During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
A number of articles addressed the controversial sale of hotels belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church in the Old City of Jerusalem to a settler organization named “Ateret Cohanim”. The mission of the organization is to reclaim land currently owned by non-Jews in the Eastern part of the city. The hotels were sold to Ateret Cohanim 15 years ago, but the Greek Orthodox Church rejected the sale as corrupt and illegal. The man who oversaw the sale fled Israel after signing the documents, and is accused of having taken bribes from Ateret Cohanim in order to push the deal through. The Supreme Court did indeed confirm that Ateret Cohanim paid the man $10,000, but said there was insufficient proof that the payment constituted an illegal bribe. Ateret Cohanim has filed two lawsuits since the ruling in its favor; the first, ordering a total clear-out of the hotels, and the second, demanding a back payment of 10 million shekels for the last 15 years of rent. This is twice the amount Ateret Cohanim paid for the original purchase in 2005. Military personnel have warned that clearing residents out from the buildings might cause a crisis between Israel and the Christian world, and in particular, with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Jerusalem Post, July 12, 2019 (3 different articles from this date)
The first article reported that a group of 40 Evangelical Christian Columbians arrived in Israel for a “diplomatic and spiritual mission”. The group is touring, as well as attempting to build political ties by meeting with officials. The group is arriving shortly after the establishment of the Columbian Senate Friends of Israel Allies Caucus, a multi-partisan caucus supporting Israel. David Parsons, the vice president of the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, said that the number of Evangelicals is growing in Latin America, and is the reason behind the increase in support for Israel from countries like Brazil and Guatemala. Parsons also said that Evangelicals in Latin America “have a big heart for Israel, and they expect their leaders to stand with Israel”.
The last two articles were opinion pieces in response to a tweet by American political activist, Linda Sarsour, which said that “Jesus was a Palestinian of Nazareth”. ICEJ vice president David Parsons wrote that there is nothing innocent about the notion of a Palestinian Jesus. He argued that the idea borrows from the anti-Semitic trope accusing Jews of killing Jesus, connecting the crucifixion to Palestinians suffering at the hands of Israel today. He also argued that the “Palestinian Jesus” is a notion stemming from liberation theology, which sees Jesus as a revolutionary fighting Roman oppression, as well from Islam’s tampering with the identity of the historic Jesus. “Thus,” said Parsons, “we find in the Palestinian Jesus a toxic melding of a Marxist guerrilla and Aryan hero, along with heavy doses of Christian and Islamic anti-Semitism and supersessionism.” Parsons went on to list how this trope is used by other prominent Palestinian Christians, naming in particular Naim Ateek and Sami Awad. The second article, similar in viewpoint to the first, argued that “this is an attempt to erase the Bible’s stories and the thousands of years of Jewish history in which Jerusalem has always been the focus of life, prayers and yearnings.”
Haaretz, July 18, 2019
The Pew Research Center published a study to do with global levels of religious freedom, which put Israel in the same category as Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran. According to the research, Israel is also fifth in the world in terms of “social hostility based on religious background”. The study also showed that there has been a rise in restrictions on Jews in Europe, as well as a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe and the United States.