During the week covered by this review, we received 15 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Pope and the Vatican
Arab Believing Community
The Jerusalem Post, July 18, 2013
Bishara Shlayan, leader of the new Christian Arab political party, tells The Jerusalem Post that “many citizens, including Jews, are contacting him to express their support” (for background information, see first and second Media Reviews for July). Shlayan admits, however, that there is still a lot of fear among Israeli Arabs to publically support him. Shlayan emphasizes that “his party is not just geared toward Christian Arabs, but is open to all Israelis.” This is one reason why the party’s name has been changed from Bnei Brit HaHadasha (which has connotations to the New Testament) to simply Bnei Brit – “in order to get more Jewish support.”
Shlayan plans to address two main issues: the education curriculum in the Arab sector, and Christian representation (or the lack thereof) in Israel. Says Shlayan: “Because I am a Christian, I can understand Jews, and the fact that I grew up in the Arab world means I can understand them as well . . . I love everybody and can unite them.”
Yediot Aharonot, July 14, 2013
This short article in Yediot Aharonot reports on the latest fatalities on Israel’s roads this past week. One of those killed was Eliezer Yedid. His wife, Anna, was injured in the accident. The article mentions that she is a Messianic Jew, and then quotes her as saying that “her faith requires that she forgive” those who hit their car. “In my head I don’t feel like I can forgive,” says Anna. “But I feel that I must.”
Yediot Haifa, July 12, 2013
Religious leaders in Hadar have asked Yad L’Achim to put an end to the extensive missionary activity taking place in the city. Rabbi Avi Weitzmann is calling on all Jews to “ignore any other gospel but the Jewish one,” adding that “if anyone is looking for the meaning of life, content and values, only Judaism will meet this need.” Yad L’Achim has been informed that there are ten missionary centers operating in the area, five of them in Hadar. Rabbi Weitzmann believes that the best way to counteract missionary activity is to fight fire with fire. This is why he sends out thousands of emails each week with portions of the weekly Torah reading. “Today we have the technology to bring Judaism to the Jewish people,” says Weitzmann. “It is clear to all that there is only one truth – and that is Judaism.”
Christians in Israel
HaHaim HaTovim, July 14, 2013
Professor Adam Akerman writes this two-page article examining the life the Ethiopian monks living on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. According to their tradition, King Solomon and Queen Sheba had a child together, who became the first king in their Ethiopian dynasty. Later, after the spread of Christianity in Ethiopia, hundreds of pilgrims made the long trek to the Holy Land. This was the beginning of the Ethiopian community in Jerusalem.
The Ethiopian monks on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher live in relative squalor. The reason, writes Akerman, is a historical dispute between their church and the Coptic church. When the Ethiopians were unable to pay taxes to the Ottomans, they were pushed out of the Church, their space taken over by Coptic monks. This has led to many disputes over the years, one of which even ended in a court case in 1970. Even though the court ruled in favor of the Ethiopian church, pressure on Israel from the Coptic church in Egypt has kept the Ethiopians from realizing their rights.
Esra, June 30, 2013
In this two-page article, Marsha Stein describes her visit to the small German Christian community in Kibbutz Beth El. The community, which she says is Zionist, “is a bit like the Amish or Orthodox Jews . . . They came to Israel with a desire to live a simple communal lifestyle” based on biblical principles. Not all of the community lives on the Kibbutz, however; the 900 members are spread across Israel as well as in Germany, Hungary, Romania, Canada and Africa.
The Kibbutz supports itself through its engineering company, which currently employs some 600 Israelis. The company “makes protective systems for bomb shelters, and medical isolation systems.” The kibbutz also manufactures organic food products as well as high quality bedding. According to Albert Fuchs, the general manager of Beth El Industries, “Beth El are Christian Zionists who believe we must thank the people of Israel for everything we do . . . We believe that our salvation came from you, as the chosen people.”
When the community first set itself up in Zichron Yaacov, local residents protested, fearing that the Germans had come to proselytize. But those fears were quickly laid to rest, and the community is now “well accepted” by the surrounding villages. Stein concludes her article by writing that “not many tourists get to meet German Christian Zionists living in the middle of Israel, and I’ll bet not too many Israelis are aware of their presence either.”
Maariv, July 18, 2013
This article focuses on former MK Elhanan Glazer, who has become a champion of the Israeli cause within the Christian Evangelical movement in the southern United States. Glazer began travelling across the States three years ago in an effort to promote Israel and build relationships with the Christians there. He mostly speaks in small churches in “what is known in the US as the ‘Bible Belt,’ exciting the Evangelical crowd into support for Israel.” Glazer explains that they are “Israel lovers, Bible lovers, and lovers of the Jewish people. I tell them that we are brothers from the seed of Abraham.” Their support for Israel is also manifested in their political views: “When I give them lectures on two states for two peoples,” says Glazer, “they tell me that they prefer one state because God promised the land of Israel to the Jews only.” To show their support for Glazer and his work, the mayor of Ashville, North Carolina, has declared October 26th to be Elhanan Glazer Day, an event which will be celebrated with due pomp and ceremony.
The Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2013
Fran Waddams, of the Anglican Friends of Israel organization, writes an open letter to the archbishop of Canterbury on the occasion of his visit to Israel several weeks ago. She begins by saying that “it is heartening that you support the rights of all people in the region ‘to peace, security, and justice,’” but she is quick to point out that much of the difference between Jewish areas and Palestinian areas is due to the Palestinian Authority’s ineptitude. She suggests to the archbishop that next time he visits, he should ask the Palestinian leaders why there is such a difference. “The Palestinian Authority has received billions of dollars in aid,” she writes. But “where exactly has this money gone?” The rest of the letter is written in defense of Israel’s security measures, even if they take their toll on Palestinians. She describes how her group, which toured the country several days before the archbishop, met with IDF soldiers who “were amazed that British Christians wanted to show appreciation for their dangerous work. Most Christians they encounter are scrutinizing their behavior . . . These Christians seem indifferent to the dangers they face.”
Waddams concludes her letter by describing a meeting that took place between her group and Baptist pastor Naim Khoury, who lives in Bethlehem and who believes that “God has given the Jewish people a right to live in the Holy Land.” And yet, “as a result of his courage, pastor Khoury is shunned by fellow Christians, his church has had its right to conduct official marriages and baptisms withdrawn by the Palestinian Authority, his church has been bombed 14 times, and he was once shot.” The challenge, says Waddams, is to listen to the “many voices” that are “out there” in one’s search for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Haaretz, HaMevaser, ShofHaShavua, Yisrael HaYom, July 19, 2013
Israel’s Antiquities Authority and Hebrew University revealed yesterday that they have just completed working on an archeological site that is believed to be the palace of King David. The site, which is at Khirbet Quiyafa in the Ella Valley, includes two royal buildings, one of which is believed to be the king’s palace. The excavation has been going on for seven years, according to Professor Garfinkel of the Hebrew University. He adds that the site “is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of David” and it “extends across an area of around 1000 square meters . . . The palace is located at the center of the site and controls all of the houses lower than it in the city. From here one has an excellent vantage looking out into the distance, from as far as the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Hebron mountains and Jerusalem in the east.” Archeologists have said that the discovery offers “unequivocal evidence of a kingdom’s existence . . . The palace that is now being revealed and the fortified city that was uncovered in recent years are another tier in understanding the beginning of the Kingdom of Judah.”
HaModia, July 16, 2013
This article reports on the rare artifacts that were discovered in Jerusalem testifying to the hardships of the Roman siege of Jerusalem 2000 years ago (see fourth Media Review for June).
BaKehila, July 18, 2013
This short article describes how a Jewish girl left Israel to go visit her grandfather in Ukraine, the latter passing away shortly after the girl’s arrival. The young woman refused to allow his Christian neighbors to perform a Christian burial, though they offered to do so repeatedly. The woman sent them away each time, and then contacted Zaka (Israel’s Search and Rescue) to ask for help. Zaka quickly put her in touch with their representatives in Kiev, who promptly travelled 650 kilometers in order to give the man a Jewish burial. According to the paper, “the deceased’s neighbors, who were angry that they were not permitted to give him a Christian burial according to the custom of the place, boycotted the funeral – not a single one of them attended.
Time Out, July 9, 2013
This snippet explores the mystery of the location of Jesus’ tomb. “The location most traditionally believed to be its site is the stunning Church of the Holy Sepulcher.” The Church has been a “major pilgrimage site” since it was first built in 325 AD. However, “there are two other contestants for the tomb in Jerusalem: the first, dubbed the Garden Tomb and located just outside the Old City walls.” The other location, and the most controversial of the three, is the “Talpiot Tomb, located about five kilometers south of the Old City in East Jerusalem.”
Pope and the Vatican
HaModia, July 15, 2013
This article reports on the agreement between the Israeli government and the Vatican regarding the handing over of contentious religious sites to the Church (see second Media Review for July).