During the week covered by this review, we received 10 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
This week’s review included a lengthy feature about Yad L’Achim activities against the “missionary sects” in Ashdod.
Ashdod BaKoterot, July 4; Chadash BaGalil, June 29, 2012
Under the headline “Extending a hand to one’s brothers”—a play on the name of Yad L’Achim, an article in Ashdod BaKoterot (July 4) looked at the work of the anti-missionary organization in Ashdod, noting that the city is plagued by three primary sources – “The first and biggest: Derekh El, the congregation of the missionary Oleg Chazin … using a building that apparently has no license as a prayer hall. Oleg Chazin calls himself the head of the Christian church in Ashdod. He is a Russian Jew, acting on behalf of the South Korean mission who funds his work in Israel. The members of the sect have undergone training as priests and this fact – alongside that of the source of their funding – they try fanatically to keep hidden … Their activity takes place every evening and especially at the weekend, when they exploit the quiet of the place, when most of the shops are closed, and hold classes and other activities. Their attempt to keep hidden proves the extent to which they understand that they are doing something prohibited. Every Shabbat around 200 people come to the place, most of them regulars, but new people also turn up as a result of their missionary activity … The second largest congregation in the city: Beit Hallel. Under the leadership of the missionary Israel Putzcher and his deputy Itzik Mor Chaim … This is where the huge demonstration a year and a half ago was held, and since then there’s been a drastic reduction in their activities and the congregation has shrunk. Most of the people who attend this place are Israelis and Ethiopians, for whom the congregation has engaged the services of a translator to translate their messages from Hebrew into Amharic … The third largest congregation in the city: Jehovah’s Witnesses … The giving of ‘charity’: the ‘charitable’ organization Tikvat Ya’akov [Jacob’s Hope] is also a problem … there’s known to be cooperation between it and Beit Hallel. The organization gives help to the needy – elderly Holocaust survivors or single-parent families – financial help and free food baskets when at the same time they appear to hold missionary activity at the place in the guise of giving out propaganda material and information about the congregation Beit Hallel. Amongst those who come to receive food packages can be seen those wearing kippot (!!), who don’t understand who is giving them help until Yad L’Achim illuminate their eyes and stop them falling into the net open for their feet.”
According to a brief report in Chadash BaGalil (June 29), the chief rabbi of Hazor in the Galilee is calling on the town’s residents to throw away the missionary material they are receiving in their mail boxes.
Jerusalem Post, July 13, 15, 2012
These two articles looked at Christian evangelical support of Israel. Earl Cox in the first details how this has and is exemplifying itself, while in the second Faydra Shapiro, Director of the Center for Studies in Jewish-Christian Relations at Jezreel Valley College lamented the fact a “group of scholars, both religious and academic,” who met at the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem to discuss whether ‘tomorrow’s religion’ was ‘part of the problem or part of the solution’” were quite happy to count evangelical Christians amongst the problem. Her conclusion: “This would by no means be the first time evangelicals have been brushed off as a barrier to peace. But it should be the last … Stacking the deck does not make for real dialogue. If we make agreement a precondition for a seat at the interfaith table, we’re not doing much useful at all.”
Christians in Israel
Jerusalem Post, July 6; Yediot HeEmek, July 13, 2012
Under the headline “The messiah’s shrink,” an article in the Jerusalem Post (July 6) featured Dr. Pesach Lichtenberg, “the psychiatrist to Jerusalem’s aspiring redeemers”: “As someone who has always found historical Jewish messianic … to be of immense interest, Lichtenberg says that he ‘used to think that the most interesting time in Jewish history was the century before the destruction [of the Temple], that had all these messiahs walking around, one of whom [Jesus] came to particular prominence.’ However, he continues, ‘I think that today there is probably a much higher concentration of messiahs and messianic thought, and everywhere you look this is present very widely. One of the reasons for the uptick in ‘messiahs,’ says Lichtenberg, is that ‘the content of psychosis is always reflecting things that are going on’ in the wider culture.”
A piece in Yediot HaEmek (July 13) looked at the life of Father Anthony Kasimirs Dodek, who has been appointed head of “the famous monastery on Mount Tabor. Behind his ecclesiastical posts in Jordan, Spain, Greece, and Jerusalem he affords us a peek into the shrouded, mysterious world of monks and lays out his worldview: ‘We must all live together, there must be more love.’”
Ma’ariv, July 12, 2012
In the wake of last week’s report of the problems facing the Garden Tomb, this piece noted that the Muslim burials have ceased by virtue of a constraining order issued by a Jerusalem court.
Jerusalem Post, July 12, 2012
Under the headline “Church of England decision to support anti-Israel group strains relations with British Jews,” this piece noted that “At its General Synod in York on Monday, the Church’s highest legislative body voted overwhelmingly to strengthen ties with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), a group that supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel and stands accused of having an anti-Israel stance and harboring a ‘one-sided’ narrative. According to its website, EAPPI brings people to the West Bank to experience ‘life under occupation.’ The organization takes about 20 ‘ecumenical accompaniers’ to the region every year, where they volunteer in Hebron, Jayyous or Yanun and accompany Palestinians through checkpoints while monitoring any perceived abuses. They have no contact with mainstream Israelis and are expected to participate in 10 speaking events after returning to their home countries, with most doing many more … Rev. John Dinnen, from the Hereford diocese, the author of the motion, said he was very happy that it passed, maintaining that it ‘supports organizations working for a just peace and human rights of Palestinians and Israelis.’ Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams abstained in the vote and supported an amendment that watered down the motion proposed by the bishop of Manchester. Rev. Dr. Toby Howarth, the interreligious affairs adviser and secretary for interreligious affairs to the archbishop, said, ‘We need to look at what happened at Synod in John Dinnen’s motion quite carefully. It was passed in all three Houses of Synod, but there was a large number of abstentions, which reveals a large degree of sympathy for the impact of the motion. Looking at the motion as it stands, quite apart from any background briefings that were provided, it was a motion that would have been hard for Synod members to vote against. EAPPI is a program that was called for by local church leaders in Jerusalem through the World Council of Churches. As was widely acknowledged, there are real issues at border crossings and settlements which make such a program necessary,’ continued Howarth … The [Jewish] Board of Deputies has described the move to support EAPPI as siding with an ‘inflammatory and partisan’ program at the expense of interfaith relations. ‘Justifying its decision using the views of marginal groups in Israel and the UK, the Synod has ridden roughshod over the very real and legitimate concerns of the UK Jewish community, showing a complete disregard for the importance of Anglican-Jewish relations,’ the board said in a statement.”
Uvda, July 6, 2012
This article noted the recent discovery of the Samson mosaic at Huqoq (see last week’s Review).
Jerusalem Post, July 13, 2012
An exhibition entitled “The Absent Body – Body Imagery Between Judaism and Christianity” opened last week at Beit Hatfutsot in Tel Aviv. “Eight Israeli artists, with works from the 1970s to the present, deal with the subject of body and divinity, revealing the complex relations between Jewish and Christian thought. The featured works deal with the tensions between the immateriality of God in Judaism and His concrete material existence in Christianity, while addressing a range of aesthetic and theoretical concerns pertaining to visual representation and its place in Israeli culture.”