During the week covered by this review, we received 17 articles on the following subjects:
The Pope and the Vatican
The Pope and the Vatican
Haaretz [X2], Yediot Ahronot, Yisrael HaYom, January 6, 2014
Pope Francis has confirmed that he will be traveling to Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan at the end of May. The pope said his visit was aimed “mainly at spreading and promoting love, cooperation, and peace among all inhabitants.” In his Sunday prayer, he asked God to “bless the land where you chose to come into the world, and grant a favorable outcome to the talks between Israel and the Palestinians.” The visit “underscores Francis’ ties to the Jewish community, his outreach to Muslims, and the Vatican’s longstanding call for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” Pope Francis will be the fourth pope to visit the Holy Land.
Yediot Ahronot, January 7, 2014
This article, from the sports section of Yediot Ahronot, focuses on Marcos Tavares, a Brazilian soccer player currently playing for Slovenia who also happens to be a Christian Zionist. As Tavares’ faith grew stronger, he decided to start working with the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem to fight against anti-Semitism as he encountered it in Slovenia. Currently on a visit to Israel, he tells Yair Katan that this is his fourth visit to the country. “I love coming here,” he says. “In Brazil, everyone is Catholic, but not everyone goes to church. That’s how I grew up. When I was 12, Jesus came into my heart and I became who I truly am.” Of his first visit to Israel, he says it was “a miracle,” explaining that he felt he had come “into the house of God.” He adds that as they approached Jerusalem, his wife started shaking and crying. “The visit strengthened my resolve to bless Israel, the Holy Land. Since then I have felt the need to come every year and that’s how I made contact with Jurgen Buler (director of ICEJ).” In conclusion, Tavares says he would love to play on Israel’s soccer team. “If I am made an offer, I will sign for sure. But first I will need to consult with God.”
Olam Katan, December 20, 2013
In the Question and Answer section of the paper, someone asks the rabbi if it is OK to participate in the Ministry of Education’s summer program, since it is partially funded by Israel-loving Christians (through the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews). The rabbi replies that receiving money from Christians is not permitted.
Mazav HaRuach, December 20, 2013
A group of Christian tourists visited Samaria as part of the Christian Friends of Israeli Communities initiative. What makes this a unique event is that the tourists were from Malaysia – a Muslim country that has no official ties with Israel. The group is part of the small Christian minority in Malaysia. They planted trees and were given a tour of a variety of settlements in the area.
Haaretz, January 10, 2014
Yair Atkinger reports on the latest developments in the court case involving a divorced couple who have asked that their son not be circumcised, though they are Jewish. Though the father at first agreed to this request, as the divorce was being finalized, he changed his mind, raising the question of who has “custody” over the child’s body. Of interest is Atkinger’s mention of another court case, which raised a similar question about the spiritual wellbeing of a child whose parents had divorced. In this instance, the mother had joined a Messianic Christian cult, and the court decided that though she had physical custody of her child, the father had spiritual custody, meaning she was not at liberty to raise her Jewish child as a Christian.
Makor Rishon, January 10, 2014
Asaf Golan writes about why he is opposed to the idea that Israel should receive full ownership of the Temple Mount. Imagine, he writes, what would happen – how each Jewish faction would demand its own synagogue, and what fights would come of it. But worse than this, says Golan, is the way the Ministry of Tourism would try to capitalize on “a very famous Jew” who frequented the Temple Mount, namely Jesus of Nazareth. “Already now Israel makes a mountain of money off of him,” writes Golan, “and it’s hard to believe that the government won’t be tempted to continue doing so in one of the places where that man worked.”
Haaretz, January 7, 2014
The paper ran a photograph of Christian Palestinians gathered to celebrate Orthodox Christmas at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Globes, January 9, 2014
Yotam Yaacovson travels to Ethiopia to observe how the locals celebrate Christmas. He describes how one of the Ethiopian Christmas traditions includes visiting Jerusalem, in a spiritual sense. At one point he mentions how the crowd of people gathered around the priest reminds him of Jesus in the New Testament. “In Israel we study the Bible,” one of Yaacovson’s Israeli friends tells him. “But [in Ethiopia] they live it.”
The Marker, January 6, 2014
Yisrael Fisher interviews Professor Yisrael Finklestein, head of the archeology department at Tel Aviv University, about his views on biblical archeology and history. Most Israelis just assume that the Bible is historical, says Finklestein, but “the authors of the biblical text didn’t intend to write history. … They had no interest in what people in the 21st century would think about what happened in the 8th century BC. They wrote texts containing strong messages, both ideological and theological.” This is why it is necessary to know how to read the Bible. It’s not that the Bible doesn’t contain history, says Finklestein. It does. But it must be received on many levels, not just on the historical one. There are, he adds, some obviously non-historical texts in the Bible as well – texts that have been countered by archeological evidence. Even so, the Bible is a “wonderful story,” whose impact over time is so far-reaching it is immeasurable.
Makor Rishon, January 10, 2014
Some of the digging being done on the Temple Mount by the Waqf has exposed remnants of the first temple, reports Arnon Segal. This confirms some archeologists’ theories about where the border of the first temple lay.
Makor Rishon, January 10, 2014
An underground aqueduct from the First Temple period has been uncovered in excavations south of Jerusalem. It is the longest such tunnel ever discovered in Israel, running 225 meters. The aqueduct begins in a spring, and it is possible that it was the work of one of the kings of Judah. The discovery was made three years ago, but since the tunnel is on the Palestinian side of the fence, news of its find was not released to the press. “It’s a sensitive issue,” says the Antiquities Authority.
The Jerusalem Post, January 7, 2014
Pastor Margaret Blackwell, who has been bringing Christian pilgrims to Israel since 1975, celebrated her 100th birthday in Israel this past week. Blackwell, who is “the founder of the Way of Faith Assembly of God Church in Fairfax, Virginia,” decided to dedicate her life to this mission after she became seriously ill and almost died. “She felt she had been spared for a purpose,” writes Greer Fay Cashman, and “for the next 25 years, Blackwell served as pastor to an evangelical church.” She also founded a convalescent center in the States, later opening up another convalescent center for evangelical Christians in Israel. The director general of the Ministry of Tourism attended Mrs. Blackwell’s birthday celebration and presented her with a silver-bound Bible “in appreciation of her impressive contribution to tourism in Israel.”
Hadashot Tayarut, December 30, 2013
The Minister of Tourism, Uzi Landau, hosted leaders of the Christian community at a Christmas reception where he said that “it is no secret that Christmas is one of the most beautiful and popular holidays in the Christian world. … It’s a holiday that brings renewal, creativity, new beginnings. It brings a special light; it symbolizes peace.” He added that the Ministry of Tourism has invested 86 million shekels in the development of Christian holy sites. In 2012, 56 percent of Israel’s 2.88 million tourists were Christian.
Yisrael HaYom, January 8, 2014
This short snippet is about Asi Dayan posting a picture online of her Spanish boyfriend’s room, which contains a large crucifix on the wall and a statue of the baby Jesus. The post angered some people, who wrote beneath it statements such as “Gentile!” and “If this is a very Christian house, why are you there?” and “Your forefathers are turning in their graves because of your loving attitude to the cross – they were burned alive during the Inquisition.”