During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Jewish Attitudes Concerning Jesus
The Jerusalem Post, March 16, 2017
On March 15, visiting Foreign Minister of Italy Angelino Alfano told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that “Italy would oppose any UNESCO resolutions that ignore Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.” This statement is in accordance with the promise given Netanyahu by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi that Italy “would take a stand against the Palestinian drive at UNESCO to refer to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of al-Haram al-Sharif.” The Temple Mount is Islam’s third-holiest site.
Italy, a member of UNESCO’s 58-member executive board, abstained in the two 2016 votes on the Jerusalem resolution that did not refer to Judaism’s holiest site as the Temple Mount. The next UNESCO meeting is scheduled for April 19-May 4. Although the provisional agenda for the meeting will be published on March 23, most expect that the Palestinian Authority is planning additional anti-Israel resolutions, “including one on Jerusalem that refers to the Temple Mount solely as al-Haram al-Sharif.”
Both Netanyahu and Alfano discussed topics including ways in which Israel and Italy could work cooperatively, “particularly in Africa, where both governments are helping countries find solutions to issues relating to water and agriculture.” The Prime Minister’s Office has also stated that Alfano, “emphasized his obligation to defend the Italian Jewish community against incidents of anti-Semitism.”
The Jerusalem Post, March 14, 2017
Moshe Aloni, a Bulgarian-Israeli lawyer, nominated the Bulgarian Independent Orthodox Church in January for the Nobel Peace Prize for its heroism in “voting unanimously to condemn anti-Semitic laws during World War II and for going against the planned deportation of the country’s 48,000 Jews to Nazi death camps.” A petition launched on change.org noted that the Bulgarian church’s actions were in opposition to the standpoint of the Bulgarian government of the time, which was an ally of Nazi Germany. It specifically mentions Metropolitan Stephan, head of the church in Sofia at the time; and Metropolitan Kirill, head of the church in Plovdiv, both of whom were named as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad VaShem in 2001. In his letter to the Nobel committee, Aloni wrote that due to these two leaders’ actions the deportation of the Jews of Bulgaria was postponed again and again until the war ended, adding that he and his family owe their lives to “the heroism of the Bulgarian Church and other brave citizens.”
The petition is sponsored by former cabinet minister Ephraim Sneh and University of Haifa law professor Moshe Keshet.
The Jerusalem Post, March 17, 2017
The Aliyah Return Center–Jordan River is a project intended for offering housing to future new immigrants and participants in Jewish Agency projects, and for offering teaching to Christians about how they can assist Israel. The project was co-founded by Dean Bye, a Christian Zionist from Canada, and Chaim Malespin. The twelve Christian volunteers currently working on site study Torah with Dr. Jair Jehuda, who has already been studying with Bye for six years. Jehuda, an Orthodox Jew, stated that he found Bye to be without any ulterior motives, further noting that because of their study sessions, “Bye felt a better Christian and he felt a better Jew.” As a result, they both feel the need to “share the true celebration of diversity they themselves have learned.”
The project is run in association with the Jewish Agency, which stated the agency is “excited to embark on this project, that it is grateful for the contributions from Christian partners and supporters,” further noting that Dean Bye and his Return Ministries “have been vetted and have committed to upholding the requirement that no missionary activity take place in any program or facility connected to the Jewish Agency.”
Haaretz, March 15, 2017
This article offers the opinion that the State of Israel has a “mutualistic” relationship with the BDS movement, as “Israel has an interest in inflating the danger of the BDS movement, and BDS grows stronger from the exaggerated influence attributed to it by Israel.” In support, the article cites the wide sanctions enacted against South Africa at the height of apartheid by most of the countries of the world, and compares this to the “modest achievements” of the BDS movement, which are confined to a “negligible number” of non-national organizations and very few national governments. However, painting BDS as an existential threat gives the right-wing a pretext to policies that strengthen it under the guise of defending the country, says the article.
Yedioth Ahronoth, March 13, 2017
This article tells the story of numerous people from New Zealand to Hawaii and many places in between who offer hospitality to Israeli travelers at virtually no monetary cost, preferring instead to simply hear about the history, geography, culture and reality of Israel. Some of these hosts are Israelis living abroad who miss their home, but many are Christians with a deep connection to the country. Hosts and guests are connected by the Mehubarim and the Hosting Israeli Travelers (HIT) websites. Although both websites take no responsibility for individual experiences, most of the travelers and hosts report a very positive experience, and sometimes the connection continues beyond the hosting experience itself. “I’m a missionary for the people of Israel,” says Omri Ya’akobovich, founder of HIT. “I give an opportunity for all the Israel-lovers in the world to bless the Jewish people in the most practical way possible, which is by opening to them their house and their heart.”
Jewish Attitudes Concerning Jesus
Israel Hayom, March 17, 2017
This article by Prof. Amnon Rubinstein surveys the attitudes toward Jesus historically and currently held by different sectors of Jewish society. Beginning by citing the examples of the current Israel Museum exhibition on Jesus in Israeli art, Amos Oz’ The Gospel According to Judas with its heartrending description of the crucifixion, and the television series And the Earth was Without Form and Void, which dedicated an episode to Jesus and the beginnings of Christianity, the article goes on to describe how the image of the historical Jesus, “before he was clothed in hatreds that were not his,” was attractive to many Jewish artists, who “removed in their portrayals the elements that made him into a figure whose name some people will not speak.”
The article goes on to cite the dramatic change in Roman Catholic Christianity’s relation to Judaism, specifically as seen in the Second Vatican Council and Pope Francis’ declaration that “Jews and Christians are connected to each other, and God never canceled his covenant with the Jews.” Therefore, the article calls for peace with Christianity by including its story in school curriculums, and relating to Christian Arab communities in Israel “as those who follow the historical Jesus and are not necessarily part of the Christian anti-Semitic way of life.” This would constitute a beginning of “recognizing our multiculturalism.”
Rubinstein is an author and professor at the Herzeliya Interdisciplinary Center, former Education Minister and member of Knesset, and winner of the 2006 Israel Prize for legal research.
Yediot Modi’in, March 10, 2017
A cell suspected of looting antiquities was caught red-handed by the Israel Antiquities Authority Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Theft, as they carried out “an unauthorized dig at the site of an ancient Jewish settlement from the Second Temple period” in the hills surrounding Modi’in. The IAA inspectors and officials from the Modi’in police department arrested the suspects, who had digging equipment, a sophisticated metal detector, lock-breaking apparatus, lighting, food and water in their possession.
The suspects are in their forties and live in the villages of Beit Ur a-Tahta and Katana. During the investigation, they confessed to having entered Israel illegally and carrying their equipment on public streets and buses in Modi’in. They explained that they came to look for ancient treasure in order to support themselves. They have been indicted by the central division of the State Attorney’s office.
Matzav HaRuach, March 17, 2017
“The Dead Sea Scrolls are a key artifact of the Palestinian cultural heritage,” stated Omar al-Ghul of Yarmouk University in Jordan at a conference recently held at Bir-Zeit University north of Ramallah. He added that the scrolls contain “a religious, cultural and historical embassy to a people of Palestinian information.”
The subject of the conference was Palestinian archaeology, and most of it dealt specifically with “Islamizing archaeological sites in Judea and Samaria and turning them into tourism sites while ‘attempting to present them as Palestinian cultural possessions’.” In addition, the conference addressed cooperation between the Palestinian tourism office and the history and archaeology department at Bir-Zeit University.
In November 2016, Dr. Mounir Anastas, the Palestinian Authority envoy to UNESCO, announced to the organization, “(he) demands that Israel return the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Palestinians, as they were found in ‘Palestinian territory’ and belong to the ‘Palestinian heritage’.”