During the week covered by this review, we received 7 articles on the following subjects:
Israeli Attitudes towards Christians/Christianity
Makor Rishon, February 9, 2018
Referring to the recent controversial Holocaust law enacted in Poland, this article makes the case that the country is not alone. Right-wing politics is washing over Europe, forcing moderate politicians to move to the right in order to win back votes. To substantiate this claim, the article provided examples from Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, France, Sweden and Austria. The reasons for this are well-known and include terrorism, immigration, and the perceived erasure of national identities within the EU.
The article writer notes that this current state of affairs is complicated for Israel. On the one hand, the far right is often anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying. On the other hand, these same parties are also taking a stance against radical Islam, which poses a threat to Israel. In addition, they support the idea of ethnic nation states, which is crucial for Israel. Conversely, the left is increasingly marked by its hatred for Israel. The writer asks how Israel should interact with these new parties and governments, and where it should draw its ideological lines. The piece suggests that the line should be drawn at explicit anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Israel owes it to European Jewish communities to stand up for them and not sacrifice their well-being for the sake of diplomatic relations. Synagogues should not have to employ round-the-clock security, and European Jews should not feel that they have to hide their Jewish identity in order to stay safe.
Maariv, February 11, 2018
The new Polish law forbidding any association between the Polish nation and the Holocaust has caused much anger in the Israeli press. This commentator says he worries that Germany is being slowly let off the hook, noting that we can charge the Poles with anti-Semitism, and even with murdering Jews, and we can say the Poles did not do enough to help, but we cannot say they caused the Holocaust. That guilt belongs to the Germans alone, and sharing the blame only serves to acquit the Germans. The writer argues that the Holocaust is not just the ramping up of anti-Semitism. It is a singular event and it has no equivalent.
HaMevasser, February 11, 2018
Tourists arriving at the Ancient Synagogue in Spain were shocked to find anti-Semitic inscriptions spray-painted on the entrance. Barcelona police are investigating the incident. The synagogue is one of the oldest in Spain and in Europe.
Israeli Attitudes towards Christians/Christianity
Yarok, February 8, 2018
Junior High students from Hod HaSharon participated in a special event as they met Oded Ben Hur, former Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, and current senior advisor to the Knesset. As part of the event, the students heard a lecture about the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, with a focus on relations with the Vatican. The opportunity gave students a better understanding of the Christian world.
BeKitsur, February 1, 2018
After four years or archaeological work, Ein Haniya in National Park Emek Refaim, has been opened to the public. As part of the excavation, an impressive water system from the Byzantine period was uncovered, including a large pool (Ein Haniya) that once stood at the footsteps of a Byzantine church. A leading archaeologist from the dig, Dr. Yuval Baruch, said that the pool is significant because “…some of the ancient Christian interpreters identified Haniya as the location where the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized into Christianity, as in the Acts of the Apostles.” Given the importance of that event for the spread of Christianity, the place holds particular meaning, especially for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Armenian Orthodox Church.
Haaretz, February 15, 2018
Heads of various major churches in Jerusalem plan to boycott an event hosted by Mayor Nir Barkat as a way of protesting the new municipal tax that will now be imposed on the churches. Until recently, churches have been exempt from this tax (arnona). Church leaders released a statement, signed by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, among others, that said: “Civil authorities have always respected the great contribution of the Christian churches, which invest billions in building hospitals and home, many for the elderly and disadvantaged, in the Holy Land.” The municipality has responded that the tax will only apply to those buildings that are used for business purposes (such as guest houses).
Bible and Biblical Interpretation
Haaretz, February 9, 2018
This piece is critical of the newly unveiled Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, which it described as “the Bible and Hollywood in warm embrace.” The article explains that the museum layout follows a certain logic. Officials suggest visitors start on the fifth floor, where the Israel Museum was put in charge of curating an archaeological exhibit. From there, visitors make their way through floors that tell the story of the Bible, the evolution of the Bible as it has come down to us, and its significance for the foundation of the United States of America.
Museum founders and owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of stores, the Green family, are well-known for being committed evangelicals engaged in the culture wars of American politics. The article argues that the museum, as the brainchild of the Green family, is meant to tell a particularly theological and political story, calling Americans to return to their Christian roots. As such, the museum is less about science and more about theology. The writer argues that the Israel Museum, which played a significant part in the Museum of the Bible, was used to lend scientific credibility to this theological project.
Regarding the fifth floor, which was curated by the Israel Museum the author notes, “If they had told me I was in a beautiful hall in the Israel Museum, I would have believed them.” Dr. Miki Saban, director of national treasures at the Israeli Antiquities Authority, says he is proud of his work on the fifth floor, but in terms of the rest of the museum, Saban says, “We were careful about scientific accuracy on our floor, and what happens on the rest of the floors is not my business.” New Testament expert, Professor Jill Hicks-Keeton of the University of Oklahoma’s religious program, argues that the Israeli Antiquities Authority is “…getting used to convey authority, but then other messages are being told in the other floors.” The narrative of the museum, she says, tells a particularly Protestant version of how the Bible came down to us, and omits the Muslim relationship to the Bible almost completely. Dr. Mark Leuchter, director of Jewish Studies at Temple University, believes the greatest danger is that visitors will mistake the museum for a scientific institution, when it is not. Dr. Joel Baden from Yale Divinity School argues that the museum should be candid that it is telling a story of religious faith rather than of history or science.