Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Authentic Israeli Dishes

When you hear “authentic” Middle Eastern food, a few images come to mind. However, when you hear “authentic” Israeli food you come to expect a heated discussion of what exactly that phrase means. It all comes down to the origin and, for better or worse, authentic Israeli food is a hodgepodge of recipes from all over the globe.

It's clear to see how the cultures coming to Israel have forever shaped the cuisine in glorious ways. We love the authentic dishes of Israel, and even more so the different renditions that pop up in different areas of the world. For each food there are at least a few popular variations of the same basic elements. Most importantly, “authentic” Israeli food is more than just felafel and shwarma. Below you will find some mouthwatering authentic choices that you can find all over Israel.

1. Malabi - Malabi is a milk and flour-based custard that can be found anywhere in Israel, from upscale hotels to outdoor market side-streets. This is a refreshing dessert in the summer or winter, for children and adults alike. Malabi’s sweetness comes from the rose-water used to prepare it. It's often topped with fresh ingredients like coconut shavings or chopped nuts, which adds a crunchy texture to the otherwise creamy delicacy.

2. Matbucha - Whether you call it matbucha or "Turkish salad", expect to see this dish at almost every Israeli table. The base of every matbucha salad is cooked tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic and onions. Of course, different versions sometimes include other vegetables and garnishes like onions and parsley. Matbucha is usually served as an appetizer or a dip for bread, pita, or vegetables, and complements any humous dish.

3. Jachnun - Jachnun is a meticulously prepared Yemenite bread, incomparable to any roll or pastry you’ve ever tasted. Although it looks like an eggroll, the only thing you will find inside is more savory dough. Jachnun is prepared by thinly rolling out a ball of dough until it's paper-thin. Next, the dough is folded over and rolled into a doughy log, each layer separated by a smear of margarine. A true labor of love, jachnun is baked at very low heat for approximately ten hours. It is traditionally served with a boiled egg and s'hug, a crushed tomato sauce.

4. Kubbeh - Though there are many ways to spell this dish, they all sound alike. The Arabic word kubbeh means ball - maybe not the most appetizing name for an edible item, but it makes a lot of sense once you feast your eyes on this authentic Middle Eastern dish.

5. Kebab - Kebab basically takes the place of a hamburger in popular Israeli grill outs. They look like oblong meat sticks packed with onions, parsley, and other spices. Kebab is normally made out of ground beef and grilled over an open flame; however we see many varieties of this treat.

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Christians and Israel

There is one reason above all others why committed Christians must stand with Israel: The God of the Universe, the God that we worship, has chosen to make an everlasting covenant with the physical descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the Jewish people.

The word “everlasting” has nothing temporary or conditional about it. It clearly means, “lasting forever.” And although Jews are found today in North and South America, Australia, Russia, Europe, many parts of Africa, and virtually every other continent on earth, their historic spiritual and physical center was, and always will be, the Promised Land of Israel. God’s eternal covenant with the descendents of Abraham featured the promise to give them the land of Israel as an everlasting possession. This is recorded in the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, in chapter 17:

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.’ Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God’” (Genesis 17:1-8).

It is true God reveals in these verses that many peoples will eventually emerge out of Abraham’s loins, and so it has been. The Arabs, scattered in over 20 countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, trace their ancestry to the Biblical patriarch who traveled to Canaan at God’s command from the town of Ur in Chaldea. Their lineage comes through Abraham’s first-born son, Ishmael. However, the Scriptures go on to reveal that the special, eternal land covenant, and others, will come through the line of Isaac, Jacob, and his 12 sons—the forefathers of the modern Jewish people. This is summarized in Psalm 105, verses 8 through 11:

“He remembers His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac, And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant, Saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan As the allotment of your inheritance.’”

The belief that God has revoked His solemn land covenant with the Jewish people, due to their sin and rebellion against Him, is widespread in the Church today. It is certainly a fact that living peacefully in the land was conditional on obedience to God’s holy law. Jacob’s offspring were warned that they would be removed from the land if they disobeyed God’s commands. But the Bible also foretells that a Jewish remnant would be restored to the Promised Land after a worldwide exile, as is wonderfully occurring in our day.

Friday, May 11, 2012

“Where’s the Outrage?

In 1997, I wrote the following article, “Where’s the Outrage?” for The Wall Street Journal. It deals with the treatment of Arabs under Arafat’s leadership. Conditions have worsened since this article was printed.

On May 31, Ali Jamhour, a resident of a refugee camp east of Jerusalem, was found shot to death after he’d been questioned by Yasser Arafat’s security forces about allegedly brokering land sales to Jewish Israelis. Jamhour was the third Palestinian land dealer killed after a Muslim cleric urged the killing of any Palestinian who’d sold land to Israelis; all were executed gangland-style by a bullet to the head. On June 1, Israeli police foiled the kidnapping of a fourth broker, in the process of uncovering evidence that high-ranking Palestinian officials are behind the murders.

While U.S. officials have deplored the killings, the White House has so far been strangely reticent in condemning the Palestinian Authority. Let Israel open a new exit to an old tunnel, or start construction on a new neighborhood in Jerusalem, and President Clinton immediately summons Prime Minister Netanyahu to Washington for a one-on-one session of diplomatic arm-twisting. So why doesn’t Mr. Clinton yank Yasser Arafat by the lapels of his dictator-style military uniform, and explain to him that you cannot make peace through murder?

The answer is that the U.S. like most of the world, follows a double standard when it comes to Israeli-Arab conflicts. It’s OK to vilify Israel for any act that might appear to be an exercise of sovereignty, yet each Palestinian violation of the peace agreement receives no more than a wink.

It is one thing to forbid the sale of land to foreigners. A number of countries, particularly small countries surrounded by hostile neighbors, do the same; Israel itself has restricted selling land to Arabs. It is another thing, however, to kill those who violate the real estate restrictions. Imagine if Israel has announced it would impose the death penalty on anyone who sold land to Arabs. That would be front-page news around the world, and the U.S. President would issue a strongly-worded statement taking Israel to task for such an outrage. A White House summit would be scheduled, and the U.N. would instantly pass a resolution condemning Israel.

Yet when the Palestinian Authority continually made such a pronouncement and bodies started piling up, it took two weeks for any Clinton administration official to go on the record condemning the policy. It took longer still for the story to appear on the nightly news, and even then reporters passed along, without comment, the Palestinian’s stock attempt to shift the blame. Perhaps the Israelis themselves were responsible, they suggested.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, by contrast, has taken swift action. When Israeli intelligence turned up a Palestinian Authority hit list of 16 land dealers that included the names of the three already killed, Mr. Netanyahu called an emergency security session. The Netanyahu administration authorized the installation of alarm systems in the brokers’ homes and increased police patrols in their neighborhoods.

Mr. Netanyahu also authorized an arrest warrant for a senior Palestinian official implicated in the land dealer executions. Israel security says it’s established that the murders were carried out with the participation, as well as the approval of the Palestinian Authority. When Israel police foiled the June 1 kidnapping attempt, six armed men were arrested as they tried to flee to Ramallah, a Palestinian-controlled town just north of Jerusalem. Four of the would-be kidnappers were members of the Palestinian Authority security services. During the chase, the suspects ditched several weapons, one of which turned out to be the weapon used in two of the recent murders.

Such violence “goes against the grain of everything we expect the Palestinians to do to achieve peace between us,” Mr. Netanyahu told Israeli radio.

Finally, Mr. Arafat responded—by telling a press conference that the Palestinian Authority had not authorized these murders and that he denounces terrorism. Within 24 hours, however, liberal Arutz Sheva radio in Israel reported, “The PA is continuing its efforts against Arabs suspected of selling land to Jews. It has abducted another 12 such persons, including some Israeli citizens.”

Senator Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Rep. Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, have announced they will oppose any further aid to the Palestinians until they revoke their call to kill Arabs who sell land to Jews. It’s time for President Clinton to do the same. Otherwise, Yasser Arafat and his deputized terrorists will be getting away with murder.”