During the week covered by this review, we received 6 articles on the following subjects:
Interfaith Relations / Dialogue
Israel Hayom, December 3, 2021; Hamevaser, December 3, 2021
French far-right pundit Eric Zemmour announced on Tuesday that he will run for president in next year’s election, staking his claim in a video peppered with anti-immigrant rhetoric and warnings France must be saved from decline. Eric Zemmour is of Jewish Algerian heritage and has defended Nazi-collaborators and embraced far-right conspiracy theories on Muslim immigration. “Vichy protected French Jews and handed over the foreign Jews,” Mr. Zemmour said in September on CNews, one of several remarks suggesting that the wartime government of Marshal Philippe Pétain that sent more than 72,500 Jews to their deaths was not so bad after all. Zemmour also equated the Islamist terrorist who killed a rabbi and three children at a Jewish day school in Toulouse in 2012 to the victims themselves, by asserting that their French identity was of secondary importance to them, since the relatives of the terrorist wanted him buried in Algeria, while the victims were buried in Israel.
These comments, and others, have appalled many French Jews, and Zemmour has been condemned for them by French-Jewish leaders. Francis Kalifat, the president of the CRIF Jewish umbrella organization, has said that “not one single Jewish vote” should be cast for Zemmour, while just last week Chief Rabbi of France Haïm Korsia said Zemmour was “an anti-Semite certainly, a racist obviously”. According to Steve Nadjar, a radio anchor at Radio J and journalist for the news magazine Actualité Juive, the large majority of French Jews have been outraged by Zemmour’s comments, both regarding Pétain and, more broadly, against France’s Muslim population and his extremist positions. Many French Jews are worried his antagonism towards Islam could have repercussions for the Jewish community.
Haaretz, December 2, 2021
A decision by the Church of Sweden last week calling on ecumenical organizations to investigate Israel as an apartheid state has been condemned by the country’s leading Jewish body and members of the church itself. Aron Szugalski Verständig, the chair of the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, the Swedish European Jewish Congress affiliate, told Kyrkanstidning magazine that the motion was a watered-down version of an original resolution, which was even more extreme. He added that the move by the Church of Sweden has damaged its relationship with Sweden’s Jewish community.
The Church Council adopted a resolution to “raise the issue of reviewing the application of international law in the cases of Israel and Palestine, including in light of the UN Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute on Apartheid, in international and ecumenical bodies, in particular the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation.” The motion singles out only Israel, and does not investigate countries in the Middle East and other parts of the world where Christians are persecuted, according to Swedish Jewish leaders. “In the Church Council’s decision there is an implicit accusation against Israel of being an apartheid state, and this has the effect of delegitimizing the State of Israel,” Verständig said. He described the Church of Sweden as a “large organization” that has an impact on foreign policy. “If it chooses to act in foreign policy, it must be consistent. I have no problem with the Church of Sweden supporting Palestinian Christians, but I have not seen the Church Assembly criticize any other country for the poor treatment of Christians there,” he said.
Interfaith Relations / Dialogue
Jerusalem Post, December 3, 2021
A higher percentage of Evangelical Christians are “dismissive” toward Israel than are loyal to the state, according to a new study by Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter. Specifically, the report is based on a survey of more than 1000 American Evangelicals, defined as people who agree with the following principles: The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe; it is important for me to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their savior; Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin; and only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.
The report found that 28% of Evangelicals reject the idea that Jews ever were God’s chosen people and place Israel and the Jewish people as a very low priority among their charitable deeds. In contrast, 20% of Evangelicals can be considered “Israel loyalists” – meaning that they see the Jews as God’s chosen people and view supporting the Jews and Israel as a high priority. The majority of Evangelicals (53%) are neither dismissive nor loyal but rather unsure of how they view the Jewish people and Israel, the study found.
“This 53% is wide open to becoming loyalists,” said Infinity Concepts founder and CEO Mark Dreistadt. “There is a lot of opportunity for growth here and that is my big takeaway from this.” Dreistadt said the organization plans to resurvey in the next three to five years to see what changes. “It is important to build bridges and to embrace one another and work together,” he said. “There is so much we can do when we understand, trust and value one another.”
Yedioth Ahronoth, December 1, 2021; Shacharit, December 2, 2021
As part of the curriculum, Susya School students participated in the archeological excavations at the “Ancient Susya” site. The educational excavations are being conducted in one of the residences of the ancient city, where the students found an ancient oil candle from 700 years ago belonging to residents of the city of Susya. Such candles were used to light Hanukkah candles, Shabbat candles and candles to illuminate the house. Wax candles were not used at that time. At the ancient Susya site, you can see a magnificent synagogue from the Talmudic period, houses, caves and even an escape cave. The place had a thriving Jewish settlement between the Second Temple period until about 1000 years ago.