During the week covered by this review, we received 15 articles on the following subjects:
Christians and the Holocaust
Christians in Israel
Christians and the Holocaust
Following Pope Francis’ announcement that the Vatican Archives from World War II will be made public in a year’s time, a number of articles speculated as to the significance of the move. In a letter to “Haaretz”, one professor commented that this may provide an opportunity to find out how the Vatican handled Jewish property. Research indicates that some Nazis gave Jewish assets to the Vatican, in exchange for smuggling them to South America. In a different article, “Vatican expert” Dr. Yitzchak Minravi, said he could not bring himself to be excited about the news, and warned younger researchers to tread carefully, as documents may have been “doctored”. He went on to say he did not believe this is a significant gesture on the part of the current Pope, but that it is instead a mere technicality: “Every archive has X amount of years where it is kept closed. X number of years have passed. I am afraid Jews are not thinking straight. These things are happening without connection to the Jews.”
One commentator noted the differences between Pope Pius XII and John Paul II. The latter Pope saved and helped Jews during the Holocaust, and also refused to baptize Jewish children who were hidden in monasteries. However, Pope John Paul II also insisted that Pius had secretly worked to save Jews as well and even wanted to put Pius on the path to sainthood. This caused a storm, in the aftermath of which John Paul II established a joint committee of Jewish and Vatican researchers to examine the issue. The committee did not come to any conclusions at the time, but perhaps with new access to the archives this may be amended.
In conjunction with his announcement about the archives, Pope Francis recently also condemned the wave of anti-Semitic violence across the world. Francis said that such hate was destructive, and pushed for more inter-religious dialogue. Francis also said that anti-Semitism is a “denial of the origins of humans… and a contradiction of the essence of humanity”.
Christians in Israel
Yahadut BaSharon, March 7, 2019
This article reported that asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan have started to gather together to pray in a basement in the city of Ra’anana. One local religious Jewish resident is quoted to have said in response: “First of all, these are not asylum seekers but infiltrators… who are multiplying every day. They study with our children, live among us, and benefit from the municipal services we pay for with our taxes.” He went on to argue that he would not set up a synagogue in an Arab neighborhood, implying that neither should the Christians gather to pray in a Jewish neighborhood. It was also reported that a fight broke out at a local daycare, where religious Jewish parents were upset about the integration of the children of Christian asylum seekers into school activities. The Ra’anana Municipality has said in response that it shows “zero tolerance towards physical and verbal violence. All of the city’s residents are eligible to receive equal access to municipal services. The offending mother has been removed.”
In a “dramatic reversal”, state prosecution dropped the case against two Jewish men accused of committing arson at the Dormition Abbey in 2015. The two accused men, Yinon Reuveni, and a nameless second (who was a minor at the time of the incident), were subject to extreme investigation methods by the Police and the Shin Bet – including allegedly being starved and threatened. The younger of the two confessed to the crime, but the confession was later dismissed on the grounds that it was procured under coercion. Reuveni had previously already been convicted of arson of the Church of the Multiplication in the Galilee. The accused minor was also arrested in connection to the murder of the Palestinian Dawabshe family in 2015 but was not charged. In one article, former Shin Bet chief, Yoram Cohen, is said to have previously stated his support for the interrogation methods used against Jewish terrorists during his command. He said it was necessary to “use collection and prevention tools that are more or less identical, with no discrimination to what are used against Palestinian terrorism.”
Haaretz, March 12, 2019
After Culture Minister Miri Regev demanded that the “McJesus” sculpture be taken down from a museum in Haifa because of the offense it caused the local Christian community, some argued that this infringed upon the right to free expression. Recently, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit took the same stance, and sent a letter to Regev in opposition to her intervention. Mandelblit argued that Regev had no authority to intervene without the authorization of the law.
HaMevasser, March 14, 2019; HaShavua BeYerushalayim, March 13, 2019
In advance of a fundraising campaign, both Yad L’Achim and Or L’Achim made pleas for financial support. In the first article, Yad L’Achim said its hotline received hundreds of calls monthly, and that it has brought hundreds of “survivors” out of the darkness and back to Torah. It noted that missionaries had 156 mission outposts throughout the country, such that no city is without missionary activity. It further said missionaries were especially keen to target the youth, who are ignorant of their Jewish heritage and receive little Jewish education in school. It asked for support as its operational costs are substantial.
In the second article, Or L’Achim gave a similar defense of its work and its need for financial support. It used the weekly Torah portion to remind its supporters of the war with Amalek, and the need to “eradicate” those who try to destroy the Jewish people. Or L’Achim said that “hundreds of missionary Messianic Jewish congregations throughout the country try to spread their message every day, in order to cause Jews to be tricked into Christianity”. It further said these missionaries used disguises and tricks to that end. Neverthless, Or L’Achim reportedly mostly manages to prevent this activity. According to the article, “… just recently, Or L’Achim uncovered missionary activity in Ashdod.” It offers services such as the opportunity to meet with experts for those who wish to return to their Jewish observance.