Category : Israel

(Guardian) Patriarch Theophilos III–Christians are at risk of being driven out of the Holy Land

[Yesterday]…7 January, is Christmas, according to the Orthodox Christian calendar. And Orthodox Christians are keeping the feast in the Holy Land, where Christmas – and Christianity – began.

Much attention has been paid recently to political decisions recognising Jerusalem in one light or another. The media attention highlights the seemingly intractable political struggle here. But as well as the threat to the political status quo, there is a threat also to the religious status quo, a threat instigated by radical settlers in and around Jerusalem, the heart of Christianity. And one group that has always been a pillar of society in the Holy Land – Christians – seems to have been rendered invisible in this standoff.

Christians have lived a history in the Holy Land that spans more than two millennia. We have survived countless invasions, and have flourished under many different forms of government. We know that our survival has depended on the principle that the holy places must be shared by and be accessible to all. For it is the holy places that have given meaning to the region for both inhabitants and conquerors of all faiths. The protection and accessibility of the holy places are understood through a set of rules called the “status quo”, which has been followed by all religious and governmental authorities of the region through the ages.

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Posted in Church History, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Economist Erasmus Blog) [Some] Evangelicals and Catholics react in different ways to the president’s proclamation about Jerusalem

Paula White, a megachurch pastor from Florida who is a member of the president’s faith advisory council, said: “Evangelicals are ecstatic, for Israel is to us a sacred place and the Jewish people are our dearest friends.” She has repeatedly hailed Mr Trump as a man uniquely sensitive to God’s “divine plan” and willing to take counsel from Christian leaders like herself as to how that plan should be helped along.

Those sentiments are typical of an inner circle of evangelicals that helped to bring Mr Trump to power and that has pressed him to keep his Israel-friendly promises.

Meanwhile Pope Francis spoke of his “deep concern” about the situation created by Mr Trump’s move, given the disruption of a delicate equilibrium in the governance of the sacred city and its holy sites. “I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations,” he said on December 6th. Some 13 leaders of Jerusalem’s traditional Christian communities, including the Orthodox and the Catholics who are guardians of the city’s holy places, warned of “increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land” as a likely result of Mr Trump’s initiative.

These contrasting reactions typify two utterly different schools of Christian theology.

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Posted in Evangelicals, Israel, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

(NYT) Praise and Alarm From American Jews Over President Trump’s Jerusalem Move

If he was hoping for thunderous applause from American Jews, President Trump may be disappointed.

His announcement on Wednesday that he will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital went down well with those on the political right, who have urged the step for years. They will be telling him so at the White House Hanukkah party on Thursday, they said.

But other Jewish leaders said they were more worried than glad, fearing that the precipitous step would inflame tensions in the region, provoke more terrorism, put peace with the Palestinians even farther out of reach, and worsen the diplomatic isolation of both Israel and the United States. They say they wish he had held off, as previous presidents have done.

“Jerusalem has always been the most delicate issue in every discussion about peace,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest branch of American Judaism. “So we’re very concerned that the announcement will either delay or undermine the very, very important resuming of a serious peace process.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(CNS) Holy Land Christians condemn wave of church desecrations

Christians in the Holy Land, including Catholic leaders, have expressed frustration with lack of legal action against cases of desecration and vandalism of sacred places.

Even as the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land issued a statement condemning the September 20 desecration and vandalism of a Catholic shrine in Israel, some people criticized the statement’s “weak language” and asked, “How long will we be tolerant?”

“Unfortunately, in these situations we feel how vulnerable we are,” one person wrote on Facebook.

The latest incident took place on September 19 at St Stephen Church inside the Beit Jamal Salesian monastery west of Jerusalem. The monastery is open for visitors and generally has good relations with its Jewish neighbours, including the residents of an ultra-Orthodox town, said Salesian Father Antonio Scudu, caretaker of the church. Pilgrims to the church discovered the vandalism, which included a shattered statue of Mary, broken faces of figures on the stained-glass windows, and a destroyed cross.

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Posted in Israel, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Gafcon) Archbp Peter Jensen–Looking forward to Jerusalem 2018

There are several striking things about this moment.

First, the name. The 2008 Conference was a totally new initiative. It looked forward – it is a Future Conference. The Communion of old had changed irrevocably with events in North America which denied both the clear teaching of the word of God and also the value of Christian unity and fellowship. The Future Conference did not abandon the Communion: it looked to the future and saw what the Communion would have to become if it is to survive.

Second, the location. It was no accident that we were summoned to Jerusalem. Here was the scene of the Saviour’s death and resurrection. In Jerusalem, the Spirit came on the day of Pentecost and the Gospel was first preached. If we were looking and hoping for renewal and courage, symbolically there could be no better place than this. It took us back to our true roots.

Third, the participants. The key thing here is that not only bishops were invited, but clergy and laity, men and women, young and old. To have a future conference of bishops only would be a vote for the past. This was a new thing, a new day.

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Posted in GAFCON, Global South Churches & Primates, Israel

The Archbishop of Canterbury concludes a visit to the Holy Land

The Archbishop of Canterbury has completed a 10-day official visit to the Holy Land.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Mrs Caroline Welby travelled to the Holy Land at the invitation of the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, Archbishop Suheil Dawani.

The Archbishop made the long visit, from 2–11 May, to spend time with Anglicans in Jordan, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel – to encourage them, to pray with them, and to learn from them.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Israel, Jordan, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Syria, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Violence

Archbishop Justin Welby preaches at St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem

The words he uses will lead us straight back to Jesus in John 10, our gospel reading. More than that they will have brought to mind all sorts of powerful images of suffering and salvation, of God’s love experienced, and of the struggle to stay faithful, which run right through the scriptures.

What a hard saying this is! You know the fury of being treated wrongly. Even on a brief visit here, with very little understanding of probably the most complicated region of conflicts in the world, one sees the passions raised by suffering and injustice. Whether it is the utterly disrupted lives of the refugees in Zatari refugee camp last week, or the tears of the Iraqi Christians seemingly forgotten, one sees endless heart break.

In Gaza there is heroism from the doctors at the hospitals, from patients and above all groups of women, but also the very looming fears. In Nazareth, across Galilee you hear the voices of anger, or of fear and insecurity, of division and of the impact of almost a century of struggle of conflict, impacts that affect every inhabitant of the region, all of who tell their stories of fear, of struggle.

We must not take Peter’s words out of context. We see in many places in the New Testament that the church resists injustice yet abundant life can never be built adequately except on the foundation of Christ.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Israel, Preaching / Homiletics

(Guardian) Archbp Justin Welby: Christians must unite with Jews to halt rise of antisemitism

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has called for bridges to be built between Jewish people and others to prevent antisemitism taking hold. Speaking at Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust, Welby said the museum’s art revealed “the depths of human evil”.

He said: “Within European culture, the root of all racism, I think, is found in antisemitism. It goes back more than 1,000 years in Europe. Within our Christian tradition, there has been century upon century of these terrible, terrible hatreds in which one people … [are] hated more specifically, more violently, more determinedly, more systematically than any other people.”

The Jewish people had advanced science, art, music and had founded economies. “You would have thought we would rise up together in gratitude,” he said. Now, with antisemitism on the rise, he added: “We must dedicate ourselves afresh … to building and maintaining bridges and friendships, understanding, tolerance, unity and peace.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Inter-Faith Relations, Israel, Judaism

Discovered – the Twelfth Dead Sea Scroll Cave of Israel

A stunning discovery by archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has uncovered a previously unknown cave in which lost Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden.

The cave is believed to have been looted by Bedouins in the middle of the last century and no documents remain. However, storage jars and lids were found hidden in niches along the walls of the cave and in a long tunnel at its rear. The jars were all broken and their contents had been removed, and a pair of iron pickaxe heads dating from the 1950s were also found.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, History, Israel, Middle East

(AFP) Another 5,000 Jews quit France for Israel: agency

Another 5,000 French Jews emigrated to Israel last year, figures showed Monday, continuing a trend that has seen tens of thousands quit the country after a series of attacks targeting the community.

The Jewish Agency of Israel issued the update as France marked two years since attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, where four shoppers were shot dead.

Daniel Benhaim, who heads the Israeli-backed group in France, said that insecurity had been a “catalyst” for many Jews who were already thinking of leaving.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, France, Israel, Judaism, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Other Faiths, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Michael Lewis’s ”˜Brilliant’ New Book About Cognitive Bias


(Amazon)

Michael Lewis’s brilliant book celebrates Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Israeli-American psychologists who are our age’s apostles of doubt about human reason. The timing is fortunate, given that overconfident experts may have caused and then failed to predict such momentous events as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

Mr. Kahneman and Tversky (who died in 1996) first started working together in 1969. They were well-matched. The Holocaust survivor Mr. Kahneman chronically doubted even himself. The brash Tversky targeted his doubts toward others, especially (as one acquaintance noted) “people who don’t know the difference between knowing and not knowing.” Testing people with quizzes in their laboratory, they found a host of “cognitive biases” afflicting rational thinking.

One bias they found is that we underestimate uncertainty. In hindsight bias, for example, test subjects misremembered their own predictions as being correct. As Tversky explained, “we find ourselves unable to predict what will happen; yet, after the fact we explain what did happen with a great deal of confidence. . . . It leads us to believe that there is a less uncertain world than there actually is.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Israel, Middle East, Psychology, Science & Technology, Sports, Theology

([London] Times) Pilgrims queue for glimpse of Jesus’s tomb

For the first time in 500 years, pilgrims can get a glimpse of Jesus’s tomb ”” though for some, it is not worth queueing for an hour to see it.

Last week, conservationists started a frantic 60-hour dig inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, built on the spot where Christ’s body was supposedly taken after the crucifixion. They lifted the marble slab covering the tomb, which was last moved in the 1500s. Beneath it was another slab, this one inscribed with a cross, dating back to centuries before.

After two days of work, as a church-imposed deadline approached, workers finally found the limestone slab on which Jesus is said to have been laid after his crucifixion in AD33. They soon sealed it up again, but they carved a window to give visitors a view of the tomb’s walls.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Israel, Middle East, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Washington Post) Why Christianity’s holiest shrine is guarded by two Muslim families

In an interview with CNN earlier this year, Adeeb Joudeh, the current keeper of the key ”” an old, cast-iron object that’s a foot long ”” considered his family’s hereditary task to be a metaphor for religious tolerance.

“For me, the source of coexistence for Islamic and Christian religions is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” he said.

His counterpart, Wajeeh Nuseibeh, described the vital role of these two Muslim families in Jerusalem to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005.

“Like all brothers, they sometimes have problems,” he said, referring to the feuding Christian sects. “We help them settle their disputes. We are the neutral people in the church. We are the United Nations. We help preserve peace in this holy place.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths

(National Geographic) Unsealing of Christ's Reputed Tomb Turns Up New Revelations

“I’m absolutely amazed. My knees are shaking a little bit because I wasn’t expecting this,” said Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic’s archaeologist-in-residence. “We can’t say 100 percent, but it appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time, something that scientists and historians have wondered for decades.”

In addition, researchers confirmed the existence of the original limestone cave walls within the 18th-century Edicule, or shrine, which encloses the tomb. A window has been cut into the southern interior wall of the shrine to expose one of the cave walls.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Israel, Middle East, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

Canon Andrew White–An update from Iraq, Israel and Jordan

With temperatures in the region of 40C/100F, Iraq is in a terrible way, both politically and economically. The parliament has not been meeting, there are violent protests in Baghdad, and the oil revenue is starting to dry up. Despite this, we are still working on the front line. Yesterday, Dr Sarah Ahmed, FRRME’s Director of Operations in the Middle East, gave out 25 kg bags of flour to over 1,000 Iraqi IDP families in Erbil, Northern Iraq.

Read it all and do not miss the pictures.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence