During the week covered by this review, we received 23 articles on the following subjects:
The Pope and the Vatican
Christians in Israel
Messianic Jews (Organizations)
Mishpacha, July 2, 2015
This article, an analysis piece, deals with particular issues: the relations between Israel and Egypt; the difference now to be seen in routine Palestinian policy; the relations between Israel and the Vatican; and possible Netanyahu policy changes in the near future.
According to the article, the Egyptian Vice Foreign Minister clarified to the Israel Foreign Ministry chief that, in fact, Egypt has not forgotten the Palestinian question, and that it is the main reason Egypt feels it cannot cooperate with Israel more closely. Second, the article states the opinion that ever since a rumor went out that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was ill with a terminal illness, he has become “paranoid” and is “desperate to renew the Palestinian public’s faith in his leadership.” To this end, he decided to take such actions as preventing the Palestinian public from taking advantage of Israel’s offer to allow worshipers to be taken straight to the Temple Mount, bypassing military checkpoints, on a Friday at the end of June. Third, the article states that although relations between Israel and the Vatican currently appear to be strained, Israel cannot afford to discount the Vatican, particularly as “it sometimes needs its services in protecting the Jewish communities in countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations.” Fourth, it appears that due to international pressure and the Palestinians’ recent political victories in the international arena, Prime Minister Netanyahu may present a political solution of his own “for renewing the process.”
Haaretz, July 5; The Jerusalem Post, July 7, 9, 2015
The 30th Synod of the United Church of Christ, meeting this week in Cleveland, Ohio, passed a measure to boycott Israeli products made in “settlements in the West Bank.” Another resolution was presented, calling for Israel’s activities against the Palestinians to be called “apartheid.” Although this second resolution won “a narrow majority,” it did not win the two-thirds majority “necessary for the denomination to adopt a new position.” On the other hand, a recent voice vote among some 300 Episcopalian bishops “indicated their ‘overwhelming’ opposition to the divestment proposal.” The Mennonite Church USA has a pending divestment resolution as well, but has voted to “table” it until its 2017 convention.
Max Samarov, writing for The Jerusalem Post, states that “the debate was rigged,” as most of the time for speakers was given to anti-Israel activists. “A common thread” in the meetings was that Israel, as a “powerful oppressor,” deserves pressure, while Palestinian leaders do not require accountability. Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Alderstein, also writing for The Jerusalem Post, stated that there was “no condemnation in the meetings of Hamas rockets and tunnels, or of the saturation of Palestinian media with exhortations to hate all Jews.”
The move has been “roundly condemned by mainstream Jewish organizations.” The Central Council of American Rabbis called it “a shameful episode”; Ethan Felson of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs said that the move “poisons the well for reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians”; Rabbi David Sandmel of the Anti-Defamation League noted that “none of the multinational companies named in the resolution will be harmed by UCC selling its shares, nor will there be any major economic impact on Israel.”
Israel Hayom, July 10, 2015
This article begins by quoting the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which both state that governments are founded to protect human beings’ natural rights, and not the other way around. However, “the recent saying” is that “there are no rights without duties,” which means that the Jewish majority in Israel has the duty of looking out for everyone within the borders of the country.
The Pope and the Vatican
Haaretz, July 8, 2015
It appears that “the Vatican has rebuffed Israeli requests to obtain the text of the agreement signed by the Holy See with the ‘State of Palestine’ on June 26.” It is known, however, that the agreement “formalizes relations between the parties” and constitutes formal Vatican recognition of a Palestinian state. Vatican officials stated that once the treaty has been ratified by both parties it will then become public, and that Israel “has nothing to worry about”—but in fact a concern in Israel is whether or not this treaty with the Palestinians contradicts the previous Vatican treaty with Israel.
Christians in Israel
Index HaGalil-Tverya, June 26 (x2); The Jerusalem Post, July 10, 2015
On Thursday, June 18, the fourth-century 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 were injured 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.” A party of Zionist Camp Knesset members visited the church on Friday, June 19th, together with Jordan River Regional Council head Yossi Vardi, who said, “I vehemently condemn any violence or injury to anyone’s body or possessions. Such violence towards people whose only crime is belonging to a particular group, is reminiscent of dark periods in history.”
Merkaz Ha’Inyanim Yerushalayim; Merkaz Ha’Inyanim Merkaz; Merkaz Ha’Inyanim Tzafon, July 6, 2015
A discussion was recently held in the Knesset Education Committee on the subject of Christian schools in Israel, which were reputedly in danger of being closed by the Ministry of Education. Ministry officials stated that what had been offered as an inducement to join the public education system was supervision by Christian education inspectors, a Christian department head, and preservation of the Christian curriculum. The Vatican stated its objections to this plan, causing the schools to reject it. Orthodox Jewish members of Knesset stated, regarding this, that apparently “the Education Ministry is more sensitive to Christians than to Jews, since it appointed a secular person to oversee orthodox education.” The newspaper states that to the best of its knowledge an orthodox person will now be appointed to this position.
The Jerusalem Post, July 8, 2015
Jesus Ministries and Angel TV have recently donated an ambulance to Magen David Adom at the initiative of Brother Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj. Some 560 people were present from some 22 countries, and donated more than 90 units of blood. The ambulance will be used in the north of Israel, particularly in the Safed area.
Messianic Jews (Organizations)
The Jerusalem Post, July 9, 2015
Yachad Ramat HaSharon, a Messianic Jewish nonprofit organization, has recently been refused tax benefits by the Knesset Finance Committee, which said “it breaks the law by baptizing Jews.” Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) added that if the benefits had been approved, it would mean “that the government is allowing and even encouraging fund-raising for missionary activities that undermine the Jewishness of the state.”
The article goes on to state that “despite Gafni’s comments, missionary activity and converting to Christianity are not illegal in Israel” as long as “material inducement” is not offered and as long as the missionizing is not directed at minors. NGOs may apply for tax benefits as long as they have passed a Tax Authority audit and have not been found to be acting illegally.
Kol Ra’anan, July 3, 2015
Shuki Cohen, head of the non-profit Citizens for the Lone Soldier organization and known as “the father of the lone soldiers” will be heading to the US for a fundraising trip. He will meet with businessmen, parents of lone soldiers, and a group of Israel-loving Christians. Cohen hopes not only to raise funds during the trip, but also to expose as many people as possible to the organization’s activity, and convince more people that it would be a good thing to make aliyah and enlist in the army.
B’Sheva, July 9, 2015
Rabbi Riskin of Efrat 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.
Recently many rumors have arisen regarding Riskin in light of his request for a five-year extension of his office. His supporters are therefore calling Riskin’s 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.”
This article, written in support of Riskin, says that Riskin has chosen a “holy embassy” to bring people who are “far away” closer to Judaism, and has therefore used the appropriate terminology. When Jews encounter Christians “who are attempting to atone for the sins of the past without them themselves being at all culpable,” they should be “esteemed, encouraged, and brought near.”
Ha’Ir Kol Ha’Ir, July 3; Maariv, July 10, 2015
These lists of current exhibitions in the Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv area include the Bloomfield Science Museum’s Illusions; The Herzl Museum’s new 60-minute multimedia presentation on the life of the envisioner of the Jewish state; The Isaac Kaplan Old Yishuv Court Museum’s exhibitions on Jewish life within the Old City walls; The Israel Museum’s exhibitions on ancient maps of Israel, the gold coin treasury found this year in Caesarea, and the Rembrandt painting of the Prophet Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem; the Tower of David Museum’s Night Spectacular, and the Eretz Israel Museum’s (Tel-Aviv) exhibition Following the Prickly Pear, on the prickly pear cactus, which “has become the symbol of Israeli rootedness.”
Zman, June 22, 2015
This month, the Hebrew month of Tammuz, marks the month the illegal immigrant ship Exodus 1947 put to sea with 4,515 immigrants on board—2,843 adults, 1,017 teenagers, and 655 children. Upon reaching the shores of Israel the ship was caught by the British Mandate forces and sent back to Hamburg, then under British control as well. The survivors were interned in two camps in north Germany. Although most of them were subsequently able to immigrate to Israel using false immigration papers, some were forced to wait for more than a year before they received legal permission to immigrate.
Shabbat B’Shivto, June 12, 2015
This article, another dealing with the water system of ancient Jerusalem, focuses on the pools formed along the system. One notable feature mentioned is that the brook along which the pools are found—created by an Herodian dam—flows down an extremely sharp decline; it falls into the Kidron Valley “at a depth of 45 meters below the current surface level.” Secondly, the dam features a vertical shaft in order to allow for changing water levels with a water tunnel carved in the rock at its base, which may have brought water to an ancient residential neighborhood south of the Temple Mount.
B’Kitzur, June 18, 2015
This article, dealing with the excavation at Khirbet Qayafa, mentions not only the clay pitcher inscribed “Eshba’al ben Bada” recently covered in the media, but other things discovered at the site, among them evidence of a fortified city, a 1,000-square-meter structure, thousands of bones belonging to kosher animals, evidence of a bottle of perfume from Cyprus, Egyptian seals, and iron weapons. The clay pitcher appears to have contained wine or olive oil, and since Eshba’al’s name appears on it, he must have been the owner of a large agricultural estate. The size of the pitcher may be a testimony of taxes, or a gift.
Sha’a Tova, July 9, 2015
This article relates specific details concerning the 110 clay tablets found in Iraq and dealing with “Al-Yahudu,” the city where the Jewish exiles appear to have been placed after 586 BCE. The tablets describe the city and its everyday life, including Jewish names, their business transactions, and especially their hope of return to Jerusalem.
Maariv, July 10, 2015
This article recounts some of the tourist attractions to be found in Kibbutz Tzuba west of Jerusalem. Of particular interest is a burial cave where bones as well as 200 plates were found, and a stone “high place,” thought by Edward Robinson to be the place where Samuel crowned Saul as king.