During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Maariv, March 14, 2022
The Ariel University held a ceremony to celebrate the completion of its new library building, which was dedicated to Reuben Hecht. Hecht was described as an active Zionist, whose main goal was to strengthen the State of Israel, and to establish Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, who invested all his fortune in the Israeli market, culture and art. The ceremony in his honor was followed by a second ceremony, in which Vice-President Michael Pence and former US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman received Honorary Doctorates in recognition of their steadfast support for Israel and for the Jewish people. Both men partook in a number of historical events: The relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, the recognition by the United States of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and the Abraham accords. Pence gave a speech, in which he spoke of the alliance with Israel, the opposition to the tyranny of Putin and the Iranians. “If the current administration signs a new agreement with Iran,” he declared, “I can say with confidence that the next president will be a Republican and I can say with greater confidence that the next Republican president will tear up the nuclear deal on his first day.” According to the article, although it is not yet official, Mike Pence is aiming for the White House in 2024, and Israel needs to keep its fingers crossed for him.
Yad Vashem, March 10, 2022
Several “avid supporters of Israel”, as the article described them, including Shari Dollinger, the Co-Executive Director of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and Jobst Bittner, founder of TOS Ministries, have recently visited Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. Dollinger and her husband held a Bar and Bat Mitzva ceremony for their son and daughter, conducted by Kindertransport survivor Dr. Henry Foner. In the ceremony, the two youngsters adopted the memory of two of their peers who perished in the Holocaust – Dov Perlman and Shoshana Roza Zukeirman.
Israel Hayom, March 18, 2022
This was an interview with long-time friends and allies in advocating for Israel, Malcolm Hoenlein and Pastor John Hagee, about what the article referred to as, “the surprising partnership between the US Evangelical community and the Jewish people”. John Hagee, according to the article, is one of the most influential Christian pastors in the US, and has played a founding role in the history of Evangelical Christians standing by Israel. His movement, Christians United for Israel, (CUFI) numbers 11.5 million members. When the war in the Ukraine broke out, Hagee raised $2.5 million to help rescue Ukrainian Jews and bring them to Israel. He was awarded two honors for his work on behalf of Israel: one from the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and one from the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem. Malcolm Hoenlein is the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the president of the Great Synagogue. The two began working together in the late 1980s. At a time when ties with pro-Israel Christians have become standard for the American Jewish leadership, mused the article, many in Israel are still skeptical of the relations, despite the Evangelical movement’s growing importance in strengthening the relations between the US and Israel. “I’ve never had one minute of regret. My appreciation [for CUFI] only grows,” said Hoenlein, an Orthodox Jew whose sons and grandsons are yeshiva students. “We respect each other, and we respect one anothers’ religious beliefs. It doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. We’ll ask the Messiah when he comes, ‘Were you here before?’ If he says yes, we’ll apologize. If he says no, they’ll apologize. But the fact is that what we have in common far outweighs what divides us … There’s nothing that I’ve seen at CUFI that challenges [my Orthodox Jewish principles]. They are staunch allies. They stand up sometimes stronger than we do in defence of the state of Israel.”
Jerusalem Post, March 18, 2022
When Malcolm Hoenlein was elected as president of the Great Synagogue last January, he said that one of the first things he wanted to do was to honor Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), and his wife Diana, for their “unstinting and dedicated support for Israel in general, and Jerusalem in particular”. This week, stated the article, it was Hagee’s turn to receive praise from the Great Synagogue board members, “who appreciate the importance of his work and who marvel at the extent of his influence”. One of the speakers was Prof. Jonathan Halevy, president of Shaare Zedek Medical Center, which is among the many beneficiaries of CUFI’s charitable activities in Israel. Hoenlein, who was invited to speak at the annual CUFI conference, said the people who attend are the finest of America, and that he has never seen a better assemblage. “You go there to recharge your batteries,” he said, noting that CUFI representatives confront members of Congress on behalf of Israel, and denounce extremism, racism, BDS and antisemitism, while helping to promote various pro-Israel projects. “As much as we want to honor you,” he told Hagee, “your presence honors us.”
Jerusalem Post, March 10, 2022
An intact early Bronze Age jug was found by American tourist Robbie Brown in the Judean Desert. Having returned for a visit to Israel following the lifting of travel restrictions, Brown requested special permission to visit the site of an archaeological dig in the Qumran region near the Dead Sea, where he had volunteered five years ago. The excavation of the site was theoretically completed in 2017, according to the Antiquities Authority (IAA). However, when Brown and his friends climbed into the cave, which is located 100 meters above the road line, they were astonished to find the remains of a fallen wall, and next to it, a well-preserved 5,000-year-old pottery jug. “It seems that the jar was revealed as a result of the natural collapse of a part of the cave wall at the cave entrance, which can happen over time,” said Amir Ganor of the IAA, “This is perhaps the first complete vessel we have found from this period in the caves in the Judean Desert.”
Hashavua B’Holon-Bat Yam, March 16, 2022; Hashavua B’Rehovot, March 16, 2022
A collection of letters that were preserved in Israel’s National Library proves that representatives of the Iranian Jewish community purchased the tomb of Mordechai and Esther in the city of Hamadan, in western Iran, during the celebrations commemorating 2,500 years to the Edict of Cyrus, which took place in 1971. The letters reveal negotiations between local Jewish representatives and officials in the Shah’s government regarding the purchase of the land where, according to tradition, Queen Esther and Mordechai are buried. According to Dr. Samuel Thrope, the curator of the library’s Middle East and Islam Collection, the letters are a testament to Iran’s last Shah having seen himself as Cyrus’ successor and having sought to portray that image to his country’s Jews. The 2,500-year anniversary to the Edict of Cyrus was precisely the event the Shah had been looking for, Thrope said. Eight years later, Khomeini came to power and the Revolutionary Guards took control of the place.
Haaretz, March 18, 2022
This was a review of the collection of articles, “Sacred Places in the Holy Land: Ethnographic Perspective”. In the introduction to the first Hebrew edition of Mark Twain’s book, “The Innocents Abroad”, the publisher expressed his annoyance with Twain for calling Israel “desolate and unlovely”. As part of his attempt to save Israel’s honor from this murky depiction, relayed the article, he described his encounter with an “Israeli-loving American Catholic who lived here even before the establishment of the state, and is surprised to find out how beautiful the country has grown since its founding”. During the description of the encounter, the publisher wonders what this American gentile has to do with the love of Israel. The appearance of the Catholic as a footnote, whose sole purpose is to vindicate the Jewish state, mused the article, is a mirror image of how most Israelis relate to the phrase “Holy Land” – many understand the importance of the name, but few consider what it means to others. This collection of articles provides an in-depth look at the significance of the Holy Land for the Christian communities that live in it and visit it, the way in which they themselves conceptualize and create holiness and the role of the State of Israel in the process.