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News From the Land

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In Memory of my Father: Joseph Oster זצ״ל

October 6, 2020by Sondra Baras My father passed away three weeks ago.  He was 94 years old and during his final months, he had sunk into the depths of dementia and no longer recognized me.  It had been many months since I had been able to have even the most rudimentary conversation with him.  In a

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Reflections while sitting on the beach

September 1, 2020by Sondra Baras Even though summer weather continues in Israel until well into October, as August draws to a close and September begins, we mark the end of summer.  Probably because school begins on the 1st of September.  So last night, a few friends of mine got together to mark the end of

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A Statement Regarding the UAE Announcement

August 14, 2020 by Sondra Oster Baras A Deal Whose Outcome Is Still Unknown Yesterday, we were all surprised to learn that the United Arab Emirates, a key Gulf State, is planning on signing a peace treaty with Israel to include full normalization of relationships. The White House was very involved in the process and

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The Thanks Belong to You!

August 11, 2020by Sondra Baras A few weeks ago, we held our first annual CFOIC Heartland Conference of Judea and Samaria communities.  This was a dream of mine for some time — to gather together in one room the representatives of all the communities we work with as well as the various mayors, to share

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Ordinary People can do Extraordinary Things

July 7, 2020by Sondra Baras The world is in crisis. The COVID19 pandemic has not only not gone away but in many places, including in Israel, the situation has become more serious.  While draconian measures helped ensure that the spread of the virus would be maintained at relatively manageable levels, the economy suffered immeasurable harm. 

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By Sondra Oster BarasMay 19, 2020 https://youtu.be/uLUGcLD_qp4 I was a child in the US in 1967, but I remember vividly the excitement that we all felt when Jerusalem was liberated. And the talk in my house, school and synagogue, was all about the new / ancient places that Jews were now free to visit – Hebron, Shiloh, the

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Bridging the Distance – Connecting to Israel

For those of you who wanted to come and visit with us, or are seeking a more intimate, direct connection to Israel and to us, the people of this wonderful land, we created this film for you.  We can’t visit with you in person but we wanted to stay in touch.

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ISRAEL: The 72 Year Miracle

There are many statistics that I love to remember on Israel Independence Day — that we are the only western country with a growing birth rate, that we are the only western country that has more trees today than we had 100 years ago, that we consistently rank as one of the countries with the highest happiness index, that we have one of the best air forces in the world — imagine that only 72 years after that rickety four-plane group.

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Yom Haatzmaut – Israel Independence Day 2020

This year, Israel Independence Day was different. Our synagogues have been closed for weeks and our prayer gatherings are limited to just a few people standing on a street corner. There were no public gatherings, no popular singers on public stages. We stayed home and yet looked for ways to mark this special day. Israel

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Corona in Israel

As we approach Passover, we are reminded of the first Passover the Children of Israel celebrated in Egypt:  “And you, no man should leave the door of his house until morning and the Lord will pass to strike Egypt… And he will not allow the destroyer to come to your houses and strike.”  (Exodus 12:22-23)  May G-d protect us all, and keep us all safe from this terrible plague, as we remain in our homes, reminding ourselves of that first miracle Passover thousands of years ago, praying for redemption.

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I have just returned from an amazing experience in the Israeli Knesset. Popular US television and radio commentator, Glen Beck, was a guest of the Knesset and I was invited to participate in the meeting with him. There were a number of Members of Knesset present at the meeting, as well as members of the press. And there were several dozen invitees who, like me, are involved in representing Israel abroad.

The atmosphere was electric as we waited in anticipation for Beck’s entrance. MK Danny Danon was chairman of the meeting and ushered Beck into the committee room. He introduced Mr. Beck and then Beck gave a brief talk that was both moving and personal.

He talked about the change that came into his life as a result of 9-11. He recalled his first visit to Israel in 2002 and how it changed his perception of Israel which had been fed until then by a very distorted media picture. He defined the Palestinian – Israeli conflict as being, on the leadership level, about the destruction of Israel and the Western world. But he left room for the fact that ordinary people, Jews and Arabs both, might be more able to resolve differences if removed from the power motivations of their leaders.

On this point, MK Aryeh Eldad noted some horrific incidents that he was personally exposed to – of terrorists and suicide bombers who sought to kill children, who sought to blow up a hospital where their lives had been saved. “Not every human being acts from the same motivation,” Eldad pointed out. How true.

Beck also noted how warmly he is received in Israel, by the ordinary people. One man even offered to let Beck move into his home if he was forced to leave the US. He was truly moved by that and so many similar gestures.

Glen Beck had also just returned from Poland, where he visited Auschwitz for the first time and came face to face with the Holocaust. And he understood the message! When MK Zippy Hotobeli requested that he refrain from presenting Israel or the Jewish people as victims, he mentioned the life-changing effect of the visit to Auschwitz on him. And he understood that the message wasn’t about the Jewish victim, but about Jewish heroism in carrying on. And not just carrying on, but in creating a paradise out of the wilderness that was Israel before the Jewish State was established. Beck expressed confidence that people all over the world would have a natural inclination to seek the truth and, at the same time, be drawn to those who have courage and strength, who despite unbelievable difficulties, pick themselves up and accomplish positive things. Like Israel. Like the Jewish people.

Beck then turned his attention to the age-old problem of anti-Semitism: “Anti-Semitism is about to go through the roof! . . . It is not about the Holocaust – the Holocaust is just the latest in a string of events that have been going on for hundreds of years.”

Glen Beck is bringing thousands of people to Israel for a major event in Jerusalem on August 24th. The theme of the event is a call for courage and, according to Beck, we in Israel already have courage, we are already well awake and aware of the dangers that surround us. That is probably true, but then one of the members of the audience noted to Beck that his presence and his message are important to us in Israel. “We need to know that there are people around the world who stand with Israel, who support us.”

I did not have a chance to meet Glen Beck in person at this event, but I am leaving for the US on Saturday night where I will be participating in the CUFI conference in Washington, DC next week. Glen Beck will be the keynote speaker at the Night to Honor Israel on Tuesday night and I will be doing my best to try and get a personal appointment with him.

Glen Beck is a controversial figure in the US and I can’t begin to comment on his opinions regarding US politics. However, I have been following his comments regarding Israel for the past few months and they are dead on. Beck has been fortunate to have been given an amazing talent by G-d to articulate positions in a way that are clear and convincing to so many. He has built up an amazing television audience and as he prepares to leave Fox News, he will probably be turning to other outlets to continue building his influence. Beck has used that influence to help Israel, and for that he will certainly be rewarded.

You and I may not have millions listening to our broadcasts, but we each have neighbors, friends and colleagues. As Glen Beck articulated so well in the Knesset, people instinctively want to hear the truth. But we have to give them the truth. We have to do what we can to provide facts to help combat the lies that surround us.

Last week I was in the UK and during two of my meetings, I was confronted by individuals who challenged my positions and offered Palestinian propaganda to counter my points. I easily responded, providing the information that would correct their misrepresentations. Frankly, I have no idea if I convinced them. I believe that they pondered what I said and a few thanked me for giving them a different outlook from what they are otherwise exposed to.

I did what I could, but even more importantly, I provided those strong supporters who were present as I responded to the challenges with the information they needed to counter similar accusations. Now, I am relying on them, and on you, to do what you can, to counter the accusations against Israel that you hear. And if you need my help to do it, just contact me!

And one last thing; as the various Members of Knesset addressed Glen Beck, many quoted from the Bible, and invoked G-d’s name and G-d’s promises to explain our Zionist ideology. MK Michael Ben-Ari, my neighbor in Karnei Shomron, was most moving when he declared that what we are witnessing today in Israel is G-d’s hand performing amazing miracles. As Ben-Ari made his statements Beck nodded with a real sense of satisfaction. And it was this bond of relation to the Bible that was most incredible of all.

You will not read this in the New York Times or hear it on CNN, except to mock those of faith. Yes, Israel is a country based on faith, where even an avowed secular Jew is debating the Bible in the Knesset. G-d is in the Knesset for G-d is evident everywhere in Israel. When you join with us, when you stand with Israel, you are not only standing with G-d’s people, you are walking with G-d.

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