During the week covered by this review, we received 12 articles on the following subjects:
Pope and the Vatican/Holocaust
The Jerusalem Post, October 24, 2012, Kochav Yizrael, October 5, 2012
Two articles dealt with the ongoing spate of attacks on Christian sites by extremist Jewish factions. The Jerusalem Post reported on the solidarity event which took place on Tuesday at the Narkis Street Congregation in Jerusalem – one of the growing number of churches to have been vandalized in the past year. The church invited representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Interior, and the Public Security Ministry, as well as members of the city council and rabbis from a number of nearby synagogues to attend. The purpose of the event was “to urge law enforcement to find and arrest the vandals perpetrating these attacks.” So far, no one has been arrested in connection with any of the attacks. Reverend Chuck Kopp said: “We made it clear that we hold no grudge or personal animosity or are seeking revenge. But we feel for the sake of civic order that the arm of the law needs to take care of the situation.” Kopp added that “Israeli security is legendary and for a good reason. I’m sure if they put the right unit on this case, they’d find [the vandals] in short order. If they have traffic police on it or some minor-league unit, they’re not going to succeed.” Kopp urged the police forces to look on these events as a “serious national threat.” The article also mentions how Narkis Street Congregation has been the target of “near-annual” vandalism since the time the church was burnt to the ground in 1982.
In an op-ed piece, Edi Gal, writing for Kochav Yizrael, takes up the same issue, asking if anyone really understands the purpose of these attacks. “What do [the perpetrators] really think they will achieve, and how will it further their cause both locally and globally?” Gal admits that he can’t think of a single reason for the attacks, and his anger is palpable as he asks, “what the hell do we want from Jesus now? Why paint all sorts of insulting pictures on churches and monasteries that bear no connection to reality? Isn’t this the last thing we need – another bitter argument with the Christians? . . . Why play with fire?” Although Gal is angry with the vandals, he points a finger at the security forces, blaming them for allowing these attacks to go on year after year, without the arrest of a single person. “I presume,” says Gal, “that the security forces have the means to arrest these ridiculous people, but that it is low on their priority list.” Gal concludes by saying that “however we look at it, it doesn’t look good. Either they don’t have the ability to find [the vandals] or they lack the will to do so. It’s called a lose-lose situation. What are they waiting for?”
The Jerusalem Post, October 23, 2012
A number of Jewish groups in the States pulled out of the annual Christian-Jewish Roundtable event in response to the letter sent by fifteen church leaders to the US Congress (in which they asked Congress to reevaluate its military aid to Israel and to investigate possible violations on Israel’s part – see second Media Review for October). In a letter addressed to the Protestant leaders, the Jewish groups wrote that, “while we remain committed to continuing our dialogue and our collaboration on the many issues of common concern, the letter [sent by the Christian leaders] represents an escalation in activity that the Jewish participants feel precludes a business-as-usual approach . . . There’s been a betrayal of trust . . . We have to discern if there’s a positive path forward.” The letter was signed by the American Jewish Committee, B’nai Brith International, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism, and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. In response, “a dozen Jewish clergy allied with Jewish Voice for Peace . . . praised the Protestants’ leaders call.” They said that “it is altogether appropriate – and in fact essential – for Congress to ensure that Israel is not in violation of any US laws or policies that regulate the use of US supplied weapons.”
Haaretz, October 26, 2012
Joel Rosenfeld, a Jewish tour guide from New Jersey, recently organized an inter-faith tour of Israel together with Imam W. Deen Shareef and Bishop Mark Beckwith. The three have collaborated together before, working “to reduce gang violence and encourage reconciliation through the Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peace.” Rosenfeld says he understands the necessity of “meeting the ‘other’ and learning about other narratives,” which is why he “embraced the challenge of catering to Christian groups” as part of his tour guiding. The paper quoted one Israeli as saying that “it’s useful for groups like that to come to Israel to show us . . . that such things are possible, that people can really listen to each other across a big divide.”
Star Darom, October 12, 2012
The paper reported on the distribution this week of armored backpacks to Israeli school children in Ashkelon – a gift from the Christian organization The Shield of David (see last Media Review for September).
Makor Rishon, October 26, 2012
Mina Fenton responds to the article written by Ariel Kahana (which focused on former politician Beni Alon and his efforts to raise political support for Israel amongst the 600 million Israel-loving Christians around the world – see first Media Review for October). Regarding the Christian Embassy’s Feast of Tabernacles event, Fenton writes that it is nothing less than a missionary conference, which is why the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has forbidden Jews from attending it. Fenton claims that the sole purpose of the event is to hasten the establishment of Jesus as king over Jerusalem, and she calls on all Jews to be aware that “when they speak of building a Temple they mean a Christian Temple.” To this end, “many missionary organizations and leaders attend the conference and reveal their missionary work in Israel through the booths that they set up there. Missionary activity is significantly bolstered by the event.” Fenton then names the Christian Embassy’s CEO, Jurgen Buler, who is collaborating with the King of Kings Assembly – “a missionary organization whose offices are located in the Klal building in Jerusalem.” In the last section of her response, Fenton elaborates on the true nature of Evangelical theology, reprising much of what she wrote in an article covered in the last Media Review for September.
Mabat LaHazor veLaGalil, October 19, 2012
Finnish couple Martti and Mirja Ojares, owners of an Israel-loving Christian TV station in Finland, have met with incredible success in their latest campaign to provide scholarships for Israeli students at Ohalo College in Kazrin. The TV station has been broadcasting commercials which urge Finnish Christians to “adopt” Israeli students and support them financially in their studies. The advertising campaign was so successful that the TV station had to set up a special website that allowed potential donors to view the profiles of a variety of Israeli students and connect with the student of their choice. “Thus far dozens of students have benefitted from these scholarships,” totaling hundreds of thousands of shekels (raised in the past six months alone). Some of the donors have even made a special trip to Israel to meet their sponsored students.
Yediot Karmiel, October 19, 2012
Israel-loving Christians from Hamar in Norway recently visited Karmiel, which is one of Hamar’s twin cities. These Christians are part of the “Esther Group” which fights against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Mazav HaRuach, October 19, 2012
Israel-loving Christians from Florida, who arrived in the country for a three-week tour, planted trees in some of the settlements in Judea and Samaria as an act of solidarity and encouragement for the continued building up of Jewish villages in the West Bank. They also visited Efrat in Gush Ezion where they were warmly received by the head of the (religious) Municipality, Bob Lang.
Pope and the Vatican/Holocaust
The Jerusalem Post, October 26, 2012
British bishop Richard Williamson was recently expelled from the Catholic Society of Saint Pius X for disobeying his superiors. Williamson has said that the murder of Jews in gas chambers during the Holocaust is “lies, lies, lies.” He also denies “that any Jews were murdered in gas chambers during the Holocaust,” insisting that “not more than 300,000 European Jews were killed in total.”
The Jerusalem Post, October 24, 2012
The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land strongly denies reports that the Vatican “has allowed the IDF to build the security fence on its land in the Cremisan Valley, so that the property could remain on the Israeli side of the border.” In a statement signed by 22 church leaders, the Assembly said: “The Catholic Ordinaries deny the existence of any explicit or implicit agreement between the Vatican, the local church and Israeli authorities regarding the construction of this illegal wall.” However, former colonel in the IDF’s Central Command, Danny Tirza, said that “he had personally gone to the Vatican to negotiate the details of the agreement.” He added that he “met with the deputy of the secretary of state of the Vatican” and “showed him all the plans,” some of which the deputy signed. The Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry have made no comment on the issue.
The Jerusalem Post, October 23, 2012
Pakistani writer Iqbal Jafar reflects on the fanatic factions of the three Abrahamic religions. He writes that these religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – “have a long history of clash and conflict that makes them easy prey for manipulation by religious fanatics and political opportunists. In this long history of conflict the past two decades happen to be the worst since the 13th century.” The problem of fanaticism arises because each of these religions claims “to have divine sanction and support,” which is why “religion looms so large in the politics of certain parts of the world.” Jafar wants to know why “the bleatings of the humanists and pacifists” have been “drowned by the drumbeat of religious fanatics in societies as diverse as Pakistan and the United States.” The rest of his article looks at this question in more detail, with special emphasis on the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan – an atheist culture occupying a religious culture.