During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Haaretz, October 5, 2020
Michel Awad from Bethlehem has started “Save Tourism”, an initiative aimed at Christian tourists around the world who cannot visit the Holy Land because of the pandemic. Tourists are asked to buy souvenirs from the Holy Land “as if” they had visited. The tourist industry has been hit very hard by the pandemic, with many struggling to make ends meet. This is in marked contrast to 2019, where Christian tourism to Israel reached an all-time high, with one million Christian tourists bringing in 1.5 billion dollars. This is one of the first times in 1,600 years, said the article, that there are no Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. Christian tourism has long been considered one of Israel’s most stable industries, even during times of violence. However, now, churches such as the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Nativity stand empty. Awad said that many in Bethlehem were encouraged to live off of the tourist industry – to open up restaurants or other places of hospitality. But that has made too many people entirely dependent on tourists, and now they are struggling to cope financially. This time of year is normally especially busy, as thousands of Christians come to Israel to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, and this year was to be especially busy as the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem celebrated its 40th anniversary.
The Jerusalem Post, October 5, 2020; The Jerusalem Post, October 9, 2020
The first article was about a documentary produced by Christians United for Israel entitled, Never Again? The documentary tells the story of a friendship between a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor, Irving Roth, and a 36-year-old recovered radical Islamist anti-Semite, Kasim Hafeez. When Hafeez saw Roth’s tattoo of his concentration camp number, he got the same number put on his arm as an act of solidarity. Both men now together share a message of warning against anti-Semitism. Hafeez has converted to Christianity and is married to a Christian woman.
The second article reported that the Israel Allies Foundation published its list of Israel’s 50 most influential Christian allies. Those selected were recognized by a variety of Jewish organizations as having contributed to Israel politically and economically. The list includes pastors, politicians, leaders, and businesspeople.
The first article reported that missionary materials were distributed in the Haredi neighborhood of Kiryat Sanz. Yad L’Achim received many complaints, and some offered to join Yad L’Achim as volunteers in response to the missionary activity.
The second article recounted the story of Australian missionary Andrew Lewis, who was forced to leave his home in the south of Israel after protests were held there against him. Lewis was fined after being caught putting up missionary posters in playgrounds via his children. The article said that Lewis writes, prints, and distributes his own missionary materials. Nine years ago, he sent booklets to over one million Israeli homes, as well as New Testaments to every Knesset member.
The third article reported an old story about a bus driver who had been filmed preaching to his passengers and had been fired from his job.
The fourth article was about Michael Beener, who is said to run a missionary center in Sderot. Beener was accused of exploiting the security situation in order to appeal to Christians abroad for donations. Beener has reportedly taken groups of Jewish immigrants on trips around the country, and some have been baptized in the Jordan River.
Haaretz, October 6, 2020
A chemical and physical analysis of two nails that date back to Second Temple Period link them to the burial cave of the Jewish high priest, Caiaphas, in Jerusalem. The nails also had traces of wood and bone on them, suggesting they were involved in a crucifixion. A study published raised the possibility that the nails are from the crucifixion of Jesus. Many scholars, however, say that there is no evidence that links the nails directly to the crucifixion of Jesus. But if the nails can be linked to a crucifixion, however, that would still be archeologically significant as there has only been one other artifact found to be connected to a crucifixion.