During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
The Jerusalem Post, March 20, 2014
In this article, Brian Schrauger explains why Jews do not attend the controversial “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference, which takes place in Bethlehem every spring. It is not surprising, says Schrauger, that there are no Jewish Jews in attendance, in spite of the “proud and repeated claims by leaders that the conference included all points of view with respect to the ‘Palestine-Israel conflict.’” He lists possible reasons, including the fact that the conference is held in a swastika-themed hotel; that the Right Reverend Doctor Steven Sizer, who wrote his dissertation on Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon?, is one of the planners of the event; that speakers “repeatedly deny that Palestinians had anything to do with Nazism or the Holocaust”; that a Hamas speaker was recruited to speak about “Christian jihad”; that Kay Wilson, a Messianic Jew who was stabbed 13 times by Palestinian terrorists, was denied the chance to speak at the conference; and that Christians were told that Jews are “pigs banished to hell.” Says Schrauger: this is why the conference has trouble “selling its, hmm, rhetoric” to Jews.
HaShavua BeNetanya, March 13; Yediot Netanya, HaShabat BeNetanya, March 14, 2014
Messianic Jews are mentioned in these articles, which focus on Jehovah’s Witnesses, in the context of the former’s missionary activity in the city of Netanya some ten years ago. The Messianic Jews are accused of taking advantage of low-income Israelis, offering them food and shelter in exchange for conversion to Christianity. The article lumps Messianic Jews in with Jehovah’s Witnesses, explaining that Yad L’Achim has been fighting against these Christian cults for many years.
The majority of the articles, however, is dedicated to a court’s ruling in favor of a local school that refused to rent one of their classrooms to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The “Christian cult” wanted to use the room for their own purposes (prayer and worship) but the judge ruled against them, saying that the religious integrity of the students was more important than the Christian cult’s religious practices.
The Jerusalem Post, March 20, 2014
John Winchester writes this article in response to a number of reports that recently appeared in the media and claim that “evangelical Christian support for Israel is waning among members of the ‘millenial’ generation” in America. Instead, support is being shifted to a “pro-Palestinian” position as “Israel’s adversaries in Christian denominations are pouring money and organizational assets into the task of influencing the millennial generation so that the future of evangelicals’ relations with Israel . . . may be changed in favor of the Palestinian cause.”
Even though he agrees that the U.S.-Israel relationship is in some danger, Winchester argues that “depictions and discussions of young evangelicals’ attitude toward Israel are categorically wrong.” Indeed, “evangelical millenials are, by and large, not being convinced that their former views of Israel are wrong and that a closer look at Palestinian pleas, or at a carefully crafted pro-Palestinian narrative, will reveal the ‘real’ path to Christian righteousness in the Middle East. . . . Most millenials simply do not know their Scriptures well enough to argue about international politics on the basis of theology.” Following on this statement, Winchester writes that the real enemy of evangelical millenialists, especially the youth, is simply ignorance.
There is today a value gap in American youth that was not existent in their parents’ generation, and this gap “is not evident only among evangelical Christians. It is endemic to American society.” This, says Winchester, incudes Jewish youth, who “are neither attending synagogues, nor learning Hebrew, nor studying Jewish history, and consequently lack the most basic appreciation of their Jewish heritage.”
The point, for Winchester, is that young American evangelicals are not “‘turning away’ from evangelical values regarding Israel” because the students “do not know or harbor these values to begin with.” The focus, then, should be on instilling support for Israel in the younger generation by presenting it as a “core ethical-political value in America.” It is not about “reminding many young Christians of the story of Israel as much as it is telling them the story of Israel for the first time.”
Yisrael HaYom, Mach 21, 2014
Professor Amnon Rubinstein writes about how anti-Semitism is alive and kicking in Europe. He wonders why, on a recent trip to India, he did not encounter the same kind of anti-Semitism, and suggests that hate for the Jews only developed in countries where monotheism was/is the dominant type of religion (i.e. Christian and Muslim countries). On the other hand, in cultures where many gods are worshipped, anti-Semitism is almost negligible. Rubinstein explains that it is not that Christianity and Islam rejected Judaism, but that they expressed their displeasure at the Jews not accepting their interpretation of who is the one true God by turning on them and persecuting them. However, Christianity is worse than Islam because it believes that the Jews not only rejected their God, but also murdered his son. This makes the Jews nothing less than the sons of the devil himself.
Haaretz, March 14, 2014
Liat Elkayam interviews Kathy and Sarah Dexter and Jake Evans, Christians from the United States who just landed at Ben Gurion Airport for their holiday in Israel. When Kathy tells Elkayam that this is her fourth visit to the country, Elkayam asks, “What – are you Jewish?” Kathy says she is Christian, but that she has travelled to Israel with Messianic Jews. When asked what her favorite place is, she says the Sea of Galilee and Jerusalem, where “the presence of God is felt like in no other place in the world.”
The Jerusalem Post, March 14, 2014
Philip Gold writes this article in praise of his non-Jewish wife, who is “more Israeli than Israelis.” Gold himself is an American Jew, and after he met and married his wife, Erin, the two of them decided to move to Israel. The entire article focuses on Erin’s love for the land and how the two of them are grappling with culture shock. Of interest is Gold’s brief mention of Erin’s background: she is “a Catholic/Baptist EuroMongrel” who discovered “her family’s secret scandal: Jews in the family tree. Specifically, her mother’s grandparents had disavowed their origins and taken baptism when they came over from Germany, a fact that remained unknown to the descendants until some incriminating papers were discovered. Then burned.”