During the week covered by this review, we received 6 articles on the following subjects:
Arab Believing Communities
HaModia, October 5, 2018; HaModia, October 10, 2018
In the first article, Or L’Achim issued a statement saying that a group of missionaries took advantage of the march in Jerusalem in order to push conversion to Christianity. The missionary activity was done in the presence of minors, which is illegal. One witness said his sons, ages 13 and 16, were handed missionary pamphlets. The accused group is called “Vision for Israel,” and is reportedly run by two missionaries who have also founded a congregation. In the past, the group was banned from the march, but this year was allowed to participate. Or L’Achim has demanded that the Municipality of Jerusalem ensure no missionary activity take place in future marches.
In the second article, Or L’Achim has accused the head of the “Atid Ashdod” political party, Eli Necht, with supporting the city’s missionaries while at the same time smearing the reputation of the Hassidic community. Necht was accused of spreading an anti-Hassidic video, charging the group with religious coercion. For example, religious leaders were accused in the video of cutting off the electricity of those who do not keep Torah. Or L’Achim claimed this anti-Hassidic tactic was used to appeal to secular voters. Furthermore, Or L’Achim said it had videos and photos proving Necht and his family attended a Messianic Jewish congregation in Ashdod, as well as proof he had dinner with the congregation’s pastor. Necht, in response, has said that his connection with Messianic Jews has to do with the group’s humanitarian work with the city’s immigrants, and confirmed that he indeed has ties with Evangelical Christians who support Israel financially and politically.
Israel Hayom, October 10, 2018
In an archeological dig in Jerusalem, a 2000-year-old inscription was found with what is believed to be the oldest carving of Jerusalem’s full name in Hebrew. The carved pillar dates back to the Second Temple period. It will be on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, along with other artifacts found in the capital city.
Arab Believing Communities
Makor Rishon, October 5, 2018
The State Attorney Office’s case against Greek Orthodox priest, Father Gabriel Naddaf, has been dropped after two years of investigation. In the past, Naddaf has been very influential in recruiting Christian Arabs to join the IDF, but since the investigation caused his departure from public life, the number of Christian Arabs willing to serve in the military has dropped. Two years ago, Channel 2 News accused Naddaf of receiving sexual favors from soldiers in exchange for his help. As a result of the report, the police opened an investigation and Naddaf backed off from the work. Naddaf’s support for the IDF made him many enemies, and certain Arab politicians considered him a traitor. Naddaf believes the accusations made against him were the result of a conspiracy. The case now has been dropped due to lack of sufficient evidence. Naddaf has not yet decided if he will return to public life, but said that if he does, it will be on the condition that the government provide greater support for Christian Arabs in the military. Naddaf further said, “I will continue to love this country… and will continue to serve the government in these ways and others. I went through a difficult experience, and my children had to deal with horrendous defamation, but this is part of our struggle to be recognized as a significant group in this country. Whoever smeared my name has worked not only against me but against the country and the integration of Christians into the security forces.”
Maariv, October 9, 2018
This was an interview with the Vice President of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), David Parsons, who said he works to debunk the “lies” spread about Israel in Christian communities that support BDS. According to Parsons, “… the best way to deal with these lies is through the lectures of a Christian who supports Israel.” ICEJ was established in 1980 and now has branches in 90 countries. Its goal is to promote Israel amongst Christians. Parsons first visited Israel in 1982, and felt God was calling him to return there. Eight years later, after watching reports of scud missiles falling during the First Gulf War, Parsons decided to leave his job as a lawyer and work as a lobbyist in Congress in order to devote his life to Israel. Later, he moved to Israel in order to work for the ICEJ. When asked what he lectures about, Parsons responded that he uses the bible to teach why Christians should support and love Israel. He further said that Israel is technologically advanced, which is both proof of Israeli strength, but also of God’s blessing. Parsons said, “… we believe God did not just want to return the people of Israel to their land, but to change the attitudes of Christians towards Jews.” In order to accomplish that, during the Feast of Tabernacles, the ICEJ distributed pamphlets with information on how to oppose BDS. When asked what questions he most often receives on his speaking tours, Parsons answered that “… people want to know if the third Temple is being built. This has become the most popular question of late. People also ask if they can immigrate to Israel because they want to be a part of Israel.” Parsons concluded: “Our dream is for Israel to be safe and strong, and that the vision of the prophets will come true – for Israel to be a light to the nations.”
BeSheva, October 11, 2018i
The debate over the plan to allow 8,000 more Ethiopians to immigrate to Israel was reported in this article. Prime Minister Netanyahu currently plans to bring 1,000 as part of a first resettlement phase. One Ethiopian-Israeli journalist interviewed for this piece was against the initiative. He argued that the Israeli government speaks in two voices, on the one hand promoting a law that preserves the Jewish identity of Israel (the Jewish Nation-State law), while on the other hand, working to bring to Israel non-Jewish Ethiopians. This journalist said he believed Knesset members were worried of being accused of racism, and therefore supported the initiative. However, he argued, “this is a betrayal of the public.” Ethiopian immigrants to Israel fall within three camps. The first is “Beta Israel,” Ethiopian Jews who retained their Judaism despite persecution. The second group includes the Falash Mura, Ethiopians with Jewish ancestry, but who descend from converts to Christianity. After being brought to Israel, the Falash Mura underwent conversion to Judaism. Finally, the third group includes the current expected wave of immigration: Relatives of Ethiopian immigrants who have a paternal connection to Judaism. Some believe these are “Christians in disguise,” and that Israel will set a precedent for bringing in other non-Jewish immigrants. But activists in favor of the initiative argue that the 8,000 have been vetted by delegates of the Ministry of Interior, who have found that 80% of them are first degree relatives of Israelis, meaning they are brothers, sisters, or parents of Ethiopians already living in Israel. One Ethiopian-Israeli lawyer argued that the debate itself is racist. He said: “… there are nearly 500,000 non-Jewish European immigrants in Israel. No one talks about that, about the fact that these are immigrants who will not convert to Judaism or circumcise their sons. We are simply the wrong color.” The lawyer said the issue is not primarily about Judaism. “When there are so many non-Jewish immigrants, who is worried about 8,000 more?” he asked.