the Mejlis Committee on the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms, went unanswered the same day each time Forum 18 called.

      Raid, arrest, torture, prison term

      Police arrested Hemdemov on 14 March 2015 during a raid on a meeting for worship in his home in Turkmenabad [Turkmenabat] (formerly Charjew), following which they tortured him. On 19 May 2015 a Judge at Lebap Regional Court sentenced him to the maximum four year prison term on charges of inciting religious hatred under Criminal Code Article 177, Part 2. The Judge also ruled that Hemdemov's property should be confiscated (see F18News 21 May 2015 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2063).

      "The prison warden refused to allow anyone to visit Bahram Hemdemov in prison - including close relatives - until the time limit for appealing against the verdict had passed," Jehovah's Witnesses complained to Forum 18. "The warden thus prevented Bahram or a representative from appealing against the conviction."

      On 10 June 2015 the authorities transferred Hemdemov from his home town of Turkmenabad to the labour camp in Seydi.

      Hemdemov's wife, Gulzira Hemdemova, appealed to the Supreme Court in Ashgabad. However, the deputy chair of the Supreme Court found no basis to grant the appeal. In early August 2015, Hemdemov's lawyer filed a supervisory appeal. On 25 August 2015, the Supreme Court denied the appeal because Hemdemov "propagates the religious beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses", fellow Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18.

      Hemdemov's address in prison is:

      Turkmenistan

      746222 Lebap vilayet

      Seydi

      uchr. LB-K/12

      Afraid to attend prison mosque

      Although the general regime Seydi labour camp has its own prison mosque, prisoners are afraid to attend, according to a former prisoner in the camp. "The mosque is open to any prisoner, but Muslim prisoners won't go for fear of being branded a ‘Wahhabi'," the former prisoner told Forum 18. "So at Friday prayers there are usually only about four or five people." The former prisoner added that the prison library – which prisoners make good use of - has no religious literature.

      The term "Wahhabi" is widely used in Central Asia for any devout Muslim, regardless of whether they do or do not commit or espouse violence.

      Prisoners branded as "Wahhabis" are given harsh treatment and are often confined in special sections of prisons. In February 2015 in the strict regime Seydi Labour Camp, Muslim prisoners convicted of alleged "Wahhabism" were subjected to brutal beatings. One man suffered a broken hand, while another suffered a broken rib and damage to his lung.

      Many imprisoned "Wahhabis" are also held in a closed section of the isolated top-security prison at Ovadan-Depe in the Karakum desert 70 kms (45 miles) north of Ashgabad (see F18News 18 February 2015 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2039). 

      Forum 18 has been unable to find out if these "Wahhabis" were imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief or for committing crimes.

      Authorities frequently use torture

      The authorities frequently use torture and violence, including violence apparently ordered by the government. In 2011 the UN Committee against Torture found that, in Turkmenistan "persons deprived of their liberty are tortured, ill-treated and threatened by public officers, especially at the moment of apprehension and during pretrial detention, to extract confessions and as an additional punishment after the confession" (see UN reference CAT/C/TKM/CO/1 http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4ef0540f2.html).

      This includes against the relatives and friends of 15 then-current and former conscientious objector prisoners who appealed to the UN Human Rights Committee between September 2012 and August 2013 against their imprisonment and maltreatment. The prisoners of conscience were in Seydi Labour Camp regularly subjected to spells in the punishment cell and some were brutally beaten (see F18News 21 March 2014 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1940).

      After the UN sought information from the government about the complaints, the home of a prisoner was raided in January 2013 and individuals were beaten, threatened with rape and fined (see F18News 14 February 2013 http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1801).

      UN says rights violated

      The four Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors - Abdullayev, Mahmud Hudaybergenov, Ahmet Hudaybergenov and Japparov - all lodged cases against Turkmenistan to the UN Human Rights Committee in September 2012. They complained both about their conviction and punishments for wishing to perform a civilian alternative service in place of the compulsory military service, as well as beatings and other torture they endured while imprisoned. Abdullayev also complained that he had been convicted and punished twice for the same "crime".

      In a 17 March 2014 response to the UN Human Rights Committee, the Turkmen authorities insisted all four were not eligible for exemption from compulsory military service and that each man's criminal offence was "determined accurately according to the Criminal Code of Turkmenistan" and had been "considered carefully" by the courts. The response failed to address the issue of why the men had not been offered a civilian alternative to military service or why they had been tortured while imprisoned.

      The UN Human Rights Committee issued its decisions in 2015 (Zafar Abdullayev v. Turkmenistan, 25 March 2015 (CCPR/C/113/D/2218/2012); Mahmud Hudaybergenov v. Turkmenistan, 29 October 2015 (CCPR/C/115/D/2221/2012); Ahmet Hudaybergenov v. Turkmenistan, 29 October 2015 (CCPR/C/115/D/2222/2012); Sunnet Japparow v. Turkmenistan, 29 October 2015 (CCPR/C/115/D/2223/2012)). The UN made public Abdullayev's decision in May 2015, the other three in December 2015.

      The Committee found in all four cases that the men's right to freedom of religion or belief under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had been violated.

      "The right to conscientious objection to military service inheres in the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion," the Committee noted. "It entitles any individual to an exemption from compulsory military service if such service cannot be reconciled with that individual's religion or beliefs. The right must not be impaired by coercion. A State may, if it wishes, compel the objector to undertake a civilian alternative to military service, outside the military sphere and not under military command. The alternative service must not be of a punitive nature. It must be a real service to the community and compatible with respect for human rights."

      The Committee found in all four cases that the men's right to be free from torture under Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had been violated.

      "The Committee takes note of the author's claim that, when he was arrested on 4 September 2010, the police slammed his head against a wall and that, after his conviction, during the first 18 days of his detention he was beaten on four occasions," the UN ruling in the case of Ahmet Hudaybergenov notes. "The author also claims that upon arrival at the LBK-12 prison on 8 October 2010, he was again beaten and that beatings continued regularly throughout his imprisonment. The State party has not refuted these allegations, nor provided any information in this respect. In the circumstances, due weight must be given to the author's allegations."

      In Abdullayev's case, the Committee found that his right not to be punished twice for the same offence under Article 14, Part 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had been violated.

      "Under an obligation" to make reparation

      All four judgments point out that under Article 2, Part 3a of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Turkmenistan's government is "under an obligation" to provide the victims with an effective remedy. "This requires it to make full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. Accordingly, the State party is also obligated, inter alia, to expunge the author's criminal record and to provide him with adequate compensation. The State party is under an obligation to avoid similar violations of the Covenant in the future, which includes the adoption of legislative measures guaranteeing the right to conscientious objection."

      The government has not expunged the criminal convictions of Abdullayev, Mahmud Hudaybergenov, Ahmet Hudaybergenov or Japparow, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. Nor has it offered compensation. Nor has it adopted a civilian alternative to compulsory military service.

      The UN Human Rights Committee said it "wishes to receive" from Turkmenistan its response on measures it had taken within 180 days. It also requested Turkmenistan to publish the Committee's rulings in the cases.

      Forum 18 is not aware that the Turkmen government has responded to the UN Human Rights Committee on Abdullayev's case. However, it provided "brief" responses on the other three cases and "dialogue" is continuing, Jehovah's Witnesses told Forum 18. (END)

      Source: 
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