During the week covered by this review, we received 16 articles on the following subjects:
The Pope and the Vatican
HaModia, October 16 [X2]; Mishpaha, HaMevaser, October 18, 2013
Three articles reported on Yad L’Achim’s discovery of missionary activity taking place under the cover of a new coffee shop in the Klal building in downtown Jerusalem. The coffee shop is run by members of the Messianic Jewish “cult,” and its owners were caught handing out missionary material to the customers. One brochure said that “Porta Cafe is opening its gates.” Yad L’Achim added that the brochure makes clear that the coffee shop’s aim is to introduce Jews to “that man.”
In an effort to bring an end to this missionary activity, Yad L’Achim asked those responsible for granting kashrut certificates to remove Porta Cafe’s kosher license. At first it seemed that there was no legal ground for such a removal, “but then an amazing turn of events occurred that changed the picture from one extreme to the other” when the kashrut inspector arrived and found himself the target of blatant missionary activity. The owners of the coffee shop “even dared give him a copy of their vile and defiled foundational book.” The inspector promptly removed the coffee shop’s kosher certificate.
In addition, Yad L’Achim posted huge posters throughout the city warning people to stay away from this coffee shop.
The Pope and the Vatican
Haaretz, October 17, 2013
The Catholic Church in Israel launched a petition demanding the removal of an electricity pole that was put up two years ago across from the Garden of Gethsemane, which is “one of the holiest [sites] to Christians – the place where tradition says Jesus and his disciples prayed together before Jesus was arrested by the Romans and crucified the next day.” The pole was put up at the request of Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem “who have asked to be disconnected from the Jerusalem District Electricity Corporation, which supplies electricity to Arab neighborhoods on the city’s east side.”
The Catholic custodian of the Garden of Gethsemane wrote in his petition that “the huge pylon obstructs the view of the Old City from the prayer garden of the church used by pilgrims. … One of the significant reasons for the popularity of the church is the unique view of the Temple Mount and the Old City, and the pylon utterly destroys this uniqueness.”
The judge presiding over this case criticized the placement of the pole, saying that “it was a beautiful corner of Jerusalem and in addition a holy place.” He later added, off the record, that the Israel Electric Corporation “would not have done it in the Kotel [Western Wall] plaza.” By the end of the hearing, “the two sides agreed to transfer the matter to the appeals committee of the Jerusalem Regional Planning and Building Committee.”
HaModia, October 17; HaMevaser, October 18, 2013
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be traveling to Rome next week to meet with the pope; they will discuss, among other things, the transfer of certain holy sites to the custody of the Catholic Church. “It turns out,” says HaModia, “that the new pope has set a public declaration of the transfer as a condition for his promised visit to the land.” One of the sites in question is David’s Tomb, “which the Catholics have claimed as their own for hundreds of years.”
HaMevaser reports that Rabbi Haim Miller has appealed to Knesset Members in an effort to stop the deal from going through. Miller claims that it is better for the pope not to visit Israel than that the tomb be handed over to the Catholic Church, even if this causes a rift between the Vatican and Israel.
The Jerusalem Post, October 17, 2013
Barry Shaw writes a scathing critique of the British Methodist Church in the wake of its call for a boycott of Israel in its entirety (following their 2010 boycott of products made in the settlements). “This institution,” writes Shaw, “professing love, truth and justice, now pursues hate and hypocrisy. … It lacks even-handedness, fairness, and is devoid of love, truth and balanced justice.” Shaw blames this anti-Israel stance on the Methodist Church’s theology: “Quite simply,” he explains, “it is because the Methodist Church is founded on ‘replacement theology,’ a traditional Christian ideology of anti-Judaism that has been replaced with a modern cloak of anti-Zionism.” The Methodist Church would “side with the devil, as they have in the past, to remove this perceived blot on the face of Christianity.”
For this reason, writes Shaw, the Methodist Church has no qualms about siding with “Islamists, such as Palestinian Hamas,” even if these entities “hate and abuse Christians.” Says Shaw: “The official Methodist position has always been one-sided and anti-Israel. While constantly questioning Israeli policies, it makes no statements about Palestinian, anti-Semitic ideologies and incitement promoting violence and terror against Israelis and denying Israel’s right to exist. On the contrary, it actively supports this agenda, based on their theological denial of land for Jews while actively supporting land for Arabs. … The Methodist Church … advocates the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel.”
Maariv, October 18, 2013
In this three-page article, Yael Mali surveys the use of the biblical character of Hagar in art, specifically in the way it represents the human experience of oppression and exile. She focuses on two Dutch artists from the 17th century, one Catholic and one Protestant, giving a detailed analysis of each of their paintings that depict the drama between Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. Mali explains that the scene was a common one in paintings from this period, and tended to have “allegorical meanings with national and religious overtones.” Calvinist Holland had just been freed from the rule of Catholic Spain. The Dutch saw this release as a new manifestation of Israel’s history: the Spanish were like Pharaoh or Nebuchadnezzar, while the Dutch were the children of Israel. In this context, the character of Hagar came to represent the Protestant church “being set free from the burden of the Catholic Church.”
Sof HaShavua, October 18, 2013
Recommendations for weekend outings include a visit to the baptismal site Qaser Al-Yahud on the banks of the Jordan River. “According to the Christian faith,” says the article, “this is where John baptized Jesus,” which is why it is “the third holiest baptismal site for Christians.”
Maariv, October 17, 2013
The Bible Lands Museum will be displaying rare biblical texts in the coming weeks, including excerpts of the Guttenberg Bible, fragments of the Cairo Scroll and fragments of the earliest versions of the New Testament. The display will be open till May 2014.
Passport, October 10, 2013
Minister of Tourism Uzi Landau met with representatives of the SBC organization, which is the worlds’ largest group of priests. Landau told the group that Israel “cherishes your friendship and your support.” The group is working together with the Ministry of Tourism to bring more Christians to the land. Said one representative: “It’s important to us that everyone sees Israel as it truly is, without any filters.”
BaKehila, September 18, 2013
This article gives a brief overview of the Dead Sea Scrolls, focusing mostly on the question of authorship. The writer explains that there are currently three theories regarding who wrote the scrolls: the first posits that the Essenes put the scrolls together; a second, newer, theory is that the scrolls were written by a group of Sadducees; a third theory attributes the writing of the scrolls to a group of early Christians, who would have put them together “before Christianity became a dominating and destructive religion.”
Zman Mevasseret, October 3, 2013
This paper ran an article on 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 (see October 4, 2013, Media Review).
Gal Gefen Yavne, October 10, 2013
Yizhak Aharon writes about the origins of the “evil eye” in Jewish tradition. Of interest is his reference to phrases relating to this ritual which were adopted from Christianity. “Knock on wood,” for example, is meant for a Christian who believes that knocking on wood, which symbolizes the cross that Jesus was crucified on, will protect him or her from the evil eye.” Another phrase, “crossing fingers,” also originates in Christianity, as it refers to one’s making a cross with one’s fingers for the purpose of warding off the evil eye. Writes Aharon: “It must be admitted that a Jew who holds this belief is committing a spiritual act that goes against his her or inner grain.”
HaPeles, October 11, 2013
This four-page article discusses the European Union’s ban on circumcision as it is being played out (and fought against) in Germany. Of interest is a short paragraph that mentions that German Jews have received support in their battle against the ban from Israel-loving Christians in Germany.