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Israel Successfully Tests Arrow 3 Missile Interceptor

By & Reuters

The Defense Ministry and the US Missile Defense Agency conducted a successful test of the Arrow 3 missile-defense system on Thursday morning. The Arrow 3's radar system detected the Sparrow target missile fired by the Air Force and transmitted its coordinates to BMC system (Battle Management Control), which analyzed the information and planned the interceptor's trajectory.

The interceptor missile was then fired from the Palmachim Beach towards the sea, successfully hitting the target and destroying it outside the earth's atmosphere.

The Arrow 3 missile defense system is being developed by the Israel Aerospace Industries and its subsidiary Elta, the latter being in charge of the radar detection system. Elisra, a subsidiary of the Israeli company Elbit Systems, developed the Arrow 3's firing management system, while Israeli company Rafael developed the interceptor missile. The American company Boeing also helped develop and manufacture the Arrow 3.

One year ago, a similar test of the Arrow 3 failed, and Thursday morning's test was done after lessons were learned from the previous one. Defense officials said the Arrow 3 failed to launch during the December 2014 test because it was not able to lock on the target so "a decision was made not to waste the interceptor missile. The success of the Arrow 3 system today ... is an important step towards one of the most important projects for Israel and Israel Aerospace Industries becoming operational," said Joseph Weiss, IAI's chief executive officer.

The Arrow 3 is the main component of Israel's multi-layered defense system that the Defense Ministry is developing in its Research and Development Agency Mafaat. The Arrow 3 is meant to provide the third layer of defense, the highest one, intercepting long-range missiles like the Iranian Shahab-3, which could target Israel from thousands of kilometers away.

Arrow 3 interceptors are designed to fly beyond the earth's atmosphere, where their warheads detach to become 'kamikaze' satellites, or "kill vehicles", that track and slam into the targets. Such high-altitude shoot-downs are meant to safely destroy incoming nuclear, biological or chemical missiles.

The first layer of defense is the David's Sling system, the development of which and its introduction to the Air Force are scheduled to be completed within a year. David's Sling is meant to provide protection from medium-to-long-range missiles, alongside heavy rockets and "suicide drones." The second layer of defense is the Iron Dome system, meant to protect from short-to-medium-range rockets.

In recent years, the Arrow 2 defense system has been protecting Israel's skies, alongside the Patriot missile system and the Iron Dome, the latter two have already proven themselves in stopping projectiles coming from the Gaza Strip and the northern border.

The defense establishment is constantly working to upgrade the Iron Dome system to allow its batteries (which would number at 10 in the coming months) to handle several barrages at the same time, including larger rockets launched from different locations, as well as to cover a larger area.

The United States has its own system for intercepting ballistic missiles in space, Aegis, but a senior Israeli official played down any comparison with Arrow 3. While it "might be true" that the allies were alone in having such proven capabilities, "Israel is not on the level of the US," Yair Ramati, head of anti-missile systems at the Defense Ministry, told reporters.

Israel's strategic outlook has shifted in recent months, given the international deal in July curbing Iran's nuclear program, the depletion of the Syrian army's arsenal in that country's civil war and Hizbullah's reinforcement of Damascus against the rebels. Israel and Hamas fought a Gaza war in 2014 but the Palestinian enclave has been relatively quiet since.

Nonetheless, a senior Israeli official said there was no sign of waning government support or weakening U.S. backing for the various missile defense programs. "Everyone knows that you have to prepare with an eye well beyond the horizon, especially as the enemy's capabilities improve all the time," the senior official told Reuters. In the coming months the Defense Ministry and Israeli military will discuss a possible schedule for deployment of Arrow 3, Ramati said, adding that further tests of the system were expected.

Trump Calls Off Visit to Israel Until "I Become US President"

By DEBKAfile &

Donald Trump, the leading US presidential contender, said Thursday that he had called off his planned visit to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu until "after I become president of the US." He said later in an interview that the prime minister "is a terrific guy, a terrific leader, and great for Israel, but I didn't want to put him under pressure."

The White House is "relieved" that Trump is postponing his planned trip, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday, according to The Hill. Earnest called Trump's decision a "good outcome" because his presence in Israel could have inflamed the volatile situation in the Middle East. Most people are relieved he has reconsidered," said the spokesman. "The situation in Israel is particularly volatile. In this case, his decision is a good outcome for all those involved."

In the past week, Trump has sparked controversy at home and abroad for calling to bar Muslims from entering the United States, with Arab Knesset members in Israel urging to ban Trump from visiting the country. His planned itinerary reportedly included a visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a holy site that has been a source of conflict between Muslims and Jews for generations.

Netanyahu had agreed to meet with Trump in Israel despite the controversy over the comments on Muslims, but sources close to Netanyahu told Channel 10 on Wednesday that the Prime Minister "does not agree with everything the candidate [Trump - ed.] has said."

Why Does Obama Call ISIS, I.S.I.L.?

By Amil Imani & James Hyde (Commentary)

Many who closely follow the dueling Islamic terror narratives emanating from the White House are mystified by Mr. Obama's inability (or deliberate unwillingness) to utter the phrase "Islamic terrorists." Many are curious too, about why he refuses to call ISIS by its name, "ISIS," steadfastly insisting instead that everybody in his administration call the terror group "ISIL." What's the difference and why is it important? The agendas behind each diverge widely. In fact, the variance between the two is elephantine in scale.

ISIS stands for the "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria," a terror group controlling a large swath of both Iraq and Syria in which the terrorists claim to have established a "caliphate," a state in which Islamic Shariah Law is imposed upon all living in the area, and removing the heads of any who fail to adhere to strict Muslim guidelines.

Obama's contrary assertions aside, ISIS is by no means contained. In fact, the savage group (which prefers to be called the "Islamic State" or "IS") has metastasized on maps like immense pools of blood that are covering the ancient borders that once divided parts of Syria and Iraq.

ISIL, Obama's preference, stands for the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant." According to, "The Levant in its geographical sense comprises the following political entities: the west part of Syria, Lebanon, west part of Jordan, Palestine (West Bank and Gaza Strip), Israel and Sinai (Egypt)." Other sources claim it also encompasses parts of Turkey. All of these states embrace Islam, with one very notable exception, Israel, our only "blood brother" ally in the region - that all Islamic terrorists want gone, violently and forever.

That Obama uses ISIL in discussing the terrorists is extremely telling - and chilling. To those of us who keep our fingers on the pulse of Middle Eastern geopolitics, the distinctions separating ISIS and ISIL are by no means meager. It's readily apparent that Obama considers both Israel and its prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, thorns in each of his sides. Since 2009, his atrociously dismissive treatment of Netanyahu has been highly embarrassing, shocking and outrageous, especially to those of us who cherish our relationship with the Jewish state.

Israel has proven itself a tried and true friend since its return to its ancient homeland in 1948. Despite some disagreements between the U.S. and the Jewish state, no previous president has shown such a hideous and blatant disregard for Israel's head of state, as has Obama. Nor has any previous president ever considered (to our knowledge) or suggested in a way bordering on insistence that Israel relinquish the land it now controls by contracting to its pre-1967 borders. Obama wants just that. Why?

For Israel, a return to those boundaries would be suicidal, shrinking the country to a width of a very svelte nine miles and making it essentially indefensible.

Besides Israel, Jordan and the Kurds in Northern Iraq have been stalwart friends and allies, as well. Jordan is one of the 65 countries Obama claims are actively "engaged" in taking ISIS/ISIL out. In reality, roughly 60 nations in that vaporous coalition are contributing little or nothing to the cause but allowing their country's names to appear on a meaningless list.

One exception, Jordan's King Abdullah II, is an eager participant in the war on ISIS. He traveled to Washington to ask Obama for more weapons so Jordan could better defend itself and play a larger role in the regional fight. In like manner, the Kurds, who comprise one of the fiercest fighting forces in the region, have been enormously supportive of the U.S., but they are fighting ISIS with guns from WWII. They too have requested contemporary weaponry. The plaintive requests from both have been ignored. Why were they rebuffed?

Some very suggestive hints can be snipped from the speeches Obama has given, especially in Muslim countries during his humiliating "Apology (we prefer "Apostasy") Tour" when he fondly reminisced about his Muslim roots in Indonesia when he and his mother moved there and she married her second husband, Lolo Soetero, who adopted Obama and renamed him "Barry Soetero."

An examination of Barry's Indonesian school record (a form ubiquitous on the web) lists his "Citizenship" as "Indonesian," a country that did not allow dual citizenship when Soetero (Obama) lived in Indonesia, which means Barry had to have relinquished his U.S. passport. Finally, and significantly, his "Religion" is listed as being "Islam."

When he became president, as he traveled through Muslim lands he spoke wistfully of Islam. During multiple speeches he said, "the holy Quran teaches" so many times we lost count, and he claimed that the Muslim call to prayer at dawn was "the prettiest sound on earth."

He was amazingly quick to support the Muslim Brotherhood-inspired Arab Spring by encouraging the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and endorsing Mohamed Morsi as the new Egyptian leader. Morsi was a high-ranking member of the Brotherhood, an insidious, duplicitous organization seeking to foment widespread adoption of Shariah Law and surreptitiously funnel funds to Islamic terror groups.

Taken together, all of this gets us closer to understanding why Obama refuses to call Islamic terrorists what they are, and that his use of ISIL could be a strong indication that he supports reestablishing Muslim rule and Shariah Law throughout the Levant, and good riddance to Israel.

The somewhat murky and contradictory understanding of which religious tenets Obama truly follows has caused some thorny questions to arise.

If he was a Muslim, when did he turn his back on Islam (his biological father's and stepfather's faith) and become a Christian? The answer may lie in a story appearing on the website and on

The Washington Times reports, "Several people who know Barack Obama well perceive him as Muslim. Most remarkably, his half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, has stated: `My whole family was Muslim.' Her whole family, obviously includes her half-brother, Barack." The same article highlights some doubts about Obama's "Christian" conversion. His spiritual advisor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, was asked about how he helped Obama renounce Islam. Stunningly, however, Wright claims he's not sure he actually did convert from Islam. That, of course, is not proof he isn't a Christian, but it certainly raises eyebrows.

Edward Klein, who authored The Amateur, a book about Obama, told the DailyCaller that he interviewed Wright (and has him quoted on tape) who told Klein that he (Wright) "made it comfortable" for Obama to accept Christianity without having to renounce his "Islamic background."

We believe it's time to stop whispering about what much of the nation is thinking, but we leave it up to you to decide why Obama calls ISIS, ISIL, why he can't bring himself to call Islamic terrorists what they are and acts in a manner that supports Islam over Christianity at every opportunity.

Amil Imani is an Iranian-American writer, poet, satirist, novelist and essayist

Released Syrian Priest Reveals ISIS Hell

By & AFP

A Syrian priest held for 84 days by the Islamic State (ISIS) group described Thursday how he believed his last hours had come, and called on the West to do more to help those trapped in the war-torn country.

Jacques Mourad of the Syriac Catholic Church, who was abducted by unknown gunmen in May, said the "hardest thing" was hearing his captors pledge to kill him if he did not covert to Islam, a "conversion by the sword" technique historically common in Islam.

The 48-year-old, who was kidnapped along with another Syrian from the Mar Moussa monastery north of Damascus by masked gunmen, described to journalists in Rome the moment of his abduction. A man dressed in black, "similar to the ones you see in the ISIS videos who decapitate their prisoners," turned up at the door. "I thought, 'the end has arrived,'" he said.

They were locked up in a small bathroom, blindfolded and with their hands tied. But the man told Mourad "you are under my protection" - he thinks thanks to the reputation of the Mar Moussa monastery, where both Christians and Muslims are welcomed and helped. The experience was "a very intense time on a spiritual level," he said.

In early August, Mourad was transferred from his prison to join another 250 or so Christians captured by ISIS when the group overran his parish of Al-Qaryatain. He said ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said it could go several ways: the jihadists could "kill the men and take the women and children; enslave them all; ask for ransom; or give 'the gift of life'" to the captured Christians, letting them return to their violence-hit homes. They were freed after signing a document on September 1, which said they agreed to live under ISIS authority.

Al-Qaryatain had been reduced to a waste ground, with no water, electricity or food. Mourad celebrated mass in a basement "almost daily, to avoid the bombing." On October 10, he and his flock decided to leave the city because "life under ISIS is impossible for Christians," but eight members of the group died as the community - which included elderly people, children and disabled people - fled for freedom.

Mourad will meet Pope Francis next week, having completed a pilgrimage to the holy site of Lourdes in France to thank the Virgin Mary for having survived. After that, he plans to return to Syria. Not, however, before issuing a message to Islamic extremists claiming that "their religion is one of mercy," despite his experiences to the contrary, and calling on the West to fulfill its "responsibilities to Syrians fleeing the bombings and massacres, who die at sea in their attempt to escape."

Vatican: Jews Don't Need Christ to be Saved

By, AFP, Reuters &

Jews can secure eternal salvation without converting to Christianity, senior Catholic theologians say in a report published Thursday, in the latest refinement of their stance on a vexed theological issue.

'A Christian can never be an anti-Semite, especially because of the Jewish roots of Christianity,' says new document issued by the Holy See; this is the first time the Catholic church officially repudiates active attempts to convert Jews.

Addressing a question that has long blighted relations between the two faiths, the report also unequivocally states that the Church should not actively seek to convert Jews to Christianity, echoing the stance outlined by former Pope Benedict XVI in a 2011 book.

The report, drawn up by the Church's "Commission for religious relations with the Jews," goes further than Benedict however in effectively affirming that Jews can be saved independently of Christ. "Although Jews cannot believe in Jesus Christ as the universal redeemer, they have a part in salvation, because the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable," the report concludes, according to a summary released to the media.

The belief that the only way to salvation is through belief in Christ is a fundamental tenet of every strand of Christianity. But it has also been blamed for creating an evangelical tendency responsible for some of the darkest periods in the history of religion, that are tainted with violent anti-Semitic violence and persecution such as the crusades of the Middle Ages, the Spanish Inquisition, pogroms and more.

The latest report reiterates claims that it is only thanks to Christ's death and resurrection that all people have the chance of salvation, but accepts that Jews can benefit from this without believing in him. The authors appear to acknowledge that they are effectively squaring a theological circle. How Jews being saved while not believing in Christ "can be possible remains an unfathomable mystery in the salvific plan of God," they say.

The report, which does not constitute a formal change to official Catholic doctrine, was published to mark the 50th anniversary of the close of a landmark Vatican Council that attempted to draw a line under centuries of persecution of Jews based on Catholic teaching.

The council, widely known as Vatican II, disowned the concept of collective Jewish responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ, decried anti-Semitism and emphasized the shared heritage of the two faiths.

Until about 1960, prayers at Catholic Masses on Good Friday, the day commemorating the death of Jesus, labeled Jews "perfidious" and called for their conversion. That prayer was eliminated from general use after the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council introduced a new missal, or prayer book used at Masses.

But later a prayer for the Jews was allowed to remain in the old-style Latin Mass, sometimes called the Tridentine Rite, used by ultra-traditionalists such as the Society of Saint Pius X, whose members reject the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. In 2008, former Pope Benedict further reformulated the prayer used by the traditionalists to remove language Jewish groups found offensive, such as "the blindness of that people".

Relations between the two faiths have warmed since then and were helped by a 1998 report from the same commission which called on Catholics to repent for their failure to do more to prevent the Holocaust, while stopping short of blaming the Church as an institution for its silence under the leadership of wartime pope Pius XII.

Catholic-Jewish relations are said to have been bolstered by the election of the current pope, Francis, who has a long-standing friendship with Argentinean Rabbi Abraham Skorka, with whom he jointly published a book of conversations about issues of ethics, morality and faith.

He is due to become the third pope to visit Rome's main synagogue when he meets members of the Italian capital's Jewish community on January 17. The synagogue is located just across the River Tiber from the Vatican, in an area still known as the Ghetto where, under the orders of Francis's predecessors, Jews were confined for more than three centuries until their emancipation at the end of the 19th Century.

Christianity and Judaism are intertwined and God never annulled his covenant with the Jewish people, said the document. "The Church is therefore obliged to view evangelization to Jews, who believe in the one God, in a different manner from that to people of other religions and world views."

Thursday's document said Catholics should "bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews" but that they should do so in "a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God's word."

Egyptian Muslim Scholar: No Connection Between Temple Mount and Islam

By IsraelNationa;

Renowned Egyptian scholar Youssef Ziedan, a specialist in Arabic and Islamic studies, has given a series of interviews to Egyptian television stations of late, the purpose of which appears to be to anger his Muslim colleagues.

His main point has been to say that there is actually no connection between Jerusalem and ancient Islam. When Islam was founded during the 7th century, he says, Jerusalem was a holy city to the Jews, while the Mosque of Omar was not even built until 74 years after Muhammed's death. The reason it was built, Ziedan says, is because the builder wished to detract from the centrality of Mecca in Islam.

Ziedan is the director of the Manuscript Center and Museum in the Library of Alexandria. He is a public lecturer, university professor, columnist and prolific author of more than 50 books. He won the 2009 International Prize for Arabic Fiction for his work Azazeel, which was also translated into Hebrew.

Jerusalem was not known as Al-Quds (City of the Sanctuary) during Muhammad's times, Ziedan said. "Al-Aqsa is not ours," he emphasized, "and though the word comes from the word 'extreme,' it does not refer to the far mosque on the Temple Mount, but rather to a mosque that is the "further" of two mosques in Mecca.

According to Ziedan, Muslims are purposely and falsely turning a political struggle between Israel and the Arabs into a religious one. "The religious aspect of the conflict is nonsense… The only reason why Muslims insist on the sanctity of Jerusalem is simply politics."

Sheikh Hashem Abdul Rahman Mahajeina, of the Islamic Movement in Israel, is among many to attack Ziedan. While others call Ziedan a "heretic," Mahajeina told Army Radio on Sunday simply that Ziedan was "talking nonsense…. Allah told the prophets to build a mosque in Jerusalem. It was built during Muhammed's times, and he even prayed there." He then retracted somewhat: "It's not a matter of a building, but rather the location. It could be that other nations built [the mosque], it could be it was destroyed in an earthquake… What counts is the location."

Just last week, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced that it had unearthed further evidence of Jewish history in Jerusalem, from centuries before the founding of Islam. An impression of the royal seal of the Biblical King Hezekiah, who reigned between 727–698 BCE, was discovered at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount.

In a related study, the late Rabbi Shlomo Goren, a Temple Mount expert and Chief Rabbi of the IDF and later of Israel, wrote that Omar built the Dome of the Rock sanctuary to serve as a house of prayer – not for the Moslems, but for the Jews.

Ziedan's claims support knowledge long held by Jewish historians. Muslims have historically attached themselves to Jerusalem only when political expedient, beginning with Mohammed himself. In a barefaced attempt to win over the Jews living near him, the founder of Islam decided to announce that prayers would be directed towards Jerusalem – but when the Jews scorned his advances, he slaughtered many of them, and proceeded to direct his followers' prayers towards Mecca instead.

Not only did Mohammed never mention the city in the Koran, but later, when Muslims conquered the Holy Land, they totally ignored Jerusalem and established their capital in Ramle. Today, once again, it is often overlooked that as recently as 1964, the original PLO charter did not even mention Jerusalem.

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