During the week covered by this review, we received 23 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
HaModia, July 9, 2015
The 30th synod of the United Church of Christ passed a measure to boycott Israeli products made in “settlements in the West Bank” (see previous Review).
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 by any major economic impact on Israel.”
Israel has condemned the move as well; Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon stated that “the denomination’s policies have reflected the most radical politics for more than a decade and in no way reflect a moral stance or a reality-based position.” He stated as well that “people of faith ought to be acting to help Israel and the Palestinians to renew efforts to achieve peace, rather than endlessly demonizing one party in the conflict.”
Haaretz; Makor Rishon, July 17, 2015
A demonstration is set to take place on Wednesday, July 22, in New York’s Times Square, demanding that US Congressmen “express their opposition to the treaty with Iran after looking at its details” and demanding a return to the “original demands” from Iran, including complete access to nuclear facilities with no advance notice. The demonstrators are also expected to call for a continuation of the sanctions on Iran and that Israel be given advanced security assistance in order to protect herself in case of a nuclear attack. Among the speakers will be Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University, R. James Woolsey, formerly of the CIA, and Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America.
The demonstration is being organized by a wide spectrum of organizations, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, KKL-JNF America, the Republican Jewish Coalition, the Zionist Organization of America, Stand With Us, and various Christian pro-Israel organizations.
Many of the Jewish organizations in the US—from AIPAC to such organizations as the Orthodox Union (OU) and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)—oppose a treaty with Iran, but others, such as the leftist J Street, support it.
The Makor Rishon article states in connection with the pending treaty that the West appears to have “given up on the struggle for the first time in 1,500 years,” and its desire to appear “nice” and “politically correct” has overcome its other principles. The feeling is that “the more violent Islam gets, the more the West, bound in the chains of political correctness, will try to appear nice, and throw Israel and the Jews to this demanding beast in an attempt to appease its hunger.”
Christians in Israel
Meida 8, June 26; Haaretz; HaModia; The Jerusalem Post, July 13, 2015
On Thursday, June 18, the fourth century CE Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha suffered severe arson, in what is thought to be a price-tag attack (see previous Reviews). 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.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has instructed the domestic intelligence organization to expedite the investigation of this incident, and three suspects were in fact arrested early on July 12 in connection with the fire. Their remand has been extended. The details of the investigation, as well as the suspects’ identity, are still under a gag order.
The Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2015
On Monday, July 13, Nazareth police discovered that a Christian Aramean IDF soldier had lied about being attacked by a party of Muslims, “according to a Channel 2 report.” Channel 2 has reported as well that the soldier “has been detained on suspicion of providing a false statement and obstructing justice” and that “the case is being transferred to the military police.”
The Jerusalem Post, July 12, 2015
Some 10 activists from the Lehava organization broke into the Messianic Jewish Elav conference, which was held at Jerusalem’s Old Train Station on Thursday, July 9. Two of the activists “were arrested for attacking and disturbing public order,” but no one was wounded. Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein, the leader of Lehava, later stated, “The purpose [of the Elav conference] is missionary.” Lehava has gained notoriety in the past for its radical views against interfaith marriage and Christian missionary work; three of its activists were indicted in December 2014 for “setting fire to the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem.”
The Elav conference, held annually since 2007, is run by the Succat Hallel organization, “which conducts a permanent prayer vigil ‘to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and intercede for Israel and the nations.’”
BeSheva Bnei Brak; BeSheva Tzafon; BeSheva Darom, July 9, 2015
Rabbi Riskin of Efrat has drawn criticism (see previous Reviews) 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.”
Chadashot Nahariya, July 9; Tzafon 1, July 10, 2015
Dr. Mas’ad Barhoum, head of the Medical Center for the Galilee, has been invited to speak at a conference of Israel-loving Christians soon to take place in Washington. Some 2,500 Christian leaders are expected to attend. Prime Minister Netanyahu will speak to the conference via satellite feed. Other speakers will be Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel and Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer. “I am proud to be honored with the privilege of representing the State of Israel and the residents of the western Galilee. I hope that in this trip we will succeed in finding new friends for the medical center and the whole region,” said Barhoum.
Israel Hayom; Maariv, July 14; The Jerusalem Post, July 15, 2015
On Monday, July 13, Tzur Goldin, twin brother of deceased Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, spoke to the thousands of attendees at Christians United for Israel’s 10th annual conference in Washington, and asked that they help him return the bodies of his brother and Staff-Sergeant Oron Shaul home. “I am here to bring my twin brother home,” said Goldin. “He was kidnapped by the Hamas organization, and it is time that his body is returned to our family.” Goldin called upon international leaders to halt the rehabilitation of Gaza until the bodies are returned, and said, “The time has come that we, children of the free world, make the rules for Hamas and stop playing into its hands.”
Lieutenant Hadar Goldin fell in Rafiah during Operation Protective Edge and his body is held by Hamas. Staff-Sergeant Shaul fell in Saja’iya and his burial place in unknown.
The Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2015
The Magdala Spiritual Center on the shores of the Sea of Galilee offers visitors a unique view of some of the most important archaeological finds of the past 50 years. Of particular note is a first century CE Jewish synagogue found on the site, with the first menorah decoration of the period to be discovered in a Jewish context.
The Magdala Center dedicated its “Duc in Altum” church in 2014, and offers a restaurant and visitors’ center as well. Building is set to continue on July 22, and “plans call for a pilgrims’ house, a restaurant for 900 people and the Magdalena Institute for promotion of women’s dignity.”
The Magdala Spiritual Center hosts some 25,000 visitors a year and is open from 08:00 to 18:00, seven days a week.
The Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2015
This year’s Jerusalem Season of Culture Festival’s Under the Mountain art exhibition intends to concentrate on the history of and issues to do with the Temple Mount. It is “the culmination of a year-long attempt to understand the site and its symbolism to so many different stakeholders.”
The exhibition opens on August 25 and will comprise a variety of events, including an excursion to the site itself (tickets available on the exhibition’s website).
Haaretz, July 14, 2015
UNESCO has recently designated the baptismal site on the Jordan River’s eastern bank as a World Heritage Site. The decision is controversial, with some saying that there is no real basis for this decision. Others say, however, that “as John the Baptist had antagonized Jewish authorities in Jerusalem, a site on the eastern bank would have been logical.” Yisca Harani, an Israeli expert on pilgrimage, has said that “both the Israeli and Jordanian sides should have been designated as one site ‘to reflect the meaning of baptism as a journey from the “spiritual desert” to the Holy Land.’”
Ha’Ir Ratzui u’Matzui, July 10, 2015
The excavation of the Roman Sixth Legion camp at Meggido has recently revealed a street with structures on both its sides. The street’s dimensions show it to have been one of the main streets of the camp, and archaeologists surmise that the large structure uncovered was the residence of one of the camp commanders.
The excavation is taking place as part of the Albright Institute’s Jezreel Valley Research project, and is headed by Yotam Tefer, Matthew Adams, and Jonathan David.
Ha’Ir Ratzui u’Matzui, July 10, 2015
The Beit She’arim National Park, the location of an important Second Temple era Jewish town and traditionally held to be the burial place of Rabbi Judah the Prince, chief redactor and editor of the Mishnah, has recently been declared a World Heritage Site. Beit She’arim is the ninth World Heritage Site in Israel; the others are Masada, the Old City in Akko, the White City in Tel-Aviv, the biblical tels (Beer-Sheba, Hatzor, and Meggido), the Nabatean Spice Route, the Baha’i Gardens, Nahal Me’arot, and the caves in the Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park