February 2 – 2012

Caspari Center Media Review – February 2, 2012

During the week covered by this review, we received 4 articles on the following subjects:

Attitudes towards Christianity
Jewish-Christian relations

This week’s review was a sparse miscellenea.

Attitudes towards Christianity 

Ma’ariv, January 27, 2012

Like Lior Dayan last week, another Israeli journalist also visited Qasr al-Yahud (Chadashot Netanya, January 22): “At the weekend I toured the country of monasteries in the Jordan Valley where you come to Jericho in order to visit the site of Qasr al-Yehud. Hundreds of pilgrims visit this site in order to go through a baptism ceremony. According to their tradition, in this place John baptized Jesus. According to another tradition, this is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan in order enter the Promised Land. We were lucky because it was a holiday of the Ethiopian church. Dozens of  buses arrived carrying thousands of pilgrims ready to be baptized and take home holy water. The Ethiopian Patriarch in Jerusalem was also there. The mass descent into the Jordan was impressive and multicolored. Ethiopian nuns dressed in colorful traditional robes, accompanied by thousands going down towards the water, singing and dancing to the beat of drums. I felt for a moment as though I was on a trip through Ethiopia … Following a clarificatory conversation with the pilgrims, it turned out that they were all Eritreans who had entered Israeli illegally as migrant workers … I asked myself why they were here and what connection they have with our country? Work – that’s all.”

Jewish-Christian Relations

Jerusalem Post, February 3, 2012

According to this article, “Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams met with Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar on Thursday during a week-long personal pilgrimage to Israel and the West Bank. The office of the Diocese of Jerusalem of the Anglican Church said that during Williams’ visit he emphasized ‘the importance of constructive dialogue and co-existence between all religions,’ and the need to ‘consolidate the peace process between the people of this region.’ Invited by the head of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem Bishop Suheil Dawani, Williams was on a private tour and so did not make any public statements. Williams arrived in Israel on Monday and visited Nazareth, where he met with Christians, Muslims and Druse, religious leaders and local mayors. The Archbishop and his pilgrims also visited St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in the village of Zababida in the northern West Bank and met with the Mayor of Zababida Vector Khader and the Governor of Jenin Qadura Musa. Williams has expressed concern of late for the security of Christians in the Middle East, describing the position of Christians in the region as ‘more vulnerable than it has been for centuries’ during a debate in the upper house of the British Parliament, the House of Lords, in December. Referencing the series of revolutions and upheavals in the Arab world in the last year, Williams said, ‘the security and well-being of the historic Christian communities in the region is something of a litmus test in relation to the wider issues of the political health of the region.’”


Jerusalem Post, February 6, 2012

“Roman Herzog, the president of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1994 to 1999, is slated to deliver a speech next week in honor of Reverend Mitri Raheb, a fiercely anti-Israel Palestinian Lutheran leader in Bethlehem who has argued that Jews have no right to be present in Israel. The decision by Herzog and Media Control, a German NGO, to praise Raheb has sparked criticism from US and Israeli NGOs. In a statement on Sunday, the Simon Wiesenthal Center urged Herzog to cancel his keynote address at the event. According to a letter sent to Herzog from the center’s associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, ‘Pastor Raheb consistently has used theological garb to cover an extremist political agenda to demonize the Jewish people.’ Media Control, the German group, justified the award to Raheb because his ‘acts are a symbol of humanity.’ The Wiesenthal Center, however, wrote, ‘In speeches given to various religious symposia and church summits (including the infamous 2004 US Presbyterian assembly that approved a boycott and divestment campaign against Israel), Raheb promoted a “Palestinian Theology” that purports that Jews are not the Chosen People and therefore have no right to the Holy Land.’ According to the Wiesenthal Center, Raheb said in a March 2010 address that ‘actually, the Palestinian Christians are the only ones in the world that, when they speak about their forefathers, they mean their actual forefathers, and also the forefathers in the faith … So, that is the reality of the peoples of the land. Again, they aren’t Israel. This experience I’m talking about, it’s only the Palestinians who understand this, because Israel represents Rome … It was our forefathers to whom the revelation was given’ … According to [the Jerusalem-based watchdog group] NGO Monitor, ‘The Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb represents the antithesis of building peace and mutual understanding in the Middle East. He is a board member of Kairos Palestine, whose guiding document calls for BDS [boycotts, divestment and sanctions] against Israel, advances the Christian theological doctrine of supercessionism and denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel. The document also ignores the extreme harassment and violence committed against Palestinian Christians by Palestinian Muslims.’ The organization added that ‘Raheb is a board member of ICCO, an intermediary funding channel for the Dutch government. As part of its support of radical projects related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, ICCO funds the anti-Semitic Electronic Intifada, which supports BDS and repeatedly uses anti-Semitic rhetoric that demonizes Israel. ICCO also funds Badil, an NGO also involved with anti-Semitic incidents, as well as demonizing language such as: “Israel’s colonial apartheid regime,” “state-sponsored racism” and “systematic ethnic cleansing.”’ Both Badil and ICCO had their funds slashed because of their opposition to the Jewish state … The … NGO Monitor told the Post, ‘Raheb’s leadership positions with these immoral and anti-Semitic NGOs should cause the prize organizers to reconsider their award decision’ … Reverend Raheb did not return a Post e-mail query. Speaking from Raheb’s phone number in Bethlehem, a man who identified himself as Sharadi told the Post that Raheb was in Jordan and not reachable on Sunday.”


Zeh Asher, January 30, 2012

According to this report, “East of Acre, not far from the Ein HaMifratz junction, we recently received a ca. 1500-year-old greeting in the form of a seven-branched Temple menorah.” The find was made during infrastructure preparations for a new railway line at Horvat Utza, on a ceramic seal from the Byzantine period belonging to the class known as the “bread seals.” “According to Gilead Yaffe and Dr. Danny Shiyon, the directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, ‘A number of seals bearing the menorah were known from different collections. The Temple menorah, as a prominent Jewish symbol, attests that the seals belonged to Jews – in distinction from Christian bread seals which bore a cross – which were very common in the Byzantine period.’ According to Dr. Shiyon, ‘This is the first time such a seal has been discovered in a prominent archaeological excavation which enables us to determine its origin and date of production. The importance of the seal lies in the fact that it proves the existence of a Jewish community in the settlement of Utza during the Byzantine-Christian era. The existence of a Jewish settlement in a region that was Christian at the time constitutes a research innovation.” Bread seals reflect the fact that bakeries supplied “kosher” products to their respective communities.