During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Maariv, July 18; Yom L’Yom, July 21, 2016
UNESCO has voted on a revision to their declaration from earlier this year “canceling the connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount” and ignoring Christianity’s connection to the site as well. The revision was temporarily taken off the committee’s agenda after a “diplomatic battle” aiming to prevent it, but was later passed on Thursday, July 21. Although the text of the revision has not yet been published, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has already stated its “concern,” since the revision keeps the phrasing denying the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. Emmanuel Nachshon, spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, said that “by supporting this decision by UNESCO, which cancels the Jewish people’s connection to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem, the Europeans are in fact canceling their own identity, since there is no Christianity without Judaism.”
Kochav HaTzafon, July 8, 2016
The family of kidnapped soldier Oron Shaul has been protesting the fact that neither Shaul’s body nor that of Hadar Goldin were ever mentioned in any of Israel’s agreements with Turkey regarding Gaza. The family states that while “they support the agreement with Turkey,” what they expect from the government is to demand “humanitarianism for humanitarianism.” Accordingly, they blocked the passage of humanitarian aid trucks into Gaza at Kerem Shalom with their bodies for several hours on July 8.
Kav LeMoshav, July 14, 2016
This five-page article offers a retrospective of the Jordan Valley’s history, as January 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of Jewish communities in the area. Most of the inhabitants make their living from agriculture, particularly dates, figs, peppers, spices, and grapes, some 80% of which are exported. Though they were hard hit by the BDS boycott in 2014, the farmers managed to survive by finding new markets, and continue with their work despite the Jordan Valley’s precarious position in any potential international negotiations. The article includes interviews with longtime residents on the history of the area, how it has changed, and the complexities of living there due to the peripheral location. It concludes with a statement by Maggie, one of the residents of Petzael: “During the past 50 years we turned a desert into a flowering place. Where before people driving on Highway 90 saw only sand, now they see plantations, flowering communities, children and young people. I believe that we will grow and multiply ourselves during the next 50 years.”
Yom L’Yom, July 21, 2016
On Thursday, July 14, the British parliament formed a committee for protecting the Mount of Olives, the members of which will function as a chapter of the international committee on this subject. The ceremony included the reading of an official letter from Prince Charles, and was attended by Princess Katherine of Yugoslavia, whose grandmother hid three Jewish families during the Holocaust and is buried on the Mount of Olives; by the international committee chairman; and by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch, vice-mayor of Jerusalem.
Haaretz, July 20, 2016
On July 20, 1933, an agreement was signed between the Vatican and Nazi Germany “that set the parameters of the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Nazi government,” which had been strained since Otto von Bismarck’s Kulturkampf campaign in the early 1870s to limit Catholic influence in Germany, which “largely backfired.” Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, Secretary of State under Pope Pius XI, pursued treaties with as many states as possible, and the purpose of the treaty with Germany was to find a modus vivendi, “as German Catholics were forbidden to join the Nazi Party at the time, and priests would refuse communion to anyone wearing a swastika.” Additionally, the treaty “meant the end of German churchmen’s involvement in local politics, in return for Germany giving control of church affairs in Germany to Rome.” Pacelli, later to become Pope Pius XII, carried out negotiations on behalf of the Vatican, and after the treaty was signed it was ratified by the Vatican on September 10. The church “began to protest German violation of the treaty almost immediately, but to no avail, and the treaty remains in effect today.”
Makor Rishon, July 22, 2016
Georgian-Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli has suggested putting an 80-meter-high sculpture of Jesus in a central location in Saint Petersburg. This suggestion has caused controversy over the separation of church and state in Russia, especially since the city is considered by many to be the country’s cultural capital and is identified mostly with the secular life. The Russian Orthodox Church has made a protest statement as well, saying, among other things, that “putting up an expensive statue of this kind during an economic recession would cause disaffection from the church,” which so far “has been seen as a refuge by the weak sectors of society.”
Israel Hayom, July 11, 2016
An Israel Museum exhibition entitled Ashkelon: A Retrospective has opened at the Rockefeller Museum of Archaeology, presenting the artifacts recovered during the last 30 years of excavations (see last week’s review). The most important discovery is that of a Philistine cemetery, including 160 skeletons, apparently buried between the 11th and 8th centuries BCE. Although digging on the site of what is now the Ashkelon National Park was begun in 1920-1922 by the Palestine Exploration Fund, it is the continuous digging done from 1985 onward which has significantly contributed to the understanding of the city’s history. Itamar Shimoni, mayor of Ashkelon, said, “This is the first time researchers have had a ‘face to face’ meeting with the Philistines who lived here. This is a significant, breakthrough discovery.”