During the week covered by this review, we received 14 articles on the following subjects:
Religious Freedom and Rights
Religious Freedom and Rights
The Jerusalem Post; Haaretz (x2), August 10; HaModia, August 11; The Jerusalem Post; Haaretz, August 12; Yediot Ahronot, August 13, 2015
Rabbi Bentzi Gopstein, head of the radical anti-assimilation and anti-missionary organization Lehava, which “propagates the ideology of Meir Kahane’s Jewish Defense League,” has stated openly that he supports burning churches in Israel (see previous Media Review). Gopstein, speaking to a summer camp of the Wolfson yeshiva, stated this opinion as part of a panel dealing with the question of eradicating idol worship. The other two panel members stated their shock concerning Gopstein’s statement, but he remained adamant. Gopstein did state later that “the panel was closed,” that the question before the panel had been a question of theoretical Jewish law (‘whether or not people today are obliged to follow Maimonides’ instruction and eliminate idol worship’), that he “was not calling for operative steps,” and that “sermon givers in mosques should be investigated before he is.”
On Sunday, August 9, the Custodia Terra Sancta called upon Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan to indict Gopstein for incitement to racism, saying that “this is a time for determined and uncompromising action by law enforcement authorities under your leadership … in the face of real danger to churches and Christian communities in Israel.”
On Tuesday, August 11, Gopstein was detained for questioning. Upon his release, Gopstein stated that he “feels himself to be the target of a witch hunt” and that “denying freedom of speech on religious matters causes ‘price-tag’ incidents.” He also posted a comment on Facebook saying that “the time when the Vatican censored Jewish books is gone” and that “they [the Vatican] should keep their hands off the Torah of the Jewish people.”
Aviad Kleinberg, writing for Yediot Ahronot, is of the opinion that although Gopstein is in the minority in his opinion, it comes from “fertile ground”; quoting from Ramah Ben-Yochanan’s doctoral dissertation on Jewish-Christian relations over the past fifty years, he states that as Christianity was, and still is, defined as idol worship by Jewish law, most of the honor and tolerance shown to it was from “pragmatic fear of reprisals” and not because Christianity is “worthy of honor.”
The Jerusalem Post, August 14, 2015
A group of rabbis, together with Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, has succeeded in raising some NIS 65,000 towards repairing the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha. “We are fighting for the heart and image of Judaism, and for our own heart and image … we must respond with acts of kiddush haShem [sanctification of God’s name],” the group stated. The funds will be used to repair the church’s roof.
A church has stood on the site since the mid-third century, but the present church, which stands on the same site, dates from 1982. It is visited daily by some 5,000 people.
Kol HaSharon, August 5, 2015
On the afternoon of Sunday, August 9, a resident of Netanya attacked a group of Messianic Jews attempting to distribute flyers. He was arrested by the police.
Chadashot Nahariya, August 6, 2015
Dr. Mas’ad Barhoum, head of the Medical Center for the Galilee, has recently returned from the United States, where he spoke to a conference of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) about work in the medical center, and particularly about the care the center has given to Syrian refugees. The medical center has had connections to CUFI for the past 5 years. Dr. Barhoum also opened the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference last year.
Shabbat B’Shivto, August 7, 2015
This article states that Christianity sees the sin of the golden calf as God’s breaking point, and that the smashing of the tablets of the law symbolizes the end of the covenant.
Globes, August 13, 2015
This article details the celebrations taking place in Jerusalem on Mary’s feast day, marked by some on August 15th and others on August 25th; particularly noted is the sunrise procession in which the famed Mageli Panya icon of Mary is taken from the Matochion convent to the Mary’s Tomb Church.
HaModia, August 9, 2015
A 1,700 year old synagogue has recently been uncovered north of Tiberias, approximately 1 kilometer north of Capernaum. This structure is unique due to its beautiful Byzantine-era mosaic, depicting a partially preserved menorah with candles all pointing inward, and a Hebrew inscription with the name of the contributor.
Chadash b’Beit Shemesh, August 9, 2015
On the night between August 11th and 12th the Antiquities Robbery Prevention Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority identified a group of thieves digging at Khurvat Shovav in the Beit Shemesh with digging tools and a sophisticated metal detector. The inspectors of the unit summoned personnel from the “Mateh Yehuda” unit of the border police, and together with a police helicopter they pursued the thieves, who had tried to flee. One suspect managed to escape (but his identity is known), and another was caught with 63 Second Temple and Roman era coins in his possession.
Khurvat Shovav is a recognized archaeological site which has yielded artifacts beginning from the Early Bronze Age, specifically the impression of a First Temple era seal. The site continued to exist until its destruction during the Bar-Kochba Revolt, and was inhabited again during the Ottoman period.