During the week covered by this review, we received 9 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Israel Hayom, September 18, 2015
This analysis article by Dr. Reuven Barko states the opinion that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are continuing their fight in vain, as the recent upheavals in the Arab world have “changed the balance of power to their detriment” and “countries which have not crumbled are preoccupied with preserving themselves against the Islamic State (IS) and may even prefer to see Israel as a covert or open ally.” The unprecedented refugee problem will also ensure that the Palestinians will no longer remain “exclusive refugees.”
Christians in Israel
Chadashot Haifa VeHaTzafon, September 9; Yediot Haifa, September 11; Haaretz, September 16, 2015
A demonstration took place in Haifa’s Maginim Street, protesting “the absence of equality in the Ministry of Education’s budgets for schools in the country” (see previous Media Review). Thousands of parents, public personalities, and religious leaders were present. Father Abed Almassih-Faheem, head of the Secretariat of Christian Schools, stated during the demonstration that “the Ministry of Education’s purpose is to expropriate the Christian schools from the church and erase their history and their hundreds of years of cultural and educational legacy.” Almassih went on to say that “equality is his basic right and he is not asking the government for handouts.” Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav stated, “I stand here at your side today as a partner in your struggle, and I will do as much as is possible to stop the injury to the church schools.” In the Haaretz article, Adv. Butrus Mansour of the Baptist school in Nazareth and the Christian Schools Action Committee noted that “the percentage of students eligible for matriculation exams is highest in the Christian schools,” and that in spite of the fact that the schools are a large factor in forming a “law-abiding, faithful, industrious population, that loves studying and education,” “the government’s action towards this sector sends the message that they are being abandoned completely.”
The fight has drawn support from both the Jewish and the Arab public; the schools in the Arab sector have joined the Christian schools’ strike, which has been in progress since the beginning of the school year. Another demonstration is planned at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem. A general strike in the Arab sector is being contemplated as well.
HaShavua B’Yerushalayim, September 17; HaModia, September 18, 2015
Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef have published a letter calling for a boycott of the International Christian Embassy’s annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration. While the letter admits that “the organizers of the gathering may be friends of Israel,” it says that in fact “the event is a spiritual danger and undermines the country’s Jewish character.” Other elements of the Orthodox Jewish community, together with representatives of the Yad L’Achim anti-missionary activist organization, met with Jerusalem’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Aryeh Stern, who presented a letter he had received from the ICEJ stating that since its founding, the embassy had never done any missionary activity nor broken Israeli law. Stern also presented a letter from the Jerusalem municipality stating that the event is entirely private, and that the organizers have promised a complete absence of missionary activity.
Makor Rishon, September 18, 2015
Some 650 Christian leaders, gathering in Washington on September 3, have signed their names to a petition demanding that Congress not ratify the nuclear treaty with Iran. “By our initiative we hope to show that this is not a political, Jewish, or Israeli issue, but an American issue like any other. Millions of American oppose this terrible deal,” said Susan Michael, USA director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.
This move is the first initiative of the American Christian Leaders for Israel umbrella organization, newly formed by the US branch of the ICEJ.
Bayit Cham, September 3, 2015
A trip will take place on Friday, October 16, and Monday, October 19, entitled “Christianity on the way to Jerusalem.” Sites visited will be the Zion Sisters’ convent in Ein Kerem, originally built as a center to assist Christian Maronite orphans whose parents were killed by Druze marauders; Sataf, where one can observe ancient agricultural methods; the Benedictine monastery in Abu Ghosh, noted especially for its Crusader-era church and crypt, with its 12th century fresco remains; and Moshav Yad HaShmonah, originally founded by Finnish volunteers who wanted to help with the building of the land, and currently inhabited by evangelical Christians and Messianic Jews. Pre-registration is required at the Meitivei Kvish Club.
The Jerusalem Post, September 18, 2015
This article reviews The Grammar of God by Aviya Kushner, recently published by Spiegel and Grau. The book, comprising a collection of essays, attempts to acquaint the reader with “the ways in which Hebrew readers see and view the Bible.” Kushner tries especially to portray some of the flavor of Jewish tradition, as “studying the Bible is often the story of families.” The human portraits in the Bible, which one need not be religious to appreciate, are especially intriguing to her: “the stuff we know happens but we don’t always talk about.”