During the week covered by this review, we received 5 articles on the following subjects:
Haaretz, December 10, 2018; The Jerusalem Post, December 10, 2018
After the Six Day War, the “land of monasteries” adjacent to the Jordan River was shut down for security reasons. The area, which spans over 100,000 square meters, is estimated to have 5,000 land mines. About 1,000 of those mines have now been cleared in an effort to restore the area and return it to the churches who once were present there. There are seven abandoned monasteries along a road leading to the baptismal site of Jesus. According to tradition, this is also the spot where the People of Israel crossed the Jordan River on their way to Canaan. The Israel National Mines Action Authority (INMAA), together with the IDF and the international NGO HALO Trust, have been working to bring the site back to life, a project costing around 20 million shekels. It is estimated that work will be completed by the end of 2019. It is hoped that restoration of the area will bring in 2.4 million tourists, an increase from the 800,000 who now visit annually. Only in 2011 was the baptismal site opened to tourists without the need to coordinate in advance. The number of tourists has since increased. The IDF and INMAA invited journalists to come visit the site and see the progress being made. Journalists were allowed to enter the Franciscan Chapel, which had accumulated 50 years’ worth of dust and rubble. They were also informed that anything of value found in the old monasteries had been returned to the churches.
Israel Hayom, December 11, 2018
Dozens of letters containing missionary material have been sent to religious schools around the country, even though attempting to convert minors is a felony in Israel. Amongst the materials sent was a letter signed by “Rabbi Cheil Zlotowski,” who wrote that he had become convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. “The Sermon on the Mount opened before me a new world, a world full of beauty and glory,” said Zlotowski. “I was excited by the things I read, so much so that I got down on my knees for the first time and prayed in the name of Yeshua.” The name of the rabbi appears to be made up, and a search for his name allegedly leads to a website belonging to the Messianic Jews. In response, Yad L’Achim has said: “Missionaries in Israel shamelessly distribute conversion materials directly to schools, with the intention of reaching minors.” This indicates that the law against proselytizing to minors has not been sufficiently enforced, and missionaries have figured out that they can easily break it. Yad L’Achim has sent letters to various officials about the matter, which is under investigation.
Hamodia, December 12, 2018
A 21-year-old man from Holland, Ohio, by the name of Damon Joseph, has been arrested after it was found that he intended to carry out a shooting attack on a synagogue in the neighboring city of Toledo. The man had been inspired by the shooting in Pittsburg, as well as by ISIS. Automatic rifles were found in his possession. He had posted his intentions on social media, which is what led to his arrest. The man confessed his plans to the police and said he had hoped for the deaths of many.
The Jerusalem Post, December 14, 2018
From December 27-29, the village of Fassuta, which sits on the border between Israel and Lebanon, will hold its annual Christmas festival and market. The village has 3,400 residents, all of whom are Melkite Greek Catholics. In 2017, the small village attracted about 60,000 tourists from around the country for its Christmas activities. Father Michael Assi, of the Mar Elias Church, said: “We don’t have many attractions here. We have a very small village, not like a city. We have our church, the local council, we have an elementary school. We have three or four medical clinics, and we have the post office. That’s it!” The town decided to draw in tourists through its Christmas celebrations, and boasts the largest Christmas tree in Israel. The festivities attract Christians, Jews, and Muslims from all over.