During the week covered by this review, we received 15 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Christians in Israel
Yisrael HaYom, September 24, 2013
Representatives of the Christian Arab community who support Arabs being drafted into the IDF said that they will do all they can to increase support for their plan to integrate Christian Arabs into Israeli society. Father Nadaf, of the Greek Orthodox Church, said that “the country that protects us [Christian Arabs] deserves that we do our part in ensuring its welfare and protection.” Father Nadaf was speaking at a conference that took place in Jerusalem earlier this week. One of the reporters present stressed the importance of Father Nadaf’s sentiments, explaining that “one needs a lot of courage” to say such things and that it is “deeply significant that Christians are declaring that Israel belongs to the Jews.”
Index HaEmek veHaGalil, September 4, 2013
This article warns against an increase in missionary activity in anticipation of the Jewish holidays. Rabbis in the north of Israel told the paper that “some of the organizations” attempting to “infiltrate” needy Jewish communities “are not really defined as Christian, which is why they are able to mislead the public. They look like Jewish organizations, but they are Christian, and they do everything in the name of charity.” The rabbis warn the public not to accept their charity, since “all this show of friendship” can “never purify this vermin.”
BaKehila, September 17, 2013
This article reported on the missionary “take-over” of municipality billboards where misleading posters were posted to try and lure innocent Jews away from their faith (see September 24, 2013, Media Review).
The Jerusalem Post, September 22; Yisrael HaYom, September 23; Makor Rishon, September 27, 2013
Several thousand Christian tourists have flocked to Jerusalem for a variety of events taking place this week. In one event, organized by the Israel Allies Foundation, lawmakers from around the world will be participating in a conference beginning on Sunday evening with the purpose of showing support for Israel. According to The Jerusalem Post, “the 25 visiting lawmakers are leaders of pro-Israel caucuses in their countries” representing hundreds of lawmakers from around the world. They will be meeting “with Economy and Trade Minister Naphtali Bennett and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon” in order “to discuss their countries’ activities relating to Israel,” including “ways to battle European sanctions against Judea and Samaria.”
In addition, the paper notes that more than 3,000 Christians are in Jerusalem to celebrate the International Christian Embassy’s annual Feast of Tabernacles event. The director-general of the ICEJ, Jurgen Buhler, told The Jerusalem Post that “the Succot event shows, not for the first time, the unconditional love hundreds of millions of people around the world have for Israel and their solidarity with the state.” The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, praised the ICEJ event, saying that “this conference is ample proof that Israel has strong Christian allies in parliaments and governments around the world on which it can rely. The World Jewish Congress will continue to work on widening this important coalition and increase cooperation with our Christian friends.”
Yisrael HaYom also notes the ICEJ conference, writing that “a huge event in support of Israel” took place on Sunday evening with some 3,000 Israel-loving Christians from all over the world in attendance.
Makor Rishon also reported on the ICEJ conference, specifically focusing on the opening night. Ariel Shenbal attended the event, noting that most of the Israeli media didn’t bother to even acknowledge that it was taking place. And yet, says Shenbal, “the greatest cynic would find it hard to remain unmoved by the spectacle: thousands of people from dozens of countries around the globe, full of love for the Jews and for the State of Israel.” As a kippa-wearing Jew, Shenbal was showered with attention “that had nothing to do with missionary activity, but rather with simple love for anything that smacks of Judaism and Zionism.” Even so, warns Shenbal, “let no one be deceived: that man’s name was raised high and was the main theme of the evening. Verses from John and Matthew rolled around the air, but also many verses from the familiar Old Testament.” He confesses that it was difficult for him to hear the New Testament being read out loud, “but maybe this is also one of the mental switches we must make – the evangelical faction in Christianity loves us, and it doesn’t really care that we haven’t decided yet whether to respond to it or not.”
Yisrael HaYom, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, September 25, 2013
Three papers reported on the Jerusalem March that took place this week, attended, among others, by thousands of Israel-loving Christians who are in the country for the Jewish holidays. The Jerusalem Post interviewed a few of the Christian participants at the march, including a couple from Romania, who said that “it’s important to show that we stand with Israel at this point, because it has impact on Jewish peoples’ hearts, and they need our support.” The couple added that supporting Israel is “normal” because “the real history of humankind started here.” A Christian woman from Germany told the paper that “it’s great to stand together with the Jewish people and to proclaim that Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people. … It’s the capital city of Israel and belongs to them and no one else. As a Christian, this is really in my heart.” A British Christian was also interviewed, exclaiming that “real Christians know that this is the land that God gave the Jewish people. … Whatever our government says [in Britain] we support Israel and will stand with it.”
The Jerusalem Post, September 24, 2013
This article focuses on Magdi Allam, an Italian member of the European Parliament who is in Jerusalem attending the Israel Allies Foundation conference. Allam, who was born and raised in Egypt as a Muslim, converted to Christianity in 2008 after living and working in Italy for 35 years. Christianity appealed to Allam “because of Jesus’ message of love and tolerance and respect for human life, which Allam says are not part of Islam.” Allam’s controversial life and statements have made him a target for extremist Muslim factions, such as Hamas. To add insult to injury (as it were), Allam has also been very outspoken about his support for Israel. He says: “After being the enemy of Israel when I was young, during the Nasser era in Egypt, I changed my mind when I realized that defending Israel’s right to exist is a defense of the sacredness of life. Israel is a symbol of that value.”
Allam uses his pro-Israel views to support Israel in his position as a member of the European Parliament. He is currently “promoting a resolution to declare the rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a crime against humanity.” Allam also hopes “to obtain a resolution accepting Jerusalem as Israel’s unified capital.”
Besheva – Mitchalef Yerushalayim, September 17, 2013
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed reflects on the significance of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. Since the feast is a celebration and sanctification of all aspects of life, it includes the people of the earth who are not Jewish: it is a gathering in (like the harvest) of all of humankind. This is why there is a special blessing for Gentiles who come up to Jerusalem during the feast. It is within this framework that Rabbi Melamed makes reference to the visible support of evangelical Christians. “They see,” he writes, “how Israel is returning to its land after a terrible two thousand years in exile, how [Israel] is building a home here and thriving. They see … and are excited by the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies spoken by Israel’s prophets.”
The question, for Rabbi Melamed, is how the Jewish people are to respond to this outpouring of support in light of the historical persecution committed by Christians against Jews. The answer, he says, depends on the Gentiles’ view of the nation of Israel – whether or not they believe God has replaced the Jewish people and forsaken them. Evangelical Christian support of Israel, in this context, is so unique in the history of the church, writes the rabbi, that it is “our spiritual and moral obligation” to receive their support “in the most positive way.”
The rest of the article is Rabbi Melamed’s defense of one such evangelical Christian, Tommy Waller, who has been accused of being a missionary, but who has never engaged in such activity in the ten years he has been bringing Christian volunteers to Israel. Melamed praises Waller’s efforts to secure support for Israel from American congressmen. “Because of our difficult history with Christians,” writes Melamed, “and because of the fear of missionary activity, I had to meet Tommy to learn what his views are.” The rabbi’s fears were assuaged when he asked Waller what is preferable – to be a Jew or a Christian – and Waller responded: “To be a Jew!”
Concluding his thoughts on the development of Jewish-Christian relations, Rabbi Melamed says that he is convinced Jews ought not to receive donations from Christians so as to ensure that the positive relationship between them is “for the sake of heaven” only, and not for the material goods it might produce. “Sometimes I see these dear guests walking the streets, and a great love and excitement fill my heart and I have to stop my tears. How beautiful are these people who … cross oceans and continents to express their amazing connection to us. How much light and joy they radiate when they behold the miracle of our return to Zion.”
The Jerusalem Post, September 24, 2013
The Jerusalem Post featured a picture of Grace Galindez-Gupana, an evangelical Christian from the Philippines who has just donated “the world’s largest model of the Ark of the Covenant” to the State of Israel.
Sof HaShavua, September 27, 2013
Meital Sharabi recommends a weekend outing to Mount Tabor while the pleasant weather lasts. Of interest is her brief description of Mount Tabor’s history; she describes how Christians refer to the mountain as the Mount of Transfiguration: “The place where Jesus was transfigured before his disciples. According to the New Testament, Tabor is where Jesus spoke with the prophets Moses and Elijah, and that is where his status as the Son of God was confirmed.”
Ma’ariv, September 22, 2013
This short article describes a rowing event that took place in Paris over the weekend where representatives from countries all over the Middle East (including Israel) rowed down the Seine River together in an effort to promote peace as well as bring people from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian backgrounds closer together.
LaIsha, September 22, 2013
Ethiopia is the focus of the travel section of LaIsha magazine, with a three-page spread detailing places worth visiting there. Of interest is the brief mention of a small village whose inhabitants were among the thousands of Ethiopian Jews who “were forced to convert to Christianity about a thousand years ago.”