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Starlings put on a dazzling display for birdwatchers (and some farm animals) in southern Israel, where they spend part of the winter

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deslumbrante 

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    • 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.
      Jesus pronounced those words in 30 AD. about, and those words came true in 70 CE, that is about forty years later.
      Nobody asked himself "what the Lord really meant" when he said "this generation" because it was clear what he meant.
      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.
      However, in this context, the question we should ask ourselves is "Why does the Lord impute crimes from Abel to the scribes and the Pharisees?"
      Obviously Abel was not killed by a scribe or a Pharisee!
      At the time of Abel, the nation of Israel did not even exist!
      Why, then, this condemnation?
      This could be one of the reasons that led to think that "Babylon the great" was the world empire of false religion because the Pharisees could not be guilty of the death of Abel or of "all those slaughtered on earth".
      However this hypothesis is absurd because could also be made the opposite objection.
      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
      The judgment fell into "that generation" and fell right on Jerusalem, exactly as the Lord said.
      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
      It is also very important to consider people's heart condition - Matthew 5: 21-22
      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?"
      As said at the beginning, to answer this question we must understand when the biblical book of Revelation is fulfilled.
      Every time we read Revelation 18:24 we understood that it was to pay for all the blood spilled since the beginning of time but it does not.
      Indeed, Revelation is fulfilled on the day of the Lord - Revelation 1:10
      So the blood that is imputed to Babylon the Great is all the blood that will be shed on the Lord's day and not from the beginning of time.
      This should make us reflect on the period in which the day of the Lord really begins, namely a period in which there must also be Israel, not before.
      If Israel exists only since 1948, the day of the Lord can not start on any other previous date.
      It can start at a later date, not necessarily in 1948, but it certainly can not begin sooner.
      However we will deepen this "bold statement" in a future article.
      Why will Babylon the Great be held responsible for all the blood shed on earth during the day of the Lord?
      Because this nation will be the main cause of the clash between the king of the north and the king of the south - Daniel 11:40
      The king of the north (Russia) either directly or through one of his allies, will find himself in a situation where he will be forced to attack Israel.
      This attack, predicted in the Scriptures, will become the expedient to bring into play the two great world powers.
      These will be the wars that foretold the Lord as an unmistakable sign of His presence - Matthew 24: 6
      The first and second world wars, though terrifying, have nothing to do with what we have been taught.
      It will be the next wars to identify the "day of the Lord" - Revelation 6: 3, 4
      God is not responsible for these wars but Babylon the Great.
      This will be the main reason why it will be destroyed, but this will not happen during this attack (now close).
      Babylon the Great will continue to exist until the last moment of the world system.
      Towards the end of the great tribulation (not at the beginning), Babylon the Great, or the nation of Israel that will continue to exist until the end of the third world war, will be finally destroyed.
      This event will start the armageddon war.
      Look carefully at world events.

      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 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.
    • Guest
      By Guest
      A day of rage? Shouldn't calling for that alone be a criminal act and cause for imprisonment?
    • By TheWorldNewsOrg
      via TheWorldNewsOrg
      World News
    • 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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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      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.
       
    • 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 Jillian Sequeira | March 28, 2016
      In the United States last month, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints made headlines for committing food stamp fraud. The infamous cult, which the Southern Poverty Law Center referred to as “white supremacist, homophobic, antigovernment, [and] totalitarian,” has practiced polygamy and sexual abuse for years but the evidence of the food stamp case may be the key to shutting the organization down for good. Without lucky breaks like this food stamp case, law enforcement often has difficulty effectively disbanding cults.
      Identifying a cult in the first place is often a difficult task, as the line between freedom to practice religion and illegal activity shifts depending on different cultural traditions. Members of cults rarely want to share information with the authorities which makes building a criminal case incredibly difficult.
      However, eliminating cults should not be considered an impossible task. Consider the case of Israel. The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, has recently introduced an anti-cult law designed to dismantle New Age sects of Judaism that are considered explosive forces within the country by the lawmakers trying to regulate them. Take a look at that situation in Israel and how other countries have handled cults in the past in comparison with the proposed Israeli law.
      SPOTLIGHT ON ISRAEL: THE KNESSET’S DECISION
      Israel’s proposed bill was put forward by Orly Levy-Abecassis, a Member of the Knesset from the Yisrael Beytenu party. Levy-Abecassis has been committed to dismantling cults for some time now, as evidenced by her 2014 protest of homeschooling. She argued that homeschooling could shelter cults, allowing them to corrupt younger generations and evade the gaze of Social Services ministries that monitor children’s health.
      The proposed law defines a cult as any group that:
      Rallies around a person or an idea, in a way that there is exploitation, dependency, authority, or emotional distress experienced by one or more members, uses methods of mind control or controlling patterns of behavior, and operates in an organized, systematic, and sustained fashion, while committing crimes under Israeli law that are felonies or sexual offenses or serious violence.
      The bill also labels the act of leading a cult as an offense punishable by up to ten years in prison. The Ministry of Welfare would be tasked with compiling a database of information about members, leaders, and practices of cults. The final segment of the bill asks for the establishment of a department dedicated to helping victims of cult abuse. If this bill is passed into law, it will be the first Israeli statute to distinguish cults from other religious groups that enjoy protection under freedom of religion clauses.
      There have been a series of high profile court cases involving cults in Israel over the past several years. In 2014, accused cult leader Goel Ratzon was sentenced to 30 years in prison in October 2014 for a slew of sex crimes but escaped persecution for a count of slavery. One of his former “wives” was interviewed immediately after the court’s decision and said:
      It seems that in the State of Israel, pimps, people who pimp other peoples’ body and soul, can continue to do so…they have the right – because there is no law and there is no justice.
      There have also been allegations against a man named Rabbi Aharon Ramati for cult behavior. Ramati was arrested and then moved to house arrest but his sentence was relatively short. Parents of the young women who have joined Ramati’s cult argue that the girls are being brainwashed and kept against their will in squalid living conditionsbut because the cult members are all adults, the Israeli state has virtually no power to intervene. Unless they can compile sufficient proof of crimes on Ramati’s part, joining the cult is legally considered to be a choice that anyone is entitled to make.
      International Impact
      While the bill is designed to target groups within the borders of Israel, it could potentially be used to condemn Jewish cults throughout the world. One such alleged cult would be the Lev Tahor sect, an anti-Zionist cult that opposes homosexuality, birth control and evolution, and has expanded from Canada into Guatemala. Canadian officials have connected Lev Tahor to dozens of cases of child abuse, human trafficking and forgery and there are no signs that the cult has planned to shut down those practices within their new operation in Guatemala. There are fears that Lev Tahor may become increasingly violent in future years, becoming a threat to both the Israeli community and the greater population. Lev Tahor does not currently exist within Israel and Israel’s bill only applies within national borders, but the rise of the cult hasconcerned Jewish leaders, no doubt contributing to the impetus to pass a formal anti-cult law.
      HOW DO DIFFERENT NATIONS DEAL WITH CULTS?
      Israel is not the only country that is host to a variety of cults.  Different legal systems and law enforcement agencies deal with cults in a variety of ways across the globe.
      The United States
      U.S. law enforcement has historically struggled with regulating cults because of a hesitancy to violate First Amendment rights. Authorities have to wait until they have sufficient evidence to file criminal charges, which sometimes results in cults being designated criminal organizations. During the latter half of the twentieth century, a host of cults dominated American headlines–the Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, the People’s Temple–but just because many of these high profile cults were destroyed does not mean that cult worship is not alive and well in America. The Children of God (now known as Family International) is an active cult that continues to operate in the United States today. Individual leaders and members have been charged with criminal offenses, but never enough to permanently shut down the organizations.
      France
      In contrast, the French government has actively sought to disband cults and has even created a “cult-fighting” unit within its law enforcement branch of government. While France runs across the same difficulty defining cults that the U.S. has, the French government did take the time to create a list of ten cult characteristics in 1995 which has proved important for legal cases against cults. The same commission that published that list also put together a set of 173 organizations that it considers to be cults–including Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Scientology.
      Indonesia
      In Indonesia, new religious groups are emerging that Indonesian authorities are tentatively labeling cults or “deviant sects.” Movements such as Gafatar isolate their members from mainstream society, asking them to follow a charismatic leader and subject themselves a religious hierarchy that controls their lives. Indonesian law allows the government to control religion in the public sphere but does not extend into the private lives of Indonesian citizens. Sects such as Gafatar have come under attack from religious majorities, inspiring outcry from the international human rights community. At this point, it is difficult to identify whether Gafatar is a cult with the same violent potential as those that existed in America several decades ago or if it is simply an emergent religion. Gafatar subscribes to some of the characteristics included on the French commission’s 1995 list but is not as clearly cult-like as an organization like the Branch Davidians. The Indonesian government should be able to monitor the group but cannot take direct action to disband it unless there is evidence of criminal activity.
      CONCLUSION
      In the twenty-first century, cults are an uncomfortable reminder of the most archaic and brutal aspects of major religions. As mainstream religious institutions adapt with time and become more open to equality and change, these organizations remain in the past, controlling their members through mental and physical abuse. Bringing the leadership of cults to justice is a priority for law enforcement but it is difficult to disband cults without causing an uproar over the violation of the right to freedom of religion. Israel’s proposed legislation could have lasting effects not only within Israeli borders but beyond, setting a standard for condemning hate speech and brainwashing around the world. However, persecuting cults is a difficult task as the very act of defining them is controversial. Organizations such as the Church of Scientology and the Hare Krishnamovement have been labeled cults in some countries and acceptable religions in others. Bills like the one the Knesset is considering take on the blurred lines between religious freedom and criminal activity in a public forum that world governments have historically skirted around.
      Source: http://lawstreetmedia.com/issues/world/israels-battle-dismantle-cults-inspiration-rest-world/

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