During the week covered by this review, we received 15 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
The Jerusalem Post, November 6, 2016
It appears that the Palestinian Authority is planning to lay claim to the Dead Sea Scrolls at UNESCO, due to the fact that “the PA considers Area C, the part of Israel under Israeli civil and military control” where Qumran is located, to be “part of their future state,” as well as Qumran being on the list of sites the PA “wants registered as Palestinian on the World Heritage List.” The article also says that the PA plans “to bring the matter up before the Inter-Governmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to Its Country of Origin or Its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation.” “This is another provocative and audacious attempt by the Palestinians to rewrite history and to erase our connection to our land,” said Israel Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen.
The Jerusalem Post, November 7, 10; Yediot Ahronot (x2); Israel Hayom; Haaretz, November 11, 2016
These articles present a number of opinions regarding the possible policies of president-elect Donald Trump after he takes office, particularly as regards Israel. While conjectures differ, the consensus appears to be that Trump’s policies are impossible to predict, with one article calling him “a blank slate, a wild card.”
Some days before Trump’s election, Mike Evans, “a prominent Christian evangelical leader in the US,” recommended that Palestinian sovereignty be limited “if a two-state solution is agreed upon under Trump’s tenure,” and specifically that any such state “should not be able to control its own airspace, have a standing army, or enter into international treaties.” Evans has also suggested that a US naval base be created in Haifa “as a deterrent to terror organizations.” Evans emphasized that evangelical support for Trump is based on his platform, rather than on his past personal conduct, which Evans called “disgusting and deplorable.” A similar opinion appears to be held by some members of the Hispanic community, who said that they voted for Trump based on his platform being closer to evangelical Christian opinions. However, other members of the Hispanic community said they voted for Trump based on the hope that his business background would help improve their economic situation.
Another article presents the resolutions drawn up in a formal document by Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman, Trump’s advisors on Israel. Among other things, the document states that a Trump administration would consider it a requirement for negotiations that Palestinians “cease violence against Israel and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state”; that it would “not support the Palestinian Authority as long as it doesn’t condemn terrorism and provides support for terrorists”; that it would “recognize Jerusalem as the eternal, indivisible capital of the Jewish state”; and that it would “veto any UN resolution that would seek to isolate Israel or demand a double standard from her.” The document emphasizes that Israel “is a faithful ally of the US,” one of “the main allies in the global war against jihad,” and “an inspiration to the free world.”
Shvi’i, November 4, 2016
This article surveys the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and its activities “to increase conscientious objection in the IDF,” particularly among the Druze, by supporting conscientious objection organizations in Israel and offering support as well as public relations tours abroad to objectors.
Although the Quakers are known for their pacifism, the AFSC website appears “to have demands for only one side in the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Sahar Vardi, for instance, who works out of the Quaker office in Israel, says that Israel “manufactures the occupation in order to sell arms around the world.”
“AFSC works in Israel on a humanitarian status, but in fact they do no humanitarian work,” says Yonah Schiffmiller of NGO Monitor, “they are a radical political organization seeking to undermine the country.”
Christians in Israel
Index HaEmek VeHaGalil—Nazareth Ilit, October 28, 2016
This article presents the protest letter sent by Father Gabriel Naddaf to Amnon Ben-Ami, director of the Residency Authority, regarding the case of Hiba and Rizak Abu-Isa, who were refused permission to register their infant son Liran as an Aramean, although this is permitted by law, and were instead required to present all the documentation necessary for an adult nationality change.
The Abu-Isas’ request was presented at the Nazareth Ilit office of the Residency Authority, and the name of the clerk who refused the registration is given as Najda Azam.
Time Out—Israel, September 30, 2016
This article describes the Mekudeshet festival, “a response to what Jerusalem as a city and its people have endured” that aims to give attendees “a completely different perspective of Jerusalem.” Of particular note among the festival’s events is the design of an interfaith prayer house in the Hinnom Valley, where “adherents of the three religions will unite to read from the different prayer books, listen, discuss, expand on vocabulary, study, argue, and pray both together and privately.”
The Jerusalem Post, November 8, 2016
Some Norwegian government officials and high-tech figures appear to be relating to Israel “as a potential partner in business, high-tech and innovation” rather than purely from a political standpoint. This was evident at the 2016 Oslo Innovation Week, held in the city in October, at which Anya Eldan, general manager at the Israel Innovation Authority, was a keynote speaker on a panel with Anita Krohn Traaseth, Norway’s head of innovation. The Norwegian embassy to Israel “sponsored a delegation of Israeli media” to attend the conference and learn about other aspects of the country, such as its oil and tech industries, and a delegation of some 20 Norwegian businesspeople attended the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival in September.
Although many aspects of Israel–Norway relations remain complex, this shift may be due to the current government “being more business minded and aiming to be more ‘balanced’ about the conflict,” said Marte Heian-Engdal of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo. Another reason may be Norway wishing to transition away from its oil industry. Many individuals within the Labor party support boycotting Israel as part of BDS, but “although the Labor party has the largest number of seats in the parliament, it is not part of the governing coalition.”
Haaretz, November 6, 7, 2016
And the Land Was Without Form and Void is a new 15-part television series researching the land of Israel and the surrounding region, “from the ancient period till it became the Holy Land.” The first chapter covers the arrival of homo erectus from Africa, later hominids, and ends with the agricultural revolution. The next chapters are to cover the biblical stories, the destruction in the wake of the Assyrian Empire, the rise of the Babylonian Empire, Hellenism, and more.
The goal of the series is to present the history of the region “from a much wider standpoint than Judaism or Zionism,” and therefore presents multiple voices when a theory or archaeological find is controversial. The date of the initial broadcast being close to the UNESCO resolution is “entirely coincidental.” Prof. Israel Finkelstein, one of those interviewed in the series, stated to Haaretz that “the UNESCO resolution doesn’t say anything about us, it testifies to a deep lack of culture and its supporters’ flaccid identity.”
The series is aired on Channel 1.
Olam Katan, November 4, 2016
A full-size model of Noah’s Ark (156 meters long, 16 meters high, and 26 meters wide) has been built in Williamstown, Kentucky, by the Answers in Genesis organization, the goal of which is “to prove that the biblical stories are true.” A team of researchers was made up by Answers in Genesis, including experts from top universities all over the US, to research details such as Noah’s cubit, and some of the process included building life-size replicas of the animals and placing them in cages. The project suffered opposition from atheistic groups, as well as being sued by the state of Kentucky over its policy to employ only Christians who believe in the actual biblical stories, but the court ruled in favor of the organization.
The site, called “Ark Encounter,” was opened to the public three months ago. Some of the organization’s other planned projects are a pre-flood city and the tower of Babel.
Chadash BaEmek, November 4, 2016
On Sunday, October 30, students from the military preparatory program “Upper Galilee College for Leadership” found a gold coin from the early Islamic period, dated to 776-777 CE and bearing an inscription in Arabic mentioning faith in one god as well as Muhammad’s name. The find was discovered as a result of a salvage dig carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority together with the students near the main street of Kfar Kama. Other artifacts discovered were silver coins, potsherds, metal objects, and animal bones.