During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the following subjects:
Israeli Attitudes Concerning Christians
Christian and Jewish Holidays
The Jerusalem Post (two articles), April 10, 2017
The IDF is enacting a closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the duration of the Passover holiday. All crossings will be closed to Palestinians “…except for humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases,” the IDF said. The announcement came shortly after a ramming attack at the Ofra junction, in which one soldier was killed and another injured. Security forces regularly step up their preparedness before holidays, as several attacks have taken place during Passover in the past, including a suicide bombing at a Seder in Netanya in 2002, killing 29 people and injuring 64 others. Additionally, approximately 10 Muslim and Jewish extremists have been banned from Jerusalem’s Old City during the holiday, with the goal of preventing disruptions. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, “Police will ensure the security of and ease of travel for the tens of thousands of visitors entering and exiting the Old City.”
Shin Bet chief Nadav Argov warned the Knesset late in March that the current state of calm was deceptive, and that attempts at an attack on Passover are likely.
Israeli Attitudes Concerning Christians
Yediot Netanya, April 7, 2017
Dr. Israel Stabon (HaBayit HaYehudi), Netanya city council member, has recently called the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) “…a troubler of Israel, something the only purpose of which is to make Jews convert.” Stabon made this statement after the welfare department of the Netanya municipality distributed food packages contributed by the ICEJ to needy families. Stabon demands that the city council manager and the welfare coordinator check each contribution. He is of the opinion food distribution is simply a missionary tactic to introduce Christianity, adding, “We can make our own living and don’t need the Gentiles’ money.”
The Netanya municipality responded, “The ICEJ is an Israel-loving organization, whose motto is correcting the historical injustice that Christians did to Jews.” It added, however, that the welfare department has been instructed to not give the package to needy people who would be uncomfortable receiving it.
The ICEJ responded, “During the 37 years that the organization has existed we have never done any missionary activity at all…Our love for Israel is sincere, and doesn’t depend on anything.”
Christian and Jewish Holidays
Haaretz, April 14, 2017
This article attempts to trace the way in which the Jewish Passover became the Christian Easter. Beginning by giving a précis of the history of Christianity, it goes on to describe how the change in the celebration of Passover came about as Temple sacrifices were no longer possible. It was at this time that the earliest form of the current Passover Seder came into being. However, at the same time, Christians were starting to find a new way to celebrate Passover, and this became Easter. The first evidence of Easter as a holiday is from 175CE, in a quote by Melito of Sardis, who explained in this new paradigm that Jesus was the Passover sacrifice, the Israelites were now the Christians, and the holiday marked his suffering. Eventually, the holiday came to be marked on a Sunday and was entirely separated from Passover at the council of Nicaea. It describes the addition of the marking of Lent and the Holy Week and ends with a note that the Easter Bunny was first mentioned in Germany in the 17th century as a springtime version of Santa Claus.
HaModia, April 6, 2017
This article is an interview with Dan Diker, a former secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress, and currently director of the Program to Counter Political Warfare at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, whose book BDS Unmasked: Radical Roots, Extremist Ends was recently published in English and Hebrew.
In the interview, Diker stated that the purpose of BDS is not to use economic boycotts to create a Palestinian state but to use boycotts to destroy Israel. Although BDS was initially seen as a peaceful form of combatting terrorism and objecting to BDS as relating to free speech, Israel’s unified objections to BDS and the results of the Orange Telecom controversy in May 2015 have shown the world what the real issue is. Diker noted, “The worst expression of BDS is on university campuses and in academia.”
However, Diker is of the opinion that Israel is winning the war on BDS, partly because of her strong economy, and partly from the support of entities such as the Trump administration. The Palestinian Authority, however, must constantly gauge the international feeling regarding BDS and respond accordingly. Finally, Diker is of the opinion the PLO “…must be re-blackened, delegitimized and outed” as a terror-supporting entity, that there must be across-the-board reconciliation, and Israel “…embrace the Palestinian professional and working classes and help them achieve greater socio-economic and political stability.”
Diker has degrees from Harvard University and the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzeliya in counterterrorism and homeland security studies.
Israel Hayom, April 14, 2017
Some two years ago, Major (Res.) Amit Deri of the IDF founded Reservists on the Front Lines, an advocacy group consisting of reservists who “…feel called to serve their reserve duty on the civil front as well as on the battlefield.” Accordingly, groups of activists are sent to various universities, particularly in the U.S., and volunteer to answer any question. Their most recent activities, called Project Gideon, took place during what was dubbed “Israel Apartheid Week” by the BDS movement and by Students for Justice in Palestine. The article covers both the personal stories of the five activists sent for Project Gideon and the events of the tour. Although the five have completely different stories and backgrounds, the common ground between them is that they chose to live in Israel and how they want to give back to the country for what they’ve received from it. The audiences to whom they spoke also varied as widely, ranging from student passersby in a university to state senators in Texas, but the five agreed that they felt that their methods of reasoned dialogue were successful. “They listened to us, saw us, I believe that I myself caused at least 100 people to move from their opinion, listen, think,” said the leader, Lior Golan.
A La Gush, March 23, 2017
This article covers various sites in Migdal and Korazim. One such site is the city museum. Another is the 1st century-era synagogue found by the sea, the remains of Magdala of the time, the new church nearby, which is dedicated to women, and the Arbel National Park.
Yedioth Ahronoth, April 10, 2017
This article recommends various tourist sites to visit during the Passover holiday. Among them are the national parks at Beer-Sheva, with its reconstruction of a biblical altar and the deepest well in the country; Tel Hazor, with its palace and tunnel; and Tel Arad, with its remains of a Canaanite city, complete with a Judahite temple built according to the tabernacle instructions in the Bible. Another site is Korazim, with its large jujube trees; the mosaics at Tiberias; Mount Gerizim; and the magnificent mosaics at Beit Alfa.
Ha’Ir Kol Ha’Ir, April 14, 2017
The Jerusalem Development Authority has launched an application by which visitors to the city may receive information, both vocal and written, on various tourism sites in both the Old and New cities. Of the twenty-one routes offered, five are wheelchair accessible. The application is freely downloadable, after which the user may select any of the twenty-one tour options, download its file, and receive explanations in Hebrew, English, French or Russian.
“We want to give visitors the feeling of a tour guide, so the explanations are with an experiential emphasis: what you see, what you smell, what you feel,” said Michael Halpern, audio trip entrepreneur responsible for the application’s content. Halpern added that it is an advantage that the route files are downloadable, as this makes them accessible even when no wi-fi or cellular service is available. The tours are designed with different focuses in mind, such as history or shopping. Another feature for social media users is the possibility to tag a site and share it. Additionally, the authority is working on developing tours with riddles and activities for children.
HaModia, April 7, 2017
On Sunday, April 2, representatives of all religions gathered at the Magen Avot synagogue in Singapore, where they heard a Muslim imam apologize for an anti-Semitic statement he had made. The imam was investigated by the police following the broadcasting of his statement. Although he apologized during the investigation, the police required an apology to the Jewish community, as well. Stating his regret “…for the discomfort, tension, and trauma he caused this serene country,” the imam also emphasized that the statement he had made against the Jews was not a quotation from the Koran, but rather an ancient text from his native village in India. The report of the apology added that the imam “…understood that he must practice his religion according to the social norms and rules of Singapore.” However, the government appears to be considering if the imam should be held legally liable or even deported. The authorities are reviewing the police investigation report, and they should reach a decision on the subject within the next few days.
The Jerusalem Post, April 10, 2017
Workers at the Temple Mount Sifting Project have recently discovered a pinky finger fragment from an Egyptian statue. Dr. Gabriel Barkay, co-founder and co-director of the project, stated that the statue was life-size, made in Egypt and imported to Canaan.
The fragment is 3.5 cm in length, includes a fingernail, and was carved from a hard black Egyptian stone. Although the identification and dating are not yet finalized, archaeologists surmise that the statue most likely represented a god or a king.
Other Egyptian artifacts discovered in the sifting are the fragment of a man’s shoulder, scarabs, bullae, and jewelry.