March 17 – 2015

During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the following subjects:

  •     Political Issues
  •     Anti-Missionary Activity
  •     Jewish/Christian Relations
  •     Israel
  •     Book Reviews
  •     Archaeology

Political Issues

The Jerusalem Report, March 4, 2015

In this article, Prof. Eytan Gilboa of the Center for International Communication at Bar Ilan University analyzes relations between the US and Israel. He begins by saying that “almost every decade since 1948 has seen a major crisis in American-Israeli relations.” Gilboa cites as examples the 1956-57 Sinai-Suez crisis between US President Dwight Eisenhower and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion; the 1975 crisis between US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin regarding the interim agreement between Israel and Egypt; and the 1991-92 crisis between the George H.W. Bush administration and Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir regarding settlements. Conversely, however, the current crisis has been on “almost every key issue.”

Gilboa goes on to survey the personal actions and pronouncements made by both President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu since taking office. He cites such examples as Obama’s “seeking reconciliation with the Muslim world”; Netanyahu’s lecturing of Obama on the Arab-Israeli conflict during his first White House visit; the photo of Obama in phone conversation with Netanyahu with his feet on his desk; the absence of a “lightning conductor” such as Ehud Barak to mediate disagreements; Obama’s refusal to address the Knesset during his 2013 visit; and the accusation that Netanyahu “grossly intervened” on Mitt Romney’s behalf in 2012 as evidence that the rancor is mainly due to “a clash in personalities” between the two leaders. Gilboa closes the article by stating that “American public opinion still overwhelmingly supports Israel,” and that with different leaders the “pre-Obama era” relations could be restored.

Anti-Missionary Activity

Index HaEmek VeHaGalil–Nazareth Ilit, February 20, 2015

The municipality of Nazareth Ilit has recently begun campaigning against missionary activity by hanging posters signed by the anti-missionary activist organization Yad L’Achim. These posters, entitled “You have been chosen as a target!,” caution the city’s inhabitants against house visits from missionaries, phone calls, random meetings on the street, etc.

Jewish/Christian Relations

The Jerusalem Post, March 9, 2015

In this article, originally published in The New York Times, Frank Bruni analyzes John Boehner’s motivations for inviting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to speak to the US Congress. He states that the Republicans were happy for Netanyahu to be invited since “it was a way to get under President Barack Obama’s skin” as well as “keeping evangelical Christians happy.” Bruni goes on to explain this view, saying chiefly that many Christians believe that “God intended Israel for the Jews, and that honoring and keeping Israel safe is a way of honoring God.” Therefore, since evangelical Christians comprise a significant portion of Republican voters, Boehner was trying to “keep the base in buoyant spirits.”


Israel Hayom, March 9, 2015

The Chief Rabbinate has recently changed its regulations for hotels and guesthouses, which in the past prohibited photography, use of projectors, and playing music during Shabbat in these facilities. Now, however, these restrictions have been cancelled, and Jews are also permitted to man reception desks during Shabbat. The prohibition on the use of “Christian festival symbols” was likewise cancelled.

This change came about as the result of numerous complaints from the non-profit organization Hiddush, whose CEO, Uri Regev, threatened to turn to the Supreme Court on the subject.

Book Reviews

Makor Rishon, March 13, 2015

This article reviews the 154th issue of the quarterly magazine Cathedra on Israel-related subjects and history, published by Yad Yitzhak Ben-Tzvi.

The articles in this issue range from a review of Reuven Rubin’s “The Seekers of God” collection of woodcuts and other works of art, to a survey of the dyes used in Israel during the Roman period, to the different ways in which different entities see holy sites, to a review of a book dealing with different interpretations of Jewish law during the Second Temple period, and the degree to which these different views may or may not have influenced each other.

However, of particular interest is Gershon Nerel’s article on the history of the Christian compound on Jerusalem’s Prophets Street and its beginning as an American Protestant mission base, and specifically his survey of the history of the Messianic Jewish movement and of evangelization.


Gefen, February 20; Kol HaChof, February 27, 2015

This article is a reiteration of the story regarding the finding of some 2,000 dinar, half-dinar, and quarter dinar gold coins in the ancient port of Caesarea (February 24, 2015, Media Review). The coins have been dated to the Fatimid dynasty (circa 1000 CE). Archaeologists at the Unit for Maritime Archaeology at the Israel Antiquities Authority surmise that the coins were on a ship that sank off the port, and that the money may have been taxes sent to the central government in Egypt, salaries for the military unit stationed in Caesarea at the time, or the property of a merchant. Some of the coins showed tooth marks, evidence that they had been suspected of being counterfeit.

The oldest coin found in the treasure was minted in Palermo in the 9th century CE. The majority of the coins date from 996-1036 CE, and were minted in Egypt and North Africa.

Beit Mashiach, March 4, 2015

This seven-page article is a survey of the life and work of archaeologist Vendyl Jones, who is known primarily for seeking the temple vessels and for acting to disseminate the biblical commands to the children of Noah.

Jones’ interest in the temple began at age nine, when he read in the second chapter of Maccabees about the raising of the tabernacle underground and the blocking of the entrance, but specifically the fact that all this was documented. His interest continued over the years, and was strengthened by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and particularly the Copper Scroll. Although opinions on the scroll vary widely, Jones became convinced both that the lost treasures mentioned in the Copper Scroll were hidden in Qumran, and that the real temple treasures were hidden before the Babylonian exile and replaced with worthless replicas.

Jones’ best known archaeological discoveries were both found in the Qumran area. The first, found in 1988, was a flask of oil, which, after analysis, was believed to be anointing oil from the temple. Then, in 1992, Jones found a silo with organic material, which is believed by some to be incense.

Haaretz; Israel Hayom, March 10; Maariv–Luach Zman Tzafon, March 13, 2015

Three members of the Israeli Caving Club discovered a cache of silver and bronze items two weeks ago in a stalactite cave in the north of Israel. The coins date to the Wars of the Diadochi, and were found in a cloth sack. Archaeologists surmise that the cache may have been hidden by people who escaped to the cave to avoid danger. Evidence of human habitation from 5,000-6,000 years ago was found in the cave as well.

Officials from the Israel Antiquities Authority surmise that “this is one of the most important discoveries found in the north during the past few years.” The IAA wishes to keep the location of the cave a secret in order to prevent damage to the stalactites and archaeological remains. Additionally, gaps and hidden passageways in the cave pose a danger to the untrained.

Amir Ganor, head of the Unit for Prevention of Theft in the IAA, said that the three hikers showed “exemplary conduct” in the alacrity with which they called the IAA to the scene.