During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the following subjects:
The Jerusalem Post, May 4 (two articles), May 5, 2017
On Tuesday May 2, UNESCO passed another resolution challenging Jewish claims to Jerusalem with 22 in favor, ten opposed, 23 abstentions and three absentees. The resolution “…declared Israel’s attempts to shape Jerusalem’s character to be null and void, and called for the cessation of Israeli archaeological digs in the capital.” Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat said he was outraged by the vote, called UNESCO anti-Israel, and said the organization sides with Israel’s enemies. Jerusalem residents and visitors were also united in their criticism of the resolution. One said it was 100% wrong, and another called it “…utter nonsense, like saying that New York is not part of the USA.”
In the second article, Alan Baker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs stated that such activity on the eve of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s planned visit to Washington signifies the Palestinian leadership’s contempt for attempts to restore negotiations for peace. Baker said, “Elements wishing to harm UNESCO’s organizational character have taken it hostage, all with the political aim of delegitimizing Israel.” However, Emek Shaveh, a left-wing consortium of archaeologists and activists, welcomed the resolution, stating it was “one of the best, most just and most long-awaited” decisions UNESCO could have made. Emek Shaveh has repeatedly condemned what it calls the “Judaization” of East Jerusalem, and has called it “occupied territory.”
All 100 U.S. senators sent a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, saying that the UN’s continued targeting of Israel is not acceptable, and demanding that Israel be treated fairly by all other UN members.
The third article analyzes the implications of the vote. It says although the resolution passed, the narrower vote margin exposes “…a growing European frustration over how the Arab world is governed.” The Arab elites’ management of the domestic affairs of Arab states has “…caused Islamist terrorism to become a global scourge, as well as causing the refugee crisis in Europe.” UNESCO’s raison d’être threatens governments across the Arab world since its original aims of academic freedom and accessible quality education might enable newly socially mobile masses to overthrow them.
Shvi’i, April 28, 2017
A new torch for the Jewish communities in the Diaspora has been added to the ceremony on the eve of Independence Day. Two representatives lit it. One of those representatives was Rabbi Marvin Hayer, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. The Center is dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and defending the Jewish people from anti-Semitism. Hayer has visited Israel more than 75 times. He is well-connected with the White House as well, and he’s met seven presidents. When he lit the torch, “he asked the residents of Israel to remember that the Jews in the Diaspora will always support them.” Hayer added that he was proud to represent generations of his family who were not able to see Israel and Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Post, May 1, 2017
Hours before Remembrance Day began, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and several senior members of the defense leadership unveiled a new memorial hall to honor fallen soldiers at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl. The main features of the structure include a winding 850-foot path with more than 23,000 stones inscribed with the name and death date of each of Israel’s fallen. Netanyahu, Rivlin, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gadi Eisenkot spoke to honor the fallen for their heroism and sacrifice, emphasizing the importance of defense against Israel’s many enemies and promising to treasure the past as well as creating a future.
Shortly after the ceremony began, a bereaved father heckled Netanyahu regarding the remains of Hadar Goldin, one of the fallen in Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Goldin’s remains have been held by Hamas ever since. Leah Goldin, Hadar’s mother, who was also present, shouted, “Operation Protective Edge isn’t over yet!” Netanyahu went on with his speech after the man resumed his seat. The article did not identify the bereaved father by name.
Israel Hayom, May 1, 2017
This article details many forests in Israel where families may go for a picnic. However, of particular interest is the list of 69 heritage sites which, according to Independence Day custom, opened their doors to the public free of charge. The sites highlighted a wide variety of experiences available to visitors ranging from the archaeology at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem, to the personal history at David Ben-Gurion’s house at Sde Boker, to the agriculture at the visitors’ center at the Mikve Israel field school.
The Jerusalem Post, May 4, 2017
UK chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby visited Jerusalem on Wednesday, May 3rd. The two prayed at the Western Wall, and Mirvis showed Welby his former house in the Jewish Quarter. Later that day the two visited Yad VaShem, and Mirvis introduced Welby to Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef. Mirvis and Welby also met with friends of British Hebrew University student Hannah Bladon, who was recently killed in an attack on the Jerusalem Light Rail.
Both Mirvis and Welby affirmed Jerusalem’s centrality to the Jewish people. “The Temple Mount is the site of an historic temple and that is the heart of the people of Israel over many, many centuries, millennia in fact,” Welby told reporters. “We recognize the ongoing presence of the Jewish people and our eternal right to the city. It’s the spiritual capital of the Jewish people and we’re going through another episode of dispute.” Mirvis added that he was looking forward to returning to celebrate Jerusalem Day on May 24th.
Welby’s visit to Israel follows one to Jordan, where he met with Iraqi Christian refugees.
Haaretz, April 30, 2017
This article takes issue with the techniques of certain fundraising campaigns of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ). The campaign in question consists of huge posters of suffering people on the jetway walls at Ben-Gurion Airport. One such poster depicts a woman holding a twig broom standing before a burnt house, and another shows a boy with tears running down his cheeks. The captions mention doing good and giving hope, but the article asks why pictures of tragedies have been used. The writer raises concerns regarding the first impression tourists in general and first-time visitors in particular would receive from seeing these posters.
The airport authority responded that the jetway area is private space that entities may rent. The IFCJ has been granted permission for this year. The IFCJ stated, “(The organization) is among the central entities in Israel which act to strengthen weak sectors of society.” They further noted that they will evaluate the effectiveness of the posters and then decide whether to continue using them. People involved in tourism to Israel told Haaretz anonymously they see this campaign as injuring their initiatives and those of the Ministry of Tourism in this sphere, stating, “…people don’t want to vacation in a place where they bring compassion,” but to have fun and visit beautiful places.
HaModia, May 4, 2017
The anti-missionary activist organization Yad L’Achim wishes to warn the public about a Jehovah’s Witnesses missionary campaign underway in numerous cities since before Passover. Some residents have reported door-to-door visits and distribution of material in crowded public places, sometimes by foreigners who only speak English, and sometimes by local people as well. The article cites an incident in Netanya where police removed Yad L’Achim activists rather than missionaries from the scene. It quotes the wonder of Yad L’Achim’s legal department over this fact, especially since “…missionaries consciously lie to passport control upon entry and say they are coming for tourism,” when in fact they are there to seeking “straying Jews” to convert. Yad L’Achim calls upon the public to remain alert and report any missionary activity to its 24-hour hotline.
The Jerusalem Post, May 3, 2017
Hugh Bonneville of Downton Abbey fame is currently in Jerusalem to film Countdown to Calvary, a documentary on the days from Palm Sunday to Good Friday. “Countdown is intended to highlight the political intrigue behind the biblical story, a ‘political thriller,’ in which the city itself is the star.” Bonneville’s time in Israel has so far included touring in and around Jerusalem, immersing himself in the history of the period, and interviewing experts on the life of Jesus. Although he visited Israel briefly in 1983, he considers this to be his first real visit. “It brings it to life…it’s amazing how small the Old City is, and how big the Temple was,” said Bonneville, adding he was riveted by “…the scale and then the implication of destruction and how cataclysmic it was to Judaism and its beating heart, and how that affected Christianity.”
Countdown to Calvary will air on Easter, 2018 and is being co-produced by Ireland’s RTÉ network, ARTE and PBS.
Maariv, May 1, 2017
Moshe Aloni will lecture at a conference at the Discount Herzl Lilienblum Museum on Tuesday, May 9, at 16:30. He will speak on awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the Bulgarian Church for its efforts to save Jews during World War II.