During the week covered by this review, we received 21 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Christians and the Holocaust
Maariv, October 14; Israel Hayom; Haaretz; Maariv; The Jerusalem Post, October 16; Maariv; The Jerusalem Post, October 18; Maariv, The Jerusalem Post, October 21, 2016
On October 13 UNESCO’s Program and External Relations Commission approved a Palestinian-initiated resolution saying that Israel is an “occupying power” and that there was “great doubt of the Jewish connection to the Western Wall.” Additionally, the Palestinians have demanded that “an international delegation of experts be sent to the holy sites to survey Israel’s destruction of the historical and archaeological heritage” (see previous review). The vote was carried 24-6 with 26 countries abstaining. The vote to ratify the resolution will be taken on Tuesday, October 18, by UNESCO’s executive board.
This resolution has drawn stiff criticism from elements across the whole spectrum of Israeli society. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the resolution a “Theater of the Absurd,” adding that “by this absurd decision UNESCO has lost the little legitimacy it had left.” Speaking with Antonio Guterres, recently elected United Nations Secretary-General, Netanyahu stated that “the resolution emphasizes the absurdity of the UN’s slanted relation to the only democracy in a turbulent region.” However, Netanyahu also invited Guterres to visit Israel, and “expressed his hope that during his time in office the relation of the UN and its organizations towards Israel would become more balanced.”
Carmel Shama-HaCohen, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, called upon Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s director-general, to publish an announcement opposing the resolution and “condemning the moral and historic circus.” Bokova did in fact publish such an announcement, emphasizing Jerusalem’s sanctity to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and saying that “Jerusalem’s heritage is indivisible, and that all communities in it have a right that their history and connection to the city be recognized.” Bokova added in her announcement that UNESCO’s purpose is “to advance dialogue and not conflicts,” and that its responsibility is “to lead a spirit of tolerance and respect of history.” Bokova’s announcement was stiffly condemned by Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who said that Bokova had “exceeded her authority,” that “her words expressed contempt towards the will of the countries who supported the resolution,” and that “it would be better if she [Bokova] did not serve the Israeli agenda.” Muhammad al-Muamani, speaker for the Jordanian government, said regarding the resolution that “Israel is not above the law and she must obey international law.” Hamas condemned Bokova’s announcement and said that she had “given in to Israeli pressure.”
Ban Ki-Moon, the outgoing UN Secretary-General, has also published an announcement distancing himself from the resolution and saying that he emphasizes “the importance of Jerusalem’s Old City and its walls to the three monotheistic religions.” Michael Worbs of Germany, head of UNESCO’s executive board, announced that he hopes the final vote ratifying the resolution will be delayed, so that a phrasing acceptable to all may be found. Worbs expressed his regret for what took place in the committee and called it “unusual.”
StandWithUs has organized an online petition form, calling upon UNESCO “to recognize the historic truth of the Jewish people,” and saying that the organization’s motives are political and ignore historical facts. Some 60,000 people have signed it so far. MK Yehuda Glick has announced that an annual conference to encourage Jewish visits to the Temple Mount is set to take place in November. “UNESCO’s resolution last week reminds us that 50 years of neglecting the Temple Mount led the world to make a mistake and think we are admitting we have no connection to the place,” said Glick, adding that “the conference’s attendees will make it clear to the world that there is no place closer or more connected to the Jewish people than the mount of the house of God.”
Other articles state the opinion that what is behind this action of the Palestinians is the conscious desire “to distort and rewrite Jewish history” because “Israel without a history is an Israel without a future.” The fact that the Palestinians are “trying to depict Israel as no more than a colonial power that decided one morning to take control of an arbitrary piece of land between Africa and Asia” is yet another proof that the Palestinians wish “to not live alongside us” but “instead of us,” say these articles, and call upon the government to “do what should have been done” and lay claim to the Temple Mount “rather than let it remain under Jordanian administration.” What is “disappointing” is “to see countries remain silent by abstaining” while “Arab countries rewrite Jewish history.” “Underscoring UNESCO’s idiocy,” says one article, is the fact that both Christians and Jews have flocked to Jerusalem this year, as they do annually, to celebrate Sukkot.
Makor Rishon, October 21, 2016
Thousands of Israel-loving Christians “expressed their support for Israel and her Jews” yesterday, October 20, in the annual Jerusalem March; many of the participants are sent to Jerusalem by their churches in order to “realize Zechariah’s prophecy that the nations will come to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot there.”
Christians in Israel
Index HaEmek VeHaGalil—Nazareth Ilit, September 23, 2016
Father Gabriel Naddaf recently met with Esteban Padilla, Costa Rica’s ambassador to Israel, at the offices of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum in Nazareth Ilit. Naddaf explained the initiative he heads, the importance of recruitment, the connection to the Bible, Judaism and Christianity’s shared roots, and BDS. He told the ambassador of his visits to various parliaments. Padilla stated that he sees Father Naddaf as “a bridge-building leader,” and added that the whole issue of the Aramean nationality “should deepen and not be allowed to disappear.”
BeSheva, October 13; Israel Hayom (x2); Yediot Ahronot, October 16; Israel Hayom; Haaretz, October 21, 2016
These articles detail a variety of tourist activities available throughout Israel, particularly around the week of Sukkot.
Three articles are devoted to Jerusalem. Of particular note is the Tower of David Museum, currently offering the public a unique exhibition of historical photographs of the city, beginning “from the year photography was invented.” Visitors to the Tower of David may also be intrigued to see the Kishleh prison underneath the citadel, where one can also see remains dating from the First Temple period to the Middle Ages. The Temple Institute offers an intriguing glimpse into possible interpretations of Temple artifacts. It is also possible to walk from Jaffa Gate in the Old City to the government buildings, passing by the four Sephardic synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, the first of which was built in the 16th century; the central plaza of the Jewish Quarter, from which one can see the dome of the Hurva synagogue, first built in 1700; the Karaite synagogue; the Roman Cardo, from which one can see parts of the First and Second Temple era city wall; the Burnt House Museum; the Wohl Museum of Archaeology; the Western Wall plaza; the Dung Gate; Absalom’s Tomb; the Zechariah Memorial; the Hazir priestly family tomb; and on to the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the Israel Museum, the Bible Lands Museum, and the Science Museum; and ending in the Wohl Rose Garden.
Another article is devoted to sites in Samaria and Benjamin, such as the Sebaste National Park, Mount Gerizim, Herodion, Shiloh, the apiary in Beit Horon, the “Way of the Fathers” in Gush Etzion, along with a variety of hikes and trails for off-road vehicles. Another article is devoted to the many sites to be found on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, whether they are of natural, historical, religious, or archaeological interest.
The national parks at Tzippori, Nimrod’s Castle, and Yechiam offer sites of historical interest, while the national parks at Tiberias Hot Springs, Horshat Tal, and Harod Spring, as well the nature reserves at Nahal Ayun, Majrasa-HaBticha, Arbel, Gamla, Nahal Kziv, and Yehudiya offer beautiful natural sites for the intrepid hiker.
Haaretz, October 16, 18, 2016
These articles survey backpackers’ different aims in coming to Israel.
61-year-old Pierre Boutet of France arrived in Israel to realize a dream of making a pilgrimage. He set out from his home in March with 30kg. of equipment, a navigation system, and €60 for emergencies. He crossed France, Italy, and Greece on foot, staying at monasteries or in a tent. After Greece he intended to cross through Turkey, but decided to fly from Greece to Israel for safety reasons. Boutet said he didn’t bring money since he wanted to rely on God’s provision and on people: “I wanted to be empty inside in order to get full with God.” Boutet was joined in Israel by his wife, but after they visited Jerusalem she returned to France with half his equipment. Boutet will volunteer at a monastery in Nazareth for a few weeks, and finish by walking from Nazareth to Jerusalem on foot.
Francois Tillman, a French chef living in London, came to Israel to find his Jewish roots because of a call from God. “Israelis are an example to the world,” says Tillman, impressed that Israel “is still safe, in spite of the danger.”
The consensus among the backpackers interviewed appears to be that Israel was different from what they expected, whether this was in relation to Israel’s modernity or lack thereof; religiosity or seriousness; the presence of armed people in the streets; the cost of living; the lack of mixed groups of Jews and Arabs; how Israelis are not in fact only serious and political, but are happy and able to have fun; the hardship in travel on Shabbats and holidays; or that “the bus system was hard to understand.” Two German girls were pleasantly surprised at how quickly they were invited to spend Yom Kippur with strangers, saying that “it is amazing that people are so open that they invite into their homes someone they only just met a few days before.”
Christians and the Holocaust
Mizkar, September 25, 2016
On August 9, Rev. Norman Toko of Kenya gave a $2,000 check to Holocaust survivors Juliette and Yaakov Ozen, “to enable them to live with more dignity than they had hitherto been able to.” This meeting took place after the Victory of Faith Church in Nairobi announced that it had decided to make a donation to the Holocaust Survivors’ Welfare Foundation in Israel. Carla Porter, the church’s spiritual leader, sent a letter to MK Colette Avital, head of the Center Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, saying that the donation to the foundation was given out of love for Israel, and that in Kenya church members are taught “to be a voice of unity with Israel, to pray for her, stand alongside her and love her people.”
Haaretz, October 21, 2016
An archaeological excavation in Jerusalem’s Russian Compound, led by Dr. Rina Avner and Kfir Aviv for the Israel Antiquities Authority, has revealed parts of a city wall as well as a defense tower and extensive evidence of a battle, such as 82 ballista stones and a Roman spearhead. Researchers are of the opinion that this is evidence of the third wall of Jerusalem, reported by Josephus Flavius to have been destroyed by Roman siege towers in 70CE. This wall fragment was found precisely on the line suggested by Michael Avi-Yonah in the 1960s, and evidence further suggests that it was intentionally taken apart; what remains was preserved since it was between two boulders. Avner stated that the ballista bombardment was apparently a cover for battering rams approaching the wall.