During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Maariv, April 13, 2018; Yated Ne’eman, April 13, 2018
The first article argues that the “anti-Israeli” policies of European countries, and their “obsessive preoccupation” with the Palestinian question are born out of anti-Semitism, which in turn is born out of Christianity. Since Jews were historically seen as heretics by Christians, they could never fully assimilate or belong to European society. Jews were the “antichrist” on account of their rejection of Jesus as Messiah. This produced a European Christian desire to eradicate Judaism, to deny its right to exist, because “the son cannot inherit until the father has died.” In other words, for Christianity’s claims to be considered legitimate, Judaism must be destroyed. Christians understood this task to be accomplished not through the shedding of blood, but through missions. Sixty generations of missions to the Jews did not, however, succeed in converting them, and Jews were therefore hated. This is why Pius the 12th could cast an eye towards Hitler’s “Final Solution” without being horrified. Auschwitz was “nothing but the joint initiative of the cross and the swastika,” argues this commentator.
The establishment of the State of Israel is a “theological disaster” for Christianity, because “old Israel” prevailed despite the Christian desire to see it destroyed. To make matters worse, Israel took over the “burial place of the Christian God.” Christians would be happy to accept the rule of any other religion over its holy places, it is argued, just not Jewish rule. For Jews to be in charge of Christian holy sites is a humiliation.
What of Evangelicals? Do they not disprove this narrative? Not in the least, argues the author. Evangelical support is meant to usher in the War of Armageddon, after which Evangelicals expect Jews to convert and renounce their Jewish faith. As such, it is simply another way of eradicating Judaism. This does not mean that Israel should not be grateful for Evangelical support. On the contrary, Israel needs to join forces with Evangelicals and unite against the “Arab enemy.” Nevertheless, evangelicalism does not disprove the narrative that Christians ultimately desire to eradicate Judaism.
In the second article, the author recounts his experience of coming face-to-face with a threatening skinhead in Germany. The author explains this encounter, and Christian anti-Semitism more broadly, through the lens of Christian jealousy. He says: “Esau hated Jacob. In every Christian, there is a pathological hatred towards all Jews.” Christians, it is argued, would not be sorry to see something happen to Jews, or to inflict harm on Jews themselves. The only reason Christians have historically not done more harm to Jews is because they feared the strong arm of the governments under which they lived. On those occasions when European governments removed the fear of punishment, Christians engaged in pogroms almost immediately. Jews have therefore lived by the goodwill of the gentiles. Every “restraint” shown by gentiles is dependent on whatever is in “fashion.” If the fashion is “human rights” or “liberalism,” as it is right now, Europeans will respect Jewish rights. But fashions change, he concludes, and sometimes even within a short period of time.
Yated Ne’eman, April 13, 2018; HaMevasser, April 17, 2018
The first article reports that swastikas were found spray painted in many parts of London – on road signs, bus stops, houses, etc. Thus far, no arrests have been made. Rabbi Baruch Levin of London has responded that the graffiti “is very troubling, but I would like to think that this is an isolated event which does not point to broader anti-Semitic trends in the area.” Rabbi Levin says that relations between residents are quite good, “especially between Jews and Muslims.”
The second article reports that Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, stated in a Holocaust memorial address that the rise in European anti-Semitism is linked to Muslim immigration. The way to fight anti-Semitism, argues Orban, is to fight immigration. Europe must “return to its Judeo-Christian values.”
The Jerusalem Post, April 15, 2018
Mike Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Museum, recalls being targeted by Richard Wayne Snell, a member of the white nationalist group called The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord. Snell had already murdered a pawnshop owner he believed to be Jewish, and an African American police officer. Snell had named Evans, a Christian Zionist, as his next victim. Evans says: “As a Christian Zionist, I knew that standing up for Israel meant supporting a righteous and just cause, though I also knew this neo-Nazi member was not following true Christian values.” Evans is the son of an abusive Christian father and Jewish mother. He made it his life’s mission to defend Jewish people against “Jew haters” after his father tried to strangle him. In 1980, Evans worked together with Prime Minister Menachem Begin to build a relationship between Christian Zionists and Israel, and in 2015, with Shimon Peres as Chairman, founded the Friends of Zion Museum as a way of combatting anti-Semitism.
Iton Shacharit, April 15, 2018
Nigel Goodrich, a Christian Zionist from Scotland, has founded COFIS, an organization working against the campaigns of BDS in the United Kingdom. On a recent visit to Israel, Goodrich said: “You have many friends in Scotland who stand by you… Friends who will do anything to make sure the Jews never march alone.”
The Jerusalem Post, April 15, 2018
This is an announcement that Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzabella will be holding an Interfaith Climate Change and Renewable Energy Conference on May 9 at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute. The purpose is to “urge and empower faith communities to curb climate change and promote renewable energy use.”
Christians in Israel
Yedioth Ahronoth, April 18, 2018
This article, by Israeli singer-songwriter Ehud Banai, tells of a journey Banai takes through Israel’s “hidden places.” As part of the journey, Banai visits an underground church constructed by the late monk, Jacob Vilbrandt, who originally hailed from the Netherlands. Jacob’s uncle was imprisoned in the Dachau Concentration Camp, and his stories left a mark on the young Jacob, who decided to move to Israel when he was 22. Jacob bought up a plot of rocky Palestinian land and, joined by another monk from Wisconsin, constructed an underground church inspired by the verse, “out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord.” The monks’ goal was to build a place of peace, calm, and respite. Indeed, over the years many from the land and from abroad have come to stay on the grounds. Of the monk, who died in 2005, it is said in the article: “I have never met a Christian who absorbed into his own self both the Jewish and the Arab identities. He prayed in both Hebrew and Arabic, celebrated Israeli Independence Day and mourning at the same time the Palestinian tragedy. Nobody understood the old man from the mountain.”
Banai also relates meeting an old monk by the name of Yochanan Elichai, who lives in East Talpiot. The 92-year-old Elichai was born in France, and after seeing pictures from the concentration camps, came to believe that the Jewish return to Israel is a necessity. Elichai asked his superior to send him to Israel, but was instead sent to Morocco for three years, where he learned Arabic. In 1956, following his time in Morocco, Elichai was finally sent to the Holy Land.
Elichai has a “remarkable ability to build bridges between peoples,” accomplished primarily through the use of his language skills. Banai describes him as a man with a sense of humor, overflowing with love for all human beings. He is well-versed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and feels the pain of both sides. He believes in nonviolence and in “overcoming evil with good.” Elichai has penned a Palestinian Arabic-Hebrew dictionary, and believes “language is the key to the heart.” He has just finished revising his dictionary, telling Banai that in the last version he had forgotten two important words: faith and salt. He recounts saying to himself, “Oy, Yochanan, how can you live without faith and without salt?” For the past few years, the old monk has sent Banai cards on different Jewish holidays which include well-wishes and his own hand-drawn illustrations.