During the week covered by this review, we received 10 articles on the following subjects:
Christians and the Holocaust
Yedioth Ahronoth, November 24, 2019; Haaretz, November 29, 2019
Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem was invited by the Russian church for a visit to Russia. The patriarch consequently also initiated a meeting with President Vladimir Putin to request a pardon on behalf of Israeli citizen, Naama Issachar. Before departing for Russia, Theophilos met with Naama’s mother, who handed the patriarch a letter to be delivered to President Putin. This is the first direct contact Naama’s mother has had with the president. Naama was sentenced to seven years in jail after being caught smuggling 9.5 grams of marijuana on a stopover in Russia.
The second article reported that the district court in Jerusalem has frozen a previous ruling that legitimated the sale of two hotels belonging to the Greek patriarchate in Jerusalem to a settler association called “Ateret Cohanim”. In August, the patriarchate appealed the court ruling, citing the testimony of Ted Bloomfield, who once worked as a manager in one of the hotels, and who testified that Ateret Cohanim paid him in exchange for assistance in kicking out Palestinian residents of the hotel. The district court further ruled that Ateret Cohanim owe 50,000 shekels to the patriarchate for legal hassle and fees.
Maariv, November 24, 2019; The Jerusalem Post, November 25, 2019; Maariv, November 28, 2019; The Jerusalem Post, November 27, 2019
The first article was an opinion piece to do with the American Government’s announcement that it no longer considered Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be against international law. The author wrote that this declaration has been welcomed by Evangelical Christians who love Israel. The International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem issued a statement blessing the American decision, and at the same time condemned the EU’s decision to label all goods made in settlements.
The following two articles reported that the CEO of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Gordon Robertson, recorded a video addressed to the Jerusalem Post. In it, Robertson recalled coming to Israel in 1969 at the age of 11. The trip left a deep impact on him, and he consequently decided to bring each of his children to be baptized in the Jordan River at the age of 12, respectively. Robertson further said: “The return to the land and its language is a fulfillment of prophecy that the whole world can see.”
The final article reported that the second annual Arise Business Matchmaking Summit is set to gather, and will include 650 (mostly Evangelical) businesspeople from 50 different countries. The theme of the summit is “Israeli Innovation for Humanity”. Founder and chairman of Arise, Calev Myers, stated his belief that the “most effective solution to the BDS epidemic is to continue bringing more business to the State of Israel”. Myers further said that last year’s summit produced a $13 million impact, which is expected to grow into an $80 million impact over the next few years. The largest group to attend this year’s summit is from Sweden. Myers noted that he had plans to open a global Trade Center in Jerusalem by 2022.
Haaretz, November 26, 2019
According to tradition, the manger of Jesus was preserved by Christians in the Holy Land until the Muslim conquests of the seventh century, when it was moved to Rome, and where it remains to this day. Two thousand years later, a piece of the manger is being returned to its original home. The relic will go on display at the Notre Dame hotel in Jerusalem, where a festive parade will also take place. Then the relic will be permanently moved to Bethlehem.
Christians and the Holocaust
The Jerusalem Post, November 29, 2019; Yedioth Ahronoth, November 25, 2019
The Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews organized a posthumous recognition of Rabbi Nathan Cassuto and Matilda Cassin, Jewish members of the underground resistance to the Nazis in Florence, Italy, during the Second World War. The resistance movement they took part in was organized by the city’s chief rabbi together with the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Elia Angelo Dalla Costa. Hundreds of Jews were saved from deportation by being hidden in Catholic institutions and Italian homes. The head of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, was invited to speak at the event, and noted that it is not usual for Catholic representatives to be invited to Holocaust events. He said: “When we approach the Holocaust, we Europeans of Catholic origin cannot but feel discomfort. The issue of the Church and the Holocaust – and more generally, the Church and Judaism – was never an easy topic, but a topic full of hurt and deep wounds.” Pizzaballa commended Rabbi Cassuto, who cooperated with Christians to rescue Jews. But he urged that “now this joint effort must be the responsibility not of a few, like then, but a foundation of our religious and communication lives. The heroism of those we commemorate today should light the path to be taken.”
The second article was about a Christian Lebanese businessman, Abdallah Chatila, who immigrated to Switzerland with his family as a child in the 1970s. Chatila heard that Adolf Hitler’s personal items were going to be auctioned off in Germany, and decided to purchase them. The items had been taken by American soldiers during the Second World War, who kept them for a few decades and then decided to sell them. The impending sale caused an uproar, as there were fears that they would be bought by neo-Nazis and used to encourage anti-Semitism. Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, wrote an article requesting the sale be canceled. When Chatila read Margolin’s words, he decided to buy all the items, with the original intention of destroying them. After giving the matter some more thought, he decided to transfer the items (for free) into Jewish hands. The transaction cost him 600,000 Euros. It is yet to be decided what will be done with the items, which may never see the light of day, or may be handed over to Yad Vashem. Rabbi Margolin has thanked Chatila for his act, calling it noble and moving.
Hashavua BeYerushalayim, November 27, 2019
Three missionaries distributed missionary materials at a children’s playground in the city of Ashdod. The occurrence took place on the Sabbath, which prevented Yad L’Achim activists from responding in time. The missionaries handed out booklets entitled “Wake Up”. Yad L’Achim said that this is not the first time missionaries have illegally attempted to proselytize to minors, and called for the authorities to deal severely with missionaries who break the law.