During the week covered by this review, we received 10 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Maariv, July 5, 2020
Yael Eckstein, President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, said that the organization was able to immediately respond to the pandemic because of the generous donations of Israel-loving Christians. The Fellowship delivered more than 30,000 food packages to the elderly and purchased ventilators and medical supplies for hospitals. Eckstein said the Fellowship was able to fundraise 20% more than anticipated for the season.
Maariv, July 5, 2020
The Jerusalem Post hosted an online panel on anti-Semitism in which a number of Christians took part. One of the participants included an American Presbyterian pastor who said anti-Semitism is on the rise in Christian institutions. He further said that he has been working to create educational materials to help facilitate interfaith encounter. Also in attendance was an Armenian Christian student, who spoke about anti-Semitism in higher academia.
The “Shelanu” channel of God TV has officially stopped its broadcasts. Fox News reportedly said the decision to take the channel off the air could lead to a diplomatic crisis. Yad L’Achim claimed that there will be no crisis, and that American Christians respect the decision. One article, written by the host of the daily radio broadcast “The Line of Fire”, Michael L. Brown, expressed dismay at the decision. Brown said a false narrative was created to make it sound as though God TV was deceptive in its license application. However, the CEO of God TV, Ward Simpson, sent Brown a copy of the original application, which stated explicitly that the channel was “intended for the Israeli audience” (and not just for Christians). God TV, in other words, did not seek to hide its agenda. Furthermore, Shelanu’s broadcasts would not have broken any laws: there was no solicitation of minors, no coercion, and no monetary incentives. Brown said the decision to take the channel down was contrary to the pluralistic spirit of Israel, which despite its religious diversity, has acted harshly towards Messianic Jews. Another letter, written by an Orthodox Jewish convert from Christianity, expressed great happiness that the channel had been taken down, saying the decision was a “victory for the spiritual soul of the Jewish state”. The author further wrote: “Let’s call a spade a spade here, there is no religion of ‘Messianic Judaism’. You can be born a Jew and follow the Jewish faith of the One God… or you can be born a Jew, but choose to leave that path and become a Christian and believe that God is a trinity. You cannot have your cake and eat it and call yourself a Jew.”
Shvi’i, July 3, 2020
Thousands of missionary notebooks were passed around in religious neighborhoods, on the front of which were printed pictures of well-known rabbis, which made the notebooks look Jewish. Or L’Achim collected the notebooks and warned the public of missionary activity. The article reported that missionaries have also moved into religious neighborhoods under cover.
Christians in Israel
Haaretz, July 10, 2020
This article reported that Yochanan Elichai, the Christian monk and linguist who wrote books teaching Palestinian Arabic to Hebrew speakers, has passed away at the age of 94. Elichai came to Israel in 1956 from France, changed his name, and for decades studied Palestinian Arabic. He tried to use this knowledge to build bridges and facilitate reconciliation. The author of the article went on to express her own mixed feelings about Elichai, who despite this legacy, with time became more isolated from the Palestinian community and more politically aligned with Israel.
Maariv, July 10, 2020
This article had to do with the tourist industry suffering under the consequences of the pandemic, and how it is unlikely to revive until the summer of 2021. Many businesses will struggle to survive without income for that long, including new hotels just recently built along the Kinneret for Christian tourists. Israel normally brings in 8 billion shekels from the tourist industry annually. Ironically, a rainy winter has made the Kinneret much more impressive as a destination.