‘Death to Christians, enemies of Israel’ — Hebrew graffiti defacing Jerusalem monastery


Reuters reports: Israel ordered a high-priority police investigation on Sunday into anti-Christian messages scrawled in Hebrew on the walls and doors of a Jerusalem monastery, saying they marked an assault on religious harmony.

“Idols will be extirpated” – a line lifted from the Jewish prayer service – and “Christians Go to Hell” were among graffiti left outside the Dormition Abbey with felt-tip pens. The varying handwriting suggested several vandals had been involved.

The Benedictine monastery, on Mount Zion in the Old City, is near a site where many Christians believe Jesus held the Last Supper as well as a tomb revered as the last resting place of the biblical King David and which draws many Jewish worshippers.

“We will not let anyone undermine religious coexistence in Israel,” Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement, adding that police would put a high priority on “nabbing those who carried out this despicable act”.

Israel has been struggling with a spate of hate crimes by suspected Jewish ultra-nationalists targeting Christian sites as well as Palestinians and Israeli human rights activists. [Continue reading…]

The Times of Israel: “Despite promises by the government, these incidents continue to happen,” Wadia Abu Nasser, the executive director of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land, railed Sunday morning. “If we were to actually count all of these incidents, they’d be in the hundreds.

“We have limited resources at our disposal. It’s the state’s responsibility to not only apprehend these perpetrators, but to make the necessary changes in the education system to educate against this sort of thing,” he told Army Radio. [Continue reading…]

Ynet adds: “The inscriptions are not only against Jesus the Messiah, but also call to slaughter the Christians and send them to hell! How long will these acts of vandalism continue?” the church said.

“This is the area of our convent, which until today is not monitored by police cameras, although this has been promised to us in the summer of 2013 by the Israeli security authorities after the cars of the monastery were badly damaged and several hate graffiti were discovered.”

The Domition Abbey further complained of “aggressive gathering with loud music and chanting by Jewish right-wing radicals in our immediate neighborhood in the area of the Tomb of David” almost every weekend for the past three years. [Continue reading…]

In 2011, I posted a collection of articles under the headline, “Being spat at remains part of life for Christians in Jerusalem.” This included reports from Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, and The Forward. Attacks on Christians were described by Eric J Greenberg in 2004 as what has been “Jerusalem’s dirty little secret for decades.”

Last month I received a message from a reader claiming that these incidents are being used “as a stick to beat all Jews,” to which I responded:

In none of the reports cited — all reports made by Jewish journalists — is the behavior of “young Jewish bigots” in Jerusalem portrayed as representative of Jews as a whole. At the same time, this phenomenon doesn’t sound like something that deserves being ignored — especially if the Jerusalem Post reports that the attacks on Christians are not rare but are in fact “habitual.”

Israel’s Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, says:

“We will show zero tolerance to whomever harms the democratic foundations of Israel and its freedom of religion and we will apprehend those who carried out this heinous act.”

How can anyone take seriously this claim that the Israeli government has “zero tolerance” for these types of attacks on religious freedom when it has been clearly documented that they have been going on for decades?

This isn’t just a domestic political issue for Israel, or reason for Israeli leaders and business owners to be concerned about the impact on tourism.

If a blind eye has been turned towards these hate crimes, it most likely also includes that of American Christian Zionists who are more closely aligned with right-wing Israelis than they are with fellow Christians in the Holy Land.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers Christians United for Israel “to be a vital part of Israel’s national security.”

I guess for CUFI and Netanyahu, the latest anti-Christian incident in Jerusalem will be a cause for little more than mild and fleeting embarrassment.


Christians United for Israel creates new lobby for intimidating elected officials

Jennifer Rubin writes: The largest pro-Israel organization, with a membership of more than 2 million passionate voters, Christians United for Israel, will be forming a lobbying and political entity (a 501(c)(4) group, in IRS parlance), CUFI Action Fund, that aims to do for Israel what the NRA does for Second Amendment rights. It will announce the move to more than 5,000 members who have gathered in Washington for its annual national conference.

The operation will be headed by evangelical heavyweight and longtime pro-Israel advocate Gary Bauer. “Gary Bauer is someone that has the respect and confidence of the evangelical community,” CUFI founder Pastor John Hagee tells me in an exclusive interview. Bauer says he will have a multimillion-dollar budget and a staff of a dozen to lobby Congress, run independent ads, support pro-Israel candidates and target those who do not put support for the Jewish state at the top of their priority list.

For Bauer, CUFI Action Fund is needed more than ever. “It is needed because the West is under severe attack,” Bauer tells me. “Israel is an outpost of [Western] civilization in one of the most dangerous and hostile parts of the world.” He continues, “Because Israel and the U.S. are attached at the hip and the heart,” Bauer argues, the fate of Israel and the U.S. and the necessity to defeat Islamic radicalism are essential, lest we “sink into another Dark Ages.” [Continue reading…]


Inside the most insanely pro-Israel meeting you could ever attend

David Weigel describes scenes in this year’s Christians United for Israel conference in Washington: Over two boisterous days, the only speaker who brought the crowd to silence was Sgt. Benjamin Anthony, an Israel Defense Forces veteran whose organization Our Soldiers Speak sent him to campuses and other hot zones to describe the reality in Israel.

“There is an entire generation being raised in southern Israel, barely any of whom do not suffer from PTSD due to the rocket fire,” said Anthony. “The entire Zionist experiment rests in no small part on what it is we do during this campaign.”

What the IDF needed was a total victory. “Rocket factories can be destroyed,” said Anthony. “Weapon factories can be destroyed. Terrorists can be eliminated. Tunnels can be dug out.” But it could only happen if America resisted the temptation to criticize Israel or to stop the operation.

“Hamas started this war,” said Anthony. “The soldiers of Israel must smash their skulls and break their spines.”

When he said that, a standing-room crowd of pastors and activists and politicians rose to its feet, waving the twin flags of the countries God loved.


The Old Testament’s made-up camels are a problem for Zionism

o13-iconAndrew Brown writes: There are 21 references to camels in the first books of the Bible, and now we know they are all made up.

Some of them are quite startlingly verisimilitudinous, such as the story of Abraham’s servant finding a wife for Isaac in Genesis 24: “Then the servant left, taking with him 10 of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. He made the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was towards evening, the time the women go out to draw water.”

But these camels are made up, all 10 of them. Two Israeli archaeozoologists have sifted through a site just north of modern Eilat looking for camel bones, which can be dated by radio carbon.

None of the domesticated camel bones they found date from earlier than around 930BC – about 1,500 years after the stories of the patriarchs in Genesis are supposed to have taken place. Whoever put the camels into the story of Abraham and Isaac might as well have improved the story of Little Red Riding Hood by having her ride up to Granny’s in an SUV. [Continue reading…]


More white evangelicals than American Jews say God gave Israel to the Jewish people

Pew Research Center: Israel defines itself as a Jewish state, and most Jews in the United States say that emotionally they are either very attached (30%) or somewhat attached (39%) to Israel. But on some measures, Jews’ feelings for Israel are equaled or even exceeded by those of white evangelical Protestants.

For example, twice as many white evangelical Protestants as Jews say that Israel was given to the Jewish people by God (82% vs. 40%). Some of the discrepancy is attributable to Jews’ lower levels of belief in God overall; virtually all evangelicals say they believe in God, compared with 72% of Jews (23% say they do not believe in God and 5% say they don’t know or decline to answer the question). But even Jews who do believe in God are less likely than evangelicals to believe that God gave the land that is now Israel to the Jewish people (55% vs. 82%).


How Israel lets Christian pseudo-archeologists pillage the West Bank

Dylan Bergeson reports: A line of rental cars crawled up the side of ribbed sandstone formations, mounded high like giant termite nests. In the distance, the city lights of modern Jericho twinkled on the northern horizon. In this haunted landscape where the West Bank meets the Jordan River, the Dead Sea Scrolls — the oldest-known biblical record — remained hidden for millennia.

The discovery of the scrolls 50 years ago galvanized a resurgent evangelical movement, many of whose members heralded the creation of Israel as evidence of the coming rapture. Since then, the Holy Land has attracted a long succession of academic zealots seeking to tether stories in the Bible to the archaeological record.

For Randall Price, a mid-50’s, sun-reddened pastor from Texas with a neat side part and a booming voice, archaeology is both a scientific and a devotional endeavor. “This was the area where great men of God were tested,” he said. “When you’re excavating there it puts you in touch, physically, with the reality of those events.” Price has spent the last ten years searching for remains of an ascetic Jewish priesthood whom he believes settled in the desert wilderness of Qumran to await the coming of the Messiah and the End of Days. These remains, he said, could provide unprecedented evidence of a biblical text.

At first blush, Price seems like an unlikely candidate to head excavations amid one of the bitterest land disputes in the modern world. Though he never actually received a degree in archaeology, he built a global network around his brand of Near East biblical scholarship with an apocalyptic bent. He has written extensively for the website RaptureReady.com, given lectures suggesting that Iran is fulfilling the role of Antichrist, and has openly called for the United States to declare war on Islam.

Price says his own work underwrites Israeli precedence in some Palestinian land. “Despite the fact that Qumran is probably on the map as the Palestinians’, the fact is we’re unearthing ancient Jewish heritage,” he said. “There’s nothing here that speaks to any other people.”

Price’s politics are unlikely to disrupt his access to the Qumran plateau, however. Located in the West Bank, permits to excavate around Qumran are not issued by the Palestinian Authority, but rather by Israel’s Civil Administration. It’s a bizarre arrangement, which critics say allows Israeli officials and religious pseudo-scientists to cooperate in raiding cultural treasures. [Continue reading…]


What evangelicals get wrong about Israel and the Palestinians

Kirsten Powers writes: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

Sadly, this isn’t Scripture you hear many evangelicals quoting when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though Jesus uttered the words in the Sermon on the Mount. Instead of making peace, American evangelicals have mostly picked sides and offered unquestioning, blind loyalty to Israel, with little to no regard for the plight of the Palestinian people.

“Declaring that evangelical Christians are ‘on the front line of defense for Israel in the United States of America,’ the Rev. John Hagee brought delegates to the Christians United for Israel Washington Summit 2012 to their feet with loud cheering and even the sounds of shofars being blown,” The Times of Israel reported in April 2012.

That same month, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told NBC News of evangelical support of Israel, “American evangelicals have it in their DNA: God blesses those who bless the Jews and curses whoever curses the Jews.”

During the GOP primary, many evangelicals expressed support for Newt Gingrich, who called Palestinians “invented people.” Someone from a country that is a few hundred years old complaining about “invented” national identities would be comical if the crux of his message weren’t so offensive. Such despicable nonsense is spouted for one reason: to dehumanize Palestinians. After all, if they are just invented, pretend people, then who cares what happens to them?

Since when is dehumanizing people — God’s creation — an acceptable Christian view? [Continue reading…]


Video: Waiting for Armageddon

Waiting for Armageddon: America’s 50-million strong Evangelical community is convinced that the world’s future is foretold in Biblical prophecy – from the Rapture to the Battle of Armageddon. This astonishing documentary explores their world – in their homes, at conferences, and on a wide-ranging tour of Israel. By interweaving Christian, Zionist, Jewish and critical perspectives along with telling archival materials, the filmmakers probe the politically powerful – and potentially explosive – alliance between Evangelical Christians and Israel…an alliance that may set the stage for what one prominent Evangelical leader calls “World War III.”

(If you have problems viewing this video, it can also be viewed at YouTube.)


The excommunication of Ron Paul

Steve Kornacki writes: When you’re running near the top of the polls, it’s inevitable that your opponents will gang up on you. But there’s something different about the nature of the attacks Ron Paul is now facing – and, potentially, about their implications.

In the past few days, three of Paul’s rivals – Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann – have publicly declared that the Texas congressman will not under any circumstances win the GOP nomination. Bachmann called him “dangerous,” while Gingrich said he wasn’t even sure he’d vote for Paul over Barack Obama. Another candidate, Rick Santorum, said there’s no difference between Paul and Obama on foreign policy and that he’d need “a lot of antacid” to stomach voting for Paul. And Jon Huntsman launched a scathing anti-Paul ad in New Hampshire with a simple title: “Unelectable.”

This is not a run of the mill pile-on. Paul’s foes aren’t simply telling Republicans that he’s not the best choice to be their nominee; they’re telling Republicans that he’s unfit to call himself one of them – that he’s an imposter who isn’t due even the most basic courtesy (“Oh sure, if he ends up being the nominee I’ll be with him…”) that major candidates for the nomination are typically afforded.

It’s an attitude that’s also being encouraged by some of the GOP’s most powerful opinion-shaping forces. Rush Limbaugh has been disdainful of Paul throughout the campaign, with his guest host this week – Mark Steyn – keeping up the campaign. Fox News, whose primetime hosts have alternated between ignoring and savaging Paul, has been treating him like a pariah since the last campaign, when Paul was denied a seat at a critical pre-New Hampshire debate. And the New Hampshire Union Leader, which boasts one of the country’s most influential conservative editorial pages, branded Paul “truly dangerous” on Thursday.

The roots of this anti-Paul alarmism go deeper than the racist newsletters that were sent out under Paul’s name in the early 1990s and that have attracted new attention in the past week. Sure, the newsletters (and Paul’s shifting explanations for them over the years) would help make him an unelectable GOP nominee, but rest assured the same intraparty voices would be railing against him with the same adamance even if they’d never emerged.

The reason has to do with Paul’s non-interventionist foreign policy and his unapologetic mockery of the “clash of civilizations” ethos that has defined the post-Cold War GOP. Today’s Republican Party is dominated by Christian conservatives (44 percent of participants in the 2008 primaries identified themselves as evangelicals) and neoconservatives, who are united in their commitment to an unwavering alliance between the United States and Israel, confrontation with Iran, and a significant American presence in the Middle East. Paul’s warnings about “blowback” directly threaten this consensus.


Christmas fading in the Holy Land

Khaled Diab writes: In the land that put Christ in Christmas, Christianity is shrinking.

Less than a century ago, Christians comprised nearly 10 percent of the population of Palestine (now Israel and the Palestinian territories). In 1946, the figure was around 8 percent. Today, Christians make up about 4 percent of the West Bank’s population, although there are still a few Christian-majority villages, such as Taybeh, whose skyline is dominated by church spires and whose businessmen produce the only Palestinian beer. In Israel, though Christians make up 10 percent of its Palestinian population, they only constitute 2.5 percent of the total population. In Gaza, the Christian minority is even smaller, representing just 1 percent of the population.

One major factor in the decline of Christianity here: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Arab-Israeli war of 1948 caused hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee or be driven out of their homes, most never to return – and each subsequent war has led to more Palestinians leaving. Today, though Palestinians are often materially better off than other Arabs, restrictions on movement, lack of economic opportunity, unemployment and the constant indignity of living under occupation prompt many to seek out new homes. Palestinian Christians, relatively better educated that Palestinian Muslims and sharing a common religion with the West, have generally been better placed to leave the region.

“Many Christians prioritize their religion over their nationality, thus feeling at home in Western Christian countries as immigrants,” says Ameer Sader, who teaches English and works as a young guide at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Haifa.

“Also, the fertility rate among Christians is the lowest within Israel and Palestine, playing a role, however small it is, in their decline,” he added.

But the exodus is not solely a Christian phenomenon.

“What is often ignored is the huge number of young Muslims who are leaving. And don’t forget there are more Palestinian Muslims living abroad than Christians,” says Dimitri Karkar, a Palestinian Christian businessman. Karkar lives in Ramallah, which has grown with the influx of refugees from other parts of historic Palestine and Israel’s continued annexation of East Jerusalem. Once a small village, Ramallah has become the de facto administrative capital of Palestine, where about a quarter of its population today is Christian.

Another factor: Christian charities and missionaries, who often do valuable work here, also have played an unwitting role in the exodus of Christians.

“I think that an awful lot of well-meaning Christians in the West, whether they are in America, Britain or other places, have poured a lot of money into the West Bank, and specifically into the churches and ministries here,” observes Richard Meryon, director of Jerusalem’s Garden Tomb, which is locked in a spiritual/territorial dispute with the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulchre over the exact location of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

This outside aid, he notes, “is causing a hemorrhaging of Palestinian believers,” because many are given assistance to move to the West to study but, once there, decide never to return. At the same time, he points out, the numbers of foreign believers and Messianic Jews who believe in Jesus are rising.

And not all Christian activity has been “well-meaning.” For example, so-called Christian Zionists are passionately, even virulently, pro-Israeli, and many come to the Holy Land (some on Harley Davidsons) to express their support. They show rather less interest in the Christians who actually live there.

Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich seems to even doubt they exist. In an apparent bid to court the Christian Zionist and pro-Israel right, Gingrich made the outrageous claim that “We have invented the Palestinian people,” as if the Palestinians I encounter every day here are figments of the imagination.


Glenn Beck receives ‘Defender of Israel Award’

The Zionist Organization of America gave its first “Defender of Israel Award” to Glenn Beck on Sunday. The award was presented by American billionaire casino magnate and backer of Benjamin Netanyahu, Sheldon Adelson.

Beck, in his acceptance speech, said, “I am a proud Zionist and an obvious defender of Israel. I speak the truth and have been awarded the Defender of Israel Award, which only reveals the kind of trouble we are in.”

He also added, “The current U.S. government is not a friend of Israel.” Beck has been one of the most outspoken and vocal critics of U.S. President Barack Obama.

Beck, who left Fox News several months ago, strongly hinted of political aspirations as he wrapped up his speech. “There is a vacuum [in American politics] that I intend to fill. I am not asking you to join me. I would rather join you,” he said.

Several American politicians were on hand at the ceremony as well. Republican presidential hopeful Congresswoman Michele Bachmann spoke at the event saying, “The Pentagon must prepare a plan for war against Iran, as a last resort.” The congresswoman called for crushing economic sanctions on Iran, and promised that on the day she is sworn in as president, she would move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who also received an honorary ZOA award, pledged that the House of Representatives would work to increase sanctions against Iran. (Source)


Pastor Beck preaches in Jerusalem

The Guardian reports:

The temperature may have dropped a little in Jerusalem on Wednesday night, but it was more than compensated for by the heat produced by Glenn Beck as he brought his “Restoring Courage” rally to the Old City.

The former Fox News presenter and devout Mormon stood at a podium beneath the gunmetal grey of the dome of the al-Aqsa mosque to direct a tirade of invective at governments, human rights organisations, the United Nations, Europe and Arab states – and sometimes just “them”, whoever they are.

Despite a strangely subdued start, the rightwing polemicist finally roused his audience to whoops and cheers after a strangely subdued initial response with his trademark preacher’s inflection. But all the while, the distant noise of anti-Beck protests provided a backdrop to a 90-minute programme of declamation, music and presentations.

Dressed as though attending a funeral, Beck stood in sharp contrast to the casual attire of his overwhelmingly white American Christian audience, many of whose baseball caps and T-shirts denoted their state of origin, their church or their adherence to the US Tea Party movement.

But the surprising number of empty seats belied the organisers’ claims that demand for tickets had outstripped availability at the 2,000-capacity Davidson Centre.

Ami Kaufman writes:

After months of preparations, hours of television and radio talk all geared up for the big day, tons of merchandise manufactured, Glenn Beck could just about muster over a thousand people at his “Restoring Courage” last night in Jerusalem.

I can’t help but think that this flop might be a lethal blow for this guy. After getting kicked out of FOX and then his decision to veer even farther to the right by partnering up with the likes of Pastor John Hagee, Beck seems to have lost any chance whatsoever to get back into mainstream America like he was just months ago.

Even the event a few days earlier in Caesarea had more umph in it than this one. In fact, he barely even cried in this one. I think he might have been shedding the real tears back stage.