During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
The Pope and the Vatican
The Jerusalem Post, June 13, 2017
This article expresses the opinion that Britain’s current hung parliament is a good development for Israel. The reason for this is that the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives are likely to need for essential parliamentary votes, “…has consistently demonstrated strong sympathy and steady support for Israel.” One example of DUP’s support is the fact that in 2014 when the UK parliament voted 274-12 (out of a 650-member total) to recognize the (non-existent) state of Palestine alongside Israel, all eight of the DUP MPs at the time were among the 12 no’s.
Reverend Ian Paisley founded DUP in 1971 “…to focus loyalist opposition to the IRA and its offshoots.” Paisley founded the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel in March 2009. DUP appears to have a Protestant, Bible-believing base, but the article also brings up the possibility that its support for Israel has been strengthened by the fact that the Irish Republican Sinn Féin has “long espoused the Palestinian cause.”
The Jerusalem Post, June 16, 2017
The Palestinians have submitted a fast-track request to the World Heritage Committee to include the Old City of Hebron and its Tomb of the Patriarchs on the World Heritage Site list as belonging to “the State of Palestine”, saying that the site is endangered.
Carmel Shama HaCohen, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, said this latest issue is linked to “…the attacks and hallucinatory outrageous votes in UNESCO regarding Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall.” He rejected the claim that Hebron’s Old City is endangered, saying this is not the case, and adding, “Israel has worked together with the religious authorities in Hebron with regard to upkeep and repairs to the site, and to ensure access for worshipers to the Ibrahimi mosque, the Muslim structure in the Old City.” Additionally, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has written a letter to UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova, explaining it was essential for UNESCO to stand up for the truth, and noting the Palestinian religious leaders have “…publicly acknowledged Israeli respect for freedom of worship for all and expressed appreciation for the sensitivity shown by the Israeli authorities in responding to Palestinian special requests.”
As UNESCO recognized Palestine as a state in 2011, the Palestinian Authority listed Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, the pilgrimage route, and the terraces at Battir as its own World Heritage Sites, fast-tracking these processes and claiming they were endangered as well. The World Heritage Committee will be holding its next meeting Krakow, Poland from July 2-12.
The Jerusalem Post, June 12, 2017
On Sunday, June 11, President Reuven Rivlin welcomed President Baron Waqa of Nauru and his delegation to Israel. The tone of the visit was particularly warm and sincere, as Nauru has been a friend to Israel, particularly in public forums such as the UN. Waqa pledged his country’s support for Israel as long as Nauru continues to exist, and thanked Israel for its technology which had helped Nauru purify its water, as well as her medical assistance, which when combined with that of Australia and New Zealand assisted in addressing Nauru’s diabetes problem.
Nauru will celebrate its 50th anniversary of independence on January 31. Waqa invited Rivlin to join the jubilee festivities, and Rivlin replied that he would be pleased to do so on his way to Australia, as he may visit there next year. Rivlin also said that “Israel was proud to have helped Nauru and would always be willing to share its knowledge and technology with it.”
The Pope and the Vatican
The Jerusalem Post, June 16, 2017
Talks between Israel and the Vatican appear to have made progress regarding the finalizing of the Fundamental Agreement between the two countries. Although the agreement was signed in 1993, “…bilateral issues such as the juridical rights of the Catholic Church in Israel as well as property and tax issues remained unregulated,” and have been under negotiation since that time. A joint statement on Wednesday, June 14, said that negotiators were happy with the progress they’ve made, and are hopeful there will be a quick conclusion to these negotiations.
Kolbo, June 9, 2017
Rabbi Dubi Hayun, Emir Muhammad Sharif Udah Makabbir and Maronite Father Joseph Jacob have recently received a prize for interfaith tolerance from the American-Jewish Committee. The prize was awarded at a ceremony in Washington, at which Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, UN Ambassador Danny Danon, and other official representatives were also present.
Hayun stated to Kolbo that although this interfaith cooperation is of long standing, it came to the attention of the committee when Muslims, Christians, and Jews were working together to restore his synagogue after it was damaged in a severe fire this past November.
Yediot Achronot, June 12, 2017
Tel Hazor National Park, the largest of the biblical tels excavated so far, was inhabited for thousands of years. At its most extensive the kingdom covered 800 dunams, ten times the size of First Temple-era Jerusalem. Digs have revealed palaces, places of worship, impressive walls, gates, houses, warehouses and a massive water system. The city’s acropolis is 120 dunams in size, and the residential part some 700 dunams in size. Tours of Tel Hazor are particularly interesting this year, as the site is marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Yigael Yadin, one of the founders of the field of archaeology in Israel, whose discoveries offer intriguing explanations of Hazor’s history.
Ma’ariv, The Jerusalem Post, June 15, 2017
Researchers at Tel-Aviv University have used advanced multi-spectral imaging technology to decipher a First Temple-era inscription on the back of an ostracon (ink-inscribed potsherd), discovered in Tel Arad in 1965 and on display in the Israel Museum since that time. Although the front side had been legible, the back side appeared to be blank, until this technology revealed 17 more words continuing the text on the front side.
During the First Temple period, Arad functioned as a military fortress on the southern borders of the kingdom of Judah. Some of the inscriptions already found there have had to do with supplying flour, wine, and oil to military units, and were directed to Elyashiv Ben Ushiyahu, the fortress’ quartermaster. The current discovery revealed administrative text as well, requesting wine, but also contained “…a guarantee of assistance if the addressee has any requests.”