During the week covered by this review, we received 28 articles on the following subjects:
Pope and the Vatican
Christians and the Holocaust
Pope and the Vatican
Haaretz [X3], The Jerusalem Post, Yisrael HaYom [X3], Yediot Aharonot, Maariv [X2], January 12, 2013, The Jerusalem Post, January 13, 2013, Israel Post, Besheva, January 14, 2013, Haaretz, Makor Rishon, Yisrael HaYom, SofHaShavua, January 15, 2013
Many of the leading papers ran front-page articles and in-depth analyses on the subject of the Pope’s unexpected resignation. While a few of the articles highlighted the positive relationship fostered between Israel and the Vatican during Pope Benedict’s eight-year tenure, most articles tended to focus on the tensions caused by this relationship.
The Jerusalem Post focused on positive aspects of the Pope’s attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people: “The pontiff is widely seen as having helped promote relations between the Church and the Jewish people, and was ardent in his denunciations of anti-Semitism throughout his time as pope, condemning a resurgent form of anti-Semitism and deploring the phenomenon of Holocaust denial.” Quoting several key Jewish figures, the Post went on to say that “Benedict should be particularly remembered for saying that God never abandoned his covenant with the Jewish people and that Jews were Christians’ ‘older brothers’ and ‘ancestors.’” Benedict is also described as “a friend to the Jewish people who had worked toward improving relations” and that “contrary to public perception, he actually has been excellent for the Jews . . . His intellectual commitment as expressed in his firm stance against the collective and individual guilt of the Jews in the killing of Jesus is one that must be appreciated by Jewish communities.”
Other papers, however, were less generous is their praise of the Pope, all of them touching on three main events that soured relations between the Vatican and Israel/the Jewish people. These include “the Vatican’s decision in 2007 to restore the Latin Mass with the inclusion of a prayer that seemed to encourage the conversion of the Jews” because of a passage “praying for Jewish recognition of Jesus”; reinstating four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X to the Catholic Church, one of whom had publicly denied the Holocaust; and the Pope’s poor word choice during a visit to Yad VaShem in 2009, when Benedict failed to make a direct reference to the Nazis, and said in his speech that millions of Jews had been “killed” rather than “murdered.”
Many of the articles also mentioned the fact that Benedict had been part of the Hitler Youth movement when he was younger.
The Jerusalem Post, February 8, 2013
This article reported on the final wave of aliya (immigration) of the Bnei Menashe Jewish community from India to Israel. Of interest is the mention of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem who “agreed to assist the first group of immigrants by covering much of the cost of their airline tickets,” and Bridges for Peace, who helped “cover some of their absorption costs.” Jurgen Buhler, who is the Executive Director of ICEJ, told the paper that “our support of the return of the Bnei Menashe is based on God’s promises to Israel to ‘bring your descendants from the east,’ as we read in Isaiah 43:5 . . . We are thrilled to partner with Shavei Israel in making this dream come true for these precious sons and daughters of Zion.”
Zman Maale, January 31, 2013
A group of Israel-loving Christians from all over the world visited the city of Maale Adumim in an act of solidarity and support. “These Christians,” says the article, “believe that we have every right and that we need to build and settle the land that belongs to the nation of Israel. These people are not just people of prayer, but they are excellent ambassadors to their countries and their governments on behalf of Israel.” The group was given a tour of the various neighborhoods currently being built, stopping at some of them to say a prayer for speedy construction.
The Jerusalem Post, February 13, 2013
American singer Pat Boone is in Israel as part of a delegation led by American politician Mike Huckabee. Boone is “to present Yad Vashem with the Christmas card on which he scribbled the lyrics” to one of his most famous songs. Boone, who is an Evangelical Christian, told The Jerusalem Post that “though he was raised in a conservative Christian household that looked down on other religious groups, he had grown to love the Jewish people and considered himself, as a believing Christian, to be part of the Jewish nation.” The article explains that “as part of the Jewish collective,” Boone “wanted to buy a plot of land in the Galilee that could be his in a real, rather than an emotional, sense . . . which led to the idea of selling 1-inch square plots . . . to American supporters of Israel in order to give them a stake in the land.” Says Boone: “I think that this is a sure way for Christians by the millions, evangelicals, who do believe God’s promises – that God has brought the people of Israel back, never to be removed again – to make a commitment. That’s what we are doing and are urging others to do.”
Impressions, January 31, 2013, The Jerusalem Post, February 8, 2013
Two articles ran the story of a group of Christians from Chicago who visited Israel on a tour organized by the Tourism Ministry in the American Midwest. According to The Jerusalem Post, the tour, which is a first of its kind, brought together “members of various Christian denominations – including Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, and Greek Orthodox” for the purpose of “uniting the vast number of different Christian communities” and educating Israelis about the varied Christian demographic. Omer Eshel, who is the director of the Tourism Ministry, explains that “a 10-day trip for Christians is equally important as Israel’s investment in the Taglit Birthright program for young Jews,” since “this is [the Christians’] birthright too.” ITN quoted one of the participants as saying that he “was pleased that [they] were given the space to appreciate the traditions of others within the interdenominational framework of [the] tour.”
Christians and the Holocaust
The Jerusalem Post, February 14, 2013
French Protestant group CIMADE turned down an invitation to attend a Holocaust memorial service in Marseille in spite of the organization’s history of saving Jews during WWII. The group explained their declination in a letter, saying that “the values that led CIMADE to save Jews make the group ‘equally committed to oppose the colonial, discriminatory, and bellicose policy of Israel with regards to the Palestinians’,” adding that CIMADE was “determined to fight apartheid.”
Haaretz, February 10, 2013, Besheva, February 14, 2013, Yisrael HaYom, February 15, 3013
Haaretz and Yisrael HaYom ran extensive reports on the world’s first King Herod exhibition which opened in Jerusalem this week. Many of the pieces on display come from the Herodium, where Herod’s tomb was uncovered by Professor Netzer in 2007. The exhibition is dedicated to Professor Netzer, who fell to his death while working at the Herodium dig in 2010.
Teva HaDvarim, February 11, 2013
This article reported on the discovery of a ritual building (or a temple) at the archeological site of Tel Motza on the outskirts of Jerusalem (see fourth Media Review for December).
Hed HaIr, Shfela, February 4, 2013
This article reprised the story of “N,” a religious Jewish woman with a difficult life-story, who was “saved from the clutches of two missionary women who had been trying to convert her to Christianity” (see first Media Review for February).