During the week covered by this review, we received 39 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Christians in Israel
On Thursday, June 18, the 4th century CE Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha suffered severe arson, in what is feared to be a price-tag attack. The library, rooms in the guesthouse, antique furniture, Bibles, and even pigeons nesting in the roof were burned, but the magnificent sanctuary escaped the blaze. Two people suffered from smoke inhalation.
The incident has drawn much media attention. Many departments of the government have issued statements of condemnation and promises of speedy action; four members of Knesset have even visited the site. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in particular, has instructed the domestic intelligence organization to expedite the investigation of this incident. “The arson in the church is an attack on us all. Those responsible for this reprehensible deed will suffer the full measure of the law,” the prime minister said. “Hate and intolerance have no place in our society.”
It is feared that many pilgrim tour groups will cancel their trips due to the incident. Munir Farah, a local resident who prays in the church, said, “It is terrible; it is impossible to comprehend that it is possible to so hate another person, just because they believe what you don’t believe in.” The Vatican has responded with a stiff condemnation, and demanded immediate action from the Israeli government. Others have expressed their sadness as well, and a large public prayer service was held on June 21 to show solidarity. At the rally, people called for justice and quick action on the part of the government, requesting “not vengeance but justice.”
Haaretz, June 19, 2015
Beit Immanuel, originally known as “The Baron’s Palace,” has known many incarnations. Originally built by German Templars, it was renovated by Baron Ustinov, grandfather to the noted actor Peter Ustinov, who added a third story and beautiful gardens to the structure. Since then it has served as a hotel, a girls’ school, the British Mandate “Palestine Police” headquarters, and an IDF office building, and has even appeared in the writings of Israeli author Shai Agnon. Now, however, it serves as a guesthouse and as the meeting place of a Messianic Jewish congregation.
Hed Ha’Ir-Shefela, June 1; Hed Ha’Ir-Darom, June 2; Hed Ha’Ir-Merkaz, June 3, 2015
Some 35,000 booklets containing evangelistic material and intended for distribution in Ashkelon have recently been the subject of controversy, as mail distributors have refused to distribute them, saying the booklets “injure their faith as Jews.” The Israel Postal Company has denied this, however, saying that “none of its employees has asked to be exempt from any distribution” and that “the company is obliged to distribute any mail article it receives.”
Chadashot Nahariya, June 18, 2015
The Medical Center for the Galilee recently received a visit from pastors George and Terri Pearsons of Eagle Mountain International Church (EMIC) in Fort Worth, Texas. The partnership between EMIC and the medical center began in 2006, after the Second Lebanon War, but this is the first visit any EMIC member has made to the medical center. The Pearsons visited the emergency room and the neurosurgery department, and met with a Syrian refugee patient who told her story and praised the “humane treatment” she has received in Israel. The visit ended with the Pearsons presenting the medical center with a $50,000 contribution. Both sides agreed “to continue and strengthen the partnership for the welfare of the residents of the Galilee.”
The Jerusalem Post, June 19, 2015
The Bridges for Peace organization has recently donated a second ambulance to Magen David Adom (MDA); this donation, made in partnership with the Heart to Heart project, will apparently be used in and around the city of Karmiel.
Makor Rishon, June 26, 2015
This article begins by surveying the centuries of history between Judaism and Christianity, including the doctrine of “replacement theology,” which teaches that Israel has been replaced by the church and that the Jews are guilty of deicide.
However, after the Holocaust, the church began “to take stock of the events their doctrines had led to,” which in turn led to the second Vatican council and Nostra Aetate, which renounced anti-Semitism, absolved the Jews of any collective responsibility for Jesus’ death, and said that they are, in fact, still the chosen people. This has opened the door for a better and deeper relationship between Jews and Christians, as many Protestant churches have joined the initiative as well, reducing institutionalized anti-Semitism greatly. Indeed, “many Christians are Israel’s best friends.” Most of the anti-Semitism in Europe can be traced to Muslim sources.
Although “the scars of the past are not easy to forget,” Jews should understand that they, together with Christians, are fighting a common enemy, and “it is preferable that we concentrate our energies on those who are actively fighting us.”
HaModia, June 25, 2015
Research results have recently been presented to the Knesset Aliyah Committee, stating that some 150 million residents of Europe think Israel is “an apartheid state and uses Nazi methods,” the origins of this apparently being in “Judeophobia” and “demonization of Israel.” The vice-ambassadors of Germany, the USA, and Britain, as well as Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, have stated that their countries have in fact seen a sharp increase anti-Semitic incidents in recent months. The ambassador of Holland and the vice-ambassador of France emphasized the efforts their countries are making to combat anti-Semitism and the BDS movement.
Kol Israel, June 19, 2015
Ran Ben-Yoshafat, a lawyer by profession, spent six months advocating for Israel in the US two years ago. He recently published a book on his experiences, entitled I Flew in Order to Explain Israel.
Ben-Yoshafat explains that his desire to advocate for Israel began when he realized that “people viewed him negatively simply for being a former commander in the ‘Magellan’ combat unit of the IDF.” Having spoken before both Jewish and Christian groups, Ben-Yoshafat states that even though the US supports Israel, generally speaking, “there still are pockets where the atmosphere is very hostile.” He mentions as well that the first anti-Israel accusation he heard during his time abroad was when an audience member accused him of personally murdering Palestinian babies. On the other hand, he mentions speaking to an anti-violence Muslim audience in a mosque, who told him that his lecture strengthened their support of Israel.
When asked how private citizens can help, Ben-Yoshafat stated that each person can defend Israel through “new media,” and when each person speaks to four or five people abroad, “it is a battle we can win.”
The Jerusalem Post, June 26, 2015
The 2,580 24-carat-gold coins found off the coast of Caesarea in February 2015 are now on display at the Israel Museum. The coins “were minted by the Fatimid caliphs of Egypt.”
Haaretz, June 26, 2015
Dr. Avi Becker, the noted expert on international relations, is particularly known for his work to reclaim Jewish possessions and fight anti-Semitism. To this end, he joined the Israeli delegation to the United Nations (1977-1982), and served in the World Jewish Congress for 20 years as well. He was a senior lecturer in the MA program in diplomacy at Tel Aviv-University, and a guest lecturer at Georgetown University. One of his recent books, Who are the Chosen People? (Yediot Books) was published in 2013.
Becker has died after a “severe illness” and leaves behind his wife, Tzvia, their four children, and eight grandchildren.
BeSheva-Mitchalef Yerushalayim, June 18; Makor Rishon, June 19, 2015
Shards of a 3,000-year-old clay pitcher were recently discovered in the ruins of Khayafa in the Elah Valley, bearing the inscription “Eshba’al ben-Bada,” who is mentioned during King David’s period in the Bible (see previous Review). “This is an amazing artifact and a very important discovery,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, speaking to the archaeologists who discovered it.
Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, June 22; HaMevaser, Haaretz, June 24, 2015
Syrian authorities have recently reported that Islamic State (IS) forces have placed explosives in ancient Palmyra, including at the famous Roman amphitheater, and two of the temples have now been demolished. It is unclear, however, if IS in fact means to detonate the rest of the explosives, or if they are being used as a deterrent to prevent the sites from being freed. “The city is a hostage in their hands,” said Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s head of antiquities.
HaMevaser, June 22, 2015
IS has begun constructing a park on the site in Mosul traditionally considered to be the grave of the prophet Jonah. The site had been destroyed in 2014.