During the week covered by this review, we received 27 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Religious Freedom and Rights
Status of Holy Sites
The Jerusalem Post, June 29, 2015
Threatening leaflets were distributed in Jerusalem during the last weekend in June; they bore the Islamic State insignia, telling “Christians and nonbelievers” to “go away now or you will be killed when the Id [Id al Fitr, at the end of Ramadan] is near” and calling upon “like-minded zealots” to collaborate by providing addresses of targets.
The leaflets “cannot be verified” and a police spokesman said that “he was unaware of the leaflets”; some within the Christian Arab community have been “rattled.”
Christians in Israel
Kochav HaTzafon, June 19; The Jerusalem Report, June 24, 2015
On June 18, a fire broke out in the Catholic Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha, apparently due to arson (see previous Review). Five firefighting teams were working on the scene starting at 03:50, and the police began their investigation immediately. The tone of the article is astounded and disgusted that such a thing could happen at a Christian site, as Christianity is of such benefit to Israel touristically.
Gefen, June 12, 2015
This article alerts resident of Zichron Yaakov to the fact that a group of Messianic Jews has recently been active there, distributing a book called “Why Me?” together with an “explanation page” containing “organized Christian tenets.”
Index HaEmek VeHaGalil–Nazareth Ilit, June 19, 2015
A group of missionaries has recently attempted to distribute New Testaments near the “Lavon” community center in Nazareth Ilit. A group of residents, including some from Chabad, arrived on the scene as well, in order to explain to passersby that this was Christian missionary activity.
Religious Freedom and Rights
The Jerusalem Post, June 30, 2015
This article analyzes the issue of religious freedom in Israel, using the tension on Mount Zion and the recent fire at the church in Tabgha as examples. “Can there be a greater desecration of God’s name in the Holy Land than Jews doing to other religions what was done to their fathers and ancestors by other governments and religions throughout centuries of exile?” the article asks. It quotes the Jewish obligation toward “the stranger in our midst” and states that failing to ensure the safety and freedom of everyone in the country is a disgrace, and that the arsonists, both in Capernaum and in other incidents in Jerusalem, “are directly responsible for weakening Israel’s sovereignty.”
Yediot Karmiel; Tzafon 1, June 26, 2015
These articles reiterate the story from last week’s Review about the Bridges for Peace organization’s recent donation of a second ambulance to Magen David Adom (MDA) in Karmiel. The organization, whose membership comprises Israel-loving Christians, “believes in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”
The ambulance has been used for some 100 calls so far, including three births.
Maariv, July 2, 2015
Tarja Hiltonen of Finland, a retired nurse, has been volunteering at the home for Holocaust survivors in Haifa, operated in part with funds from the International Christian Embassy (ICEJ). Hiltonen arrived in Israel as a result of a radio program highlighting the Haifa home; she says, “I love my work, and I want to dedicate my life to the Holocaust survivors here. I feel this is my purpose in life.” Shimon Sabag, the home’s manager, says, “Tarja is an angel in white. She does the work here in the best and most human way possible.”
Haaretz, July 3, 2015
This article details the history of the Bible in the United States, and particularly the use made of it by different groups in various historical conflicts. It begins by describing how Rehoboam, Antiochus, Haman, Joshua, Gideon, Judas Maccabaeus, Deborah, and Barak were all used in referring to different people during the American Revolution; how “many Americans saw themselves as directly inheriting the legacy of the biblical Israelites”; and how the goal of many was “the Hebrew republic” before it was “corrupted” by the monarchy.
However, the “importance of the Old Testament began to wane” during the 19th century as different Christian denominations began to prepare for Jesus’ return. This gained momentum particularly after the Civil War, since slave-owners would sometimes use the Old Testament as a justification for slavery; it is interesting to note that for the slaves themselves, “the slave-owner, and not King George, was Pharaoh.”
Today, the standing of both the Testaments is “waning.” The correlation between Republicans and conservative churchgoers on the one hand, and Democrats and liberal non-churchgoers on the other, is obvious. “Christian believers have begun to feel under siege,” and for many “the recent Supreme Court declaration in favor of same-sex marriage is a declaration of war against both Old and New Testaments”—an opinion “many of the Republican presidential candidates will use in their upcoming campaigns.”
HaChayim HaTovim, July 1, 2015
On Saturday, August 8, Club 50 will be holding an all-day visit to the Mukhraka on Mount Carmel and to the Old City and Mount Precipice in Nazareth. The Mukhraka is traditionally held to be the site of the story about Elijah and the prophets of Baal, and Mount Precipice is traditionally held to be the place where the residents of ancient Nazareth attempted to throw Jesus off a mountain, but he “passed through them and continued on his way.”
Maariv, July 2, 2015
This article details some unique and different tourist attractions in Jerusalem, such as the nightlife to be found in the Machane Yehuda market; the First Station compound with its restaurants; the Kishleh in the Tower of David Museum; the Cinema Festival; the Wine Festival; and particularly for children, the Science Museum and the dinosaur exhibit at the Botanical Gardens.
Status of Holy Sites
HaMachane HaCharedi, June 25, 2015
This four-page article is another article detailing “the fight for King David’s Tomb.” It mentions the rabbinic sources according to which the structure is in fact David’s tomb, but its main point is that Christians are attempting to defraud Jews of a holy site, and are planning provocations accordingly so that Jews will be disgusted and leave. The article further says that the government is in fact planning to hand over the structure to the Vatican, in spite of its protestations to the contrary.
HaMachane HaCharedi, July 2, 2015
This five-page article details the history of the walls of Jerusalem from Canaanite times to the present day.
According to the article, the main purpose of the Canaanite walls was as a sign of ownership of the Gihon spring. The city spread northward during the First Temple period, and this new area included the seat of government and the temple hill. During Sennacherib of Assyria’s campaign the city spread to the west, due to the many refugees from Israel who fled south, and Hezekiah walled in this part as well. Although these walls were destroyed by the Babylonians, the Hasmoneans used them as foundations for new walls during their own period. The Byzantines built their own wall as well, but this wall was destroyed in an earthquake. The Mamelukes decided to destroy the walls completely, so as to prevent enemy occupation, and this led to Jerusalem being wall-less for some 250 years. The Ottoman wall—the wall visible today—was built as a protection against raiders, but not so much as a protection against armies, as its relatively low height and its ornamentation testifies. What is visible today was built over the course of four years, but was never finished—as seen by the fact that 18 of its 35 guard towers are unfinished, and some of the inscription tablets in the walls are empty.
Yediot Ahronot, June 29, 2015
A Spanish village, for 391 years called “Camp Kill the Jews,” has recently changed its name back to its older name of “Hill of the Jews” and will soon become a sister city of Kfar Vradim in Israel. An archaeological site in the Spanish village is being excavated, and a visitors’ center about the medieval Jewish community in the area is planned as well. The residents, and especially the mayor, are excited about the change. “A community born from Jewish roots and interested in preserving its historical legacy could not go on with a name like [Kill the Jews],” says Lorenzo Rodriguez, the mayor.
The Jerusalem Post, July 1, 2015
Dr. Tom Catena, a Catholic missionary from New York State working in the Nuba Mountains in south Sudan, is not only the only doctor at the 435-bed Mother of Mercy Hospital, but the only permanently-based doctor in the entire area, numbering some half a million people. Due to the shortage of resources, as well as the absence of electricity, “Dr. Tom” is forced to rely on old treatment methods. He is on call 24/7, “except once a year or so, when he is unconscious with malaria.” Both Muslims and Christians in the Nuba area “are praying that he never dies,” and one Muslim chief said, “He’s Jesus Christ”—meaning that, like Jesus, Dr. Tom is healing the sick, making the blind see, and helping the lame to walk.
Maariv, July 2, 2015
This year marks the 25th Jewish Festival being held in Krakow in Poland. From a small cultural event consisting mostly of lectures, films, and klezmer music, the festival has become a ten-day traditional event which has sold out this year. It includes not only lectures, films and concerts, but has introduced an Israeli emphasis in recent years by having a reading room for Israeli literature, Hebrew classes, Israeli folk dancing, and workshops on Jewish cooking. “We don’t want to be a sentimental event dedicated to Jewish life destroyed in the Holocaust, but that rather celebrates its victory by showing contemporary Jewish culture,” said Janusz Makuch, the festival’s founder. He added as well that although the festival is a cultural event, it has a political message as well, since contrary to so much of the rest of the world, “we invite artists from Israel who show the beauty, richness and variety of Jewish culture,” said Makuch.
Yediot Ahronot, July 3, 2015
Achinoam Nini will perform on Friday, July 3, in Saint Peter Square in the Vatican, as part of an event for world peace. Nini will sing a solo song in Hebrew, English, and Arabic, and will also sing a duet with famed Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. A smaller performance will take place before the pope, later in the evening. This is Nini’s eleventh performance at the Vatican.
Yediot Yerushalayim, July 3, 2015
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal made by the residents of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Kerem protesting the building of a hotel adjacent to Mary’s Well, traditionally held to be the place where Mary and Elizabeth met while both were pregnant. However, the court has barred the building plan from the customary 1 meter flexibility in ground placement, and instructed the builders to consult a hydrology service in order to prevent the spring, an important pilgrimage site, from drying up.
Scopus, June 14, 2015
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature. “We aim to foster research on the Scrolls, and, in particular, to integrate the new information with our other data for Jewish history and religion in the Second Temple period,” said Orion director Dr. Esther Chazon.
Eretz Binyamin, June 14, 2015
The archaeological site at Neve Tzuf is remarkable not only as a testimony to a Second Temple–era village, but also because of the uniqueness of a structure in it, proposed by Professor Zohar Amar as a winepress for sweet heliston wine. This structure is the only one in the world thus far proposed as a heliston winepress.
Chadash BeBeit Shemesh, June 18, 2015
This article proposes that the “Eshba’al ben Bada” mentioned on the clay pitcher recently found in the Elah Valley is not the son of Saul [Eshba’al was Ishbosheth’s other name], but rather signifies that Eshba’al was a common name of the period. Having his name on a pitcher apparently signifies that he was an important man, and the fact that it was found in Qayafa (Sha’arayim) signifies that script was “more widespread in the kingdom of Judah that had so far been supposed.”
Israel Hayom; Haaretz (x2); Yated Ne’eman; The Jerusalem Post, July 2, 2015
Tal and Oriya (last name not published), residents of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Kerem, have been mentioned in the media recently as a 2,000-year-old Jewish ritual bath [mikveh] has been discovered under their living room floor. “The workers dug in order to make room for floor tiles, and everything caved in,” the couple said, adding that they had at first been reluctant to report the find to the authorities, but decided to do so after becoming convinced of the site’s “historical and scientific value.” The mikveh is 3.5 meters long, 2.4 meters wide, and 1.8 meters deep. It has a flight of stairs leading down to it, and is plastered according to Jewish law. Potsherds and fragments of stone vessels were found on the site as well. The mikveh also shows traces of fire that may be connected to the Jewish Revolt of 66-70 CE. This find also strengthens the supposition that a Jewish village existed in Ein Kerem in Second Temple times, which may bear out the traditional identification of Ein Kerem as “the city of Judah” where John the Baptist was born, and where Elizabeth and Mary met each other while both were pregnant.