During the week covered by this review, we received 7 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Makor Rishon, December 1, 2017
U.S. President Trump must decide by December 2 whether to transfer the embassy to Jerusalem or to sign another six-month waiver of the law. A meeting took place in the White House on the subject, in which Trump allegedly favored the move. His advisors, however, seem to have taken a position against it, for fear of “widespread unrest in the region.” According to the article, Trump may give a speech at the beginning of the coming week, when he will declare that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Should he do so, it is likely he will make a gesture to the Palestinians as well. Although the nature of such a possible gesture is unknown, the article suggests “…the staff of special envoy Jason Greenblatt was investigating the possibility of US recognition of Abu-Dis as the capital of the future Palestinian state.”
Some U.S. legislators, such as Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-Florida), support the move. The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem expressed their support as well by sending a letter urging the move to Trump. Israel has refrained from commenting on Jerusalem during the past 24 hours, except for Transportation and Information Minister Israel Katz, who called for the embassy transfer during his recent visit to the U.S.
Yedioth Ahronoth, November 29, 2017
Bishop Tikhon Shevkunov of the Russian Orthodox Church recently stated that many members of the church committee investigating the deaths of Czar Nikolai II and his family “…have no doubt that Jews initiated the murder for ceremonial purposes.” Shevkunov quoted an alleged statement by Yaakov Yurovsky, whom he said planned the execution, boasting of his deed after the fact and claiming he had “a ritual historic mission.” A formal representative of Russia’s Committee of Investigations said they will carry out their own inquiry into the issue. Baruch Gorin, the speaker of the Federation of the Jewish Communities, expressed deep concern, saying, “We are being returned to dark days.”
Czar Nikolai II and his family were executed in 1918 by a Bolshevik firing squad in the cellar of their prison in Yekaterinburg. They were canonized as saints by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000. Shevkunov is the head of the church committee for investigating their deaths.
Christians in Israel
Gal-Gefen, November 23, 2017
Thousands of Christian Orthodox, from Israel and abroad, gathered in Saint George’s Church in the HaShalom Park in Lod on Thursday, November 16, to celebrate Saint George’s Day. They then participated in a parade and festive meal. The Greek Orthodox patriarch was present, along with Lod Mayor Adv. Yair Ravivo and the leaders of the Christian community in the city.
Haaretz, November 29, 2017
Jerusalem’s Hill of Evil Council, sold to entrepreneurs as part of Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III’s land deals, is apparently to be turned into a luxury residential complex. The writer of this article protests these plans, as the site is significant for Muslims, Jews, and especially for Christians, some of whom note that Caiaphas’ house is located there. Second Temple-era archaeological finds have been found there as well, and a church on the site is active a few times a year. Residents near the area are concerned that the tall buildings will break the skyline, that the public will lose access to the area, and that the project will cause serious transportation problems. Some members of the Greek Orthodox Church condemn the plans since they believe these plans result from “…the patriarch having blasphemed his duty to loyalty.” The architect of the project, the Patriarchate, and the Jerusalem municipality all defend the project, however, and say the residents’ concerns are groundless.
The entrepreneur company responsible for the project is Abu Tor Properties, the principal stockholders of which are Michael Steinhart of the U.S. and David Sofer of London. Theophilos sold the hill to the company in 2013 for ILS 26.8 million.
The Jerusalem Post, November 30, 2017
Magnus Hellgren of Sweden, Joao Bernardo Weinstein of Portugal, Bernardo Greiver of Uruguay and Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli of the Vatican, all new ambassadors to Israel, presented their credentials to President Reuven Rivlin on November 29th. Weinstein and Greiver, who are Jewish, underscored their special connection to Jerusalem. Hellgren said that one of the main tasks of his term of office would be “…to clarify Sweden’s position as a friend of Israel, as well as to strengthen dialogue between the two countries.” Girelli brought Rivlin a greeting from Pope Francis. Rivlin, on his part, highlighted the various ways Israel is connected with each of the four countries while emphasizing that “…Israel will not yield to political pressure regarding the conflict with the Palestinians.” Rivlin also said that confidence-building measures are an essential prerequisite for resumed peace talks, adding that both sides must accept that the other is here to stay.
November 29th was the 70th anniversary United Nations Resolution 181, which paved the way for the establishment of a Jewish state.
Israel Hayom, December 1, 2017
This article details various tourist sites of interest in Gush Etzion, such as a zoo for exotic animals, boutique wineries, a museum for vintage cars and the longest zip-line in Israel. Of particular note is the Herodion, the “fortress-palace-tomb” built by Herod the Great, the extent of which has still not been uncovered by archaeologists. The complex includes not only the palace but a miniature stadium, vast halls apparently used for water collection, and a swimming pool. Although the excavation is still ongoing, what has already been uncovered is undergoing reconstruction, and will soon be surrounded by a fence.
Yediot Tverya, November 24, 2017
A complete sculpture of a lioness, carved in relief on a basalt block weighing 600 kilograms, was found at the dig site in Beit HaBek at the Battiha nature reserve. The sculpture details include a short mane, fangs, outstretched tongue, and tail. The sculpture was discovered by Mark Tournage from the U.S., currently completing his Ph.D. at Bar-Ilan University, and Eli Shukron from Israel, as part of the Kinneret College dig on the site, led by Dr. Mordechai Aviam. “The relief is similar to other lions and lionesses found in synagogues on the Golan, so the supposition is that it is an artifact from the Jewish community. However, it could have come from some other large structure,” said Aviam.
Beit HaBek, a lone stone structure, stands near a grove of eucalyptus trees by the Arik bridge, north of the Sea of Galilee. The site is currently thought to be that of Bethsaida.