During the week covered by this review, we received 9 articles on the following subjects:
- Anti-Missionary Activity
- Christian Zionism
- Status of Holy Sites
- Christian-Jewish Relations
- Book Reviews
BaKehila, November 13; HaShavua BePetach Tikva, November 14, 2014
This article is a reiteration of the story from last week (November 18, 2014, Media Review) on the warnings given by anti-missionary activist organization Yad L’Achim regarding unusual missionary activity. This activity consisted of the distribution of a music player containing a non-erasable narrated version of the New Testament, as well as evangelistic material for soldiers designed with military colors. Yad L’Achim collected the material and the players from the recipients while clarifying the purpose of the distribution to them.
Yedion Afula VeHa’Amakim, November 14, 2014
A delegation of 50 people from the Papua province of Indonesia recently visited the city of Afula. They were received by the mayor and vice-mayor, who showed the delegation members around the city, thanked them for their support of Israel, and invited them to participate in the city’s 90th anniversary celebration that will take place in 2015. The members of the delegation stated that they were “excited and proud to be in the Holy Land” and presented the mayor and vice-mayor with traditional headdresses.
Maariv, November 18, 2014
Holocaust survivors living in the Migdalei HaYam HaTichon assisted living facility were recently visited by a group of Israel-loving Christians from Finland. The meeting, which included conversation, singing, and dancing, “was very moving,” said Hannah Stern, the resident who was the connecting link between the visitors and the facility.
Status of Holy Sites
The Jerusalem Post, November 18; Haaretz, November 19, 2014
In The Jerusalem Post article, Moshe Dann analyzes the history of the Temple Mount and the rabbinical decrees regarding it, specifically the halachic prohibition of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, which was given to prevent Jews from entering holy sites by mistake. While Dann recognizes the reason for this prohibition, he states that it has “led to the abandonment of the most important site in the world to the Jewish people.” The Temple Mount itself is “a symbol of coexistence,” and it is for this reason that Jews should visit the Mount, to state “peace and prayer for all.”
Sefi Rachlevsky, writing for Haaretz, is of the opinion that “anyone supporting Jewish prayer in the plaza of the mosques, where the great Temple once stood, is either one of the apocalyptic messianists, or an ignoramus, or a hypocrite – or all three.” He further argues that radical activity to this end may cause a religious war. Rachlevsky states that there are two options: Israel could be a “humane and rational country with borders,” or it could become “mired in racist apocalyptic messianism.”
Sha’a Tova, November 13, 2014
David Eisenberg analyzes the influence the Obama presidency has had on support for Israel among the general American public. He states that while President Obama’s administration has “succeeded in distancing Democrat Jews from Israel,” it has also succeeded in increasing support for Israel among evangelical Christians, who tend to support the Republican Party. Whereas Christian churches had shown their support independently in the past, now many are members of the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) organization, founded by Pastor John Hagee, who is known for having bluntly stated, “‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ is a commandment, not a request. Therefore we pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Without the contribution of Judaism Christianity would not exist. On the other hand, Judaism does not need Christianity to explain its existence.”
Eisenberg also states the possibility that the reason for the United States’ diplomatic animosity towards Israel may be found in the Secretary of State’s office, particularly as it has recently been revealed that it was said “in Kerry’s vicinity” that “another intifada is needed for Israel to crumble.”
Liberal, November 18, 2014
In this nine-page article, Tal Shalev analyzes the history of and reasons for evangelical Christians’ support for Israel, as well as its consequences. He begins with the Reformation, when Christians began to read the Bible more literally and to go against the Catholic teaching that Israel was replaced after rejecting Jesus. He then covers John Nelson Darby’s statement of the doctrine of dispensationalism, which saw Jewish rule of Palestine as the beginning of the end times; William Hechler’s support and friendship with Theodore Herzl; Lloyd George, Lord Balfour, and Harry Truman’s love of the “biblical sources”; the declaration of independence in 1948 and the Israeli victory in 1967, which were seen as confirmations “that the prophecies had been interpreted correctly” and that the end times had begun; Menachem Begin’s love of the Bible and welcoming of evangelical support; and the support and activities of the International Christian Embassy, Christians United for Israel, and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
Shalev goes on to state that the Israeli right wing and the American Christian right wing continue in this “alliance” for mutual profit as well: the Israeli right wing gains support and funding, and the Christian right wing gains the prestige of being a patron of Israel as well as the knowledge that they are “advancing” the end times.
Shalev ends by stating that the younger generation of evangelical Christians is no longer taking support of Israel for granted but turning increasingly to the Palestinian narrative, and that this “may have far reaching results for all sides concerned.”
The Jerusalem Post, November 21, 2014
James Carroll’s Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age, recently published by Viking, is a statement of the theory that the true Jesus and his true message were lost in history, due particularly to the “changing political circumstances” of the period and the thirst for power. Alexander Zvielli expresses a favorable view of the book in this review, calling it well written, the result of “tremendous research,” and a “valid step for better Jewish-Christian understanding.”