The most religious countries in the world

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

The most religious countries in the world

Trends in in the Western world have show a decline in religiosity for quite some time now. While some may foresee a growing rise of secularism across the globe, these trends are not reflected in many parts of the developing world. More than 55 countries across Asia and Africa report over 90% of their populations identifying as religious. Of these nations, some tend towards religious homogeneity, whereas others are a mixed bag of diverse religious beliefs. Gauging religiosity can be complicated both by the method of investigation and the legal and social restrictions of a population. Because of this, it’s necessary to take several different approaches to measuring religiosity within a population.

Countries with 97% religious populations

Credit: webking / iStock

The most straightforward measure of religiosity is simply to ask populations if they identify as religious. By this measure, the third tier of super-majority religious populations is peppered across Asia and Africa. Of the countries reporting 97% religiosity, four are majority Muslim, comprising Afghanistan, Comoros, Egypt, and Morocco. Thailand, Myanmar and Laos are majority Buddhist nations, though Myanmar has no state religion.

Countries with 98% religious populations

All of the second-ranking nations by self-identifying religious practitioners are in North Africa. Of these countries, Burundi is the only majority (86%) Christian nation. Djibouti, Mauritania and Somalia also report 98% religiosity with majority Muslim populations. Mauritania reports a nearly 100% Muslim population, though religious freedom has been criticized there and may influence self-reports.

Countries with 99% religious populations

Credit: 2511photos / iStock

Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Malawi, Niger, and Sri Lanka are the world’s most religious countries by self-identification with 99% of the population self-identifying as religious. Niger, Indonesia, and Bangladesh have super-majorities of Muslims with large celebrations and displays of their faith. Malawi and Ethiopia show majority Christian populations with a notable presence of Muslims. Finally, in Sri Lanka, Buddhism is the major religion, though it shows the most diversity among faiths in the top tier of religiosity, including adherents of Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam.

Most devout populations

Identifying as religious doesn’t necessarily equate to the devotion of adherents. Whereas religious identity is most predominant in the above listed societies, it can be separately measured as to how religious the participants in a study identify themselves. By this measure, the citizens of Israel identify most strongly with their religious identity (Jewish) among all world populations. This figure is followed closely by Muslims in Saudi Arabia and then Iran.

Largest religious populations

Credit: Boonyachoats / iStock

The United States houses the largest number of Christians by a population of over 229 million. With 245 million followers, Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims. India is the homeland and capital of Hinduism with 957 million, and China houses the largest number of Buddhists. Finally, Israel has the largest number of Jewish citizens in the world at 6 million.

Largest religions

Credit: ozgurdonmaz / iStock

Measuring by ratio and devotion is a separate measure from the size of a faith. Islam takes many of the top spots, but it is not yet the world’s most widely-practiced religion. Christianity still holds the lead in terms of followers by a substantial spread as the world’s most widely practiced religion ahead of Islam. Of the entire human population, 33% are Christian and 24.1% are Muslim. The third largest group of spiritual identity is “unaffiliated,” comprising atheists, agnostics, and the irreligious.

World’s least religious

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sweden is among the most secular countries in the world with only 8% of Swedes regularly attending religious service, and only one in three weddings is performed by the Church of Sweden.

5 Beautiful Temples to Visit in China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Beautiful Temples to Visit in China

China is one of the world’s most innovative and progressive countries, yet step away from the modernity and you’ll discover a country that maintains a firm grip on its ancient cultures and spirituality. There’s hundreds of fascinating temples and shrines scattered across this great land that offer a glimpse into the centuries-old philosophies of Buddhism and Taoism. To see them all could take a lifetime, so we’ve chosen five of the most beautiful to get you started.

Dafo Temple, Gansu Province

Credit: gionnixxx/iStock

Constructed during the Western Xia dynasty, this 2nd-century temple is one of the last-surviving wooden landmarks from the era located in China. It’s often called the “Great Buddha Temple”, a reference to the 115-foot-long sleeping Buddha that greets you in the main hall. Sculptures of arhats, who are Buddhists that have gained enlightenment, surround the giant statue, as do murals of classic Chinese stories such as Journey to the West and Classic of Mountain and Seas. Legend states that a Yuan Dynasty queen lived there and gave birth to the Mongolian warrior Kublai Khan.

Hanging Temple (Xuankong Si), Shanxi Province

Credit: Dashu Xinganling/Shutterstock.com

Little can prepare you for your first sight of this series of pagodas set precariously on a cliff face at the base of Mount Heng. Time Magazine included the temple in its list of Top 10 Precarious Buildings, and it is easy to see why when studying the interconnecting walkways and long supporting stilts, which are embedded into the rocks. Despite giving the impression that it will fall at any moment, the temple has stood firm for 1,400 years. Even more impressive when it is said the foundations were laid by a solitary monk. In addition to its magnificent structure, the temple is the only place in China where Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism are all practiced.

Labrang Monastery, Gansu Province

Credit: Marcin Szymczak/Shutterstock.com

Established in 1709, Labrang Monastery plays host to the largest group of monks outside of Tibet and, at one point, provided residence for up to 4,000 of them. A great way to experience its serene beauty is to follow the inner kora, a 2.2-mile pathway of prayer wheels that pass numerous chapels and temple halls. Guided tours provide access to some halls and the chance to observe the monks’ activities first hand. Get here at sunrise to see the monks praying, or come at dusk to hear them chanting sutras.

Longmen Cave Temples, Henan Province

Credit: YinYang/iStockphoto

On an almost 1-mile long stretch of the Yi River waterfront is a collection of 2,300 caves that have existed since around 493 A.D. Each cave is etched into limestone cliffs and features some of the finest known examples of art from the Northern Wei and Tang dynasties. There’s over 110,000 statues and 60 Buddhist pagodas. Among the most striking statues are the huge Buddhas in the Guyangdong Cave and Three Binyang Cave. Such is the value of the caves that they have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Credit: zhaojiankang/iStockphoto

In the heart of Beijing is a masterpiece of Chinese architecture that dates back to 1406. The main temple, the triple-tier circular Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, stands magnificently on a square marble base. This square-round contrast stems from the ancient Chinese belief of a round heaven and square Earth. The four inner, 12 middle, and 12 outer columns of the hall’s brightly-colored interior symbolize the four seasons, 12 months, and 12 Chinese zodiac hours. Landscaped gardens and pine woods encompass the temple and the entire complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3 Religious Temples With a Dark History

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Religious Temples With a Dark History

While many religious sites are viewed as beautiful, blessed places of worship, some of them are hiding a very dark history underneath their bejeweled exterior. Some temples have origin stories that include killing and/or threats of mythical proportions, and others are even said to be a path to Hell instead of Heaven. Here are three religious temples that just might give you more nightmares than miracles.

Tanah Lot Temple, Bali

Credit: saiko3p/Shutterstock

Built in the 16th century, the Tanah Lot temple in Bali is one of seven ocean temples built for the purpose of honoring the “spirits of the sea.” It is a beautiful piece of architecture, looking much like a ship made of stone, but its origin story is a rather dark one. According to legend, Niratha, a Brahmin priest, created the temple. Knowing it needed to be protected from evil, he took off the sashes he was wearing and threw them into the water, where they turned into snakes. To this day, scores of sea snakes surround Tanah Lot, protecting it from dark energies – and from people who just hate snakes. To make this temple even more secure, it is only accessible when the tide is low and a land bridge is revealed. Unfortunately, you can’t go inside unless you follow the Hindu religion, but either way you can observe the beautiful temple and its snake guardians from a short distance.

Cappella Sansevero, Italy

Credit: Juraj Kamenicky/Shutterstock

Cappella Sansevereo is technically a “chapel” instead of a “temple,” but it deserves to be included on this list thanks to its pure creepiness. Capella Sansevero in Naples, Italy began as a kind of temple where the Sansevero family could worship God privately, before it ultimately became their burial chapel. But this is not the dark part. This chapel is home to two “anatomical machines”: a male and a pregnant female skeleton with a perfectly preserved circulatory system still present in their bodies (there also used to be a fetus to go with them, but it has since vanished). These anatomical machines were made by an anatomist named Giuseppe Salerno and collected by another, much spookier man named Raimondo di Sangro, who was the head of the Masonic lodge in Naples and believed to be some sort of dark wizard. The locals believed that he could make blood out of nothing at all, and that he frequently murdered people to experiment on them. While he didn’t make “Adam and Eve,” there is a rumor that they are actually two of his servants that he killed so that Salerno could make his sculptures, which now lurk beneath the main part of the chapel.

Mount Osore, Japan

Credit: IZZARD/Shutterstock

Palestine: Abbas Thinks Everyone Is An Idiot And A Fool

Palestine: Abbas Thinks Everyone Is An Idiot And A Fool

 

I have to admit that this letter I am writing to you tonight is one based within a little bit of upset-ness. Earlier today I reblogged an article from the Saudi Newspaper Asharq al-Awsat about comments from the Palestinian President Abbas and the stupidity of his comments is causing me to write this article to you tonight. For it is my belief that Mr. Abbas thinks that everyone who might hear or read his words are idiots and or fools. Mr. Abbas said and I quote “Palestine is for Canaanites and outsiders must leave.” I realize that there are a lot of people who don’t know what a Canaanite even is as people who aren’t familiar with the first few books of the Old Testament would probably have never had any reason to care or know about those folks from so long ago. The exception may be some of the people who live in the Middle-East now, mainly the Palestinians and the Israelite’s. Mr. Abbas’s comment also shows very plainly that he and the Palestinians have no intention of ever allowing there to be any such thing as a Nation of Israel. Giving land for piece is pure stupidity as all they will ever do is to keep attacking anyone who is not Islamic believers. This is exactly what happened when Israel turned over the West Bank and Gaza to them, the Palestinians simply used this land as a new base to continue their attacks on the people and Nation of Israel. There will never be a true peace between the two ever because Islamic believers will never ever let it be so.

 

Mr. Abbas now says that they, the Palestinians are modern day Canaanites and that only they have the right to live in the land of Canaan, or modern day Palestine. He is using this ideology for the purpose of saying that the Palestinian people’s linage goes back before the Hebrew (Israeli) peoples claim to the land when through God’s power He brought them out of the land of Egypt with Moses at the helm. This is because their claim to the land from the time of Mohammed in the seventh century when Islamic raiders took over the whole Middle-East does not go back before the time of the Nation of Israel. In the past the Islamic believers simply have said that there never was a Nation of Israel, disallowing all of Israels people from having been there before Islam was born. They have stated this theology ignoring all written and physical evidence of what they were saying was a total lie. So, now it appears that Mr. Abbas is trying another angle, but, for anyone to believe what he is saying now they would have to be ignorant (un-knowledgeable) of the Old Testament writings. One can easily say that the Islamic people don’t believe in the teachings of the Bible anyway so what would that matter. Good point except that they do honor Abraham and Moses as being Prophets of God. They believe parts but then disavow other teachings all around them. What Mr. Abbas is hoping for is that you, I, and everyone else of the planet is either an idiot and or a fool. In truth everyone that is alive today is an idiot meaning un-knowledgeable about somethings and or many things. Being an idiot on a subject matter is a whole lot different than being stupid, meaning that you are just mentally unable to learn. I looked up the meaning of stupid at Dictionary.com and for the word Fool it says: A person who lacks judgement or sense. And: a person who has been tricked or deceived into appearing to act silly. When I looked up the definition in the Bible it says: Those who misuse wisdom. And foolishness: A disregard of final issues. In other words, they don’t actually care what the truth is, thus showing themselves to be foolish or a fool.

 

I am going to give you a little bit of Biblical input to help you build your knowledge on the matter of the Canaanites and of the Hebrew people, God’s chosen people, the Israelite’s. I am not going to get into copying down ever word written in each paragraph but I will give you a very good detailed base in which you can then easily look up each paragraph that I list to help you understand. I believe that the information that I am going to give you straight from Scripture will open your eyes to the understanding as to why, even if the modern day Islamic believers or Palestinians claim to be of the bloodline of the Canaanites that they are not the ones to be the legal residents of the land of Israel, Palestine. Mr. Abbas knows this, he is just hoping that you and I are all idiots who can be easily fooled.

 

Starting with the first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis.  Chapter 12 verses 6 and 7. Written as 12: 6-7. (1) This is when Abram (later named Abraham) was sent into Canaan, the land was occupied by the Canaanites. (2) God said to Abram “unto your seed I will give this land.”

10: 19 God describes the borders of Palestine in which the 7 Nations of the Canaanites lived. This would be the future borders of the land of Israel once they came up out of Egypt with Moses. Current day Israel is but a small sliver of the land that belongs to the Biblical Nation of Israel.

Genesis 15: 18-21 God tells Abram that He will give the land (what is considered to be Palestine) to his seed and God will DRIVE OUT THE NATIONS THAT ARE NOT HIS SEED, INCLUDING THE CANAANITES!

Exodus 3: 6-8 God talked to Moses at the Burning Bush. There God refers to the Hebrews (Israelite’s) who were slaves in Egypt as “His people” telling Moses that He will bring them to the land of Canaan and plant them there.

Deuteronomy 7: 1-2 In verse one God told Moses for “the People to go and possess the land” from those who current inhabited it. (2) “God will deliver them (the inhabits) to you and you shall smite (kill) them and utterly destroy them, you shall make no agreement with them, nor show mercy to them.”

7: 6 God speaking: “For you (Hebrews) are a Holy People to Himself above all people who are upon the face of the Earth.”

7: 16 God Speaking to Moses about the Canaanites “destroy them, show no pity.”

There are three people who are called the “Fathers of Israel” they are Abraham (Abram), Isaac his son and Jacob, his son. God changed Jacobs name to Israel and the 12 Tribes of Israel are named after the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel. The following passages are where God gave promises to each of them.

Abraham Genesis 12: 1-3

Isaac Genesis 26: 2-3

Jacob Genesis 28: 10-13

Israel Exodus 3: 8

 

Joseph while in captivity in Egypt in Genesis 40: 15 Referring to his homeland (Palestine) as “the land of the Hebrews.” This was several hundred years before the birth of Moses.

Exodus 15: 14-17 Palestine: all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. (17) Canaan is Israel’s inheritance.

Hebrews 11: 9 (New Testament) The Apostle Paul speaking of Abraham “by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.”

 

For President Abbas to say that his people (of the PA, Palestinian Authority) are the descendants of the Canaanites thus being Canaanites themselves, thus the rightful owner of the land of Palestine either he is an ignorant and or stupid fool in this regard or he simply believes that you/we are.

 

 

Israel: Goodbye withdrawal, hello sovereignty: The triumph of the settlers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Goodbye withdrawal, hello sovereignty: The triumph of the settlers

Even rightist Israeli governments used to subconsciously regard them as potentially temporary, settler leaders say. Now, they claim, that’s all changed. Next stop: Full integration

SHILOH, West Bank — On the road leading to Shiloh stands a large sculpture, Dovecote, erected at the time that the settlement was founded in 1978. The work of Igael Tumarkin, it was implanted by Peace Now activists to symbolize their contention that the settlement enterprise in general, and Shiloh in particular, were obstacles to any hope of Israeli-Palestinian peace. An inhospitable concrete and metal structure, the sculpture looks like anything but a home for the doves that symbolize reconciliation and harmony.

As we drove past Dovecote last week in the company of Yigal Dilmoni, the CEO of the Yesha (Settlements) Council, he pointed it out with an indulgent chuckle. Rather than the towering reprimand it was intended to constitute, it is regarded by the Jews of modern Shiloh, he indicated, as a symbol of their endurance and maybe even their triumph. Dovecote is still here. But so, too, is Shiloh. Established by a handful of families and a few hundred yeshiva students 41 years ago, the settlement today has a population of about 4,000.

In the intervening decades, a succession of archaeological digs have unearthed storage jars, pottery and evidence of sacrifices here, among other findings attributed to pre-Temple-era Israelite’s, and work continues in and around an area that some archaeologists believe may have been the location of the Tabernacle, where the Ark of the Covenant sat for 369 years when the ancient Israelite’s first entered the Holy Land.

Tourists watch a movie during a visit to the archaeological site of Tel Shiloh in the West Bank, March 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The Shiloh archaeological park now draws some 120,000 visitors a year from around the world, one of our hosts told us proudly when a small group of Times of Israel editorial staffers visited on Wednesday.

She herself grew up here, the daughter of one of those initial pioneering families, she said, as she pointed out the key finds and showed us two multi-media presentations underlining the site’s centrality to Jewish history.

Dr. Scott Stripling, head of the current excavation at biblical Shiloh, exhibits a find. May 22, 2017. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)

With the Jewish people belatedly restored to their ancient homeland in today’s Israel, the desire to revive a vibrant Jewish presence at a place like Shiloh, with its pivotal Biblical resonance, is easily appreciated. Except, of course, that Shiloh lies in the West Bank, in the Biblical Judea and Samaria, outside modern Israel, and home to anywhere from two to three million Palestinians, depending on who’s counting.

For the four decades that Shiloh gradually expanded, therefore, it did so — like the rest of the West Bank settlement enterprise — in an ongoing twilight zone of dubious legitimacy, encouraged less and more openly by different Israeli governments, fighting to make its way closer to the mainstream Israeli political consensus.

Construction of new homes in the Israeli settlement of Shiloh. November 17, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Not annexation. Sovereignty

Over the last few years, though, that quest for Israeli legitimacy seems to have made unprecedented progress. Traumatized by the strategic onslaught of West Bank-hatched suicide bombings known as the Second Intifada, by Hamas’s takeover of Israeli-evacuated Gaza, and Hezbollah’s dominance of the former Israeli security zone in southern Lebanon, mainstream Israel has become increasingly disinclined to relinquish adjacent territory in the unreliable cause of peace.

And in the final weeks before the last elections, in April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began speaking about plans to gradually annex all of the West Bank settlements — home to some 450,000 Jewish Israelis — evidently regarding such a declared policy as a vote-winner.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inaugurates a new promenade in the West Bank settlement of Efrat on July 31, 2019. (Courtesy)

Netanyahu has maintained the stance in the run-up to September’s election redo — declaring on a visit to Efrat last Wednesday that not a single settlement home or settler will be uprooted on his watch, and that the settlers will remain “forever.”

While this position is anathema to much of the international community and to many of those in Israel who see some kind of separation from the Palestinians as essential if Israel is to maintain both its Jewish and its democratic nature, Netanyahu may have an ally in the Trump administration, whose diplomatic team has said it is not predicating its much-anticipated peace deal on a two-state solution.

Rather than continuing to regard themselves in the way they felt successive governments regarded them, as a potentially temporary presence that might be uprooted at any moment, settler leaders decided to take their destiny into their hands. Instead of merely talking about their enterprise as permanent, they began working to ensure permanence

As Dilmoni made clear in his conversation with us, however, Netanyahu’s talk of the gradual annexation of all the West Bank’s Jewish settlements — blocs, isolated settlements, illegal outposts and all — which might until relatively recently have been regarded as a sensational victory — is now deemed insufficient. The vision being advocated by his Yesha Council, he said firmly, “is sovereignty.” He repeated for emphasis: “Not annexation, sovereignty.”

The way Dilmoni told it, as we sat around the table at the Shiloh visitors center and gift shop, settler leaders made a strategic decision about five years ago: Rather than continuing to regard themselves in the way they felt successive governments regarded them, as a potentially temporary presence that might be uprooted at any moment, they decided to take their destiny into their hands. Instead of merely talking about their enterprise as permanent, they began working to ensure permanence.

Yesha Council leaders Shilo Adler, Hananel Dorani and Yigal Dilmoni (right), pictured on May 9, 2018. (Flash90)

Along with the diplomatic challenge to their legitimacy, he said, the settlers had faced “a perception challenge. Even though we were marking 50 years of settlement,” he explained, “in the subconscious, this area was considered by government ministries to be temporary… There was no strategic planning. No ministry had plans for this area.”

The settlers’ potentially transient presence was reflected, for instance, by the “black hole” where Judea and Samaria should have been on the government’s master plan for transportation, said Dilmoni.

Tourists visit the archaeological site of Tel Shiloh in the West Bank, March 12, 2019. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)

At one point, he recalled, the Yesha Council was allocated NIS 300 million for road improvements, “but we couldn’t spend it,” because there was no official plan. “We could add an extra lane to an existing road; install a traffic light, but that was about it… Band-Aids.”

Development was continually being planned for the periphery — the Galilee to the north, and the Negev to the south — “but nobody was looking to the east… even though, obviously, if you want to reduce housing prices in the Tel Aviv area, the place to build is to the east, in Judea and Samaria.”

Today, all that is changing, he said. As part of their effort to assert their permanence, they hired their own experts to draw up a master plan for transportation throughout Judea and Samaria, with major roads and highways integrating West Bank transportation into the Israeli transportation system. Now the government has taken over, and is currently preparing a plan that includes the West Bank in the national vision, he said, which will solve the acute traffic problems on West Bank roads, reduce fatalities, and smooth the access from the settlements to the employment heart of central Israel. Two and a quarter billion shekels has already been allocated to West Bank transportation in the past few years, he said. The Etzion bloc, south of Jerusalem, for instance, will have a second tunnel/bridge access road constructed in three to four years, he predicted.

The same integrated strategic planning is now taking shape for electricity, water and environmental issues, said Dilmoni, again essentially incorporating the settlements and their infrastructure into Israel.

‘If I had expressed confidence a few years ago that Israel will indeed extend sovereignty here, I would have sounded delusional. Now, the American ambassador says it. In a second, President Trump will say it. Netanyahu says it. This thing is getting closer’ — Yigal Dilmoni, Yesha Council CEO

What this all adds up to, said Dilmoni, a friendly, fast-talking and dynamic personality, is “strategic planning for a permanent presence.”

“We’re staying here; we’re not moving,” he said. “And the Arabs are here; maybe some will move, or not; but they’re not going anywhere.”

Practical integration is not all, however.  What “completes the vision,” he said, is that sought-after formal status, that goal of Israeli sovereignty, which he insisted is increasingly realizable. “If I had expressed confidence a few years ago that Israel will indeed extend sovereignty here, I would have sounded delusional,” he said, smiling.

“Now, American Ambassador [David Friedman] says it. [Friedman said in June that Israel, under certain circumstances, has the “right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”] [White House special envoy] Jason Greenblatt says it. [Greenblatt has rejected the designation of  the West Bank as illegally occupied.] In a second, President Trump will say it. Netanyahu says it. He doesn’t say it as election propaganda; he says it because that is what is going to happen. This thing is getting closer.”

US President Donald Trump, left, turns to give a pen to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, at the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019 after signing the official proclamation formally recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. From left, White House adviser Jared Kushner, US special envoy Jason Greenblatt, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Asked “sovereignty over what precisely,” Dilmoni says that’s up for discussion, but is adamant that the Yesha Council is “opposed to sovereignty on the specific settlements only, and opposed to [sovereignty] just on the [major] blocs” — such as the Etzion bloc, Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim. “We won’t agree to that.”

In the course of a series of stops during our settlements tour Wednesday, various officials and ordinary settlers with whom we spoke advocated different variations of this same confident vision. Some argued for Israeli sovereignty over the approximately 10% of the West Bank that takes in the settlements and their potential wider footprints; others called for sovereignty throughout Area C, the 60% of the West Bank that includes all settlements and perhaps 150,000-300,000 Palestinians; still others backed sovereignty throughout the West Bank.

Window of opportunity

But what, then, in a reality where Israel is permanently intertwined with the Palestinian populace — in a formal or de facto single entity between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River — would become of Israel as a majority Jewish country? Or would this enlarged Israel, newly sovereign in parts or all of the West Bank, subvert its democracy by denying those now rather “Israeli” Palestinians equal rights? “The questions of political issues, citizenship, the vote issues, we can discuss separately,” said Dilmoni.

“To my happiness, when Trump speaks of economic development before political, he’s right. That world view — economic development before trying to solve political issues — I think that’s the right approach.”

Right now, several officials told us, there’s a ‘window of opportunity’ — a chance to designate as authorized and legitimate under Trump what was so frowned upon by the Obama administration; to do for at least part of Judea and Samaria what the US president has already done for Jerusalem and the Golan Heights

When we pointed out that this is not exactly what the administration is saying, and that it has in fact made clear that its multi-billion dollar economic ideas package, as unveiled at June’s Bahrain workshop, requires a political framework, Dilmoni recalibrated a little: “I hear [them saying] the economy is a very important element, before we get into the political element.”

Plainly, the advent of a US administration so empathetic to the settlement enterprise has furthered the settler leaders’ confidence in their permanence. But they also recognize that in America’s politics, if not recently in Israel’s, the pendulum swings. Right now, several officials told us, there’s a “window of opportunity” — a chance to designate as authorized and legitimate under Trump what was so frowned upon by the Obama administration; to do for at least part of Judea and Samaria what the US president has already done for Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Avigdor Liberman speaks at a cornerstone laying ceremony for a new synagogue at his home settlement of Nokdim, October 23, 2014. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90

Hence, noted Dilmoni, the “anger” among many at Avigdor Liberman, the Yisrael Beytenu leader who condemned Israel to September’s repeat elections by declining to provide Netanyahu with a coalition majority. “There could have been a right wing government now, with a supportive US administration,” making key strategic decisions on the status of settlements that the current, transitional government is not allowed to take. Half a year of the precious two-to-six more Trump years has been lost, he lamented.

Withdrawal? What withdrawal?

Still, the fact that such fury is reserved for Liberman, himself a fellow settler, underlines the extent to which potent, genuinely ideological opposition to the settlers and their goals has become marginalized. Where the Labor party under the likes of Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak was intermittently supportive, ambivalent and hostile, and sometimes governed the country, today’s Labor barely exists. Meanwhile, the main political opposition to Netanyahu, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White alliance, includes champions of settlement alongside more dovish members whose only common cause is ousting the prime minister and the ills for which he is perceived to stand.

Ayelet Shaked speaks to reporters in the West Bank settlement of Efrat on July 22, 2019. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Indeed, the main ideological opposition to the pro-settlement Netanyahu going into September’s elections comes not from the left or center-left, but from the still more pro-settlement, Ayelet Shaked-headed, United Right alliance.

The political shift is nothing short of extraordinary. Barely a quarter-century ago, after all, Rabin was warily shaking hands with Yasser Arafat on an agreement-in-principle to gradually withdraw from much of the West Bank. By 2000, Barak was offering to relinquish some 90% of the territory, involving the uprooting of most of the settlements. Only a decade ago, Ehud Olmert was ready to withdraw from almost the entire West Bank, with one-for-one land swaps.

Bill Clinton looks on as Yitzhak Rabin (left) and Yasser Arafat shake hands during the signing of the Oslo Accords, September 13, 1993. (Courtesy GPO)

Now settler leaders, rather than battling against governments advocating withdrawal, are divided over whether to demand Israeli sovereignty in 10%, 60% or 100% of the territory.

Dilmoni and his colleagues are patently upbeat, believing that their “planning for permanence” strategy is paying off, and with good reason: Polls show the Israeli public is divided and uncertain over the fate of the West Bank, but some are clearly moving in their direction, not just empathetically but literally: “We had 3% growth in the settlements last year, with an average of 4.2% over the past decade — and that’s more than double the national average,” he said, reeling off a list of key statistics. The 450,000-470,000 settlers are diverse — a third ultra-Orthodox, a third modern Orthodox, and a third secular, he said. It’s a very young population — 48% aged 18 and under; 53% with the right to vote, compared to 72% nationwide. “Classrooms are overflowing. Birth rates are high. Demand to move here is huge,” and not only to settlements close to the pre-1967 lines.

“Why not?” he asked rhetorically. “It’s affordable, there’s clean air, good schools, we’re close to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It’s nice if people move for ideology; but it’s also great if they move for economy.”

***

Igael Tumarkin’s Dovecote sculpture outside Shiloh (Ovedc Elef Milim / Wikipedia)

Outside Shiloh, Igael Tumarkin’s “Dovecote” sculpture was recently spruced up and freshly painted — an act of somewhat ironic renewal that reflects the local residents’ sense of confidence, and of permanence. Far from an intrusive, reproving presence, it’s something the residents enjoy looking at as they pass.

Proof of your victory, I suggested to Dilmoni. He smiled and half-demurred. “I don’t want to brag that we’ve won,” he said softly. “Others would say it appears that we’re winning.”

READ MORE:
COMMENTS

American Christians Love The Father Of Habitual Liars And His Puppets

American Christians Love The Father Of Habitual Liars And His Puppets

 

I used to think that the people in the U.S. who call themselves Christians would never ever back a person who is well known to be a constant liar, I have realized that I was wrong. After all when a person is know to lie constantly how could anyone ever trust anything that comes out of their mouth? Even when such a person is telling you things that you want to hear, then you are the one who is a total idiot for listing to them and believing that what they are telling you is the truth. Top that with the knowledge of the fact that this liar is a total idiot who basically knows nothing about the real world or your life experiences. I am totally embarrassed that we have such a person as our President. If Ms. Hillary had won (which she actually did by 3 million votes) we would still have had a habitual liar for our President. About the only differences in the two is that she is actually smart and that it is believed by some that she has her own set of balls, that is compared to Mr. Trump who has never had any.

 

I have studied the Book of Revelation for decades now and there was only one part of it that I was having trouble with and this comes back around to the people who consider themselves to be Christians here in the States. I know that what I am getting ready to write will anger many people, Christians and non-Christians alike but I refuse to lie just to try to sugarcoat the truth. Near the end of days the Devil himself will sit upon the Temple Mount as the King of the world. The Great Whore of Revelation is the Catholic Church who will sit upon the seven continents and the Babylon of Revelation is “the eternal city”, Rome. The Devil’s army will destroy the Catholic Church and God will destroy Rome. The Catholic Church has fornicated with the world now for two centuries, the “Church” is the “Bride of Christ” that He is coming back to get but this ‘Bride’ is highly unholy and will be destroyed. There will be a time where 10 Nations will control most all of the world’s governments and they will give their power to “the Beast”, the Devil. Then the 10 powerful Nations will filter down to three and they will attack Israel and will not leave one stone upon another. You have the Orient which will be controlled by the atheistic China, the middle of the three will be Europe which will be controlled by the atheistic Nation of Russia, then you come to the Americas. Here had been my quandary, what Nation besides the U.S. would be strong enough to gather the other Nations together as one to go and fight against Israel. I had thought that it would be impossible for it to actually be the the U.S. but I have been proven wrong by how our Nations people have fallen in behind the evil Demonic Republican and Democratic political parties.

 

I do know that actual Christians will never fall in line like that but the problem is a financial one for most all people. The time is not far off that currency will be worthless, everything that we can buy, sale, trade or eat will be done through the chip in our hands, forearms. When you can’t work, buy food, gas, transportation or a place to live, most all people will give in, even those who call themselves Christians. For those of you who have never bothered to read or study the Book of Revelation, it says very plainly what Armageddon is. It is when Satan gatherers the Nations together to fight against Christ and His Angels at His return. I had always hoped that the U.S. would never be part of the Devils unholy army but Christians backing and voting for habitual liars has proven that hope to be an empty one. May God have mercy on our ignorant Souls because the Devil sure as Hell, will not. When Christ returns the Devil and His Angels will be cast straightway into Hell as they have already had their judgement day. All that will be left will be the humans who were tricked, fooled into believing in and Worshiping the Beast and the humans will be crushed like grapes in a wine press and their blood will run to the horses reins. Then, everyone of us will have a date at the Judgement Seat of Christ whether we did or did not fall in line with our evil Satanic Leaders.

China: US urged to stop using religious issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

US urged to stop using religious issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs

Xinhua

China on Thursday slashed US President Donald Trump’s meeting with so-called “Chinese victims of religious persecution,” urging the US side to stop using religious issues to interfere in its internal affairs.

“It is sheer interference in China’s domestic affairs for the US side to invite Falun Gong cultists and those who slander China’s religious policies to attend a so-called religious conference and arrange for the meeting with the US leader,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said at a press briefing when asked to comment on the meeting at the White House Wednesday.

“China is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposes such a move,” Lu said.

He said the situation of so-called religious persecution does not exist in China and Chinese citizens enjoy the freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law.

“We demand that the United States correctly view China’s religious policies and the status of religious freedom in China, and stop using the issue of religion to interfere in other countries’ domestic affairs,” Lu said.

India: Man starves wife for 50 days in search of hidden treasure

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Man starves wife for 50 days in search of hidden treasure

After coming to know about the incident, the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (Maharashtra Blind faith Eradication Committee) approached the police and sought action against the woman’s husband, in-laws and others.

INDIA Updated: Jul 11, 2019 13:23 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Chandrapur (Maharashtra)
maharashtra,woman,husband
A woman was allegedly forced to survive on minimal food for around 50 days by her husband for finding a ‘hidden treasure’ on the advice of a self- proclaimed godman in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra(HT File (Representative Image))

A woman was allegedly forced to survive on minimal food for around 50 days by her husband for finding a ‘hidden treasure’ on the advice of a self- proclaimed godman in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, police said Wednesday.

The ordeal unfolded last year at Shegaon village in Chimur tehsil, police said.

“The woman had got married in August 2018. A self- proclaimed godman had advised the woman’s husband and her in- laws that they would get ‘hidden treasure’ if she is starved and made to perform certain rituals. From the first day of her marital life, they started harassing the woman by forcing her to perform vedic rituals on a tortoise, among other things,” an official of Shegaon police station said.

“She was physically and mentally tortured and forced to survive on very small quantity of food for 50 days. During that time, they also made her perform ‘puja’ daily from 2.45 am till dawn. Her in-laws would thrash her if she committed any mistake during the rituals,” he added.

According to the official, her mobile phone was also snatched by them to snap her communication with parents.

“However, her father suspected that something was amiss and visited her house. He was shocked to find his daughter in dire condition. Thereafter, he took her along to his house, where she narrated her ordeal,” the official added.

After coming to know about the incident, the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (Maharashtra Blind faith Eradication Committee) approached the police and sought action against the woman’s husband, in-laws and others.

A complaint was lodged Tuesday and the woman’s husband and the self-proclaimed godman were arrested on Wednesday, S P Borkute, assistant police inspector (API) of Shegaon police station, said.

“The duo was booked under section 498 (A) (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and under various sections of the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013,” the API said.

They will be produced before a local court Thursday, Borkute said, adding that further investigation into the case is on.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

First Published: Jul 11, 2019 10:23 IST

Senior Iranian cleric says UK should be ‘scared’ of Tehran’s response over ship

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Senior Iranian cleric says UK should be ‘scared’ of Tehran’s response over ship

Member of powerful Assembly of Experts says Britain should fear retaliation in response to interception of oil tanker suspected of violating EU sanctions

The Grace 1 super tanker in the British territory of Gibraltar, July 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Marcos Moreno)

The Grace 1 super tanker in the British territory of Gibraltar, July 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Marcos Moreno)

A senior Iranian cleric was quoted Saturday as saying the UK should be “scared” about possible retaliation over the detention of an Iranian ship in Gibraltar on suspicion of carrying crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

“I am openly saying that Britain should be scared of Iran’s retaliatory measures over the illegal seizure of the Iranian oil tanker,” said Mohammad Ali Mousavi Jazayeri, a member of the powerful clerical body the Assembly of Experts, according to the semi-official Fars news agency, quoted by the Reuters news agency.

“We have shown that we will never remain silent against bullying… As we gave a staunch response to the American drone, the appropriate response to this illegal capture [of the tanker] will be given by Iran as well,” he said, referring to the downing of a US drone last month which Washington insists was over international waters but Tehran says was inside its airspace.

The statement came after a former leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Friday threatened to seize a British tanker in retaliation.

FILE — Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, center left, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative in Khuzestan province Ayatollah Mousavi Jazayeri, right, sit as Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, right, walks to sit at the Bandar Imam Petrochemical Company (BIPC) facility during an official opening ceremony in Mahshahr, Iran, June 11, 2005 (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

“If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities duty to seize a British oil tanker,” tweeted Mohsen Rezaei, who is now secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, a powerful state body.

“Islamic Iran in its 40-year history has never initiated hostilities in any battles but has also never hesitated in responding to bullies,” Rezaei wrote.

The IRGC is the elite military unit, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that took responsibility for the downing of a US drone last month.

Rezaei led the elite Guard during Iran’s 1980s “Tanker War” in the Persian Gulf targeting the oil trade of the US and its Arab allies.

FILE — In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, former commander of the Revolutionary Guard Mohsen Rezaei, second left, salutes Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, while he arrives at a graduation ceremony of the Revolutionary Guard’s officers, in Tehran, Iran (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, FILE)

Iran demanded earlier Friday that Britain immediately release the oil tanker, accusing it of acting at the bidding of the United States.

A senior foreign ministry official “described the UK move as unacceptable” in a meeting with British Ambassador Rob Macaire, who had been summoned to hear a formal protest, the ministry said in a statement.

He “called for the immediate release of the oil tanker, given that it has been seized at the request of the US, based on the information currently available,” the statement added.

The detention of the 330-meter (1,000-feet) Grace 1 vessel comes at a sensitive time in Iran-EU ties as the bloc mulls how to respond to Tehran announcing it breached the uranium enrichment limit it agreed to in a troubled 2015 nuclear deal.

A British Royal Navy ship (L) patrols near supertanker Grace 1, which is suspected of carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, after it was detained off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4, 2019. (Jorge Guerrero/AFP)

The Grace 1 tanker was halted in the early hours of Thursday by police and customs agencies in Gibraltar, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines.

The ship was detained 2.5 miles (four kilometers) south of Gibraltar in what it considers British waters, although Spain, which lays claim to the territory, says they are Spanish.

It was boarded when it slowed down in a designated area used by shipping agencies to ferry goods to vessels.

“We have reason to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas refinery in Syria,” Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said in a statement.

“That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria.

“We have detained the vessel and its cargo,” Picardo said.

At US request

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told reporters the vessel was detained at the request of the United States.

In a statement, Britain’s Foreign Office said “we welcome this firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities, acting to enforce the EU Syria Sanctions regime.”

European Union sanctions against war-torn Syria have been in force since late 2011.

The 28-member bloc has imposed sanctions on Syrian officials including government ministers over their role in the “violent repression” of civilians.

It has frozen the assets of around 70 entities and introduced an embargo on Syrian oil, investment restrictions and a freeze on Syrian central bank assets within the EU.

In this photo from April 9, 2018, released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani listens to explanations on new nuclear achievements at a ceremony to mark ‘National Nuclear Day,’ in Tehran, Iran. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP, File)

The tanker’s detention comes just days after Iran announced it would exceed the uranium enrichment limit set up as part of the 2015 deal to avoid it building up to the level required for a nuclear warhead.

Tehran took the action in response to Washington abandoning the nuclear deal last year and hitting Iran’s crucial oil exports and financial transactions with biting sanctions.

The unilateral move has sent tensions in the Gulf soaring as the administration of US President Donald Trump forges ahead with a policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran in coordination with its Middle East allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, a champion of the hawkish policy toward Tehran, applauded the interception of the supertanker.

“Excellent news: UK has detained the supertanker Grace I laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions,” Bolton tweeted.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton, right, listens as US President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House on April 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

According to specialized shipping trade publication Lloyd’s List, which analyses vessel-tracking data, the 1997-built ship is laden with Iranian oil.

It reported that the ship loaded oil off Iran in April and sailed around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

Shaked rejects rabbi’s comments: Women can do everything, including lead a party

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Shaked rejects rabbi’s comments: Women can do everything, including lead a party

Former justice minister responds after prominent Rabbi Shlomo Aviner says politics has ‘no place for the female role’ in explaining opposition to her leading the religious right

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks during her farewell ceremony, at the Ministry of Justice offices in Jerusalem on June 4, 2019 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks during her farewell ceremony, at the Ministry of Justice offices in Jerusalem on June 4, 2019 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Former justice minister Ayelet Shaked on Friday rejected the assertion by a prominent religious Zionist rabbi that politics “is no place for a woman.”

“Just a reminder that a woman can do anything — travel, be a mother, lead a party, even serve as city mayor, company director or head of state,” Shaked tweeted, accompanied by a photo of herself in Canada where she is vacationing.

Amid talk of uniting the fractious political parties of the national religious camp, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a former chief rabbi of the Beit El settlement and head of the Ateret Yerushalayim yeshiva, was one of dozens of rabbis who came out against allowing Shaked, a secular woman, to lead such a union.

The rabbis’ statement, published Wednesday by the Walla news outlet, merely expressed support for the current leader of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, Rafi Peretz, and declared that the party must never be led by a non-religious candidate.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner at the dedication of a new kindergarten in the settlement of Beit El, on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

But Aviner said in an interview Thursday that he opposed giving Shaked a leadership role, while focusing on her gender.

While Shaked is “really wonderful,” he told the Kan public broadcaster, “every person has their own place. It’s not right, the complex world of politics is no place for the female role.”

Without naming Aviner, the Jewish Home party, which is headed by Peretz, released a statement Thursday afternoon distancing itself from the rabbi’s comments.

“Jewish Home was the first political party to establish an influential women’s forum to advance women leaders, and some 45 percent of the party’s members are women,” the statement read.

“The party also has reserved slots for women [on its Knesset slate] in order to ensure their proper and appropriate representation in the Knesset,” it added.

Union of Right-Wing Parties chairman Rafi Peretz (R) and National Union faction chair Bezalel Smotrich at the party’s 2019 election campaign launch, March 11, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Religious Zionism is made up of many different stripes and worldviews, but we know how to join together into a single party when necessary. We believe women have an important place in Israeli public life,” it concluded.

The founder of the Jewish Home’s women’s caucus, Sagit Peretz Deri, this week joined Ehud Barak’s new political party.

Aviner’s comments have drawn criticism from across the political spectrum.

Former Jewish Home MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli said she was “flabbergasted” by Aviner’s rejection of Shaked because of her gender.

“The presence of women, including religious women, in the public sphere is [an] obvious [issue],” she said in quotes carried by the national religious news website Srugim.

Jewish Home MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli speaks during a vote on the so-called Regulation Bill on December 7, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Centrist Blue and White party’s MK Orna Barbivai, who is the first woman to reach the rank of major-general in the Israeli military, said Aviner’s comments “will give a motivational push for women to enter politics,” according to Channel 12 news.

“Thank you to Rabbi Aviner for reminding me why I got into politics,” Blue and White MK Miki Haimovich told the Kan broadcaster.

Shaked, who served as No. 2 on Jewish Home’s Knesset slate and was justice minister from 2015 until last month, is among the most popular politicians on the Israeli right. Several prominent Likud leaders, including Welfare Minister Haim Katz, tried to bring her into the ruling party in recent weeks, but the move was resisted by other ministers and party officials.

Aviner, who moved to Israel from France in the 1960s, is a prominent and prolific writer and commentator on current events and is known for his ultraconservative views on gender. He has often espoused radical views on other issues that he insists are rooted in religious law, including that Jewish law forbids Jews from renting apartments in Israel to Arabs — a claim denounced by many other national religious rabbis. He has supported so-called conversion therapy, a discredited practice that is meant to discourage same-sex attraction.

In April, after a fire gutted the 13th-century Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Aviner said it may have been divine retribution for the mass-burning of Talmud volumes in the French capital 800 years ago.

READ MORE:
COMMENTS