During the week covered by this review, we received 14 articles on the following subjects:
Christianity and the Holocaust
Christianity and the Holocaust
Pope Francis has announced that in a year’s time (on March 2, 2020) the Vatican will make public its World War II archives, saying that “the church is not afraid of history”. This announcement has been welcomed by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who called the decision “blessed and brave”. Yad Vashem has also expressed its hope that this act will allow certain critical questions to be answered, and noted that it has been calling for the archives to be made open to public research for years.
The head of the Catholic Church during World War II, Pope Pius XII, has been the subject of controversy for many years. He has been dubbed “Hitler’s Pope”, and has been accused of remaining silent even while knowing that there was a plan to destroy the Jewish people. Others argue that Pius actually saved the lives of Jews. In 2013, British researcher, Gordon Thomas, published a book arguing that Pius directed monasteries across Europe to hide Jews and oversaw secret operations conducted by priests who risked their lives to save Jews. According to the book, 2,000 Jews in Hungary received fake identity papers from the Catholic Church, and 4,000 others were hidden in monasteries throughout Italy, receiving food, clothing, and medicine. Other scholars are not as convinced. Holocaust scholar, Professor Yehuda Bauer, argued that for Pius, the Jewish question was more of a hindrance – a problem he wanted as little to do with as possible. A different commentator argued that this is a publicity stunt, and that Pius was in fact a coward who did not stand in Hitler’s way because he feared Bolshevism more than the Nazis. In 2010, however, then Pope Benedict XVI claimed that Pius “saved more Jews than anyone else”. What Pius knew, and what he did in response to the Holocaust, will be the subject of much research.
Apart from clarifying the role of Pius, however, one article noted that the opening of the archives may bring to light the Jewish identities of children who were secretly raised in monasteries as Catholics, and who otherwise would not know their Jewish heritage.
The Jerusalem Post, March 1, 2019
The organization “Run for Zion”, primarily composed of American Christian Zionists, will join the upcoming Jerusalem Marathon. The group is to be headed by Pastor Ray Hardee of Pointe Church in Belmont, North Carolina. The team intends to raise money in support of different causes across Israel, including Holocaust survivors in need of assistance.
The Jerusalem Post, March 3, 2019
The state of Texas has announced that it will blacklist vacation home rental company Airbnb in 90 days if the company cannot prove that it is not attempting to boycott Israel by removing all Airbnb rentals listed in West Bank settlements. Airbnb has argued that the move has nothing to do with BDS, and is a part of a larger company policy to stay out of conflict zones. It also said that it has already invested $20 million into the Israeli market, and is as such, not boycotting Israel. Nevertheless, the Christian organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), has welcomed the decision to blacklist Airbnb. Founder John Hagee said that CUFI will continue to “ensure that contentious people have the opportunity to learn the truth about the vibrant and democratic nation of Israel”.
The Jerusalem Post, March 1, 2019
In the wake of the unexpected death of Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), this article explored what his passing will mean for Christian-Jewish relations. His daughter, Yael, will take over the IFCJ. She has said that the organization will continue its work. David Nekrutmann, Executive Director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, said that the relationship between Evangelicals and Jews is now relatively mainstream, which means that the need for one charismatic figurehead, such as Eckstein was, isn’t as necessary to coax cooperation as it once was. Rabbi Tuly Weisz, founder of Israel365, also noted that IFCJ relied heavily on TV ads, but that today the internet is a far more effective way of fostering Christian-Jewish relations. David Parsons, of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, said Evangelical love for Israel is the work of the Holy Spirit, and that “… no single organization or person can take responsibility. It is even written in the prophets that God would do this work among gentiles… It’s a holy work from Heaven.” As such, there seems to be agreement that Jewish-Christian relations is not as reliant as it used to be upon the “personality-driven model”.
Iton Shacharit, March 7, 2019
Or L’Achim has gathered reports from residents in Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan, and has found that there has been increased missionary activity in those areas. In Tel Aviv, a coffee shop named “Beit Cafe Dugit”, which had previously been shut down because of its missionary affiliation, is potentially being reopened. In the past, the same coffee shop provided “benefits” to its customers, and then leveraged those incentives to tempt Jews to convert. Another business, simply called “The Center”, allows missionaries to tempt Jews with offers of English lessons, concerts, and other community activities. A member of the Municipality of Tel Aviv said he is paying close attention to these developments, and that it is “not right that in the first Hebrew city there should be attempts to convert Jews”. He also said, “I will use all the tools at our disposal to prevent the spread of mission in Tel Aviv.”
Matzav Ruach, March 1, 2019
This article reported that a conference under the name of “Israeli-Palestinian Economic Forum” gathered, with representatives from both sides, to discuss ways for Israelis and Palestinians to cooperate at the local and municipal levels. One of the issues discussed was an initiative to create the necessary infrastructure for Christian tourists to see Christian holy sites in the West Bank. The initiative is meant to target some 8 million Chinese Christians who are expected to visit Israel in the coming years. One of the difficulties is that there is lack of sufficient tourist infrastructure in the West Bank – hotels, buses, and joint tour guides. The potential tourist boom is expected to benefit both sides, and is serving as a means of cooperation.