During the week covered by this review, we received 13 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Christians and the Holocaust
Israel Hayom, July 12, 2016
MK Dore Gold, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has called on UNESCO and state representatives “to not endorse the Palestinian and Jordanian initiative regarding Jerusalem,” according to which UNESCO would call on Israel “to return the situation on the Temple Mount to the historic status quo.” “The decision intentionally ignores the connection between the Jewish people and its capital, as well as the connection between Christianity and Jerusalem. Israel preserves freedom of worship on the site for all religions.”
Israel sees this move as a continuation to the “scandalous decision” three months ago, according to which the Temple Mount should only be called the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
A La Gosh, June 6, 2016
This article covers the Samaritan celebration of the three pilgrimage holidays; the Greek Orthodox Easter and particularly the Holy Fire ceremony; the Ethiopian Orthodox baptism ceremony on the Jordan; and the Jewish Days of Awe, Hanukkah, and the celebration at Mount Meiron on Lag Ba’Omer in memory of the rabbinical sages. The article covers the way each feast is celebrated in an attempt to illustrate to the reader the different ways in which Israel is the “holy land.”
Israel Hayom, July 12, 2016
New research done by the Christian Empowerment Council states that since 2002, the World Council of Churches has been operating a program called the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), the purpose of which is “ending the unlawful occupation of Palestine.” Eighty Christians come to Israel annually as part of this program and monitor the activity of security forces in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria; take photos and post them to blogs; and participate in lectures all over Europe. The volunteers are “trained to bait security forces” and accuse them of targeting Christians in Jerusalem, planting weapons on terrorists who were neutralized, preventing Christians from entering the Temple Mount, butchering Palestinian children, and sending Jews onto the Temple Mount as a provocation. The activists also accuse the “Jewish lobby” in the US of silencing opposition, and so on. The council’s research has shown that the activists come to Israel as tourists instead of as volunteers, as they should. “Therefore, by so doing they are showing themselves to be BDS activists disguising themselves as tourists and violating their visas.” During the past two months the council has been joined in its research by the Zionist Foundation for Israel and DMU. Gilad Erdan, Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information, has stated, “No normal state would allow activists boycotting against it to enter and act freely in it, and here too we will do everything so that this offensive phenomenon will stop in the coming months.”
Haaretz, July 13 & 14, 2016
Col. Eyal Krim, a controversial rabbi, is to be appointed chief rabbi of the IDF. He is considered controversial because he stated in 2003 on the Kipa website that “women are too sentimental to testify in court”; “homosexuals should be treated like people who have an illness or a deformity who must be loved and helped to get out of their situation”; “suicide bombers who have been injured should be killed”; and the New Testament “and any other heretical book” should be burned. He also stated on the same website, however, that “only the official authorities may act in response to terrorist incidents” and that “no one has the right to take the law into his own hands.”
Roni Daniel and Alon Ben-David, two IDF analysts, have explained to the public that Krim’s appointment is to go through, since Chief of Staff Eisenkot is convinced that the controversial opinions were uttered in reference to Gemara issues regarding biblical realities “that are not relevant today,” and that Krim has proven himself to be “pragmatic and modern, as well as submitted to the IDF’s values.”
HaPeles, July 14, 2016
This article discusses the Mikveh Law, meant to establish separate mikvehs [Jewish ritual baths] for Reform and Conservative Jewish use. The main reason for this law is to provide a way for Reform and Conservative people to make use of a mikveh for conversion ceremonies.
The ultra-orthodox do not recognize Reform and Conservative conversions to Judaism, and they therefore object to this law, which they see as a “worrisome” giving of legitimacy to streams some of them see as heretical.
HaMevaser, July 14, 2016
A delegation from Hungary has recently visited Israel, and met with the Israel-Hungary Association, headed by MK Rabbi Israel Eichler. Among the subjects discussed at the meeting were the refugees who have entered Europe through Hungary, the degree to which Hungary influences the European standpoint on Israel, the reason the Palestinian public relations campaign succeeds in Europe, the condition of Jewish cemeteries in Hungary, the anti-Semitic political party in Hungary, the funds given to the Jewish communities in Hungary, and the ways in which Jewish tourism to Hungary is encouraged.
Christians in Israel
Haaretz, July 10, 2016
A bill proposing imprisonment for anyone persuading Arab Christian soldiers to desert from the IDF was expected to pass the second and third reading on July 11th. Those who oppose the law, such as the Joint List Knesset members, say that the law “injures freedom of expression” and “would be implemented against legitimate criticism of Christian Arab enlistment as well.”
Those who support the law say that it is necessary to protect Arab Christian volunteers from the pressure not to enlist. Shadi Khalul, one of the main figures in support of Christian enlistment, said that the Arab MKs “publish letters that incite against the enlistment process.”
Haaretz, July 15, 2016
A controversy is ongoing in Poland regarding Polish national honor and the way it is seen both domestically and internationally. The controversy is particularly obvious in reference to Poland during World War II, as the official stand of the Polish government is to oppose any mention of “Polish concentration camps” or “concentration camps in Poland” without the addition of the word “conquered” to the phrase.
Those who support the stance do so since they wish responsibility to be placed where it is due, and say that as Poland was ruled directly by Germany during World War II, the country of Poland ceased to exist, making the use of the country name without the qualification of “conquered” inaccurate. Jacek Chodorowicz, Poland’s ambassador to Israel, points out that “World War II is a sacred experience in Poland, since the country was destroyed by Nazi Germany and by the USSR,” and that “there was no government in Poland that collaborated with the Nazis, like there was in other countries.”
Those who oppose the stance do so since they think that by taking this stance the Polish government “may be attempting to rewrite history.” Lili Haver, head of the association of Polish immigrants in Israel, states that the word “Poland” has always been used to refer to the geographical area, regardless of the particular form of the political entity, and wonders “if the Polish are trying to hold the rope at both ends, wishing to convince the world that they had no part in the Holocaust, but at the same time enjoying the profits from the millions of tourists who come to visit the camps and museums.” Haver adds that neither the Polish government nor the church in Poland have ever asked for forgiveness for the murder and robbery that took place before, during, and after the war. Professor Jan Garbovsky, asked to correct the name of a conference called “The Holocaust in Poland,” points out that “no protest came from the Ukraine or Russia about books titled The Holocaust in the Ukraine or The Holocaust in Russia.” Holocaust survivors in Poland have also expressed the fear that official entities are emphasizing the deeds of Poles who saved Jews, while minimizing the deeds of those who murdered Jews.
In any case, offenses against Polish national honor are not yet punishable by law. However, historians, researchers, and journalists, both Polish and international, continue to receive official requests for correction. Historian Jan Tomasz Gross has even been declared persona non grata.
Christians and the Holocaust
Haaretz, July 11, 2016
The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, a New York City–based Jewish organization, has recently held a luncheon to honor 35 Polish Christians who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II. The foundation provides financial aid to the rescuers by supplementing state pensions and assisting with medical needs, but also holds a yearly luncheon in honor of the rescuers as a way to show gratitude. “Words are truly inadequate to express the gratitude of the Jewish people to each and every one of you,” said Stanlee Stahl, executive vice-president of the foundation.
Today the foundation sends help to 450 rescuers in 20 countries, 238 of whom are in Poland. This is in contrast to the 1,850 people in 34 countries who were being assisted some 15 years ago.
Yediot Ahronot, July 14, 2016
This article covers the wide variety of tourist sites to be found in the Jordan Valley, from historical sites such as Gilgal and the Qasr al-Yahud baptismal site, to a car racing track for driving enthusiasts, to the Oren and Organica farms, open for agricultural tourism, to the hilltop coffeehouse at Rotem.
Yediot Ahronot, July 14, 2016
Tamar Kinneret is a new visitors’ center opened at Kvutzat Kinneret, and is dedicated to telling the story of the early pioneers through the illustration of the date plantations on the site. One tour tells the story of Ben-Tzion Israeli’s vision “to return the date to the land of the date palm,” another tour tells the story of Kvutzat Kinneret itself and the pioneers’ vision for Jewish rebirth. The subject of the third tour is poetry, as poets Rachel and Naomi Shemer are buried here. It is also possible to visit the factory store and taste many date-based foods. Altogether this is a unique experience, combining both education and fun from an unusual perspective.
Israel Hayom, July 11, 2016
An Israel Museum exhibition entitled Ashkelon: A Retrospective has opened at the Rockefeller Museum of Archaeology. Many of the artifacts were found in a Philistine cemetery excavated at the Ashkelon National Park, and include funerary gifts, jewelry, and perfume. Prof. Daniel Master, head of the excavation which discovered the cemetery, stated, “This is the first time we meet the Philistines after decades of digging. Because of this discovery we will now be able to discover the Philistine population.”
The artifacts exhibited “show Ashkelon’s special place in history and the significant discoveries from the Philistine community in the city.”