During the week covered by this review, we received 13 articles on the following subjects:
The Jerusalem Post, January 12, 2018
On Wednesday, January 10, Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina called upon his state senate to complete the passing of a law codifying a universal definition of anti-Semitism in time for International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27. The bill is based on a 2010 decision made by the U.S. State Department, and was passed by the state’s House of Representatives in March, 2016. The fact sheet accompanying the proposed law calls out “demonizing, delegitimizing and having a double standard for Israel” as illegal practices, and challenges those who would blame Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions, as well as those who would deny the Jewish people its right to self-determination and Israel the right to exist. The proposed legislation says criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitism.
If passed, this law would make South Carolina the first U.S. state to codify such a definition. South Carolina was the first to adopt legislation against BDS, and its law on the subject was the model for similar legislation in 23 other states, as well as other countries around the world. South Carolina state Representative Alan Clemmons, who drafted both the anti-BDS bill and the anti-Semitism bill, will be honored for his work by the Israel Allies Foundation, Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and the World Jewish Congress at their Night to Honor Our Christian Allies in Jerusalem on February 15.
Haaretz, January 12, 2018
This article surveys the social justice activities of the Quaker movement over the past 150 years. The article then focuses on the American Friends’ Service Committee (AFSC), and how its British branch was instrumental in organizing the Kindertransport just before World War II, as well as other Quaker efforts which were successful in saving thousands of Jews during the war. For these reasons, the article writer finds it to be “moral amnesia” and “an ignoring of historical debts” that the government of Israel should ignore the immense debt of gratitude it owes the Quakers, instead including the AFSC on the list of organizations that are forbidden entry to Israel because of their support of a boycott. The AFSC, which had declared its boycott to be only on settlements and companies that do business with them. However, since it was blacklisted, it appears to have joined the general BDS movement. The article warns that the government’s policies may cause other entities to follow suit, if they are included in the list, as well.
Iton Shacharit, HaModia, January 11, 2018
The anti-missionary activist organization Yad L’Achim is protesting against a book distributed at an event organized by the Association of Concentration Camp and Ghetto Survivors in Israel. The book, which includes a recommendation by Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky, appears to contain missionary content. Rabbi Shmuel Lifschitz sent a letter to Sharansky asking him to retract his endorsement, as well as a warning to the Diaspora Affairs Ministry and Jewish communities all over the world asking them to prevent the use of the book. (The articles do not mention the name of the book or that of its author – Editor.)
Iton Shacharit, January 10, 2018
A Christian resident of Akko appears to have made serious threats against the son of his Jewish neighbors after the son took down Christmas signs and decorations in the building where both his parents and the Christian individual live. M., the son, stated that he explained to the Christian how his family was offended and invited him to a conversation on the subject, but the Christian appears to have remained adamant in his threats, even calling Channel 2 News in Arabic, and summoning the police to arrest M. for interrogation. The police said the Christian would be interrogated as well, “…due to the threats he made in the phone conversation recording.” M. stated that it was “an intentional provocation” for the Christian to put up Christmas decorations when he is the only Christian living in the building in question.
Yedioth Ahronoth, January 12, 2018
On Thursday, January 11, an interfaith prayer service, including a rabbi, a Christian priest, a Muslim sheikh, Druze sheikh and Circassian sheikh, was held near Kadita in the Upper Galilee. The service focused on prayers for rain, “due to fear that there would be a sixth year of drought.” The Be’er Hanna non-profit organization organized the service.
The Jerusalem Post, January 7, 2018
This article surveys data from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the FBI to report the current state of anti-Semitism in America. ADL’s results show a 67% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the first three quarters of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. The FBI’s findings indicate that during 2016, Jews were targets of 684 out of 1,273 anti-religion incidents. The article notes, “…a unique characteristic of anti-Semitism as opposed to other forms of bigotry, racism or xenophobia is that it is present on both sides of the political spectrum.”
The article writer observes that U.S. Congress members from the Democratic party who have cooperated with organizations such as the U.S. Campaign of Palestinian Rights, Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace and American Muslims for Palestine are not necessarily anti-Semites. However, the message they send by their cooperation is problematic, since such cooperation signals sympathy for political leadership that glorifies terrorism and terrorists, rather than for Israel, “…a state that strives to maintain democratic principles under the most difficult conditions.” The writer further states that this cooperation “…fosters a toxic intellectual environment for discussion of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.” The article notes that U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration, America First and anti-globalism stances are shared by many anti-Semitic politicians as well. The writer concludes by asking those on both sides of American politics to “…call out anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing as a deviation from America’s founding principles,” and to acknowledge that the U.S. and Israel share common values.
Yedioth Ahronoth, January 8, 2018
This article surveys Christian Zionism among Protestant Christians in South Korea and includes explanations of tourist attractions in Seoul and Pusan. The piece describes the warmth and enthusiasm with which they were received. “If God loves Israel, we love Israel, and this is our way to show love,” said Pastor Sol Jin Kuk of Glory Church in Seoul.
The Jerusalem Post, January 9, 2018
In this article, Raymond Apple, emeritus rabbi of the Great Synagogue of Sydney, expresses his opinion that the Judeo-Christian tradition and ethic do not exist, and quotes the opinions of five rabbis and thinkers to support his view. The first, from Leo Baeck, says, “Christianity prefers the finished statement while Judaism prefers the unending process of thought”, adding, “Christianity is a romantic religion in a world of feelings where rules are suspended, while Judaism is a classical religion which focuses in reality with its commandment, and the profound seriousness of the tasks of our life.”
The second, from Arthur A. Cohen in The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition, says, “…the Judeo-Christian ethic is a myth produced by Christian guilt and Jewish neurasthenia to obscure the fact that Christians and Jews are theological enemies.” The third, from Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, calls Christianity and Judaism theological strangers.
The fourth, from Martin Buber, says, “…the Jew thinks the daring Christian believes the unbelievable, and the Christian thinks the obdurate Jew cannot see the truth.” Buber also says that Christianity freezes God in one position. The fifth, from Abraham Joshua Heschel, says that Judaism considers this world to be the focus of right living, while leaving concerns about the next world to God.
Apple says, “Claiming there was a Judeo-Christian tradition did not save tradition or the world,” adding, “…in destroying Jesus’ people the Christians were destroying their own Christianity.” He says “if my truth is not consonant with yours we have deadlock.” He concludes, “The question is not whether Christianity and Judaism can combine, but whether they can work together.”
Kivun Chadash Gimla’im, December 31, 2017
This article offers a tour route suggestion to its readers, from the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City to Zion Gate. The route explanation covers both medieval and modern history. However, of particular note is the inclusion of Christ Church, the Armenian St. James Cathedral, Dormition Abbey, and the David’s Tomb/Cenacle structure. The article includes a list of site hours for the convenience of the public.
The Jerusalem Post, January 12, 2018
A group of 470 Christian students from 40 U.S. universities has recently completed a tour in Israel organized by Passages, an organization which “aims to bring to Israel believing Christians who want to deepen their faith and get a knowledge of Israel and the Middle East.” Some participants, who came for religious reasons, found they were getting an experience of modern Israel as well. This is the intention of the program, who arranges the itinerary for this purpose. Accordingly, the participants visit holy sites and have Bible study on the buses, but also travel to the borders with Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza, visit the Knesset and Yad VaShem, and hear from speakers from the whole political spectrum. One of the reasons the program was founded was “…to provide a personal connection in order to counter the waning support among younger Evangelicals.” The program is sponsored by the recently-opened Museum of the Bible, and the Philos Project, which promotes positive Christian engagement in the Middle East.
Gal-Gefen Modiin, January 3, Modiin News, January 4, 2018
On January 21, Yachad High School, together with the Model UN Club, will hold a conference for some 250 Jewish, Christian and Muslim students from 21 schools from around the country. This year’s subject is “Science and Technology,” and includes topics including nuclear advancement, the threat artificial intelligence poses to jobs availability for humans, and electronic waste. The students, who have researched the subjects like diplomats and formal country representatives do, will discuss the subjects in English in various committees. The Model UN program affords students the possibility of learning public speaking skills, debating, subject research and rhetorical skills. Additionally, the conference is “…a special meeting place for different religions and sectors of society, who work on a project together and offer each other mutual assistance.”