During the week covered by this review we received 14 articles on the following subjects:
Jews’ Attitudes Concerning Christians
Christians’ Relation to Israel
The Pope and the Vatican
Jews’ Attitudes Concerning Christians
Yediot HaNegev, May 30, 2014
This article reiterates the story of the hate speech sprayed on the wall of a church compound in Beer Sheva two days before Pope Francis’ recent visit to Israel, the ongoing police investigation and the municipality workers’ speedy removal of the graffiti. This article repeatedly calls the compound a mission house, notes that the activity that took place there succeeded in part due to support from the British Mandate authorities’ fellow feeling with the workers, and in part due to medical services that were provided there. The article also comments that missionary activity still takes place on the compound.
Makor Rishon, June 2, 2014
Minna Fenton objects to the 3-week summer camp planned for school children by the Ministry of Education and partly financed by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. She objects particularly to the education minister’s decision to let each person decide whether to attend. She says that by doing so the ministry has caused discrimination between the children, that teachers and counsellors “are prevented from earning additional money by reasons of conscience”, and that what is forbidden to religious children should be forbidden to secular children as well, since “everyone is equal in Judaism.”
Christians’ Relation to Israel
The Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2014
The upcoming meeting of the Presbyterian General Assembly on June 14-21 will include some five resolutions- particularly a document called “Zionism Unsettled”, which calls Zionism a false theology- which, if passed, would further the divestment initiative within the Presbyterian church. Similar resolutions have been considered in 2012, but were rejected by a margin of two votes. Different Jewish groups are lobbying both for and against divestment. Various groups from within the Presbyterian church are lobbying against divestment as well, as they are concerned over possible results of allowing this initial step.
The Pope and the Vatican
The Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2014
These two letters to the editor would like to set the public straight on two issues regarding the pope’s recent visit to Israel. Aryeh Green emphasizes that contrary to The Jerusalem Post’s article from May 27th the Western Wall is not in fact “Jewry’s holiest site”, but rather the Temple Mount; the Western Wall is “revered solely for its proximity to the Temple Mount”, and “inaccurate language like this validates Muslim/Arab claims to exclusive authority over the Temple Mount.”
Nancy Chernofsky emphasizes that the Pope’s visit to the memorial to terror victims on Mount Herzl was done at Prime Minister Netanyahu’s invitation, rather than being a personal attempt to balance his visit to the security fence, and that the muezzin’s call to prayer that went out during the pontiff’s mass in Manger Square was in fact increased more and more in volume until the Christians attending the mass “began whistling and shouting to try to drown it out”, rather than the prayers simply occurring at the same time, as has been previously stated.
BaKehila, May 29, 2014
Avraham Dov Grinboim states that Pope Francis’ goal in his recent visit to Israel was “being seen”, and that he went against the stated purpose for his visit by “talking about the conquest and the need for two states for two peoples”, rather than mentioning and apologizing for past history or returning allegedly stolen artifacts.
HaPeles, May 30, 2014
This article sees the “obsequiousness” of the State of Israel and the Israeli government before “the personage in the robe costume” to be “unbelievable” and “astonishing.” It also asks if the chief rabbis would be as willing to receive Ayatollah Khameini, “if he were to arrive to his people.”
Israel Hayom, The Jerusalem Post, Yediot Achronot, June 6, 2014
Pope Francis has followed up on the initiative stated during his recent visit to Israel, and is expected to host President Peres and Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas on Sunday, June 8th. The Vatican has stressed that the meeting will be spiritual. Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, the chief Sephardi rabbi, requested that the meeting take place that is not a church. President Peres relayed the request to the Vatican, who granted it and moved the meeting to the Vatican garden, where there are no Christian religious symbols. The meeting is expected to include, among other things, readings of verses about peace from the Old Testament by rabbis, from the New Testament by Christians, and from the Koran by Muslims. Pope Francis, President Peres and Chairman Abbas are also expected to read a personal verse “symbolizing the yearning for peace.” Peres’ visit has been approved by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the approval of the other government ministers is expected to be given by June 6th. During Peres’ visit he will also meet with Italian president Giorgio Napolitano and Federica Mogherini, the foreign minister. Peres’ entourage will include Jewish rabbis, Christian clerics, Muslim imams and a Druze spiritual leader. Abbas’ entourage will include both Muslim and Christian clerics.
The Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2014
The Book of Books exhibition, currently at the Bible Lands Museum, “traces 2000 years of the Bible.” It displays original fragments of the Septuagint and the Cairo Geniza, through to the earliest New Testament manuscripts and the Gutenberg Bible. The exhibition “traces the Jewish roots of Christianity and the dissemination of monotheistic faith.”
Yediot Yerushalayim, June 6, 2014
A preservation committee has recently submitted its report, stating that it recommends rejecting a plan for the building of a hotel nearby to Mary’s Well in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Kerem, as there is a significant chance that the spring would be damaged in the building. Itzik Shweki, head of the Jerusalem district in the Committee for the Preservation of Sites, said in particular that damage to the spring “would cause great damage to the State of Israel, and that the risk does not justify the building of a hotel”, as Mary’s Well is considered fourth in worldwide importance in the Christian world. According to Christian tradition, this is the site where Elizabeth and Mary met, “when they were both already pregnant with their famous children.” The decision now rests with the planning committee, and Tamir Nir, chairman of the preservation committee, has promised that he will “act to make sure that the preservation committee’s recommendation will be realized.”
Ha’aretz, June 5, 2014
Dr. Randall Buth, director of the Biblical Language Center and member of the Jerusalem School for Synoptic Research, responds to Elon Gilad’s recent Ha’aretz article and specifically to the exchange between Pope Francis and Prime Minister Netanyahu regarding the languages Jesus spoke- Pope Francis saying that he spoke Aramaic, and Netanyahu saying that he spoke both Aramaic and Hebrew. Buth states that an Aramaic-speaking Jesus would serve the Church’s desire for a “universal orientation” as well as that an Aramaic-speaking Jesus would emphasize his “foreignness” for a Jewish context, but that “both sides could miss the real Jesus.” Buth states the fact that Aramaic is almost entirely absent from the Qumran writings, that the Aramaic Targums were used as a commentary “to expand the original text” and that parables in the rabbinic literature are always given in Hebrew to say that in fact Jesus spoke Hebrew as well as Aramaic.
Makor Rishon, June 6, 2014
Eliyahu Birnbaum surveys Jewish religious law regarding divorces, and the hardships arising when couples live in separate countries. Of particular interest is a case where a Jewish man had refused to divorce his wife for more than 20 years, had moved to South America, become a Christian pastor and married a non-Jewish woman. After exploring different solutions that didn’t work, Birnbaum visited the man’s church on the next Sunday and set the case before the assembled audience. They immediately demanded that the man divorce his wife in order to fill the “I will bless those who bless you” command. The divorce took place the next morning.
Israel Hayom, May 30, 2014
Dr. Eilat Mazar and the Public Committee Against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount are deeply concerned over the alleged destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount as a result of the completion of the Al-Marwani (Solomon’s Stables) and old El-Aktsa (under the current El-Aktsa) mosques. Dr. Mazar and the committee say that the building is being done “against all archaeological rules” “in the most important site in Israel”, and that the Muslim plan is to “turn the whole Temple Mount compound into one big mosque.” The Israel Antiquities Authority do not share these concerns, however, and say that the al-Marwani area is used merely for the matriculation exams for the schools in the mountain and is not about to turn into a mosque. The earth removed from the Solomon’s Stables area has been removed to the east side of the Temple Mount, where it attracts more rubbish disposal. The committee is of the opinion that this earth must be sifted before removal, and a current High Court ruling has prevented it being moved. A State Comptroller report has criticized the government for its proceedings on the Temple Mount, but thus far that report has been barred from publication.