During the week covered by this review, we received 10 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
The Jerusalem Post, March 28, 2017
On Sunday, March 26, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence told the AIPAC annual policy conference, “The White House seeks a lasting, comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.” Compromises are necessary, Pence said, noting, “President Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel; he will stand with our allies and stand up to our enemies.” He also pledged, “The United Nations would no longer be used as a ‘forum for invective’ against the Jewish state.”
Pence was the first senior official to take a stand against anti-Semitic vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in the U.S.
Haaretz, March 28, 2017
This article analyzes the relations between U.S. Jews and Israel. It suggests that authorities in Israel have despaired of the American Jewish community’s tendency toward liberalism and its criticism of radicalizing right-wing Israelis. Therefore, Israeli authorities seek to replace them with Evangelical Christian Zionists, who give unconditional support to the Jewish right to the land while ignoring the theological position held by some other Christians that “…most of the Jews will die during the war of Gog and Magog, and the rest will then convert.” By turning their back on the American Jewish community the current government is proving itself to be anti-Zionist, and this policy is “a critical miss of an existential Israeli interest.”
Sha’a Tova, March 23, 2017
The non-profit organization Chotam-Judaism on the Agenda has protested the Education Ministry’s policy of teaching schoolchildren that Jerusalem is holy to the same degree both to Judaism and other religions. The ministry has rejected this protest, saying “that it sees this as an amended situation; that it considers it to be important that all children, Jewish orthodox and others, recognize Jerusalem’s sanctity for other religions; and that they do not see this policy as a weakening of Jewish identity.” Chotam, however, considers that this policy is likely to cause the current generation of students “to lose the motivation to keep the unified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Sha’a Tova, March 23, 2017
Yad L’Achim has sent a request to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, demanding that the Education Ministry cease partnership with the non-profit organization Efshar Acheret, whose activity in Caesarea allegedly forced children to bow and pray in a mosque to promote coexistence. The letter to Bennett stated that the push toward multiculturalism has gone too far, and that Jewish identity, the “spine of the Jewish people,” suffers in consequence, time and time again.
Efshar Acheret has been acting in partnership with the Education Ministry for some 18 years.
Yediot Rechovot, March 24, 2017
Some six months ago a woman living in Rechovot was severely beaten by her husband after she expressed a desire to take their daughter to a Sunday church meeting. Eventually, the woman was able to escape with her daughter to her own family’s house. However, two days later, after she informed her husband of her whereabouts, he arrived to tell her he planned to murder her if she refused to return home. The woman then filed a complaint with the police and went to live in a shelter for battered women in Jerusalem, where she has remained till a solution should be found. The husband was investigated for his deeds and admitted to striking the wife, but said she was exaggerating how severe her injuries were. He has since been undergoing medical observation and mental health treatment after courts determined he was unfit to stand trial.
Christians in Israel
Index HaEmek VeHaGalil–Nazareth Ilit, March 17, 2017
Father Gabriel Naddaf, head of the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum and spiritual leader of the Orthodox Aramean Christians in Israel recently spent a week visiting Chile, speaking about the need to combat anti-Semitism, the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, and against BDS. During this time Naddaf met with the head of the Chilean Congress, visited the parliamentary friendship lobby Chile–Israel, the ambassador and staff of the Israeli embassy in Chile, other government officials and the head of the Jewish community. Naddaf was to meet with the leadership of the Catholic charity ACN–Chile, but this meeting was canceled after the Palestinian community in Chile, “…which is fiercely anti-Israel and supports BDS and anti-Semitism against the Jewish community” threatened ACN–Chile with a boycott.
The Jerusalem Post, March 27, 2017
On Wednesday, March 29, the Texas state Senate passed a bill “…barring state contracts and investment in companies that boycott Israel,” and sent it to the Texas House of Representatives for a vote. The article describes the Texas-based International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and how the group supports Iran’s nuclear program and how it has a chapter in communist North Korea. It also cites how the IADL has stated to The Jerusalem Post in the past both that it is in solidarity with the Palestinians and that “…Israel’s violations of human rights and international law are a major obstacle to peace.” IADL maintains an account with the Dallas-based Comerica bank, which would cause it to be impacted by the legislation. Joel Schwitzer, the American Jewish Committee’s regional director in Dallas, commented on this issue by saying that the AJC recognizes that Comerica is free to choose its clients, but that the AJC “urges banks to carefully consider what it means to extend an account to a discriminatory movement like BDS.”
Gal-Gefen, March 23, 2017
This article calls The Shack (2017, Summit Entertainment) “garbled, insipid missionizing with a sea of emotional manipulations.” It finds the multi-ethnic representation of the Trinity; the fact that signs and wonders are used to show a “honey-filled heaven” to protagonist Mack; Jesus and Mack walking on water; and the fact that the female representation of God is an expert cook to be “overdone, jumbled nonsense.”
Haaretz, March 27, 2017
Archaeologists have discovered remains of a medieval Jewish cemetery in Rome while refurbishing a building in the Trastevere neighborhood across from the city center. The excavating team has identified the thirty-eight well-preserved skeletons as Jewish because of a tombstone fragment with some Hebrew lettering, possibly spelling the word “here,” found in a layer of destruction above the cemetery. The fragment is of particular note as Pope Urban VIII prohibited the use of tombstones for Jewish graves in 1625, and ordered Jewish tombstones from previous eras destroyed. By this time, Jews had already been subject to special taxes, confined to a ghetto and forced to wear distinguishing marks on their clothing. Daniela Rossi, the leader of the dig, stated that the thirty-eight skeletons showed clear signs of malnutrition, specifically a lack of protein.
The archaeologists also excavated below the cemetery and discovered large plastered tubs with an inscription identifying them as the tanneries built by Emperor Septimius Severus in the early 3rd century to serve the Roman army.
Haaretz, March 30, 2017
The Civil Administration has launched an inquiry to discover how it supplied wrong information on archaeological activity in its jurisdiction. This investigation relates to a Freedom of Information request from 2014, presented to the Administration by the Yesh Din and Emek Shaveh organizations. Yesh Din and Emek Shaveh sought to discover which licenses and allocations had been granted by the government regarding archaeological and historical sites in the West Bank, in order to find out “…how many such sites are managed by settlers or associations or organizations affiliated with the right-wing.”
The answer given by the Civil Administration at the time stated, “The only two agreements were site management agreements regarding Tel Shiloh, believed to be the site of the biblical Shiloh, and Susia, which has the remains of a synagogue and a mosque built over it.” However, it was later discovered that an additional site was that of Emet Habiyar near Efrat. Consequently, Yesh Din and Emek Shaveh sued in the High Court of Justice, saying that Emet Habiyar was not being properly managed. In December, the Civil Administration admitted there was an agreement in place regarding Emet Habiyar. Shlomi Zecharia, the attorney representing the organizations, stated that the gravity of the matter is vital, adding, “Even after the filing of the petition, the respondents did not take the initiative to correct the mistake.” The military Attorney–General for the West Bank let Zecharia know that he and the Civil Administration affirm the gravity of the incident.
The inquiry currently underway will “…consolidate recommendations to prevent recurrence and take administrative steps against any of the Civil Administration people who may have erred.”