During the week covered by this review, we received 14 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Christians in Israel
Haaretz (Hebrew and English), September 5, 2017
Some weeks ago, the district court approved Ateret Kohanim’s purchase of three strategically located buildings in Jerusalem’s Old City from the Greek Orthodox Church. This purchase was completed twelve years ago. During the past year, the Church also sold its lands in the city center to Israeli developers. Both of these transactions have caused unprecedented controversy. MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) has submitted a law proposing the transfer of the city center lands to the state rather than to private developers, as this would protect current apartment holders from having to negotiate repurchase of these properties in thirty years when the current leasing arrangement ends.
Church leaders in Jerusalem have published a strong condemnation of the Ateret Kohanim transaction as well as the proposed law. The protest states these things constitute “…a severe blow to the status quo and the standing of all churches in Jerusalem. We see these acts as systematic attempts to undermine the sacred status of Jerusalem and weaken the Christian presence in it.” The protest is signed, among others, by the leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Latin, Greek, Syrian, Ethiopian, Greek Catholic, and Lutheran churches.
Azaria has stated that her intent in proposing the law was to protect the 1,500 families living on the land in question. Itai Gottler, Jerusalem city council member and one of the founders of the action committee for resolving the church lands issue, has responded that the Jerusalem center land issue is a social, rather than political, and has no connection whatever with the Ateret Kohanim legal dispute. “All attempts to present things otherwise are deceiving,” said Gottler, adding that they will continue working to solve the problem on all existing levels.
HaModia, August 31, Makor Rishon, September 8, 2017
A Knesset delegation visited South Africa for the first time during the latter half of August. It met with public officials such as former President Kgalema Motlanthe and former minister and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, both of the African National Congress party, and opposition leader Mmusi Maimane and Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba of the Democratic Alliance party. The delegation did not meet with current members of the African National Congress at the parliament in Cape Town. The article quotes delegation leader MK Dr. Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), who stated that this snub resulted from Israel’s links with Pretoria during apartheid years despite the fact that Israel never supported apartheid.
The delegation also met with leaders of the Jewish community, Jewish agency representatives, and families who are about to immigrate to Israel, as well as visiting local Jewish sites of interest.
In the second article, Shai describes the Jewish community’s Zionism, its excellent educational system and its pride in its many members who immigrate to Israel. Shai also expressed regret about those who leave, noting that each person who departs weakens the community. He describes how the ruling African National Congress party, having trained with the PLO, has refused to meet with their Israeli counterparts, consistently takes a stand supporting the Arabs, and how South Africa is “…a comfortable greenhouse for the false equation of Israel as an apartheid state.” Shai commends the South African Evangelical Christian community’s support for Israel, citing a meeting the delegation had with some 100 Christian leaders, “…whose support for Israel is conspicuous and important.” He describes how cooperation between South Africa and Israel is currently almost nonexistent, but states that he is hopeful that it can still take place to the benefit of both countries.
Matzav HaRuach, September 8, 2017
Sheikh Ikrimeh Sabri, former mufti of Jerusalem and currently imam of the Al-Aqsa mosque, was recently refused entry to Britain. Sabri, who had intended shortly to speak before the British Parliament on the growing tension in Jerusalem “…led by the Jewish terrorists,” drew the attention of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and the Israeli-British Alliance. The organizations organized a petition against Sabri’s entrance, saying that as he proved to be a Holocaust denier during an interview with La Repubblica in 2000, British law prohibits both his entry into the country and his address to the Parliament. The British Home Office has apparently published a response to the issue, saying that Sabri had not requested an entrance visa. The author of the article found this response puzzling, “…unless Palestinians, unlike Israelis, need a visa to enter Britain.”
The Jerusalem Post, September 4, The Jerusalem Post, September 5, Matzav HaRuach,
September 8, 2017
On Thursday, August 31, a delegation from the Conference of European Jewish Rabbis, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, led by Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, held their annual meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican. The purpose of this year’s session was to present a Jewish perspective on Catholic-Jewish relations on the anniversary of Nostra Aetate. The delegation also presented the pope with a document entitled Between Jerusalem and Rome: Reflections on 50 Years of Nostra Aetate, suggesting a way for the two faiths to work together on issues of mutual concern. The document also commits to furthering dialogue and partnership with the Catholic Church.
Goldschmidt told the Post, “The issue of Israel and Jerusalem remained a challenge for Jewish-Vatican relations, but he was certain that Pope Francis is very cognizant of the fact that Christians in Israel are safer than anywhere else in the Middle East.” Yan Abramov, another member of the delegation, concurred with Goldschmidt on the advances resulting from the meeting, but also called upon the Jewish people to reconsider and strengthen the relationship with Christians, just as Christians are being asked to continue doing. Addressing those assembled, the pope noted the achievements gained in the 50 years since Nostra Aetate. “May the Eternal One bless and enlighten our cooperation so that together we can accept and carry out his plans,” said Francis.
Nostra Aetate was drafted by the Church “…to unite Catholicism with other religions, including Judaism, and to begin the difficult work of erasing the anti-Semitism that had been rampant for centuries in Christian religious life.” The chapter on Judaism has recently been called “the Magna Carta of the Church’s dialogue with the Jewish world” by Pope Francis. Nostra Aetate was adopted by the Vatican in 1965.
The Jerusalem Report, September 6, 2017
In this article, Rabbi Tuly Weisz of Israel365 offers an overview of some major shifts in Christian beliefs regarding Israel in order to explain the greater sensitivity and respect toward the Jews marking Christian Zionism’s new era. Beginning with a précis of the tenets of replacement theology, Weisz goes on to describe how the Protestant Reformation paved the way for a new approach for relating to Jews, particularly by making the Bible’s teachings on the Jews available to the public directly. Weisz states that while “restorationism” was a welcome beginning, replacement theology remained an element in it until after the Holocaust, “…when Christian thinkers recognized its perils.” The establishment of Israel and its hard-to-explain successes proved to be a thought-provoking issue for Christians, as these things did not line up with the teachings of replacement theology. Today, the Christian Zionists remain a minority in the church, but the shift they have brought about has nevertheless caused Christian-Jewish relations “…to enter a new, golden era of restoration without replacement.”
The Jerusalem Post, September 8, 2017
Columnist Melanie Phillips “dropped a couple of historical bombshells” in a recent lecture and conversation with Jerusalem Post diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon. One such bombshell was Phillips’s statement, “Although Theodor Herzl was the Zionist visionary, Christian Zionists in Britain and Germany had preceded him in deciding that Jews should return to their historic homeland.” Another was that Arthur James Balfour of the Balfour Declaration fame was a Christian Zionist who initially subscribed to the concept of a Jewish homeland in Uganda, but changed his views after being profoundly impressed by Chaim Weizmann’s statement to him that the Jews ruled Jerusalem “when London was still a marsh.” Although the British betrayed the spirit of the Balfour Declaration, Phillips noted that Britain is still on one of Israel’s strongest allies in Europe. In addition, she stated that many British Jews don’t give Israel due support since they think this would lead to accusations of dual loyalty. She added, “…(I doubt) if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would receive a warm welcome from the British population if he chose to accept Theresa May’s invitation to celebrate the declaration’s centenary in Britain.”
The Jerusalem event was co-sponsored by Europeans for Israel, the Balfour 100 committee, Bet Avi Chai, the Jewish Historical Society of England and the Zionist Council of Israel.
Haaretz, September 4, 2017
The government has approved a six-kilometer cable car route from Nazareth Ilit to Mount Tabor, as a completion of the Gospel Trail tourist attraction. The estimated cost of the project is 200m. shekels.
Haaretz, September 1, 2017
This article reviews the Museum on the Seam’s current exhibition, Thou Shalt Not, which showcases the work of various ultra-orthodox artists, and is surprising in its avant-garde scope. The article states, “It deals with relations between religion and art in Jewish society and with the religious law prohibition ‘thou shalt not’ as a simultaneously crippling and fruitful element in Jewish and Israeli art.” Of particular note is Saint Anne by Channa Goldberg, a self-portrait of the artist in the fashion of a Christian icon she saw at the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha. Another work of interest is Porat Salomon’s Let There Be Firmament, a portrayal of the entry to the seventh heaven, set among the roofs of Tel-Aviv. 504 Years Later, by Andi Arnovitz, is a work inspired by Albrecht Dürer’s Adam and Eve. It places Eve in an active role and Adam in a passive role “…as the source of the creativity that fructifies the world, casting aspersions on the masculine consciousness that circumscribes women’s freedom and seeps into women’s consciousness.”
The Museum on the Seam, founded in 1999 in the so-called Turjeman Post building, at the edge of the no-man’s-land in Jerusalem between Israel and Jordan between 1948 and 1967, is a “socio-political contemporary art museum.” The Museum has “…brought to Israel works by artists who have refused to exhibit in any other venue,” but as it is geographically isolated and appeals to a very particular audience, it has relied on donations from the founder and may now be on the brink of closure.
Maariv, September 3, 2017
Pope Francis: Politics and Society, by French sociologist Dominique Wolton, is a collection of 12 interviews Wolton had with the pope. During one of the interviews, Francis revealed that age 42, when he was the head of the Jesuit order in Argentina, he consulted a Jewish psychoanalyst for six months. Francis did not reveal the subject of their conversations, but said, “She was always there… She was a good person.” He has also recently stated he feels free, despite the heavy responsibility of his position: “Of course, I am now in the Vatican cage, but not spiritually. Nothing frightens me.”
The Jerusalem Post, September 8, 2017
Andran Penn, a Christian resident of Houston, recently returned to his home, expecting to find it in utter ruin as a result of Hurricane Harvey. However, a ZAKA team working in Penn’s home discovered that his library of Jewish texts, collected “…to seek cohesion between Jewish and Christian communities,” was untouched by the water, completely dry and without mold, whereas all his secular books were destroyed.
ZAKA is one of several organizations which have dispatched groups to assist the Jewish community in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett has also pledged $1 million in relief aid for them.
The Jerusalem Post, September 3, 2017
On Thursday, August 31, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the appeal of disbarred lawyer Raphael Golb, leaving ten criminal counts in place but removing an additional seven. The article stated, “Golb had been charged with creating fake email accounts as part of a discrediting campaign against academics who disagreed with his father.” His father, Norman Golb of the University of Chicago, holds a minority view on the authorship of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Golb was convicted of 30 counts in 2010 by a New York jury, but 11 counts were removed in an appeal to state court, two in federal court, and another seven in the Court of Appeals suit mentioned above. “According to court papers, Golb has said that he sent the emails to protest the exclusion of his father’s work from a series of exhibits on the scrolls.”
Israel Hayom, September 7, 2017
A joint Haifa University-Berlin Archaeology Institute dig at Tel Tzaf has found a unique pottery object. Prof. Danny Rosenberg of Haifa University, head of research at Tel Tzaf, said this object demonstrates a connection “…between large-scale food storage and a ritual ceremony connected with the successful storage and protection of the crops”.