During the week covered by this review, we received 15 articles on the following subjects:
The Pope and the Vatican
Christians in Israel
The Pope and the Vatican
Makor Rishon, September 9, 2016
On Sunday, September 4, Mother Teresa was canonized a Roman Catholic saint. Born in Skopje in 1910 as Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, she took orders in Ireland at age 18. Shortly thereafter she was sent to Calcutta, and remained there for most of the rest of her life. She is known chiefly as the founder of the Missionaries of Charity order, which operate orphanages, clinics for terminal patients, leper colonies, and schools for abandoned children. Mother Teresa received the Nobel Prize for her work in 1979.
After detailing the history and process of canonization, the article describes how Mother Teresa’s canonization process was “shorter than usual,” and was also begun two years after her death, rather than the five usually required. The most significant miracle attributed to Mother Teresa is the healing of an Indian woman with a huge tumor in her ovaries, and is contested by some doctors, who say that it was medical treatment which healed the woman. Mother Teresa is also controversial as some say that the care given at her facilities is insufficient, that it was given for the sake of conversion, that she did not resist her growing fame, and that she had friendly relations with dictators such as François Duvalier of Haiti and Enver Halil Hoxha of Albania.
Christians in Israel
Ha’Ir Melabs, September 2, 2016
At four o’clock in the morning this past Sunday, firefighters were called to a fire in a church serving the foreign workers’ community at the pedestrian mall at HaHaganah 23 in Petach Tikva. No one was injured, but the building was badly damaged. Residents of the upper floors evacuated independently, assisted by the fire department. Oren Shishitzky, spokesperson for the fire department, said that the investigation is concentrating at the moment on the possibility of candles that had not been put out, and arson.
The municipality has stated that “any space used for the gathering of an audience must take care of the appropriate permits for accessibility, fire, and so on. This use may be unknown to us, and meant to serve the foreign community. The building inspection will check this.”
The Jerusalem Post, September 9, 2016
This article is a biographical sketch of Jonathan Nazir Elkhoury, a spokesman for the Christian Empowerment Council, as given by him in a discussion on August 31 at the Jerusalem Salon.
Elkhoury was born in Lebanon in 1992. His father was a soldier in the South Lebanon Army, but fled to Israel in 2000, the rest of the family following in 2001. The family “got a lot of help from Israeli society because of the SLA’s contribution, they welcomed us and did everything for us to feel at home,” says Elkhoury, but adjustment was still difficult. One example of this was the difficulty in finding a school for the nine-year-old Elkhoury, who wasn’t accepted by the Arabic schools, which “saw the family as traitors.” Instead, Elkhoury went to a Jewish school, and he learned to speak Hebrew fluently within three months. In 11th grade, Elkhoury was given the choice to opt out of military service, and chose to spend two years doing national service at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. It was at this time that he realized “that you need to do something to contribute if you are part of a society,” since “we are here and we don’t have anywhere else to go.” As a Christian Lebanese, Elkhoury considers himself Phoenician or Aramaic, rather than Arab, and says that “the biggest challenge facing Christians in Israel is the Christians themselves … our obligation as citizens of this country is to try and make the situation better, not as outsiders who want to destroy the system, but from within.”
BeSheva-Mitchalef Yerushalayim, September 1, 2016
This article reiterates the story from last week’s Review concerning how Adv. Moshe Morgenstern of Yad L’Achim’s legal department has sent a letter to the state attorney’s office, protesting the police’s closure of the case file regarding an incident of missionary material given to a minor in Modi’in some four months ago, on the pretext that “there was no criminal culpability.” Morgenstern stated that according to the evidence in his hands such files are closed as a matter of course, and Yad L’Achim has added that “since the enforcement agencies have no interest in holding legal proceedings on such a momentous issue, the State of Israel will not remain either democratic or Jewish,” that the proceedings of the state attorney’s office in this matter are “scandalous,” that “those who break the law should be punished to the full extent of it even if someone doesn’t like part of the law,” and that “they expect the orthodox parties to come to their senses and act upon the subject.”
The Jerusalem Post, September 7, 2016
This article is an essay contending against the idea that “the Jews—white Europeans—who settled in Israel before the founding of the state stole the land of the indigenous Palestinians and that Israel was born in the ‘original sin’ of genocide,” according to the BDS accusation.
The article brings four arguments in support of the idea that Zionism and imperialism are not synonymous. The first of these is that “the context of the earliest Zionist thinkers and their texts was a world in which Europeans challenged the rule of empires,” an example being that of Zvi Hirsch Kalischer, writing in 1862, who “urged the Jews ‘to take to heart the examples of the Italians, Poles and Hungarians.’” The second of these is that although “Theodore Herzl was the founder of political Zionism and the dynamo who put the movement on the global map,” the world powers with which he attempted to negotiate all rejected him; contrary to the British in India and the French in Algeria it was the “blood, sweat and tears” of the Jewish settlement “returning to the people’s point of origin” that created “the reality of Jewish labor and sovereignty in the land of Israel,” without the intent of “amassing great wealth and assuming ‘the white man’s burden.’” The third argument is that the Balfour Declaration, although “the first acceptance by European powers of a modern Jewish homeland,” turned out to be a “sham” that “betrayed the Jewish people” due to “the British fear of alienating the Arabs of the Middle East.” The fourth argument is that until modernity “the Jews were never ‘white Europeans,’” but rather “the bargain of civic equality was an abandonment of Jewish ‘superstition’ and the ‘tribal’ and ‘cruel’ God of Israel,” citing the examples of Napoleon, who “still believed that Jews made their fortunes from moneylending” even 15 years after granting them civic equality, and Thomas Jefferson, who believed that “Jesus arrived on the scene to correct the tribalism and cruelty of the God of Israel and to correct the ‘mummeries’ promoted by Moses.”
In conclusion, Zionism “was not the result of imperialism and colonialism but a response against it,” but due to the “prostitution of scholarship to political ideology” on Western campuses, “Jews are Nazis, Israel is an apartheid state, and a free Palestine will be ‘Judenrein’ from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.”
Nofshim, September 2, 2016
This article covers a trip led by Dr. Yoni Rubin of Bar-Ilan University to view the remains of the Crusader “Le Toron des Chevaliers” at a tel east of the Latrun Trappist monastery, showing how the strategic value of the site’s location was known for centuries, and to view the remains of the Hospitaller Belmont fortress at Tzuba, both known for the spectacular landscape views to be seen from the sites as well.
Yediot Ahronot, September 6; Haaretz, September 9, 2016
A problem has been discovered in the Friends of Zion Museum’s depiction of Colonel John Patterson, commander of the Mule Brigade in the World War I, which, among other things, states how Ben-Zion and Tzilla Netanyahu asked him to be the godfather of their son Yonatan, and that “his brother Binyamin was a clever child.” The problem arises due to the fact that Patterson died in 1947, and Netanyahu was born in 1949. The museum has stated in response that the material presented “was collected by many researchers studying historical works, interviews and the thought process of wonderful people. Out of a desire to present in a fluid, understandable way, their words were phrased in a way close to their character and the story of their life but do not presume to be an exact quotation as they were written after their death.”
Following the Yediot Ahronot article, Haaretz held a phone interview with Ilan Skolnik, vice-CEO of the Friends of Zion Museum. Among the questions asked were: “If you are a museum that is faithful to history, how can you invent Patterson meeting Netanyahu and having the impression that he was ‘a clever child’? Isn’t that just flattery towards the prime minister?” Skolnik’s answers to this and the other questions appeared to be in accordance with the museum’s formal statement as quoted above.
The Jerusalem Post, September 5, 2016
Mel Gibson has confirmed that he is making a movie on Jesus’ resurrection, stating that “he does not view the project as a sequel” to The Passion of the Christ. Speaking to an audience at the SoCal Harvest evangelical Christian arts festival, Gibson “thanked them for their support during the controversies surrounding The Passion,” which some movie critics and Jewish groups said “stoked anti-Semitic themes.”
Gibson belongs to an ultraconservative Roman Catholic sect “which rejects most of the Vatican II doctrine,” and his father “is a Holocaust denier.” Two years after The Passion controversy, Gibson again gained notoriety for “spewing an anti-Semitic rant against the Jewish sheriff’s deputy who arrested him” for “driving while intoxicated.”
Makor Rishon, September 9, 2016
A museum on the Bible, sponsored by the Green family of Oklahoma, is being planned in Washington D.C. The Greens, evangelical Christians and owners of the Hobby Lobby chain, bought the building planned for the museum for $50m. in 2012. The six floors of the museum will include “any and all possible facets connected with the Bible,” and although “the New Testament will also receive a place of honor,” personalized routes will be available for each visitor “according to preferences previously entered into a computer system.”
The article raises the possibility that some of the planned exhibits may have doubtful provenance, as the Green Collection upon which much of the museum is based “began purchasing artifacts only seven years ago.” The article also speaks of “needing to wait and see” if in fact the museum “will present the Bible in a way that will not prefer any one system.” In any case, concludes the article, “the Bible is about to receive an immense, beautiful, modern residence in the heart of the capital of the world’s strongest power.”
The museum’s opening is planned for November 2017.
Haaretz, September 5, 2016
An American team excavating in Gezer has found a “palatial building dating to the era of King Solomon 3,000 years ago.” The building features a central courtyard surrounded by at least 15 rooms, as well as ashlar masonry—“large rectangular monolithic hewn stones in the corners of the rooms”—and is significantly larger than ordinary buildings of the period. The palace has an eastern and a western entrance. A roughly one-meter-thick layer of rubble in some of the rooms testifies to destruction, tentatively associated with the Shishak invasion of 925 BCE, following Solomon’s death. It is intriguing to note that after the rubble was cleared away the rooms were discovered to be empty, as if “they knew of the impending attack,” but the lid of an ivory game box as well as faience amulets testify to the wealth of the city. One of the rooms had a complete cooking pot and a baby rattle.
Gezer has been excavated numerous times, and a variety of artifacts have been recovered from it, including Philistine pottery, cylinder seals, and a cartouche of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Gezer’s destruction at the hands of the Egyptians was recorded on the walls of Karnak by Thutmose III, and was later mentioned some nine times in the Amarna Tablets. “To date no evidence has been discovered to show which of the Israelite kings lived there, ‘if any.’”
The current excavation is co-directed by Prof. Steve Ortiz of Southwestern Baptist Seminary’s Tandy Museum and Dr. Sam Wolff of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Israel Hayom; HaModia; The Jerusalem Post, September 7; Sha’a Tova, September 8, 2016
Six hundred stone paving tiles of different colors have recently been discovered at the Temple Mount Sifting Project at Emek Tzurim. One hundred of these have been dated to the Second Temple period due to their dimensions and other similar tiles discovered in Herod’s palaces at Masada, Herodion, Jericho, and other places, as well as similar dating from villas in Italy. This find is intriguing, as these shards have enabled researchers, for the first time, to reconstruct courtyard details of the temple and Temple Mount with a high degree of probability. Most of the tiles in question were imported from Rome, Asia Minor, Tunisia, and Egypt, and seven possible designs, combining squares, triangles, stars, and pinwheels have been reconstructed according to the prestigious opus sectile style. Frankie Snyder, an expert in Herodian flooring and member of the sifting project’s team of researchers, said that “a key characteristic of the Herodian tiles is their size, corresponding to the Roman foot, approximately 29.6cm.”
Tzachi Dvira, co-initiator and co-manager of the sifting project, explained that “this is the first time that archaeologists have been able to successfully restore an element from the Herodian Second Temple complex.” Dr. Gabriel Barkay, the other initiator and manager of the project, stated, “Though we have not merited seeing the Temple in all its glory, with the revealing of these unique floor tiles we are able to get a small idea of one characteristic of the splendor of the Second Temple.”
“Since the Temple Mount Sifting Project’s inception in 2004, more than 200,000 volunteers from around the world have taken part in the sifting, representing an unprecedented phenomenon in the realm of archaeological research.” The original tiles will be presented on September 8 to the annual archaeology conference of the Megalim Institute at the City of David National Park.