During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
The Jerusalem Post, October 10, 2019; The Jerusalem Post, October 30, 2019
The first article was an opinion piece about President Donald Trump’s recent announcement that the US would be removing its troops from northeast Syria, putting Kurds at risk. In a series of tweets, Trump defend the decision, repeating numerous times that the US will no longer be willing to get involved in Middle Eastern conflicts – a statement that raised red flags in Jerusalem. Despite this, “many pro-Israel Christians have adopted a visceral embrace of what Trump did”. The author argues that Israel depends on American support. Following Trump’s actions, Prime Minister Netanyahu made a statement that could be taken as a message to Trump: “We do not aspire to be ‘a people that dwells alone’… today, we very much appreciate the important support of the US, which has greatly increased in recent years, as well as the major economic pressure that the US is using on Iran. Even so, we will always remember and implement the basic rule that has guided us; Israel will defend itself, by itself, against any threat.” The author further argued that Evangelical Christian support should not be taken for granted, and that indeed, in certain segments of Evangelicalism, anti-Semitism is on the rise. An example was given of the YouTube Christian news channel, TruNews, which has recently posted news items under titles such as, “Israel Plans to Build the Third Temple and a Tower of Babel?” and “Your Father the Devil: Zionist Jews Demand Censorship of New Testament Holy Bible”. Evangelical support for Israel has been “wonderful”, but Israel cannot assume Evangelical opinions will not be swayed.
The second article was an opinion piece penned by Joel C. Rosenberg, who argued that the next Israeli Prime Minister should appoint an ambassador to Christian communities, as there is no senior position specifically designated to building bridges between Israel and Christians. This, despite the fact that there are 2.2 billion Christians in the world, and among them 600 million Evangelicals. “That makes Jesus,” wrote Rosenberg, “known in Hebrew as Yeshua – the world’s most famous and beloved Israeli, and the New Testament the best-selling Israeli book in the history of mankind.” Such an emissary should be a devout Christian, but who is a citizen of Israel. Their tasks would include, amongst other things, acting as liaison to Christian communities both inside and outside of Israel, promoting Jewish-Christian cooperation, boosting Christian tourism, advising on Christian affairs, and meeting with Christian leaders.
Gilui Da’at, October 25, 2019
This was an exploration into where the phrase “Book of Books” came from (in Hebrew “Sefer HaSfarim”). The term originated in Latin: “biblia bibliorium”, which was coined in the sixteenth century. Two events contributed to the popularization of the term during that period. First, the invention of the printing press led to the bible becoming the first printed book in history, which helped to disseminate it more broadly. Second, the Protestant Reformation resulted in the translation of the bible into lay languages, which in turn led to greater lay readership of the bible. Prior to that time, the bible was mostly available only to priests, and in Latin. As of recent times, the bible has been translated into some 700 languages, and is one of the most printed books in the world. The article quoted both a Jewish rabbi and a Jewish philosopher, each of whom said that the relationship between Judaism and Christianity is as between fire and rays of light. Judaism is the fire, while Christianity is the rays that distribute the fire’s light to the world (even if in “distorted” form). The global spread of the bible through Christianity is linked in the article to the prophecies in Isaiah 61:5 and 1 Kings 8:60.
Christians in Israel
Zman Mevasseret, October 24, 2019
Two-hundred and fifty Israel-loving Polish visitors organized and funded an event for hundreds of Holocaust survivors from around Jerusalem. The event celebrated Sukkot, and included a meal, dancing, and shared prayer. Songs were sung in Hebrew, Russian, and Polish. In addition, thousands of food and basic needs baskets were distributed to Holocaust survivors over the course of the holiday.
Merkaz Ha’Inyanim, October 28, 2019
In a report similar to last week’s, this article noted a Jehovah’s Witnesses missionary campaign currently taking place around cities in Israel. Volunteers from Yad L’Achim have been deployed all over the country in order to confront and prevent the missionaries’ activities.
The Jerusalem Post, October 31, 2019
This was an article describing the radical claims made by independent scholar, Tsvi Kenigsberg, who has suggested that Mount Moriah is not the location the Torah was referring to in Deuteronomy 26:2 as “the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling place for his name”. That refrain is repeated 20 times in the Tanakh, and has traditionally been associated with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, also the location of the Al Aqsa Mosque. Instead, Kenigsberg has suggested that the place of God’s dwelling was meant to be Mount Ebal, which is in the West Bank. Archaeologist Adam Zertal’s work is cited as evidence, which claims to have found an altar there built by Joshua, the Moses’ successor. Moriah became associated with God’s dwelling, argues Kenigsberg, because King Josiah wanted to make sure that Jerusalem would “serve as the center of religious worship”.
BeSheva, October 31, 2019
A group of religious leaders, including representatives from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, gathered at the Vatican to sign a joint declaration calling doctors to refrain from mercy killings, even if patients are terminal. The representative rabbis made sure the signing happened in a special hall, instead of in the prayer rooms of the Vatican.
Israel Hayom, November 1, 2019
This was a piece about Dr. Mike Evans’ new media center, which will be opening soon in Jerusalem. Evans is considered one of Israel’s biggest lobbyists and is connected to the American president. He is also the founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem. Evans said the fight against anti-Semitism will need to take advantage of cyber communications, and that Evangelical support for Israel continues to be a “blind spot” for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Many Israelis do not even know who Evans is, despite the fact that his Facebook page, “Pray for Jerusalem”, has 67 million followers. Evans said that only in recent years has the Israeli government begun attempting to build bridges with Evangelicals and harness their support. The new media center will spread its message through a TV station, radio station, news, and social media. The article reported that one in three Americans consumes religious media.