During the week covered by this review, we received 10 articles on the following subjects:
The first two articles reported about Andrew Scott Lewis, the Australian missionary who was recently forced to leave Moshav Otzem in the south of Israel after protests were organized in front of his house. Otzem is predominantly religious. It was reported that Yeshivah Orchos Torah will use the villa Lewis had been renting to house its students. Yad L’Achim promised to continue to track Lewis’ activities in order to foil his missionary activities.
The next two articles reported that Jehovah’s Witnesses missionaries have been distributing pamphlets in the city of Netanya under such titles as “The Prophetic Code” and “The Return to Zion”. One commentator argued that missionaries are taking advantage of the difficult economic situation many are in today, and that if the Jewish identity of the country is weakened, Jews will have less of a moral claim on the Land of Israel.
The final two articles reported about the “missionary center” set up in Sderot by Michael Biner, who is also said to have taken a group of Jewish immigrants to the Jordan River, where 50 of them were baptized. The center includes a library and a lecture hall where Sderot residents can come hear evangelistic talks. Yad L’Achim has accused Biner of breaking the law by offering perks in exchange for conversion. The organization has further recruited activists to visit the homes of those Jews involved with Biner to help them see the danger of Biner’s message.
Haaretz, August 17, 2020
A resident of Jerusalem responded to Israel Yaakov Yovel’s recent piece in “Haaretz”, “We Curse Christianity Three Times a Day”, where Yovel argued that it is inconceivable to think of the New Testament being taught in Israeli high schools as a background for the Talmud. The author of the letter said he attended a religious high school in Jerusalem, where a history teacher sent the students to one of two “missionary stores” in Jerusalem to purchase a New Testament in order to expand their understanding of the historical background of the Second Temple period.
Haaretz, August 19, 2020
President Donald Trump has said that the American Embassy was moved to Jerusalem for the sake of Evangelicals, who he said were more excited about it than Jews. The article said there are 60 million Evangelicals in the United States, of whom 80% voted for Trump in the last elections. It is said that Trump depends upon the Evangelical vote to win the next elections. Evangelicals tend to see the establishment of the State of Israel as proof of the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. 70% of Evangelicals agree with the statement that the existence of Israel is proof that we are closer to the return of Jesus.
Haaretz, August 19, 2020; Jerusalem Post, August 19, 2020
The first article was about the debate over the correct location of the biblical fishing town of Bethsaida. Professor Rami Arav has argued for three decades that Bethsaida is found in e-Tell by the Kinneret, but recently this has been challenged by Professors R. Steven Notley and Mordechai Aviam, who argue that it is found in El-Araj. The article details Rami Arav’s arguments, namely, that the two towns are relatively close to one another; that Bethsaida is the location of many of Jesus’s miracles, including where he cured a blind man, fed the multitudes, and walked on water; and that the disciples Philip, Andrew, and Peter are said to be from Bethsaida.
The second article reported that an ornately decorated stone table was found in the archeological site of Khirbet Kefar Mur near Beit El in the West Bank. The table likely belonged to a wealthy Jewish family. The archeological dig has also unearthed remains of residential buildings, ritual baths, an oil mill, and objects used in daily life. Also discovered was a wall dating to the Jewish Great Revolt, as well as a church with a mosaic floor from the Byzantine period.