During the week covered by this review, we received 5 articles on the following subjects:
Jewish / Christian relations
Christians in Israel
Jewish / Christian relations
Shavua Israeli, December 22, 2021
The Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, in collaboration with the LAPD and the Deputy Mayor’s Office, has initiated and assisted in the establishment of a computer classroom in the St. Raphael complex in Inglewood, California. The complex, which plays a major role in Inglewood’s community life, hosts an elementary school and a Catholic church. The project is a continuation of the Israeli mission in the city that began during the Covid-19 lockdowns, which also donated computers to underprivileged residents. The computer classroom in St. Raphael will not only serve the elementary school’s pupils, but also the participants of the church’s various community programs, most notably the program to fight the criminal gangs operating in the area and prevent youths from joining these gangs. “The present time calls for solidarity, and we are proud to assist in the establishment of this computer classroom,” said Dr. Hillel Newman, Consul General in Los Angeles, during the opening ceremony. Father Stan, head of the St. Raphael Church, referred to the friendship between Jews and Christians: “We cherish the common history and pray for the peace of the people in Israel. The computer classroom is a tremendous opportunity not only for our children, but for the entire community.”
Jerusalem Post, December 28, 2021
As reported in our last review, leaders of Christian denominations in Jerusalem have launched a campaign criticizing Israel for its lack of response to violent attacks by extremist Israeli radical groups. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also published an article in The Sunday Times claiming Christians were being systematically driven out of the Holy Land. This article was an opinion piece about this claim. According to the writer “While any attacks that have occurred at the hands of Jewish extremists are reprehensible, and widely condemned as such by the vast majority in Israel, the truth remains that the safest place for Christians in the Middle East today is the State of Israel… There is nothing wrong with criticizing Jewish extremists in Israel if and when harassment of Christians occurs, and church leaders are certainly entitled to call out such vile acts of hatred. All Israelis should. But to present the issue without context as the Israeli church leaders and the Archbishop of Canterbury did is simply playing politics. Actions like this do a disservice not only to Israeli Christians, 84% of whom are ‘satisfied’ with their lives in Israel, but also to the Christians of the Middle East who really are being driven out of their homelands like in the Gaza Strip, Egypt, Iraq or the West Bank.”
Haaretz, December 24, 2021
This was a letter to the editor, regarding the article covered in our last review, about John of Hildesheim’s book, “History of the Three Kings”. The writer, a professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, referred to a collection of hagiographies entitled “The Golden Legend” which was compiled by Jacobus de Varagine in the 13th century (and was also mentioned in the article), and to two Arab healers, Saints Cosmas and Damian, who were twins and early Christian martyrs. According to legend, reported the writer, Saints Cosmas and Damian miraculously transplanted the black leg of an Ethiopian man onto the white body of a man with “cancerous” leg. They appeared to the patient in a dream, amputated his diseased leg and replaced it with the leg of a recently died man. The writer noted that such medical procedure does not appear in any other legend.
Maariv, December 28, 2021
This was another article about French-Jewish far-right presidency candidate Eric Zemmour, on whom we reported last month. According to the article, although the official French ideology is “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”, in reality, anti-Semitism has always been entwined in French history. The appearance of Zemmour on the political scene poses two problems for French Jews, according to the article; on the one hand, his Jewishness might fuel an existing anti-Semitism, mostly by Islamic fundamentalists, and on the other hand, his “extreme views” are hurting the legitimate resistance by various sectors of the population to the growing Islamic presence in France. Although the Jewish community is aware of the Islamic danger, claimed the article, they find it very hard to support a Jew who is willing to rewrite history, and “defend Nazi-collaborators by claiming that Vichy protected French Jews and gave [the Nazis] the foreign Jews”.
Christians in Israel
Jerusalem Post, December 31, 2021
In response to the campaign launched by leaders of Christian denominations in Jerusalem, mentioned above and in our last review, in which Israel was criticized for its lack of response to violent attacks by extremist Israeli radical groups, President Isaac Herzog and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked each affirmed their commitment to freedom of worship and religion in the Holy Land, adding that all forms of discrimination will be rejected. While appreciative of the two declarations, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III responded, “In a state committed to the historic rights of the various religious communities, as well as to religious freedom, we cannot but call out the activities in Jerusalem of fringe radical groups who are in no way representative of the State of Israel or the Jewish people. The action of these extremists is a direct assault against our shared values and ideals that we hold as essential for the good order and flourishing of our common life. For we all must work together to curb these unbridled ambitions of all radicals within our communities for the well-being and safety of all our peoples. We, the heads of churches, reaffirm our commitment to engage in urgent dialogue on this issue as declared in our recent statement.”