Thinktank Tuesdays and an Encouraging Note About Israel

planet_coverTwo items for today. The first that I’d like to announce is Thinktank Tuesdays at Beth HaMashiach, which runs from 7:00 – 10:00 pm every Tuesday for at least the duration of the summer. Younger kids–up to and just at Bar Mitzvah age–will be working on plays based on the Bible (their first will be based on the book of Joshua) while their parents and anyone else who wants to join in is welcome to join in for discussion on apologetics, creation vs. evolution, Bible study, prophecy, Calvinism, Galatians, other religious worldviews, and conspiracy theory. And that’s just what we came up with during the brain-storming session the first night.

The typical format will be to watch a video and then kick it around in discussion. Our first video next week will be The Privilaged Planet. Small donations towards buying more videos for the group (to be kept in the synagogue library thereafter) are appreciated, but not required. We’re hoping to get the discussion on .mp3 so that I can post them here for those who are interested, but can’t make it.

Daniel Pipes
Daniel Pipes

In other encouraging news, Daniel Pipes had a very encouraging blog post this week about Israel. To just give the highlights:

  • A recent poll found 93 percent of Jewish Israelis proud of be Israeli.
  • Israel has a birthrate of 2.65 children per woman, making it the only advanced country to exceed replacement.
  • Israel enjoyed a 14.5 percent growth of gross domestic product during the 2008-12 recession, compare to the United States’ 2.9%.
  • Israel’s new major oil and gas finds are only just starting to provide both an economic and political boon to the small nation.
  • With Syria and Egypt consumed by internal problems, the existential threat they once posed to Israel has, for the moment, nearly disappeared, and Israeli security has virtually eliminated terrorism within its borders.
  • Only 10% of Jewish Israelis are concerned about diplomacy with the Palestinians. John Kerry, on the other hand, remains obsessed.
  • Though the Iranian nuclear issue remains on the horizon, at least one military analyst believes that if it came to blows, Israel would be damaged but be able to recover–while Iran would be obliterated.
  • Successes of the “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” movement are pretty meager . . . Israel has diplomatic relations with 156 out of the United Nations’ 193 members. Looking at multiple indices, Mr. Inbar finds that, globally, “Israel is rather well integrated.”
  • Despite how the intelligensia makes it out, in public opinion surveys in the United States, the world’s most important country and Israel’s main ally, Israel regularly beats the Palestinians by a 4-to-1 ratio.
  • Ashkenazi-Sephardi tensions have diminished over time due to a combination of intermarriage and cultural cross-pollination. The issue of Haredi nonparticipation is finally being addressed.
  • Israelis have made impressive cultural contributions, especially to classical music.

I’ve deliberately left out the links Pipes uses to back up his optimism on Israel because, frankly, if you’re at all interested in Middle Eastern affairs, you owe it to yourself to go read and subscribe to his blog. Even so, I can resist relaying his final conclusion:

Listen up, anti-Zionists and antisemites, Palestinians and Islamists, extreme right- and left-wingers: You are fighting a losing battle; the Jewish state is prevailing. As Mr. Inbar rightly concludes, “Time seems to be on Israel’s side.” Give up and find some other country to torment.

Amen and shalom.

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