Caspari Center Media Review………….September 11, 2006
During the week covered by this review, we received 17 articles on the subjects of the Vatican, Christian Zionism, anti-Semitism/Israelism, and Jewish-Christian relations. Of these:
- 1 dealt with the Gay Pride March
- 1 dealt with archaeology
- 1 dealt with Mordecai Vanunu
- 2 dealt with the Vatican
- 2 dealt with anti-Semitism/anti-Israelism
- 1 dealt with Christians in Israel
- 2 dealt with Jewish-Christian relations
- 2 dealt with Christian Zionism
- 1 dealt with Nachmanides’ disputation
- 1 dealt with Mel Gibson
- 1 was a book review (repeat)
The remaining 3 articles dealt with various matters of Jewish and Christian (and Muslim) interest.
Jerusalem Post, August 31, 2006
Yechiel Eckstein’s organization of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is participating with other overseas-based non-profit organizations in “playing a major role in repairing the damage done to the North by Hizbullah rockets, according to the Jerusalem Post (August 31). Said Eckstein: “You have to look at them as analogous to the Jewish community. There are people who care deeply about Israel, who are frustrated, and [who] want to do something and Christians feel the same way. They support Israel, and in this case, they see Israel’s battle as part of the American-Western fight against radical Islam.” His opinion was that “Israeli officials appreciate the donations and the fact that it [sic] comes from Christians”.
Jerusalem Post, September 3; Israeli, August 29, 2006
A similar spirit of cooperation between Israeli and Christian authorities was evident in the recent meeting between Israel’s two Chief Rabbis and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Jerusalem Post (September 3) described the event in its subheading as an “Historic meeting considered an ‘important symbol’ that the church’s ear is open to Jewish, Israeli voices.” The purpose of the meeting, held at the Archbishop’s official residence in Lambeth Palace, was to sign a “joint declaration to establish a new joint dialogue process” which would “lead to better understanding and a strengthening of interfaith relations in the Middle East and beyond.” The actual signing was due to take place in the presence of Jewish and Christian leaders and the chief Christian-Jewish interfaith organizations in the UK.
The article cites responses to the meeting from various sources, including Jonathan Sack’s, Britain’s Chief Rabbi – whose quote the Post used as its subheading; The Council of Christians and Jews, whose representative similarly stated that “The meeting is an historic milestone that acknowledges the contribution of the Jewish faith to the economic, cultural and educational life of the UK as well as to Christianity’s understanding of its Jewish roots. The meeting will affirm the centrality of future dialogue in a world of conflict and political tension.” The Anglican Friends of Israel’s response: whose director first urged the Chief Rabbis not to be “shy” about confronting the Archbishop about issues of anti-Semitism and divestment within the British church and then added: “We hope that this visit will remind the Church of the dangers of being swept up in an Islamic agenda to bring the whole Holy Land under Muslim control and may this visit strengthen the bond of interfaith fellowship and celebration of the common Biblical, theological and moral heritage we share with the Jewish people.” The response of Rev. Stephen Sizer: “an ardent pro-Palestinian campaigner and divestment supporter,” whose comment to the Post was that “I hope that the Jewish leaders will not be going to fulfill another agenda [i.e., anti-divestment].” Interestingly, the Post elicited no response from the Chief Rabbis themselves, apparently being more interested in Christian attitudes to the venture than Jewish ones.
On the Israeli scene, the Minister of Tourism has recently been cultivating ties with Romanian Christians. Herzog met with a large delegation of Romanian pilgrims, at whose head was the Bishop of Eastern Romania, considered to be one of the country’s most influential leaders. The latter emphasized in his speech that “the Holy Land was very attractive to millions of tourists from Romania,” and that he intended to encourage his congregants to visit in their multitudes (Israeli, August 29).
Jerusalem Post, September 1, 3, 2006; Haaretz, Septermber 3, 2006
The issue of divestment was given lengthy treatment by the Jerusalem Post (September 1). While the refusal to invest in companies that sell or work in Israel began as a political weapon in the Arab-Israeli conflict, with a petition originating from Harvard and MIT calling for both schools to “divest from Israel, and from US companies that sell arms to Israel,” it was promptly adopted by various churches. According to the Post, “it was the Presbyterian Church USA at their 2004 General Assembly, whose resolution calling for ‘phased, selective divestment in companies doing business with Israel,’ that was central in helping divestment go from mainline to mainstream.” Asserting that “divestment represents not so much a political ‘movement’ or alignment, but rather a new tactic embraced by organizations already committed to propaganda on behalf of Israel’s foes,” the article cites the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, the British Association of University Teachers and the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, and the Sommerville Divestment Project as prominent employers of the method. Nevertheless, according to the Post, “By far, the US Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) has been the jewel in the crown of the divestment movement.” By the same token, however, the PCUSA’s 2006 reversal of its policy has led to “an abandonment of the tactic by other churches, including the Anglicans and United Church of Canada.” The PCUSA’s assumption of the boycott was overtly based on “Christian witness.” While arguing that the power of divestment has been weakened because it has backfired on the very organizations that endorse it, the Post’s article also suggests that disassociation from the policy is also directly linked to an increasing unwillingness to object to Israel’s very existence as a State.
Other forms of anti-Semitism linked to Israel have also been felt in Britain and other places. Haaretz (September 3) reported that a sharp increase in anti-Semitic attacks occurred in Britain in the wake of the war in the North – including vandalism of shops, hate mail (accusing Jewish leaders of murdering Lebanese children), defacement of synagogues, and verbal and physical violence against Jews in the street. The incidents may well have escalated in light of denunciations of the war by British government officials. A similar increase has also been noted in Australia and Holland, while a bomb was placed next to the synagogue in Corsica.
The Vatican and the Pope
Jerusalem Post, August 31; HaTzofeh, August 31, 2006
In a section “From our archives,” the Jerusalem Post (August 31) noted that “50 years ago” “the Catholic Church in Israel denied that it was instrumental in assisting 17 families of converts that left for Brazil. The Church announced that converts should remain in Israel.”
In an article discussing the reasons for the transfer of the two remaining two Embassies from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, HoTzofeh (August 31) examines the background to the establishment of the State, reminding its readers that both countries – Costa Rica and El Salvador – had at that time refused to accept the Vatican’s authority and voted for a Jewish State.