June 23 – 2009

Caspari Center Media Review – June 23, 2009

During the week covered by this review, we covered 4 articles on the subjects of attitudes towards Christianity, Christians in Israel, and archaeology.
1 dealt with attitudes towards Christianity
2 dealt with Christians in Israel
1 dealt with archaeology
This week’s Review was a sparse mixture of miscellanea.
Attitudes towards Christianity
Ma’ariv, May 22, 2009

In an opinion piece examining the Jewish/Israeli conviction that “Everyone hates us,” Jonathan Gefen addressed the issue of Jewish-Catholic relations. Thus, in wondering why Benedict said what he said (or didn’t say) during his recent visit, Gefen remarked “If the pope needed to ask forgiveness for every abomination perpetrated by the Nazis and the Catholic Church, his speech would have been longer than the interminable speech of his press-conference representative. True, Benedict does not love us, he’s certainly not the right place to look for such love. He’s the first person who should hate us, because we killed Yeshu. And he’s certainly a little grateful and slightly refusenik towards us because he knows that if we hadn’t killed Yeshu, they wouldn’t have a religion at all … Christian hatred has been part of the traditional Catholic agenda for generations – and so we hate them in return, wholeheartedly …”
Christians in Israel
Haaretz, May 28; Yediot Ahronot, June 18, 2009

The Maronite community in Israel is attempting to recover its ancient language of Aramaic and sending the next generation to study it every Friday – followed by a class for adults (Haaretz, May 28). “This is not an extra-curricula class but activity with a far-reaching social aspiration. The initiators of the class – two brothers from the Halul (Risha) family, Shadi and Amir, are hoping to change reality. They want to keep Aramaic, the tongue of their fathers, alive … Aramaic as a holy language has frozen. Were it not for the efforts made by the community, Arabic would also have taken over in the church. Today, the reverse process is taking place: last February, the students of the St. Maron, the founder of the Maronite church, sang the prayer ‘Our Father who art in heaven’ in Aramaic, not Arabic. A first step.”
Yediot Ahronot (June 18) ran a lengthy article on the Christian Zionist community of Beth-El near Zikhron Ya’akov which we covered in previous review.
Haaretz, June 22, 2009

According to this report, “A spectacular underground quarry has recently been discovered in the Jordan Valley north of Jericho, which archaeologists believe may have marked a biblical site sacred to ancient Christians … [the cave has] a ceiling supported by 22 gigantic columns on which various symbols were carved, including 31 crosses, a possible wheel of the Zodiac and a Roman legionary symbol. The columns also had niches for the placement of oil lamps and holes that apparently served as hitching posts … [the] working theory is that the site is Galgala, biblical Gilgal, mentioned on the sixth-century Madaba mosaic map. The cave, buried 10 meters underground, is about 100 meters long, 40 meters wide and 4 meters high, is the largest artificial cave so far discovered in Israel. Potsherds found in the cave and the carvings on the columns led Zertal to date the first quarrying of the cave to around the beginning of the Common Era. ‘It was used mainly as a quarry for 400 to 500 years, but other finds give the impression it was used for other purposes, perhaps a monastery or even a hiding place,’” said Adam Zertal, in charge of the excavation. “According to Zertal, scholars had always assumed that the ‘12 stones’ referred to the biblical story of the 12 stones the Israelites set up at Gilgal after they crossed the Jordan. However, the discovery of the quarried cave may mean the reference was to a quarry established where the Byzantines identified Gilgal. Zertal explains that in antiquity sanctuaries were built out of stones from sacred places. If the Byzantines identified the site as biblical Gilgal, it would have been considered sacred and quarrying would have remained underground to preserve it.”