During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Maariv, July 16, 2020; Haaretz, July 17, 2020
President Erdoğan of Turkey announced that the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul will be converted from a museum into a mosque. Both articles argued that the decision is a colossal mistake and noted that historians and other researchers see in Erdoğan’s decision the intent to Islamify Turkey. One commentator said there is no good political reason for the decision, except to enshrine Islam’s superiority over Christianity and to achieve a religious victory in the country. Christian leaders have expressed deep sadness over the decision. The Hagia Sophia was built and used as a church for 916 years until it was turned into a mosque in 1455. It was later transformed into a museum. One commentator contrasted Erdoğan to Egypt’s President Al-Sisi, who, conversely, has been renovating synagogues in Egypt and taking care of Coptic churches, as part of the cultivation of the country’s pluralistic character.
Christians in Israel
A number of articles were written by both Christians and Jews in honor of the 100th birthday of Marcel-Jacques Dubois, a French Dominican theologian who taught philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was heavily involved in interfaith dialogue between Jews and Catholics. Dubois passed away in 2007. One of the writers, the son of David Flusser, said that as a child he saw Dubois as a “holy messenger of God”. Dubois, said Flusser, fulfilled in his lifetime the three holy commandments of Judaism: He loved God, his neighbors, and the strangers in the land. Dubois joined the Dominican order during the Second World War, and helped to save and care for Jewish children, some of whom he got to meet years later while living in Israel. During Operation Entebbe, Dubois offered to give himself up in exchange for the Israeli captives. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council (after which Dubois moved to Israel), he became very involved in interfaith dialogue. One writer said that we are missing today the kind of deep dialogue Dubois exemplified, and that it is currently easier to find amongst intellectuals a more robust dialogue between Jews and Muslims than between Jews and Christians. Another writer questioned how far interfaith dialogue as brought us, noting that many Haredi Jews have rejected such dialogue on the basis that it is seen as legitimization of Christianity. The same writer also questioned whether true dialogue was possible when the watershed issue is Jesus – whether Jesus was a true or false messiah – but suggested that we might imagine Christianity and Judaism as together being greater than the sum of their parts. Dubois offered in the flesh an example of how to live in the tensions between the two religions. Father David Neuhaus wrote: “[Dubois] loved the world in a mystical and poetic way. He dreamed of isolating in one of the monastery communities that he visited frequently, but he never did so. He remained, till his last day, a prophetic voice crying out in the wilderness, declaring the need for healing, reconciliation, peace, and justice for all the peoples of this beloved land.”