During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
The Jerusalem Post, August 20 and August 23, 2017
These articles report each writer’s reactions to the recent Unite the Right rally at Charlottesville, Virginia.
In the first article, Mike Evans asks, “Are Christians standing up and speaking up against such evil?” Evans decided to devote himself to combating anti-Semitism in part because he suffered the effects of it in his own life. As a result, he turned the Corrie ten Boom house in Haarlem into a Holocaust museum and built the Friends of Zion Heritage Center in Jerusalem so that the Christian Zionist example might inspire visitors “to combat evil.” Evans noted, “Real Christians must stand up and speak up the very moment the demon of racism rears its ugly head. Otherwise, it is pure hypocrisy to say they love Jesus.”
In the second article, Faydra L. Shapiro, director for the Israel Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, highlights “a terribly irresponsible choice” made by Newsweek to reprint a 1981 article documenting the rise of anti-Semitic incidents in 1980 and the efforts from within and without the Jewish community to address these incidents. Shapiro objects to this move by the magazine as it not only implies that the situation is largely unchanged, but fails to acknowledge “…Christian Zionism has brought millions of Evangelical Christians into an unprecedented positive relationship with Jews and Judaism.” Furthermore, she charges that the headline was changed to one the implies that Christian politics fuel U.S. anti-Semitism. She makes the point that just as Christians are to call out and condemn racism and anti-Semitism whenever necessary, so Jews are to name and condemn anti-Christian bias whenever necessary as well.
HaMahane HaHaredi, August 24, 2017
The Chief Rabbinate has presented a response to the Supreme Court regarding the numerous petitions asking to hold services at the Western Wall without gender separation. This response appears to state that by law the Supreme Court has no authority to rule on either religious observance or the holy sites, and would not change the status quo at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or the al-Aqsa Mosque. The article notes “…courts of law are not the appropriate tribunal to rule on religious-moral decisions…(and) forcing external characteristics of ritual to which most of the religious adjudicators object would cause division and disturbance of the peace.” The author of the article considers the petitions were submitted not out of an innocent desire for a particular kind of ritual, but out of “…defiance to the ‘obsolescence’ of ultra-orthodoxy and its institutions.” In conclusion, the response states, “The rabbinate has no desire to distance anyone from the Western Wall, and since the petitioners wish, but are not obliged to pray in services without gender separation, their freedom of worship has not been injured.”
Christians in Israel
HaModia, August 17, 2017
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos II announced at a recent news conference in Amman that his church will appeal to the Supreme Court against a Jerusalem District Court decision that approved the lease of prime church property to Ateret Cohanim, a group that has been buying properties for Jews in traditionally Arab parts of the Old City. The church has been opposing the sale in court for the last ten years, saying, “…the since-deposed previous patriarch has conducted it illegally and it was therefore invalid.” Theophilos stated that the district court’s ruling was politically motivated.
The Greek Orthodox Church is one of the largest property owners in the Holy Land, and numbers some 220,000 people in Jordan, Israel and Palestinian Authority areas.
Israel Hayom, August 21, 2017
The rabbinical court of Netanya has recently revoked the conversion of an American couple, saying that the procedure was done in a way not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate. The article describes a book written by the husband of the couple, allegedly stating that Jesus was an orthodox Jew and that his way was distorted by the Christians. The court noted that the Interior Ministry records concerning the couple’s aliyah process make no mention of their conversion and show that they were not eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return. Neither they nor their daughter can be recognized as Jewish, and the daughter may not be able to be married in a Jewish ceremony.
Haaretz, August 23, 2017
This article surveys a current campaign to cultivate relationships with influential journalists who serve the evangelical Christian community. Sponsored and subsidized by the government, this four-day “Christian Media Summit” is being held in October with the hope that attendees will become good ambassadors for Israel. According to a draft of the itinerary, the conference will cover subjects such as Jerusalem, radical Islam and whether or not settlements are an obstacle to peace. Tours will include a visit to sites such as Gush Etzion and the Friends of Zion Museum.
Some 140 reporters, editors, and publishers representing some 70 media outlets have been invited. Although the government has sponsored journalists’ conferences for Jewish media, this is the first such event for Christian media.
Iton Shacharit, August 22, 2017
9-year-old Hallel Halevy found an ancient coin while visiting Neve Tzuf with her father. The coin appears to be a half-shekel from the Second Temple period and will undergo further analysis.
Israel Hayom, Haaretz, Iton Shacharit, August 24, 2017
In June, digging which took place in preparation for the laying of a cellular cable near Damascus Gate uncovered a 1,500-year-old mosaic. This mosaic is particularly notable, as its Greek inscription mentions Justinian, one of the most important Byzantine emperors, during whose reign the Roman Empire became fully Christian. Justinian is particularly known for building the Nea Church in Jerusalem in 543 CE. It was the biggest Christian church of its time in the city. The inscription itself commemorates the dedication of the structure in which it was found, which apparently served as a hostel for pilgrims. Dr. Leah di Segni of Hebrew University, an expert of deciphering ancient Greek inscriptions, has dated it to 550 or 551 CE. David Golman, leader of the dig for the Israel Antiquities Authority, called the find “an archaeological miracle.” As the Damascus Gate functioned for centuries as the main north entrance to the city, Golman observed, “It is no wonder that the Byzantines built many churches, monasteries, and hostels to serve the pilgrims in the area.”
The Jerusalem Post, August 25, 2017
This article surveys the history of the Temple Mount Sifting Project and its temporary closure due to lack of funds. Approximately half a million finds, the first-ever archaeological data originating from below the Temple Mount’s surface, have been discovered at the project. One such item is a seal from a First Temple-era priestly family. Another is a Second Temple silver half-shekel coin depicting a chalice from the Temple, along with the Hebrew letter alef and three pomegranates, surrounded by the words ‘Jerusalem the Holy’.” A third is a coin with the phrase “For the Freedom of Zion” from the Great Revolt against the Romans.
The article, therefore, calls upon the government of Israel to fund the sifting of the 30% of debris that remains, as well as the research and publication to follow, “…as penance for its long-standing malfeasance in countering Palestinian-Islamic aggression against Jewish history in Jerusalem and Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount.” Additionally, the article states that the government should be involved as the project continues to affirm the Jewish people’s roots in Jerusalem and “…the loving care with which Israel treats sacred sites in Zion.”