The Future of United States-Israel Relations
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated President Joseph Biden by saying, “I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance, to continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran.” He reminded President Biden of their forty-year friendship and looks forward to strengthening the relationship between the nations. Looking ahead, the prime minister expressed his hope of inking more agreements with other Arab nations and a cooperation between the United States and Israel in the face of mutual challenges, primarily Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu also sent a farewell message to Donald Trump and expressed gratitude for all Mr. Trump did for Israel.
Please pray for the new United States administration and its relationship with Israel and its leaders.
Trading Pfizer Vaccine for Israeli Data
In an agreement with Pfizer, Israel will continue to receive a steady flow of the vaccine for the exchange of research data to Pfizer. As a result of Israel’s mandatory national health care, it is easy to study patient data from the carefully kept medical records of more than 9 million people. By doing so, the research data will help the rest of the world establish strategies to combat COVID-19. Israel is currently racing to vaccinate its population, with more than 25 percent of the population having received the first dose and around 10 percent having received the second dose. The rapid vaccination process is also a major campaign promise for Prime Minister Netanyahu, as the country heads toward its fourth election in two years. Currently, Israel is experiencing high numbers of new cases, with many patients requiring the use of ventilators, causing Israel’s third national lockdown. The different virus mutations have hit the country hard. As a result, Israel is completely shutting down Ben Gurion Airport to any inbound or outbound flights for a week to seal off the country from these new virus strains and to allow for another million people to be vaccinated in a week.
Please pray for continued success in vaccine distribution in Israel and that it brings down the high numbers of new infections, especially serious cases.
Poverty Increases in Israel
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, the number of people living below the poverty line has increased by 7 percent while Israel’s standard of living simultaneously experienced a 4.4 percent decrease. Israel has had three long national lockdowns causing widespread unemployment and a widening of income inequality. Currently, 15 percent of the population are unemployed. As a result of closed businesses, job loss, and loss in income, the average Israeli monthly income has dropped from 15,274 shekels ($4,667) to 13,627 shekels ($4,164). Israel is the eighth most expensive place in the world to live.
Please pray for those who are struggling to make ends meet and for the worry and anxiety that comes with lacking ways to provide.
Rain and Snow in Israel
Israel recently received a much-needed winter rainstorm that brought cold temperatures for the first time this season. The Sea of Galilee rose a little more than two inches in just a day and is now thirty-nine inches below the upper red line that signals that the lake is full. After unseasonably warm temperatures in December, snow finally fell in the north on Mount Hermon with fifteen inches on the lower part where people come to ski and more than two feet on the upper part of the mountain. Thunderstorms and high winds covered most of the country, with some flooding in the desert wadis. The 2018-19 and 2019-20 rainy seasons were exceptional, breaking long-held records, and there is still hope that the 2020-21 season will be the same.
Praise God for his blessing in sending rain to water the fields and replenish the reserves.
The Lord Knows and Sees
Even in these turbulent times, we know that God is with us. Even through uncertainty and stress, the Lord is right by our side. He is watching over us, knows our thoughts and worries, and is standing right beside us. As we read about what is happening in Israel, the same is true all over the world. Thank you for standing with Israel and praying for our peace and protection and that the people would come to know their Messiah! It is hard to imagine going through this past year without the certainty and promise we have in Jesus! As a staff, we are praying for you, just as you are praying for us—we are shoulder to shoulder through this. Our friends, contacts, those in need, Holocaust survivors, students, families, singles, soldiers, and those in the workplace are asking questions, sharing their concerns, and looking for hope!
Please pray with and for us, as we deliver this message of hope and salvation. Thank you for praying for our work in Israel!