During the week covered by this review, we received 17 articles on the following subjects:
Pope and the Vatican
Political Issues/Jewish Christian Relations
Christians and the Holocaust
Pope and the Vatican
Haaretz, May 7, 2013
Following on his article in The Jerusalem Report on April 24th (see first Media Review for May) Rabbi David Rosen reflects on the major shift in the Catholic Church’s attitude toward the Jewish people in the past few decades, giving most of the credit for this change to Pope John XXIII. Traditionally, writes Rosen, the Church believed that “the Jews have been punished because they refused to acknowledge the Christian Gospel and they are condemned to wander among the nations until the end of days as proof of their wrongdoing.” And yet, today the Vatican and the State of Israel are in good relations, and the Jews are now “described by the leaders of the Catholic Church as the ‘beloved elder brother from the Old Testament – You are the beloved elder brother of the Church of the original Covenant never broken and never to be broken.’”
Along the same lines as his previous article, Rosen goes on to list the many ways in which the relationship between the Vatican and Israel has changed for the good over the past years, concluding that “all these positive achievements and developments are the fruit of the courage and vision of one man with a huge heart and sincere love for the Jewish people – Pope John XXIII . . . who paved the way for his successors who followed in his footsteps.”
Yediot Bat Yam, May 10, 2013
This three-page article reports on the growing missionary activity in Bat Yam. Many residents have complained to Yad L’Achim, saying that the missionaries have been going from door-to-door with their destructive material. Furthermore, it seems the “cult” has started a new congregation in a residential building on Jerusalem Street in the city. One of the local rabbis told the paper that these happenings are “unacceptable” and must be stopped immediately. The same rabbi tells the story of an Israeli soldier who identified himself as a Messianic Jew during a casual conversation they were having. The rabbi says he was “shocked” to find that the soldier’s parents have been gradually moving away from Judaism in order to be part of this “cult.” He invited the soldier to attend synagogue, and the latter agreed. Says the rabbi: “Sadly, it is all being done in secret, without his parents’ knowledge, since they (of course) have prohibited him from being Jewish.” As for the Messianic Jewish meetings taking place in the city, the rabbi confesses: “We have a problem dealing with this issue, because the meetings take place in a private residential home in one of the apartment buildings so that naturally the activity there is very hidden and secretive.” The rabbi, together with Yad L’Achim, have vowed to find out who is running these meetings and do all they can to prevent them from happening, “in order to save Jewish souls.”
The article also interviews a man who almost converted to Messianic Judaism, after he was convinced to attend one of the cult’s meetings. “At that meeting,” he says, “I spoke with others who had also joined that group, and they told me that they get support from its members in exchange for acting in all sorts of ways, including preaching about Christianity and the ways of Jesus. Luckily, I quickly understood what it was all about . . .”
Oded Raban, a Messianic Jew, tells the paper that “there is nothing inappropriate in the group’s activities.” He says: “We have tens of thousands of believers and members in this country, and we are all citizens of this state. We are loyal to it, serve in the army, give to it, but our worldview is slightly different, different from other Jews, and for that reason, other Jews see us as an anomaly. We, as our Jewish brothers, believe in God and see him as the center of everything in this world . . . It is true that we believe in the Bible, but also in the New Testament.” Regarding missionary activity, Raban says that there is “no truth in the claims that we behave in an underhand manner. And if it comes across that way, the only reason is that we face such extreme antagonism, that it doesn’t leave us with many options.”
Political Issues/Jewish-Christian Relations
The Jerusalem Post, May 6, 2013, Globes, May 9, 2013
Two articles reported on a paper published by the Church of Scotland that denies “that scripture provides a basis for Jewish claims to Israel,” and that the Bible does not offer “any peoples a privileged claim for possession of a particular territory.” Making a clear connection between this claim and the current political situation in Israel, the paper states that “reconciliation can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem and the blockade of Gaza are ended.”
In response, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities said that “the paper is ‘an outrage to everything that interfaith dialogue stands for’ and ‘reads like an Inquisition-era polemic against Jews and Judaism.’”
Yoav Karny’s article in Globes magazine puts a sarcastic spin on the event as he reminds his readers that the Jews are, for all intents and purposes, outdated in the sight of God. “It must be said,” writes Karny, “that none of this is new. Christian theology has been making this claim since the fifth century . . . Auschwitz made Christian theologians admit that the claim [that the Jews are no longer relevant] provided a nice cover for murderous anti-Semitism.” With this in mind, Karny wonders why the Scottish Church has chosen to renew this theological claim. He concludes that the statement is not meant to be theological, but is rather a political act aimed at North American Evangelicals as well as yet another attempt to “shake off” British imperial guilt. Thus, “when the Church of Scotland tries to bury the divine right, it is simply trying to undo the yoke of its ancestors, to purify itself not only of their historical support of the Jews, but also of their support of the British imperialist vision. The Church not only hates Israel; it also hate Rule Britannia.”
Christians and the Holocaust
Haaretz, May 5, 2013
Dominika Blachnicka-Ciacek writes this article “as a Polish Christian, thinking about my Jewish family back in Israel.” Blachnicak-Ciacek is concerned with the way the Israeli press covered the Polish events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, explaining that it is “disturbing” how Israeli media “prefers to conveniently remain locked in stereotypes about Poland, without the will to move on and recognize the change that has happened in the country in recent years.” Blachnicak-Ciacek claims that reality is much more nuanced, so that even though anti-Semitism is still prevalent in Poland, “things have been changing in Poland in relation to the Jews, as well as ways of seeing our past in relation to our Jewish neighbors.” An example of this, according to Blachnicka-Ciacek, is how, for the past ten years, “Poland has been openly discussing the role of Polish Christians towards Polish Jews during World War II and the horrific pogroms of Jewish neighbors right after the war.” She lists a variety of other examples, and concludes her article with these words: “While condemning anti-Semitism of any kind, we, Poles and Israelis, must take mutual care and responsibility for the occasions that have the power to rebut the fear of the other and reframe them in the spirit of openness and respect.”
Haaretz,May 3, 2013
Haaretz interviews two young people departing from Ben Gurion Airport after touring Israel (and a handful of other countries). Asked what was their favorite place, the couple says Jerusalem, “because it is the city of Jesus.” Gabriela adds that “when we were in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and I touched the Stone of Unction, it was a very meaningful experience for me. [The Stone of Unction] is the stone on which Jesus was prepared for burial after he died on the cross. That is, his body lay on that stone.”
The Marker, May 6, 2013, HaIr Tzomet HaSharon, May 3, 2013
Two articles suggested day trips to the Qasr al-Yahud baptismal site just outside of Jericho, where, “according to Christian tradition, John the Baptist baptized Jesus.”
Atmosphera, May 2, 2013
This two-page article reveals the significant impact that the Jewish National Fund has had on the Israeli landscape. Of interest is a short paragraph that mentions how Christian pilgrims can now “visit Israel to walk in the footsteps of Jesus,” and how the Fund “has developed the panoramas and Christian historical sites, such as Beit Saida,” as well as “developed the Gospel Trail, a hiking route from Mount Precipice in Nazareth to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee.”
Maariv, May 8, 2013
In celebration of Jerusalem Day, Maariv suggests a variety of sites around the city that are worth visiting. Among them is the Saint Etienne monastery, which commemorates the stoning of Stephen, “who scorned the Temple and believed that Jesus was the messiah of Israel. Poor Etienne was stoned to death on account of his Christian faith. His final request of Jesus (as it is told in the book of Acts) was that he would receive his spirit and forgive the sinners who had stoned him.”
Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, May 5, 2013
Haaretz ran a photograph of the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony that took place in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher this Saturday, while The Jerusalem Post wrote that the ceremony was attended by “tens of thousands of Christians.”
Yisrael HaYom, May 7, 2013
A short snipped stating that “after 30 years of searching,” Herod the Great’s sarcophagus was found – shattered to pieces – under the remains of the wall surrounding the Herodion.
Nachon LeHayom, May 9, 2013
A huge quarry from the Second Temple period has been discovered in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in Jerusalem. Archeologists also unearthed a 2000 year-old key at the site.
Hadashot Shelanu, April 30
This article reported on the rare mikveh (a bath for ritual immersion) from the Second Temple period which was discovered at an archeological dig in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Menachem (see second Media Review for April).
ITN, April 30, 2013
This article reported on the Herod the Great exhibition currently on display at the Israel Museum.
Haaretz, May 8, 2013
This article reviews the book Herod – the Final Journey of the King of Judah, which has been published by the Israel Museum as part of the King Herod exhibition currently on display there.