During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the following subjects:
The Pope and the Vatican
HaPeles, February 17, 2017
This article cites a survey done among 1200 Israelis and 1200 Palestinians by the Israeli Institute for Democracy with the Palestinian PSR Institute. The results appear to indicate that more than 50% of each sector support the two-state solution. Other questions in the survey queried respondents about the mediator each side preferred, the degree to which each side fears the other, and the degree to which each side trusts the other.
Only 39% of Palestinians and 46% of Jews appear to support an arrangement to be based on previous negotiations. 64% of Israelis and 43% of Palestinians were willing to include “…mutual recognition of the national identity of the two countries as part of a peace treaty.” 44% of Palestinians appear to prefer multilateral negotiations, while 40% of Israelis appear to prefer direct negotiations. 62% of Palestinians appear to blame Israel for the failure of previous negotiations, while 52% of Israelis blame the Palestinians. 43% of each sector appears to believe that the other side wants peace. 89% of Palestinians appear to think Israelis cannot be trusted, while 68% of Israelis think this about Palestinians. 54% of Palestinians appear to think that Israel intends to conquer all the territories and expel the Palestinians, and 27% think that Israel intends to annex the West Bank but give the Palestinians no political rights. 40% of Jewish Israelis appear to think that the main Palestinian aim is to conquer Israel and destroy most Jews. 68% of Palestinians called the Israeli democracy “good” or “very good,” while 70% of Israelis called the Palestinian democracy “bad” or “very bad.” 83% of Israelis thought “…the chances of an improved Palestinian democracy in a future state were small or very small.”
The Jerusalem Post, February 19, 2017
A group of politicians from the Christian Democratic Union Party in Hamburg’s state senate have submitted a resolution earlier this month calling on the senate “…to take decisive action against the anti-Israel BDS movement,” saying that it is anti-Semitic. It also calls on Hamburg “…to support further initiatives to strengthen German-Israel bilateral relations.” The CDU further compared BDS to the Nazi boycott of Jews in the 1930s.
The submission of this resolution comes in response to the University of Hamburg’s appointment of Farid Esack, an Islamic theologian who serves as the chairman of BDS in South Africa. However, the advisory board of the Academy of World Religions at Hamburg University has since distanced itself from Esack. Die Welt has reported that according to the academy, Esack “…has not demonstrated clear statements affirming Israel’s right to exist.” He has also argued that “…the idea of an Islamic State in Germany must be allowed to be represented.” In a statement to the Jerusalem Post in January, the Israeli embassy in Berlin said that Esack has expressed anti-Semitic statements, is accepting of Holocaust denial, and therefore “…has no place as an educator in a university, in particular not in Germany.” Esack himself responded to this on a BDS website in Germany, saying, “…neither he nor anyone on the staff or board of BDS SA has ever made any statement that could be reasonably interpreted as anti-Semitism,” and that all this is “a result of a campaign to smear him funded by the Israeli government.” On his Facebook page Esack has compared Israel’s government to that of Nazi Germany, and called former president Shimon Peres “a terrorist.”
The senate is to vote on the resolution on March 1.
The Jerusalem Post, February 24, 2017
This article provides a precis for five “deep-think” articles on “reforming American politics and rebuilding American power, confronting Islamism and checking resurgent China, and tapping into biblical teachings as the source for a renewed Western freedom agenda.”
Of particular interest is the precis of an article for Mosaic Magazine by Yoram Hazony, president of the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem. Seeking “…a recipe ‘to stave off the rapid disintegration of Western nations’” due to their being “caught between the hammer of an aggressive and increasingly intolerant liberalism and the anvil of a colonizing Islam confident of its sacred mission,” Hazony calls upon “Old Testament-conscious Protestants, nationalist Catholics and Jews” to ally in order to return to the West’s Judeo-Christian heritage as a foundation for a “new era”; specifically, in the form of “…a new political order based on the foundational principles of legitimate government and national self-determination as drawn from the Protestant political tradition and Hebrew Scripture.”
The Pope and the Vatican
Israel Hayom, February 20, 2017
On February 19, Pope Francis “…made a surprising statement objecting to the idea that religions can be a cause for terror.” He explained, “Christian terror doesn’t exist, Jewish terror doesn’t exist and Muslim terror doesn’t exist.” Francis stated that “religions advance peace,” and that “each religion carries the danger of radicalization.” In the same statement, Francis also objected to “…the tendency to mark different sectors of society as criminal, violent or tending to drug dealing.” He added, “Without equal opportunity, different types of belligerence and conflict will find a fertile ground.”
Yediot Yerushalayim, February 24, 2017
The third annual “Week of New Dialogue” interfaith initiative was held recently. Of particular note is an interfaith prayer session which took place as part of the initiative at the church at Tantur, which was attended by some 150 people. The initiative holds activities all over the country, including discussion groups, workshops, educational activities for children and youth and lectures.
Mishpacha, February 23, 2017
This nine-page article wishes to alert the public to the dire circumstances regarding real estate that may come about as a result of the fact that the Christian land lease agreements in Jerusalem will expire around 2050. In addition to citing various examples for “…the land grab that took place in Jerusalem in the 19th century,” the article is of the opinion that the churches are unlikely to sell the lands to the state of Israel as an entity, as the occasions they have so far done so are extremely few. It wishes to alert the public as to the hundreds of Jewish families who may need to leave their homes if the leases are sold to private entrepreneurs, and the possible results of the Christian churches deciding to use their key locations for the building of Christian edifices or for sale to Palestinians for housing.
Haaretz, February 24, 2017 (two articles)
These articles are another review of the Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art exhibition on Jesus in Jewish and Israeli art, currently being shown at the Israel Museum.
The first article describes how the exhibition is drawn from the dissertation of Dr. Amitai Mendelsohn. His work researched the way in which Jesus was depicted in Israeli art. It cites various examples of artistic works in which Jesus is depicted as Jewish, but without reference to Christianity, leading to him becoming a symbol for Jewish national suffering. Mendelsohn is convinced that “…the use of Christian iconography is a universal element,” particularly with artists who document the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The exhibition means to say that we are not only closed inside ourselves, but our [ethnic] identity is deeply connected to Jesus,” says Mendelsohn.
The second article says “…when it comes to explaining the attraction to the figure of Jesus, the thrust of the exhibition is misguided,” since “engaging with Jesus’ image as an object of Jewish longing or Israeli identification” misses the point that “modern Jewish art craves to take part in an artistic tradition which is saliently Christian.” The article notes, “The crisscross of the two-dimensional surface is the basis of painting and what creates the conditions for the appearance of the image and the emergence of the figure…it follows that every figure is Jesus…since it is an actualization in matter and form.”
Matzav HaRuach, February 17, 2017
Hikers from Nofim in Samaria discovered evidence of grave robbery on a recent excursion to Khirbet Shakhada, the site of a Jewish village from the Bar-Kochba period. The group reported the incident to the “Guarding Eternity” organization, which acts to stop antiquities robbery in Judea and Samaria, and they reported the incident to the authorities. Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria regional council, commended the hikers for their alertness.
HaShavua B’Ashdod, February 17, 2017
A 2,600-year-old Persian amphora reached has recently reached the Unit for Maritime Archaeology at the Israel Antiquities Authority. The amphora was originally found on the seabed near Ashdod, from where it was retrieved by fishermen. Kobi Sharvit, head of the unit, stated that the artifacts recovered from the coast of Ashdod show rich trade connections with many Mediterranean ports, while the artifacts recovered from the sea are relatively few, adding, “The finds recovered from the seabed are very important for completing the historical and archaeological knowledge about ancient Ashdod in the Phoenician and Babylonian exile period.”
Samples of the amphora’s contents have been sent for laboratory analysis.
HaMevaser, February 20, 2017
Customs officials at the Allenby crossing from Israel into Jordan were able to prevent the smuggling of 53 ancient coins, dated from the 1st-century BCE to the 13th-century CE. The cache was discovered in the baggage of a Tul-Karem resident arriving from Jordan, who was arrested by the Judea and Samaria police. Benny Har-Even, assistant staff officer for archaeology from the civil administration in Judea and Samaria at COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories), stated that “the coins represent a cross-section of 1,400 years of history, from the early Roman period to the Mameluke period,” adding, “I am happy to see another incident when cooperation between all elements prevents the theft of history.”