During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Arab Believing Community
Christians and the Holocaust
Arab Believing Community
Yisrael HaYom, October 4, 2013
In this article, Dror Idar reports on the latest developments for those within the Christian Arab community who want to integrate into Israeli society. Speaking at a conference last week, Father Nadaf of the Greek Orthodox Church told the audience that the Christian community in Israel is much older than the Muslim Arab community. Christian Arabs have lived in this land since the time of Jesus; Muslim conquest only happened in the 7th century AD. “We are not Arabs,” said Nadaf. “We are simply Christians who speak Arabic.” Christianity “comes from the Jewish faith and is rooted in the Bible. What happened in the 7th century [was] an Arab conquest that caused much suffering to the Christians as well.” Nadaf reiterated his argument that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where the Christian minority is not persecuted. Even so, Nadaf and his supporters have faced a lot of opposition from within their own community. “But we have broken through the fear barrier. Now it is time to prove our loyalty [to the State of Israel], to do our duty and to receive our rights.” In spite of the fact that they have received death threats, Nadaf affirmed that Israel is our heart. … Jews and Christians are of the same covenant.”
Other speakers at the conference included Shadi Haloul, representative of the Maronite community in Israel, and Bashara Shlayan, who recently formed a Christian political party. Yisrael HaYom stresses the significance of these developments within the Christian Arab community: “We must embrace these courageous people. … We must help them, improve their circumstances and integrate them into our society. And, most important of all, we must guard their lives with ours.”
Zman Ma’ale, September 19, 2013
A large group of Israel-loving Christians associated with the All Nations Convocation Jerusalem organization held a special prayer meeting for the city of Ma’ale Adumim. The prayer vigil, led by Tom Hess, focused on the city’s expansion and the strength to overcome all future challenges and difficulties. Leaders of the group come to Israel every year “to pray on behalf of the God of Israel in Jerusalem. They do this for ten days, encircling the country with prayers.”
The Jerusalem Post, October 2, 2013
Rabbi Tuly Weisz writes extensively on the Christian Zionist phenomenon that has been growing in the past thirty years, causing many Jews to question “this sudden outpouring of love after centuries of Christian anti-Semitism.” However, according to Weisz, “the growing interest by so many Christians in the land and people of Israel is unprecedented in our history, and as such, represents a unique opportunity.” This opportunity, says Weisz, is related to the passage in Isaiah 42:6-7, which calls on Israel to be a light to the nations. Now that so many Christians are – for the first time in history – interested in learning about the Jewish roots of their faith, it is time for Jews to move “beyond the debate whether evangelical support for Israel ‘is good for the Jews,’” and focus instead on the way “Christian Zionist fervor may represent our historic opportunity to fulfill our religious destiny as a nation” by teaching these millions of Christians about the Jewish interpretation of Scripture. “Never in Jewish history has there been an era when so many non-Jews have approached us to learn what our Torah teaches about God, man’s duties in the world and the centrality of the Land of Israel,” writes Weisz. Jews must recognize that “much has changed” in Jewish-Christian relations and that “Christians are coming to us and saying that Jewish interpretations are more authentic and correct.” This is the Jews’ opportunity to open the eyes of the blind and lead the prisoners out of darkness – the chance to be a “powerful blaze firing up the nations and igniting the world with righteousness.”
The Jerusalem Post, October 4, 2013
In this two-page article, Josh Felt questions assertions often made by archeologists regarding the importance of their discoveries, asking if they are “connected to hard facts” or if they are simply “leaps of faith.” He explains: “As archeologists across Israel brush the dust off ancient bits of history, the press and biblical enthusiasts alike jump to Jesus to contextualize the findings,” thus touting the “scriptural pedigree of the latest discoveries.” But, says Felt, these claims are often more sensationalist than they are factual. According to biblical scholar Joel L. Watts, “there is simply no need nor evidence to connect every buried item in the Holy Land to something in Scripture.” Indeed, Watts believes that “journalists and fundamentalists do a disservice to the search for truth, by linking every unearthed ancient scrap to this or that verse from the Gospels.”
Another biblical scholar, Stephen J. Pfann, tells Felt that “both academics and scriptural literalists often make theoretical leaps of logic when they hear about the latest biblical-era findings.” Pfann has been involved in many excavations, and has heard “all sorts of assumptions about his own discoveries,” and has also been “misquoted by the Bible-waving Christian press.” However, Pfann understands that this is simply the process that history is built on – “spinning a story from something that may or may not have credence.” Writes Felt: “Pfann calls this ‘science fiction,’ the tendency to want to ‘prove’ the stories from Scripture through archeological evidence. He understands the motivation, but calls for more intellectual integrity.”
In the end, writes Felt, we need to find a way to “inculcate a more truthful approach to biblical archeology.”
Ma’ariv, October 4, 2013
This article focused on the discovery of gold artifacts in an archeological dig near the Temple Mount (see September 18, 2013, Media Review).
Christians and the Holocaust
Kol Nes Tziona, September 20, 2012
This three-page story focuses on the Laufer family and their harrowing experiences during the Holocaust. Of interest is the mention of Anna Halfa, a Christian from Wroclaw (in modern-day Poland) who hid the Laufer family in a well in her backyard, saving them from the Nazis. Anna moved to Israel with the Laufer family and lived with them until she died. She is now buried in a Christian cemetery in Jaffa.
Kol Ha’Ir, September 13, 2013
This article reflects on the importance of the Kol Nidrei prayer that is said during the Day of Atonement. Of interest is the connection that is made between this prayer and the desperate state of the converso Jews in Spain during the time of the Inquisition – how this prayer would have been so much more meaningful to those Jews who had been forced to convert to Christianity and hide their Jewish faith.
Haaretz, September 30, 2013
Haaretz reports that an unidentified painting from the 16th century which depicts Jesus celebrating his victory over death has been recognized as the work of Titian.