During the week covered by this review, we received 24 articles on the following subjects:
The Jerusalem Post, October 16, 2017
On Sunday, October 15th, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made several speeches and statements in defense of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to decertify the Iran deal. In his speech to a Christian media summit at the Israel Museum that day (see below), Netanyahu said, “Trump correctly identified that Iran was not part of the solution to the Middle East, but rather the central problem.” He called the Iran issue an existential one, noting, “Israel has no better friends in the world than the Christian communities around the world.” In addition, he urged the Christian press to increase their reporting on the persecution faced by Christian community in Iran.
Earlier that day, Netanyahu told Fox News he “…had no preference to whether the nuclear deal was canceled or changed, as long as Iran’s path to nuclear weapons was blocked,” and described specific ways the deal should be changed. When asked about possible retaliation from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Netanyahu said, “If they act against us that would be a very big mistake.”
The Jerusalem Post, October 19 (two articles), The Jerusalem Post, October 20, 2017
The first annual Christian media summit took place in Jerusalem from October 15th-18th. The summit gave the attendees, who numbered approximately 130 and came from 30 different countries, “…the opportunity to view Israel beyond the conflict, and, most important, to experience all the diversity and excitement of Jerusalem.” Speakers included public figures such as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, and analysts such as Caroline Glick, Khaled Abu Toameh, Itamar Marcus and Mordechai Kedar, along with IDF generals and intelligence specialists.
The culminating event was an address given to the attendees by President Reuven Rivlin at his residence. Citing the fact that since 1850 there had been a Jewish majority in the city living alongside Christians and Muslims, Rivlin said, “If Jews, Muslims, and Christians can live together in Jerusalem, we can do it all over the Middle East.” He emphasized that as a Jewish, democratic state, Israel is committed to preserving freedom for all religions and safety for all holy sites. He stated, “Israel will never stop trying to achieve peace with the Palestinians,” and emphasized that both sides need to understand the other side “…is here to stay.” He rejected the idea that Israel was created in order to compensate for the “outrages of the Holocaust,” saying that the presence of his own family in Jerusalem, along with many others well before World War II, disproves that claim. Rivlin cited the Balfour Declaration as an example of friendship between Christians and Jews, and said, “There is no more moral decision of the family of nations than when it decided that the Jewish people have to return to the homeland.”
The second article surveys the past and present media activities of Gordon Robertson, C.E.O. of the Christian Broadcasting Network and one of the summit’s attendees. Having realized that Israel’s PR was not all that could be desired, Robertson launched a series of films in 2013 to educate the public about Israel after discerning that Israel’s public image wasn’t what it could be. The subject of the first film, Made in Israel, is about Israeli technology and innovation. The second, The Hope: The Rebirth of Israel, surveys the history of Zionism and its visionaries. The third, a docudrama entitled In Our Hands, tells the story of the 55th Paratroop Brigade in the Battle of Ammunition Hill in 1967. The next film, which will be released near Israel’s 70th Independence Day, will cover Israeli volunteers and organizations providing humanitarian aid around the world. Robertson believes that sharing the facts is the best way to defend Israel, and says, “It’s important that the government is aware of the friendships it has in the Christian Community and how willing they are to be of help to Israel.” He added, “I think, going forward, there is a new awareness within the government and the Foreign Ministry that the Christian media truly wants to be a friend of Israel.”
The third article explores the purpose of the summit as a way Christians attempt to demonstrate their support of Israel. The article notes that not all Christians support Israel, and some hold replacement theology to be the truth. The article calls this doctrine “a corruption of Christianity’s DNA,” which remained largely in place, until “a segment of Christianity began to reject it” some 150 years ago. According to the article, this segment has grown to represent about one billion households worldwide, but still angers the larger Christian community. This larger community is represented by bodies such as the Bethlehem Bible College and its “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference. Dr. Munther Isaac, the dean of the college, has been quoted as saying, “…support for Israel is an arrogant, dehumanizing and racist imperial ideology (that is) incompatible with the teachings of Jesus.” On the other hand, Dexter Van Zile, Christian Media analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, said, “Jerusalem is ground zero for Evangelical Protestants throughout the world.” Jerusalem resident Connie Wilson said the summit was “…the beginning of a God-led initiative” and was unique in its government involvement across the board.”
Haaretz, October 17, 2017
In this article, Anton Salman, newly elected mayor of Bethlehem, presents his opinion that any degree of Israeli presence in or influence on the city and its environs is illegal, non-valid, and a violation of fundamental Palestinian rights. He says Bethlehem is incarcerated” and strangled by Israeli policies of “oppression, apartheid” and “exploitation of religion and holy texts as a political tool.” Salman says this last item is “…incitement against the Palestinian people, a dangerous trend that aims at turning a political question into a religious war.” Salman says the end of “Israeli occupation” is the prerequisite for peace, and calls upon American Christian leaders to cease their “blind support of Israel.”
Yedioth Ahronoth, October 20, 2017
This four-page article is a biographical sketch of Audrey Azoulay, born in Paris to a Moroccan Jewish family. She entered politics through her work in the Centre National du Cinéma et de L’image Animée (CNC). In 2014 she was offered a post of special consultant to François Hollande on culture and communication. In February, 2016, she became Minister of Culture, and since then some of her notable accomplishments have been raising the culture budget to more than 1% of the national budget, cooperating with UNESCO to protect heritage sites in battle areas, and returning works of art confiscated during World War II to their Jewish owners.
Azoulay was selected on October 13th as UNESCO director-general, succeeding Irina Bokova. Her candidacy will be presented for approval of UNESCO’s general assembly on November 10th. The article reports her friends describe her as “…intelligent, human, yet able to decide without hesitation, able to learn and understand new subjects and complicated problems speedily and sensitively.” The article also describes some of the problems likely to arise during Azoulay’s term at UNESCO, including negotiating with countries whose dues are in arrears, the recent decision of the U.S. to leave the organization, the possibility of Israel following suit, and the controversy likely to arise if UNESCO makes another declaration that will be viewed as being anti-Israel.
Kalkalist, October 15, 2017
This article reports on a legal document which appears to reveal that Nayot Komemiyut demanded 100 million U.S. dollars for building rights on the Greek Orthodox church land from the Karen Kayemet L’Israel (KKL), and offered in return to renew the lease agreements for 500 dumans for the residents of the disputed property. The article surveys the history of the church land dispute from its beginnings in the 1950s, and the four courses of action enumerated in the document that KKL could have taken to eliminate the residents’ current uncertainty. It describes the document’s enumeration of the possible problems attendant on each, and how the course KKL chose was to ignore the entrepreneurs due to a past sting operation that had been carried out against it concerning extending the leasing rights.
KKL responded, “The sale of the church lands is a national problem, the solution to which is to be found in cooperation between the Ministry of Justice, the Israel Lands Authority and KKL,” adding that these bodies are meeting to discuss the issue. KKL also said that as soon as its current management came into office, it began looking at possibilities for solving the problem. Nayot Komemiyut has responded that this legal document is “…an internal KKL document, the content of which is not known to them.” Komemiyut added, “The signed lease agreement contains a mechanism for extending the lease based on an impartial appraisal.” He continued, “It is demanding nothing, since KKL holds the option to extend the lease, and it has so far not announced its desire to realize this option.”
Matzav HaRuach, October 20, 2017
Yoram Cohen, former head of the Shabak, told an audience at the Amit Kfar Ganim yeshiva in Petach Tikva that “…price-tag incidents are acts of terror.” He went on to say that public trust in state institutions is the base for proper civil life, as without law and justice, violence will “flood everything.”
The Jerusalem Post, October 16, 2017
Unknown vandals have recently defaced a Uruguayan Holocaust museum with hate speech graffiti slogans such as “The Holocaust of the Jewish people is the biggest lie in history,” “Only 300,000 Jews died from typhus,” and “Gas chambers were a fraud.” The Israelite Central Committee of Uruguay, the country’s umbrella Jewish organization, stated they, “…repudiate the anti-Semitic graffiti and stand ashamed before the survivors of the massacre that are still among us, their children, grandchildren and all the Jewish people.”
Uruguay’s Jewish community numbers some 12,000 according to the Latin American Jewish Congress. It was the first country in South America to officially recognize Israel.
HaModia, October 2, 2017
On the eve of Rosh HaShanah, students at a kollel (an institute for full-time, advanced study of the Talmud and rabbinic literature–Editor’s note) in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood, came across a man placing notes on cars in the parking lot. Concerned at the recent distribution of alleged missionary materials in their area, they attempted to snatch the man’s bag but were unable to do so. Police officers, arriving on the scene, took a description of the man and asked the students to leave his bag. “Just as you work to bring people closer to religion, he does the same,” one of the officers told the students.
Index HaEmek VeHaGalil-Nazareth Ilit, October 13, 2017
Residents of the Jezreel Valley and the adjacent Galilee areas were extremely displeased to find Jews for Jesus leaflets on their car windshields and in their mailboxes during Sukkot. “This is a scandal…audacious, no less,” said one of the residents. The article further notes that in some places such as Afula much of the material was collected and destroyed.
The Jerusalem Post, October 17, 2017
The University of Chicago Divinity School has recently announced its decision to appoint the Jewish orthodox Laurie Zoloth as its dean. “We normally think of Jews as deeply integrated into the American academic system, so it is unusual that there is a discipline or an area where one could be the first Jewish academic anything,” Zoloth told a USA Today newspaper reporter. The article spends significant time describing how some university divinity schools such as the one at Duke University are linked to a specific faith. Others, such as the one at the University of Chicago, are “…a tough-minded, sprawling, rigorous and dynamic conversation about what religion is and why understanding it is so vitally important.” David Ellenson, former president of Hebrew Union College, said that Zoloth’s appointment is “…a sign of the pluralism and ecumenism that is remaking American society.”
This appointment appears to be the first time a Jew has become dean at any university-based divinity school, according to the Association of Theological Schools.
The Jerusalem Post, October 18, 2017
In this article, Faydra Shapiro, Executive Director of the Israel Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, describes her experience at the ordination and commissioning of two Assyrian Orthodox priests who are to serve the Holy Land community, the first such ceremony to take place in 800 years. She begins by explaining the dire situation of the Assyrian church, especially in recent years. She then describes the service itself, which “…overwhelmed her with the image of the historical burden of a deeply splintered religion and a people who were almost wiped out, the weight of a community driven into diaspora by persecution, of a nation struggling to maintain continuity and memory into the next generation.” She describes how attendees took care to tell her of the love and fellow-feeling many Assyrians have for Israel, sometimes going as far as helping to smuggle Jews out of Iraq, noting the warm welcome they received in Israel. She calls on the Jewish people to fulfill the call to be “a light to the nations” not only by exporting Israeli scientific expertise to Africa but by “…answering the challenge to be able to identify with, strengthen and encourage other oppressed ethno-religious minorities.”
Makor Rishon, October 20, 2017
Cry for Zion is an organization acting among Israel-loving Christians designed to involve them in the struggle “for Jewish freedom of worship on the Temple Mount.” Head of the organization is Doron Keidar, a Torah-keeping Israeli Jew. Staff from the group participated in the Jerusalem March during this past Sukkot.
Globes, October 19, 2017
This article recommends the Beit Jamal monastery and the walking path near it to the public as a visit at once easy and beautiful. Of note is a Byzantine-era mosaic incorporated into the floor of the modern church, which is built like an ancient basilica. At the gate of the monastery, visitors can buy wine, olives, olive oil and pottery made by the monks.
The Jerusalem Post, October 16, 2017
U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence is to be the guest of honor and keynote speaker at an event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the November 29, 1947 UN vote calling for the establishment of a Jewish state. The event will take place in New York’s Queens Museum, in the same building that served as UN headquarters from 1946 to 1950. “We are honored that Vice President Pence will join us when we celebrate 70 years since this momentous occasion. From the moment President Truman became the first world leader to recognize the new Jewish state, Israel has had no better friend than the United States of America, and the US has had no more steadfast ally than the State of Israel,” said UN Ambassador Danny Danon.
Yated Ne’eman, October 20, 2017
The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in Manhattan is shortly to open an exhibition of Lithuanian Jewish documents, including manuscripts, letters, diaries, synagogue sketches, signs, and leaflets. Experts said these items “…enable a glimpse into the everyday life of Eastern European Jews during the time that the area was considered the center of the Jewish world.”
These documents join others rescued from the YIVO library in Lithuania, some of which were brought to New York by survivors, some of which were taken to a research institute near Frankfurt during World War II, and some of which were hidden in a church by a Christian librarian. Since 2016, the whole collection has been housed in the Judaica section of Lithuania’s national library, “as part of the country’s national heritage.” YIVO in Manhattan has received permission to digitize the collection to make its contents accessible to the public.
Yediot Yerushalayim, October 20, 2017
East Jerusalem Development Ltd. is planning a series of events for the Christian holidays, such as a fair to be held from December 10-24 and a Christmas tree by the New Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. The fair will be open to the public free of charge and will include souvenirs, decorations, food, street artists, street shows and a Santa Claus.
Haaretz (Hebrew and English), Maariv, Iton Shacharit, HaMevaser, October 17, 2017
For the past two years, a team led by Dr. Joe Uziel, Tehillah Lieberman, and Dr. Avi Solomon have been excavating the area under Wilson’s Arch near Jerusalem’s Western Wall for the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. The dig uncovered eight new courses of the wall and a sewer, but especially notable was a small Roman-era amphitheater-like structure. These remains were found after the removal of a layer of rubble eight meters thick.
The theater appears to be unfinished, as it contains a flight of partially hewn stairs. It is round, covered and includes seating for 200. The remains of a stage are also visible. Archaeologists offer two possible explanations for the unique features of the structure. One explanation is that it was an “odeon” for acoustic performances. The other explanation suggests that it was a “bouleuterion” structure for the Aelia Capitolina city council meetings. They further offer the possibility that the structure remained unfinished and unused due to the outbreak of the Bar-Kochba Revolt, “…which undermined the situation in Roman Jerusalem.”
Wilson’s Arch, located above the theater, is what remains of a huge stone structure which supported a bridge leading to the Temple Mount. As its building date is one of the central issues in Jerusalem research, the original purpose of the excavation was to date the arch accurately. In light of the unexpected finds, some experts suggest that the Romans demolished the Herodian street to build the theater. Uziel states that the finding of shops opening to the street at the base of the arch cancels out any building dates later than the Roman period. He estimates that it was built during the first century CE, at the end of the Second Temple period, as one of the latest elements of the Temple Mount compound. However, “…the possibility remains that the arch was built as part of a Roman renovation of the city in the 2nd century CE, during the beginning of the Aelia Capitolina period.”
Second Temple and Byzantine era historical sources mention the presence of theaters in Jerusalem, but archaeologists have not discovered them till now. The leaders of the dig called the find “a research sensation”, adding, “There is no doubt that revealing the Western Wall levels and the components of Wilson’s Arch are exciting finds which contribute to researching the city and its past, but finding the theater-like structure is a real drama in research.”
The full findings were presented at the “New Discoveries in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Environs” conference, held this week in Jerusalem.
HaModia, October 19, 2017
Police have arrested two residents of Eilaboun in the Lower Galilee on suspicion of carrying out illegal excavations in an impressive Roman-era cave system adjacent to the village. Police detained the suspects at the Tiberias station, where they confessed to the allegations and were released on bail. Their file has been transferred to the legal counsel of the Israel Antiquities Authority as the next step in the indictment process.
According to sources of the period, Eilaboun was a flourishing Jewish village during Roman times, even numbering a priestly family among its residents. Archaeologists surmise that the caves served as a subterranean warehouse and later as a stable, as IAA inspectors found troughs, cooking pots, sherds of water vessels and storage containers in the caves. The inspectors had noticed the digging some few days before while carrying out a routine patrol in Eilaboun.