Dear friends of Israel:
A few years ago Israel started a program for young Jews from all over the world, enabling them to pay at least one visit to the Holy Land. This initiative, subsidized by the State of Israel and Jewish sponsors, is destined as an incentive for at least a part of the young people to immigrate to Israel later in life. Moreover, the creators of the program hope that the relationship between the Jewish Diaspora and Israel will be strengthened and also the growing threat of assimilation will be counteracted. Especially the current Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu attaches great importance to strengthening the ties to the Jews living abroad. One of its objectives is to bring one million new immigrants to Israel. The accelerating process of modernization in Israel is intended to make the land more desirable for Jews from the Diaspora. It should be kept in mind, however, that in the past about one million people left the land because they had very few opportunities to make a decent living.
Developments such as a growing secularization and the deterioration of Jewish values can also be observed in Israel. The government wants to face these problems by bringing more Jewish values and history into the classrooms again, with putting the emphasis on the ancient and modern history of Israel. This is one of the reasons why the government allocated NIS 400 million to rehabilitate 150 Jewish sites, both ancient and modern, including two sites that are located in Palestinian territory. These locations have been declared national heritage sites. One of them is Rachel's tomb near Bethlehem and the other the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. Strangely enough the latter is also a holy site for Muslims. After the Israeli included these two sites into the list of national heritage sites, fierce protests erupted among the Palestinians and in the Islamic world. There has also been intense criticism from other countries. Among others the U.S. President Obama has voiced his concern.
The Israeli government, however, has no intention of changing the status quo in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron.
Sharing with you the assurance that God will reveal His great power as He did with Amalek and that we should follow the example of Moses and lift holy hands to Him, I am sending you a warm Shalom,