During the week covered by this review, we received 10 articles on the following subjects:
Christians and the Holocaust
The Jerusalem Post, April 23, 2017
The Texas House of Representatives has passed legislation barring the state from doing business with companies connected with targeting of Israel via the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement. The Texas State Senate passed similar legislation in March, and Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign the combined legislation in May. Joel Schweitzer of the American Jewish Committee stated, “It is gratifying to see our elected officials sending such a clear and principled message that Texas will not do business with those who boycott our friend Israel.” According to the article, Texas is Israel’s fourth-largest trading partner.
Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel, said, “The relationship between the Jewish state and the Lone Star State is built upon shared values, including a rock-solid commitment to standing up for liberty-especially when it is threatened by radical Islamic extremism.”
Haaretz, April 26, 2017
This article states, “The Jerusalem City Hall has published plans to expropriate land in the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al-Amud for a new visitor and information center to serve the adjacent Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives.” The planned visitors’ center would offer groups and individuals help in locating graves of family or religious figures, as well as containing an assembly hall, shop and information office. Hagit Ofran, coordinator of the settlement watch team at the Peace Now organization, said, “It’s impossible to ignore the location and political context prevailing at the site…(the project) not only increases tensions in Jerusalem and harms the delicate fabric of life there, but also threatens the prospect of reaching any compromise agreement in Jerusalem.”
City Hall has stated that there is an old municipal plan for the area that earmarks it as part of the cemetery, adding, “As with any plan it is possible to file an objection, which will be considered according to accepted [procedure] by various planning committees.”
Makor Rishon, April 28, 2017
This article is an interview with Herzl Ben-Ari, the new executive director of the Society for the Development and Restoration of the Jewish Quarter. Although Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, located in the Old City, has been rebuilt over the past 50 years, most of the visitors simply see it as the way to get to the Western Wall, ignoring the many intriguing historical and archaeological sites found there. Such sites include not only the Hurva synagogue but a memorial to the fallen of the quarter in 1948, the Byzantine arch depicted in the Madaba mosaic map and the oldest mikveh (Jewish ritual bath-ed.) in the quarter.
Ben-Ari sees the neglect as resulting from the fact that various organizations are responsible for different issues in the quarter. Although each one plays a role, there is no one to coordinate between them. However, he continues to work to implement his vision for improving the tourist experience as well as the quality of life of the residents, and is confident that within two years visitors will have a different experience. “My dream is that each person who enters here would feel that he come to a place unlike any other in the world,” says Ben-Ari.
Christians and the Holocaust
Hed HaKrayot, April 21, 2017
This article tells the story of Joseph Metz and his brother Bernhard. The two were from the Netherlands, and the story details the three places in which they were hidden from the Nazis over the course of World War II. Two of these hiding places were with Christian families. The brothers lost their parents and sister but went to live after the war with an aunt who had survived Bergen-Belsen. They immigrated to Israel in 1952 but remained close friends with the third family, who had hidden them for the longest period. Eventually, Bernhard Metz began looking for families who had hidden Jewish children and took care that as many as possible would be awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
Joseph Metz is a father and grandfather and lives in Kiryat Motzkin. He lit a memorial torch during the city’s ceremony on this past Holocaust Day.
Haaretz, April 25, 2017
This opinion piece discusses why the author believes the gulf between the ritual surrounding the Holocaust and the reality that many survivors live below the poverty line is because the state views them as a “living reminder of a stain on our history.” The author states that Christian contributions to the non-profit organization Yad Ezer L’Chaver, which operates the Holocaust Survivors’ Shelter in Haifa, are billed in a positive light, “…instead of the shame it really is, since the state has plenty of money to care for the survivors.”
Ha’Ir Kol Ha’Ir, April 28, 2017
The Custodia Terra Sancta states that the Judea regional council has been refusing to repair the access road to the John the Baptist monastery in the Even Sapir moshav. The road is in extremely poor condition. The Custodia further says that they have attempted to get the road repaired since October 2016, but that the council has refused to give them any response. Adv. Farid Jubran, the Custodia’s legal advisor, sent a letter to the council last week, warning that if they do not answer the Custodia would turn to the courts.
The Judea regional council stated in response, “The council will pave the road after the Custodia submits a request and pays the fee according to law.”
Haaretz, April 24, 2017
This article is a review of A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination-from Persecution to Genocide (English 2014, Hebrew translation by Aya Breuer, Asia Publishing, Yad VaShem and Ben-Gurion University, 2017), and an interview with its author, Prof. Alon Konfino. The review states, “(The book deals with the way the German society received Nazi anti-Semitism, how many citizens became collaborators in the crimes, and what made extermination of Jews a reasonable possibility, and draws a collective picture of a modern Western society in which culture and the memory of history became tools for realizing genocide.” Konfino concludes the story the Nazis told themselves was that as the Jews represented “sources of evil” in history, they needed “…to be uprooted so that a civilization could be formed that owed no debt to them…a kind of ‘re-creation’.” Konfino says that the Nazis would have aimed for this fantasy of a German world without Jews, with or without Auschwitz.
The innovation in Konfino’s research is in the fact he concentrates on cultural history, suggesting the Nazis “…made a cultural world in which the fantasy of a world without Jews sounded logical, desirable and acceptable to the public.” He covers what the Nazis believed had happened, rather than what historical facts prove. For this reason, Konfino sees Kristallnacht as a climax, the burning of Torah scrolls the Nazis’ attempt to cancel out the moral past that originated with the Jews, and the preservation of documents concerning the genocide as proof of the totality of their victory in the “new world” of the Nazis.
Haaretz, April 24, 2017
In 2015, Meir Bulka visited the Jewish cemetery in Ostrowiec Swietkorzyski in Poland to say Kaddish (the Jewish mourner’s prayer) for his relatives, only to discover that the cemetery’s gravestones had been desecrated around 1959 and built into the wall surrounding the Christian cemetery of the city. Bulka met with the mayor in early 2016 to demand the gravestones be removed from the wall, but the mayor refused Bulka’s first demand. The mayor eventually agreed to the dismantling if Bulka would fund it, as well as the transport of the stones to another site and the rebuilding of the wall. The total cost would amount to approximately half a million zloty.
Bulka refused this demand, and his frustration grew over the fact that he received no help from entities involved in the preservation of Jewish graves. However, he has discovered that three properties in the town are registered in his family’s name. Since his own family is legal heir to these properties, he hopes to offer them in exchange for the gravestones. He is looking for a person or organization to back his efforts.
Yated Ne’eman, HaMevaser, April 26, 2017
The police have arrested a resident of Hawara village on suspicion of illegal antiquities dealing and a failure to report finding antiquities and owning weapons. A search of the man’s house and shop revealed hundreds of coins, clay pots, pottery weights, jewelry, basalt grinding stones and lead utensils, as well as a revolver and a Sten gun. During his investigation, the suspect stated he’d purchased the antiquities for his private collection.
Archaeologists estimate the antiquities to be from the Hasmonean, Bar-Kochba, Second Temple, Assyrian and Roman periods, among others.