During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
HaMevaser, September 24, 2014
In this article, Menachem Kahana interviews Yitzhak Meir, a former Israeli ambassador to Belgium and Switzerland. Meir is convinced that anti-Semitism poses a threat first and foremost to the countries in which it is present, as it is likely to attract other discontented minorities, which together would pose a threat. The governments of Western countries are aware of this, and it is one of the reasons they fight anti-Semitism. Since this fight is known and open, it no longer poses a threat to the Jewish communities.
When asked if hatred of the State of Israel was an anti-Semitic response or a response related to the morals of Israel’s Palestinian policy, Meir differentiated between those who hold that Israel has no right to exist, and those who hold that Israel’s policies are mistaken to various degrees. Each of these criticisms requires a different response, with different expertise.
When asked if radical Islam poses an existential threat to European Jewry, Meir responded that radical Islam’s main aims are to defeat the West and impose Shari‘ah law. For this reason, Jewish issues “are not at the top of [the Islamists’] list,” but if they are also defeated along the way, “so much the better.” Jews can fight neither radical Islam, nor Christians who think Israel has no right to exist, alone. As citizens in any country they must “demand protection from their various governments.” Although every Jew should make aliyah to Israel, doing so will not necessarily afford them any improvement in security, nor will it “decrease radical Islam’s desire to rule the world.”
However, Meir is still not convinced of the accuracy of the increased aliyah predictions, nor does he think that European Jews are in any great danger. He admits that the West has failed to cause the rest of the world to acquiesce in its own values, but the West still “has great power” and in the face of great danger, “such as in World War II,” the West will be victorious.
Kol Israel, September 19, 2014
Wolfgang Schmidt, representative of the Evangelische Kirche Deutschland in Jerusalem, has taken it upon himself to resolve as much of the religious conflict in the Old City as he is able, in order to prevent any strengthening of anti-Semitism in Europe that may be due to violence against Christian clerics. Schmidt sees the incidents being reported in the European and American press and the way uninformed people are misinterpreting what is happening. He therefore has instituted lectures for clerics on the history of anti-Semitism, and brings young people to study Judaism at Hebrew University, in order to “defeat stigmas.” Schmidt does state, however, that not everything is radicalized in this situation; after the Christian cemetery in the Old City was defaced, for instance, a group of Jews came to assist in the cleanup.
Another mediator in the conflict is Yehonatan Megidish from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim, who has come to know the situation in the Old City well enough that he is sometimes asked to mediate even between Muslim and Muslim.
Both Megidish and Schmidt stated that they have heard the rumors concerning a possible Christian takeover of the David’s Tomb structure on Mount Zion, and that there is no truth in it whatsoever.
Christians in Israel
Yom L’Yom, September 23, 2014
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, an expert on Islam and the Middle East, states his explanation for the recent and controversial recognition of the Aramaic community as a separate nationality in Israel. He begins by stating that although countries such as Iraq and Syria began by attempting to forge a national identity in order to foster domestic peace, this proved more and more unsuccessful as the national governments weakened. Minority communities, such as the Aramaic, became “infidel strangers” rather than the “brother citizens” they had been before, causing many of them to emigrate to escape persecution.
The Aramaic community in Israel has historically been included in the “Arab sector.” However, the community does see itself as separate, marrying mostly among themselves, working to preserve their cultural identity, and using their own language, mostly for liturgy.
Haaretz, September 24, 2014
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has decided to change the way in which it distributes food coupons to Christian Arabs for Christmas; rather than contacting the welfare departments of the various municipalities, the names of the recipients are to be collected by the Israeli Christians’ Recruitment Forum. A controversy has arisen due to this decision, with MK Dr. Basal Gatas (Balad), who received some of the complaints, declaring that the IFCJ is trying politicize humanitarian work, and would be boycotted if it did not cancel this new policy. Tzion Gabai, CEO of the ICFJ, as well as the forum, have denied all accusations of politicization.
Sha’a Tova, September 18, 2014
Senator Ted Cruz, a possible U.S. presidential candidate in 2016, attended a conference of pro-Palestinian Christians. Cruz stated, “Those who hate Israel also hate America, and those who hate Judaism also hate Christianity. Christians have no better friend than Israel in the Middle East. If you do not side with Israel and the Jews, I will not side with you.”
Modi’in News, September 18, 2014
Many salvage digs have been taking place recently in Modi’in, revealing artifacts such as water cisterns carved in rock, winepresses, and ruined farmhouses, chiefly from the Byzantine period. In view of the rich findings, it has been recommended that an archaeological park be built in the Nofim neighborhood of the city, and that other artifacts be moved to that site, for the enjoyment and edification of the public.
The Jerusalem Post, September 19, 2014
A recently completed excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) near Beit Shemesh has revealed a large compound dating to the Byzantine period. Irene Zilberbod and Tehila Libman, co-leaders of the excavation, stated that the compound was surrounded by an outer wall and divided into a residential and an industrial area. An unusually large oil press and wine press, together with rich mosaic floors and roof and tile artifacts, have led Zilberbod and Libman to conclude that the site served as a monastery, despite not having discovered a church there. They stated, for example, that the size of the oil and wine presses indicated industrial scale production, rather than individual. Dr. Yuval Baruch, the regional archaeologist for the IAA, stated that measures are being taken to preserve the site as “an archaeological landmark.”
Makor Rishon, September 24, 2014
Benny Liss is known mostly for his incredibly prolific career with Israel’s Channel 1 (3,000 television articles). However, since his retirement, he has devoted his time to researching the Temple Mount. He was the one to discover the giant earth-moving project executed by the Waqf [the Muslim Temple Mount authority] which led to the Temple Mount Sifting Project. Liss is convinced that other clandestine projects are taking place in the tunnels within the mountain, and has also stated that a Salafi mosque exists behind the women’s section of the Western Wall. Liss calls upon the government to allow free Jewish access to the mountain in order to “tell its real story.”