June 20 – 2012

Caspari Center Media Review – June 20, 2012

During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the following subjects:

Christian Zionism
Christians in Israel
Christian sites
Jewish-Christian relations
Vatican and the Pope

This week’s review focused on various aspects of Jewish-Christian relations.

Christian Zionism

Jerusalem Post, June 15 (x 2), 17, 2012

Two articles in the Jerusalem Post (June 15, 17) looked at the careers of Mike Evans and Johnny Cash respectively as Christian Zionists, the third (June 15) noting that “Leaders of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and the World Jewish Congress will travel to St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday to meet with local Christian leaders at what is expected to be the largest pro- Israel event in the city’s history. The delegation will promote Judeo-Christian relations and aims to build support for Israel among Christians in Russia. The event, hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem St. Petersburg branch, is expected to be attended by more than 400 people. Keynote speakers will include Deputy Minister Gila Gamliel, MK Anastasia Michaeli, WJC secretary-general Dan Diker and Knesset Christian Allies Caucus director Josh Reinstein.”

Christians in Israel

Jerusalem Post, June 13, 15; HeChaim HaTovim, June 7, 2012

According to the two reports in the Jerusalem Post, “Israel is working to block a bid by the Palestinian Authority to register the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem under the country of Palestine, when the World Heritage Committee meets in Russia from June 24 to July 6. Earlier this month the committee announced that the church, as well as the nearby pilgrimage route, is among 36 sites which it plans to debate during that meeting. The debate marks the first time that the committee has considered registering a World Heritage site under Palestine … Earlier this month, UNESCO announced the inclusion of the Church of the Nativity on its list of 36 potential sites. It noted that this was a first for Palestine. It did not mention that its International Council on Monuments and Sites, which evaluates each application, had recommended that for technical reasons the World Heritage Committee reject the PA’s application at this time. ‘ICOMOS does not consider that the property can be considered to have been severely damaged or to be under imminent threat,’ it said in a report, which can be found on the UNESCO web site. It added that no immediate action could be taken by the World Heritage Committee ‘that is necessary for the survival of the property.’ It advised the PA to resubmit its application under the normal assessment process … The issue of the church is only one of a number of ways in which the IsraeliPalestinian conflict will be part of the World Heritage Committee meeting. It will hear a report on the protection of the Palestinian cultural and natural heritage. It will also debate issues relating to the Old City of Jerusalem which is registered under Jordan, and which is considered an endangered site. Israel expects that UNESCO will pass a resolution condemning Israeli treatment of the site.

The committee will also debate registering the site of human evolution at the base of Mt. Carmel in Israel” (June 13).

“The secretariat of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has come out against a bid by the Palestinian Authority to use an emergency procedure to register Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity under the country of ‘Palestine’ as a World Heritage site … In its application, the PA said, ‘The combined effects of the consequences of the Israeli occupation and the lack of scientific and technical measures for restoring and preserving the property are creating an emergency situation that should be addressed by an emergency measure.’ Israel has opposed registering the site under Palestine, until such time as it becomes a state as a result of a negotiated end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has opposed all unilateral steps toward statehood by the PA. It does, however, support registering the church as a World Heritage site, and would have wanted to present it to the committee together with the Palestinians as a joint endeavor” (June 15).

An article in HeChaim HaTovim (June 7) featured the Romanian church of St. George in Jerusalem.

Christian Sites

Ma’ariv, June 15, 2012

This piece examined the growth of Nazareth as a tourist center.

Jewish-Christian Relations

Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2012

Two pieces in the Jerusalem Post reported on Cardinal Koch’s recent visit to Jerusalem. In the first (June 14), Ron Kronish both indicated the events and gave his opinion of the state of Jewish-Christian relations: “The cardinal from the Vatican who is responsible for religious relations with the Jews – H.E. Cardinal Kurt Koch – was in Jerusalem recently for a few days of meetings with officials, during which time he gave a public lecture on ‘Jewish-Catholic Dialogue’ (co-sponsored by Jerusalem Institute of Israel Studies, the Inter-religious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI), the American Jewish Committee, and the Israel Jewish Council for Inter-religious Relations, all organizations which have been involved in Jewish-Christian Dialogue for many years). Cardinal Koch’s visit to Jerusalem was another positive step in the deepening of relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people and the State of Israel that has been going on for many years now. In contrast to those who say that Jewish-Catholic dialogue is regressing, Cardinal Koch made it crystal clear in his lecture that, from his point of view, this is certainly not the case.” Kronish founder and director of the Inter-religious Coordinating Council in Israel and as director of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations – suggested that “since Vatican II – i.e., since the beginning of the dialogue (between Christians and Jews and between the Church and all other major world religions), I would argue that we are clearly in a new era. We might call this ‘the new era of dialogue.’ We have moved from persecution to partnership, from confrontation to cooperation, from helplessness to hope. Moreover, there is no question that the leadership of Pope John Paul II, whose passing a few years ago was a tremendous loss for all of humanity, gave continued and consistent leadership to promoting the dialogue between Christians and Jews in ways that were unprecedented in the history of the Catholic Church, culminating with his personal pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March 2000 … There will always be naysayers that say that the Vatican has not done enough, that there are conservatives in the Church who deny the Holocaust, that the Vatican is stalling on opening the archives, and that they have regressed by returning an anti-Semitic ‘Good Friday’ prayer to the liturgy. But in the context of the history of the past 2000 years, we are clearly in an unprecedented era of dialogue. This includes the Church’s groundbreaking document on the Holocaust called We Remember (1998) and the signing of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel in 1993, which has charted a completely new course in the relations between the Vatican and the Jewish state … In short, the Catholic Church has made enormous strides forward on the subject of relations with Jews and Judaism since Vatican II in the mid-1960s.”

In the second, entitled “Pope Pius and ‘the other’” (June 14), Brian Freedman, a master’s student of Islam at the Hebrew University, addressed Koch’s remarks relating to the Holocaust, arguing that “while I applaud … [the] call to ‘listen to what the other has to say,’ each side must also engage in self-reflection and, in a sense, listen to what ‘his or her own side’ is saying. This is what led me not to dismiss outright my Catholic friend’s indignation at his beloved pope’s portrayal at Yad Vashem. While I believe the charge of deliberate besmirching is a bit far-fetched, it is entirely possible that the Jewish attitude toward Pius XII is jaundiced. Maybe when the Vatican archives open in 2014, Jews worldwide will do some self-reflection and reconsider their views on ‘Hitler’s Pope.’”

Vatican and the Pope 

Jerusalem Post, June 13, 2012

This article reported that “Israeli and Vatican officials met in Rome Tuesday for negotiations that have continued for 13 years on a basket of bilateral issues, and afterward issued a brief statement almost identical to the one released after a previous round of talks last June. The negotiations of the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel ‘took place in a thoughtful and constructive atmosphere,’ the joint statement said. ‘The commission took notice that significant progress was made towards the conclusion of the Agreement’ … One diplomatic official said that while significant progress may indeed have occurred; there was still a long way to go in dealing with issues that have bedeviled the sides for years. The official said Palestinian concern that the Vatican was on the verge of implicitly recognizing Israel’s control over east Jerusalem by reaching an agreement with Israel over church properties there was ‘ridiculous.’ ‘Do you really think that is going to happen,’ he asked. Balestrero said in an interview released by the Vatican Tuesday that the agreement being discussed ‘will not speak about east Jerusalem or places in the West Bank.’ Among the issues the two sides have been talking about for years are which religious institutions owned by the Holy See in Israel will be exempted from tax, in the same manner as synagogues and mosques; the expropriation of Church property for infrastructure purposes; whether church-owned businesses will be exempted from taxes; and questions of sovereignty over sites such as the Cenacle – the site of the Last Supper located outside Zion Gate in Jerusalem.”


Jerusalem Post, June 11, 2012

According to this report, “Conservative Polish lawmaker Miroslaw Piotrowski’s invitation to a controversial priest to speak in Brussels has led to a split among the European Conservatives and Reformist group, or ECR. Tadeusz Rydzyk’s anti-Semitic views voiced on his Radio Maryja and TV Trwam stations have led to condemnation over the years from Jewish groups … The recent invitation was a response to the revocation of Rydzyk’s TV channel license … According to The Guardian, some British Tory lawmakers are indignant that one with extreme anti-Semitic opinions has been invited to speak.”