During the week covered by this review, we received 20 articles on the following subjects:
Status of Holy Sites
HaModia, May 28, 2015
This article reviews the recent vehicular attacks that have taken place in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. It quotes the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which stated that “the attackers are lone wolves,” that the Palestinian Authority “grants legitimacy to the attacks and blames Israel for them,” and that Hamas and the groups associated with it “praise the attacks.”
Haaretz, June 3, 2015
This article comprises two responses to the article titled “Foreign Ministry in Shock” by Israel Harel (Haaretz, May 29).
Amnon Portugali begins by stating Harel’s point, together with Vice Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, that “the country is entirely ours” based upon Rashi’s commentary on the creation story in Genesis. However, he goes on to say that in his statement, Harel is “ignoring the Zionist movement, the Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations decision on the mandate, and the United Nations partition plan.” Portugali goes on to ask what the inhabitants of Jordan, Syria, and Egypt should do, since the biblical borders of Israel stretch to the Euphrates.
Na’aman Cohen states that Harel and Hotovely would have been much more convincing if, instead of using Rashi, they had said that “the God of Christianity and the god of Islam had said that it should be so (Matt 1:1; 2:20-21 and Koran Sura 7:137).”
Maariv, May 31, 2015
This article wishes to recognize and thank the millions of Christians who love Israel and work on her behalf, but receive far too little thanks. It particularly mentions the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), and quotes David Parsons of that organization, who said that the 4,000 Christian visitors who recently came to Jerusalem were not only pilgrims but avowed supporters of Israel. Parsons went on to say, “Israelis must understand that we are not like the Christianity of former generations … and not all Christians in the world believe in the pope. The ICEJ was founded 35 years ago. At first we seemed like a group of lunatics, but now we have reached the heart; we have branches in 80 countries, 7 of them in countries with a Muslim majority. We fight the boycott movement and anti-Semitism everywhere.”
Status of Holy Sites
BeSheva Mitchalef Yerushalayim, June 4, 2015
As a result of the police decision to allow Christian prayers at the David’s Tomb/Cenacle structure on Mount Zion, a group of Jewish prayers refused to leave the area and were forcibly removed. Calling it “shameful” that “Jews with Torah scrolls should be forced to make way for priests with crosses,” one of those present, Yocheved Grossman, added, “What is this, if not an attempt to rob us of Jerusalem?” Others have called to “end the Israeli government’s submission to Christians and Muslims” and to “strengthen the Jewish hold on the site.”
Haaretz, June 2, 2015
Haaretz recently reported that an organization owned by millionaire Irving Moskowitz is behind right-wing activist Arye King’s recent purchase of an abandoned church compound near Hebron (see previous MR). The site has been undergoing renovations, as plans are to turn the site into a new settlement outpost. Allegedly, a cover story was circulated both to the public and to the IDF, according to which the purpose of the construction was to return the church to its former state, and that “the land still belongs to the Swedish church.” There are eight buildings on the 38-dunam site, which need no permit for the renovations since they were built in the 1940s.
As a result of this recent article, the civil administration has decided to investigate the legality of the proceedings in order to see if any false representations had in fact been made, and a group of Knesset members are to visit the site as well.
Merkaz Ha’Inyanim Yerushalayim; Merkaz Ha’Inyanim Tzafon, June 1; BaKehila, June 4, 2015
Rabbi Riskin of Efrat, having reached age 75, is due for retirement. He has asked for a five-year extension, but has been refused, and has been summoned to a hearing on the subject.
Riskin has drawn criticism due to his unconventional stand on conversion to Judaism, theological dialogue with Christians, and the role of women, specifically with regard to reading to a mixed audience, making halacha [Jewish law] rulings, and serving in the army. His supporters are therefore calling the fight “a fight for survival,” while his opponents insist that Riskin should change his views to line up with rabbinate rulings, with some even saying that his views “border on heresy.”
Haaretz, May 29, 2015
This article is a list of current exhibitions. Of particular note are the annual exhibition of work by graduates of the Bezalel Academy in Tel-Aviv and the Rembrandt exhibition at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Ha’Ir Kol Ha’Ir, May 29, 2015
This article consists of a list of trips one can take in and around Jerusalem. Of particular note are a trip to see houses and other structures in the Muslim quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City; walking down Emek Refaim street on Shabbat to observe the interesting architectural details; a night garden tour along King David Street with views of the Old City walls; and a trip to the Southern Steps by the Western Wall at the Davidson Center.
Maariv, June 5, 2015
Of particular note in this list of exhibitions is an exhibition of 17th-19th century French art, particularly Boucher and Le Brun at the Israel Museum; the Balfer collection of Hellenistic and Roman art, also at the Israel Museum; and an exhibition of contemporary glass art at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel-Aviv.
BaKehila; HaModia, May 28; Merkaz Ha’Inyanim Yerushalayim; Merkaz Ha’Inyanim Tzafon, June 1, 2015
As of some 10 days ago, the Islamic State (IS) appears to hold Palmyra (215 km. northeast of Damascus), including its old city, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, elements in the West contest the photos showing the IS flag on the ancient fort of the city, saying that “it is hard to check their authenticity.”
Although IS has declared its intention to destroy the 2,000-year old ruins, it has apparently not done so as yet. However, Maamoun Abdulkarim, head of the Department of Antiquities and Museums for the Assad government in Damascus, has stated that IS has seized the museum in the center of Palmyra and stationed armed guards at the entrances.
Mentioned as having been conquered by the Assyrians at the beginning of the 11th century BC, the city was built at an oasis, and served as a stopping point for trade caravans between Damascus and Mesopotamia. The city is noted not only for its ancient fort, but for an amphitheater, a temple, colonnaded streets, and ruins of a synagogue as well.
Abdulkarim has also stated that many artifacts have already been moved to a safe location, but called upon the world to join in saving the other items, especially those that could not be moved. “This is the entire world’s battle,” said Abdulkarim.
Makor Rishon, June 5, 2015
An exhibition by the Breaking the Silence organization has opened in Zurich, “presenting the IDF as a conquering army that does not heed human rights.” Among the patrons of the exhibition are the Swiss foreign ministry and the Zurich municipality, who have contributed a total sum of some NIS 100,000.
The exhibition has drawn criticism from many elements in Israeli society, including a group of reservists who have protested in front of the Swiss embassy. Letters have been sent to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Yigal Caspi, Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, has been instructed to convey the Foreign Ministry’s protest that the exhibition has been given the local foreign ministry’s patronage. A group of local Israel-loving Christians has joined the protests as well by distributing leaflets “describing Israel and the IDF’s position in the face of Breaking the Silence’s one-sided testimony.”
BeSheva Mitchalf Yerushalayim, June 4, 2015
This article reviews Crossroads, by Yitzhak Meitliss, recently published by Magid-Koren.
The book takes historical events and organizes them according to the order of the weekly Torah portions; for example, it states that the quail the Israelites caught in the desert were on the way back to Europe from Africa, and “were tame because they were not usually hunted.”
BeSheva Bnei Brak; BeSheva Tzafon; BeSheva Darom, May 28, 2015
The fifth Hebron and Judea Conference was recently held in Kiryat Arba–Hebron (see previous MR). Among the activities for participants was a visit to Tel Hebron, where Second-Temple era houses and industry have been discovered.
HaModia, May 28, 2015
A part of the Hasmonean-built aqueduct that brought water to Jerusalem was recently discovered in the Umm-Tuba neighborhood near Har Homa, as part of the digging for laying a sewer pipe to the neighborhood (see previous MR). The point of origin is south of Bethlehem, some 21 kilometers distant. The recent finding has been documented and covered, but other parts have been left open to the public, especially in the vicinity of the Sherover Promenade and Sultan’s Pool.
The aqueduct is part of the “lower aqueduct” and was still in intermittent use until some 100 years ago, when a new water system running on electricity was laid. (The Herodian-built “upper aqueduct” brought water from the same place to Hezekiah’s Pool).