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100 Things I love About Living in Israel #003
The average Israeli taxi driver could be a history professor in a university. Others could be stand up comedians. And still others could lecture on how Israel’s original socialistic economy nearly sunk the nation. My point is that when you get into an Israeli taxi, be prepared to get an education.
I think we have the most intelligent, entertaining taxi drivers in the world. Once, in the middle of our GOD TV Israel tour, our taxi driver gave us a thrilling retelling of the Six Day War. Another time, our driver was so funny, that Elana and I were laughing uncontrollably. And then, he offered us food and coffee…all in a ten- minute trip!
The Israeli taxi driver is nothing like the New York taxi driver, who is often a struggling immigrant. The Israeli is native. He has fought in wars for his country. He will not allow you to look down upon him, no matter how important you think you are. He will talk back to you, correct you and make it clear that he is every bit your equal—and then some.
“I hope it is not the same woman!”
Today, I was coming home from filming in Jaffa. Elana had the car (one difference between life here and in the US is that most families can only afford one car!). My taxi driver was talkative. I shared with him about making Aliyah (moving to Israel) and learning Hebrew. Then, I told him that my wife was Moroccan. (To be clear, Elana is full Israeli, but her background is Moroccan. Most Israelis, or at least their families, came from other countries. Moroccans are one of the largest ethnic groups here.) He told me that he was married to a Moroccan, too!
We talked more and I mentioned that Elana grew up in Ashkelon (on the southwest coast, just above Gaza) and he said, “My wife grew up in Ashkelon.” Then I asked what neighborhood, and it was the same. Then he said, “I hope it is not the same woman!”
Cursing with Joy!
Another time, I was with two friends from America. I started sharing with the driver in Hebrew about Yeshua. We had a great conversation. When we got to our destination, I asked if we could pray for him. The Spirit of God touched him and he yelled in English, “Jesus was Jewish. Jesus was the [blank-ing] Jewish!” It is not the normal response you expect from someone who has just had revelation. But if God had ever chosen to be blessed through foul language, this was it.
I have never met a taxi driver in Israel who didn’t think he was smarter than me! I have had some of the most stimulating conversations with taxis drivers. From politics to religion, I love to engage them.
“That Guy Believes that Yeshua is the Messiah”
My favorite taxi story of all happened not long ago. I am the regional director for GOD TV in Israel. Our CEO Ward Simpson, who is also my best friend and a Jewish believer, was here for the week. We were on our way to meet a colleague for lunch.
I noticed the driver was not talkative. So, I said to him Hebrew, “That guy behind me is a Jew who believes Yeshua is the Messiah!”referring to Ward. I wanted to see how he would react. Suddenly, he yelled in a thick Hebrew accent, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Are you CRAZY?”
We were all laughing after I told Ward what I had told him (since I was speaking Hebrew). Then he started singing a very famous Hebrew song called “Mashiach, Mashiach, Mashiach.” It is a song about the coming of the Messiah. The words are so powerful that he was laughing.
And even though he may tarry,
nonetheless I will wait for him
I will wait every day for him to come.
I believe with perfect faith
in the coming of the Messiah, I believe.
Mashiach, Mashiach, Mashiach oyooyooyooyooyoo
Messiah, Messiah, Messiah oyooyooyooyooyoo
I started singing with him and videoed the last bit as we arrived at the restaurant. And, yes, I have the video to prove it.
With taxis in Israel, you can learn so much and you never know what to expect. If you find yourself in a taxi here, make an effort to engage. You will be better for it!
During Hanukkah, the winter holiday that commemorates the Hebrew victory over the Syrian dictator, Antiochus Epiphanes, we say, “nes godal kara poe,”which means, “a great miracle happened here.” It is fitting that 50 Israelis soldiers were singing one of the great Hanukkah songs, when they encountered a miracle of their own.
Many of you have seen the carcass of the burning bus that took a direct hit from an anti-tank missile from Hamas. This is a severe escalation. Not since 2014 has Hamas used one of their Russian-made, anti-tank missiles. For the most part, Israel has had to contend with tens of thousands of horribly inaccurate rockets. They have no guiding system beyond point and shoot. And when one is actually on target, our Iron Dome has a 90% accuracy rate of taking them down before they can cause damage.
Miracle of Timing
However, an anti-tank missile is much more accurate and the video of it hitting the bus is chilling. No one inside could have survived. However, here is what you may not have heard.
Minutes before the missile hit its mark, the bus was full,with 30 barely-passed-their-teens, IDF soldiers. They had no idea that any minute, their bus would become an inferno. They began to sing the famous Hanukkah song that speaks of the miracles that took place as God protected Israel. It boldly proclaims: “Jerusalem, our capital, the heart of Israel.”
Moments after all 50 had exited the bus, a Hamas missile hit it, turning it instantly into a ball of fire. One soldier, who was standing close to the bus, was seriously injured. Fortunately, doctors expect him to survive. Had they been in the bus at the time, all of them would have surely died or have been seriously burned. Of course, Hamas aired a video of the explosion, declaring that they killed and injured many soldiers. In fact, it was the Arab bus driver who set the record straight.
“God loves [Israel]. I just let off 50 soldiers from the bus. A minute later the bus was hit. 60 seconds earlier and you would have had 50 dead soldiers.”—Arab Bus Driver
This bus had an Arab driver. In his shock while being treated (thank God he lived), he said, “God loves you. I just let off 50 soldiers from the bus. A minute later the bus was hit. 60 seconds earlier and you would have had 50 dead soldiers.” https://t.co/m7hhJRl35A— Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll (@skjask) November 12, 2018
A Blessing for Both Sides
I cannot even imagine the response from Israel, if the soldiers were still on the bus. This miracle not only benefited Israel, but Gaza as well. Many Palestinian lives were saved. It makes one wonder if Hamas waited until the bus was empty, before firing. They know full well that the only thing restraining the IDF is the fact that, with all their rockets, they have caused only a few deaths.
The situation is still tense. Israel and Hamas have agreed on a ceasefire. This caused our Hawkish Defense Minister to resign from the government—taking his party with him—bringing Netanyahu’s coalition to the smallest number possible, just 61 members. We will surely have new elections soon.
One thing that is troubling is how Israel’s army allowed an unarmored bus carrying soldiers to get within the scopes of Hamas. This was extremely reckless and, no doubt, it is being discussed amongst the senior leaders of the IDF.
Iran accuses Israel of attacking networks with ‘violent’ virus
Iran has indirectly accused Israel for a cyber attack on its strategic networks and infrastructure with a computer virus “more violent, more advanced and more sophisticated” than Stuxnet.
Israeli officials have not admitted any role in this operation, but the report came in hours after Israel’s Mossad thwarted an Iranian murder plot in Denmark and days after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s phone was found to be bugged.
Hadashot, an Israeli TV show, reported the incident last week.
“Remember Stuxnet, the virus that penetrated the computers of the Iranian nuclear industry?” the Hadashot news asked. Iran “has admitted in the past few days that it is again facing a similar attack, from a more violent, more advanced and more sophisticated virus than before, that has hit infrastructure and strategic networks.”
The Iranians, the TV report said, are “not admitting, of course, how much damage has been caused.” Iran said it has neutralized the computer attack.
Several Iranian officials made reference to “the occupying regime” and “the regime – with a notorious background in using cyber weapons in cases such as Stuxnet,” as being responsible for the attack.
Last week Israel announced that its intelligence agency Mossad had thwarted an Iranian murder plot in Denmark. In addition, Iran acknowledged that Rouhani’s mobile phone had been bugged for weeks.
Though Israel won’t say whether it had a role in the attack, the TV report noted that “behind the scenes lately, the Mossad … has been fighting a real shadow war.”
Last week, Israeli officials said the Mossad provided Denmark with information concerning an alleged plot by Tehran to assassinate three Iranian opposition figures living there. Denmark on Tuesday recalled its ambassador to Iran over the incident.
“What Iran hides, Israel will find,” Netanyahu declared in his speech at the United Nations in September.
You could win a free trip to Israel when you support Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv
Students from Gaza border towns march to Knesset
Israeli teenagers who have been living under the threat of rockets and arson attacks by Palestinians are taking their plight to the highest level of government with a five-day march from their school near the Gaza border to the Knesset in Jerusalem.
The teens say they are tired of the current security situation and they want change.
“Since we were born, we’ve been living from one war to the next. We want to grow up on the Gaza border in peace,” said Roei Rahaf, a senior at the Shaar HaNegev regional high school.
The students embarked on this 90-kilometer (56-mile) march and are expected to reach the Knesset by Thursday. They will be joined along the way by students from other areas of the country.
This is the biggest protest by Israelis since the Palestinians in Gaza began their “March of Return” in March. The weekly protests at the border, intermittent rocket fire and daily threat of arson terrorism coming from the Gaza border have traumatized the residents in the towns surrounding the coastal enclave.
“The change is in the hands of the leadership in Israel, and that is why we are marching to the Knesset,” Rahaf said. “This is a journey to raise awareness of what’s going on here, on the Gaza border; to tell our story, of the teenagers who deal with the difficult security situation.”
The students are wearing shirts that say, “Let us grow up in peace.”
The students will be posting updates on social media. Meanwhile several adult protesters blocked the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Sunday morning, preventing trucks with supplies from entering the Gaza Strip.
Footnote: When Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005, Israelis were very divided, but the feeling was, if we were going to forcibly removed 10,000 Israelis from their homes in Gaza, we should then respond as if we have been attacked by another nation, when Hamas sends its rockets. Sadly, we have not, and it has only encouraged belligerence.
Israel welcomes restored US sanctions on Iran
Israel’s Defense minister Avigdor Lieberman welcomed newly implemented American sanctions against Iran and said they will deal a “critical blow” to the Islamic regime’s military presence in the Middle East.
This decision by the Trump administration “is the sea of change the Middle East has been waiting for,” Lieberman said on Twitter.
President Donald Trump said the original agreement negotiated by former President Barack Obama was the “worst ever” deal and announced in May that his administration was withdrawing from it. Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia have said they will not leave.
Israel has fiercely opposed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal saying it did little to halt Iran’s progress on developing an atomic bomb.
The United States reimposed oil and financial sanctions against Iran on Monday.
Ben & Jerry’s new anti-Trump flavor won’t make it to Israel
Israel has rejected Ben & Jerry’s new anti-Donald Trump ice cream not for its taste, but for its political ingredients and anti-Semitic flavor.
“Ben and Jerry’s, the American Jewish ice cream producers, decided to name their new ice cream after a ‘Palestinian’ terror supporter named Linda Sarsour, who has become a symbol of anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel (a darling of the media and the American left),” Israeli Facebook personality Yoav Eliasi wrote.
Eliasi called for a boycott of all Ben & Jerry’s products until the company retracts its decision and, in the meantime, urged his followers to check out Haagen-Dazs ice cream instead. His post was shared over 1,400 times.
According to Ben & Jerry’s, proceeds from the new flavor — called “PeCAN Resist!” — will go to four groups that rally against the policies of President Donald Trump, including the Women’s March, whose co-leaders support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
“Who knew that Ben & Jerry’s would align the company with people who idolize the bigot Louis Farrakhan and seek the destruction of Israel,” another Twitter user said. “This is just so offensive and hurtful.”
Israelis and Jews around the world say this social activism has forayed too far into the realm of anti-Semitism.
“Just days after the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history, you honor (Linda Sarsour) a racist and anti-Semite who publicly told people not to ‘humanize’ Israelis, and who stated that she was honored to share a stage with a convicted murderer of Jews? Are you crazy?” Joseph Steinberg said in a Tweet referring to the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Oct. 27.
The Israeli Ben & Jerry’s franchise said it will not import Pecan Resist.
“Ben & Jerry’s Israel is not involved in local or global politics and we have no connection to the move made by the Ben & Jerry’s company in the U.S.,” it said. “We do not intend to market in Israel the flavor discussed.”
Trump is popular among Israelis who appreciate his pro-Israel policies and his Jewish daughter and son in law.
In response to changes of anti-Semitism, the liberal Ben & Jerry’s defended the “controversial” nature of the selected groups.
“We’re comfortable with the idea that the people and the causes we partner with may have a point of view different from our own on some issues,” the statement said.