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Showing posts with label Israel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israel. Show all posts

Monday, February 26, 2018

Jerusalem's Church of Holy Sepulchre Shuts Indefinitely Amid Fierce Row with Israel

Jerusalem's famous Church of the Holy Sepulchre has shut indefinitely in an unprecedented move amid a fierce row with the Israeli government.

The church is the holiest site in Christianity and is held to contain the two sites where Jesus was crucified then buried and resurrected.

It is highly unusual for the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic denominations, who all share custody of the church, to agree to a stance as dramatic as closing the whole site and tensions between denominations often run high over control of its various chapels and compartments.

But the separate leaders issued a joint statement saying the move was 'in protest at persistent moves to intimidate Christians and discriminate against churches in the Holy Land'.

Worshippers hold candles as they take part in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The shock move comes amid a tense fallout with the Israeli government over a bill that would give the Israeli government power to confiscate church property. The 'Bill of Church Lands', sponsored by Israeli settler groups and signed by 40 members of Israel's Knesset, was branded 'discriminatory and racist' as well as 'abhorrent' in the strongly worded statement signed by Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land and Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem.

It amounts to a 'systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land', the church leaders said in a statement on Sunday.

Read more at Christianity Today >> 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Loyalty of Israel's True Friend

By Melanie Phillips

In New York last week, I was talking to American Jews anxious about the very difficult relationship between President Obama and Israel's newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We wait to see whether the Obama administration will carry out its post-election threat to throw Israel under the bus if the declaration of a Palestine state comes to a UN vote. The idea, however, that the nation of America would sever its relationship with Israel is a very different matter. For Israel has a special place in America's heart.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Blank Check For War on Iran

By Patrick J. Buchanan

As we approach the centennial of World War I, we will read much of the blunders that produced that tragedy of Western civilization.

Among them will be the “blank check” Kaiser Wilhelm II gave to Vienna after the assassination by a Serb terrorist of the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand.

If you decide to punish the Serbs, said the Kaiser, we are with you.

After dithering for weeks, Austria shelled Belgrade. Within a week, Germany and Austria were at war with Russia, France and Great Britain.

Today the Senate is about to vote Israel a virtual blank check — for war on Iran. Reads Senate bill S.1881:
If Israel is “compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” the United States “should stand with Israel and provide … diplomatic, military and economic support to the Government of Israel in the defense of its territory, people and existence.”
Inserted in that call for U.S. military action to support an Israeli strike on Iran, S.1881 says that, in doing so, we should follow our laws and constitutional procedures.

Nevertheless, this bill virtually hands over the decision on war to Bibi Netanyahu who is on record saying: “This is 1938. Iran is Germany.”

Is this the man we want deciding whether America fights her fifth war in a generation in the Mideast? Do we really want to outsource the decision on war in the Persian Gulf, the gas station of the world, to a Likud regime whose leaders routinely compare Iran to Nazi Germany?

The bill repeatedly asserts that Iran has a “nuclear weapons program.”

Yet in both 2007 and 2011, U.S. intelligence declared “with high confidence” that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.

Where is the Senate’s evidence for its claim? Why has Director of National Intelligence James Clapper not been called to testify as to whether Tehran has made the decision to go for a bomb?

Why are the American people being kept in the dark?

Are we being as misled, deceived and lied to about Iran’s “weapons of mass destruction,” as we were about Iraq’s?

The bill says that in a final deal Iran must give up all enrichment of uranium. However, we have already been put on notice by President Hassan Rouhani that this is an ultimatum Iran cannot accept.

Even the reformers of Iran’s Green Revolution of 2009 back their country’s right to a peaceful nuclear program including enrichment.

Senate bill S.1881 imposes new sanctions if Iran fails to live up to the interim agreement or fails to come to a final agreement in six months.

Yet the Senate knows that Iran has warned that if new sanctions are voted during negotiations, they will walk away from the table.

Why is the Senate risking, or even inviting, a blowup in these talks?

When the interim agreement was reached, it was denounced by neocons as “worse than Munich.” Now the War Party piously contends this Senate bill is simply an “insurance policy” to ensure that the terms of the deal are met and a final deal reached.

It is nothing of the sort. This bill is a project of AIPAC, the Israeli lobby, designed to sabotage and scuttle the Geneva talks by telling Tehran: Either capitulate and dismantle all your enrichment facilities, or face more severe sanctions which will put us on the road to war.

What terrifies AIPAC and Bibi is not an American war on Iran, but an American rapprochement with Iran.

Who are the leaders of the push for S.1881? Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez, the biggest recipients of AIPAC campaign cash.

Last weekend, the Obama National Security Council finally belled the cat with a blunt statement by spokesperson Bernadette Meehan:
“If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action [against Iran], they should be up front with the American public and say so.”
Exactly. For whether or not all these senators understand what they are doing, this is where their bill points — to a scuttling of the Geneva talks and a return to the sanctions road, at the end of which lies a U.S. war with Iran.

A majority of Democratic senators have thus far bravely bucked AIPAC and declined to co-sponsor S.1881. However, all but two Republican senators have signed on.

If, after Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the GOP has once again caught the war fever, the party should be quarantined from the White House for another four years.

Press Secretary Jay Carney says that if S.1881 passes, Obama will veto it. The president should tell Congress that not only will he veto it, but that if Israel decides on its own to attack Iran, Israel will be on its own in the subsequent war.

Obama should order U.S. intelligence to tell us the truth.

Is Iran truly hell-bent on acquiring a nuclear bomb? Does Iran have a nuclear bomb program? If so, when did Tehran make that decision?

Or are we being lied into war again?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

President Obama's Marxist "Humanitarians" Help Provoke Attack On Israeli Forces

The Traditional Values Coalition

CNN, MSNBC and the rest of the media have spent a lot of wattage on the "peace flotilla" which claimed to be bringing aid to people in Gaza over the objections of Israel. Israel had stopped, at least, two ships earlier this year carrying guns and missiles to Gaza and their insistence that all ships should be inspected and searched was very reasonable.

The multi-talented Caroline Glick produced a music video "We Con the World!" on all of the lies and distortions involved in the "humanitarian" flotilla to Gaza coupled with the Israel Defense Force (IDF) footage of the terrorist peaceniks gathering weapons to use against the Israeli boarding party.

Benjamin Netanyahu and the people of Israel need to be supported by our voices and by our prayers for the brave stand they have taken in defense of free and civilized people everywhere. Israel is surrounded by terrorists yet the rest of the world, including our own "transparent" President Obama, just watches.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is the leader of the free world while Barack Obama is trying to decide between golf or Gulf -- another round of golf or going down to the Gulf to get photographed with more oil-covered sea gulls. Obama is morphing into bumbling Jimmy Carter every hour of every day while Netanyahu is leading and taking on the stature of Reagan and Churchill.

God bless and protect Israel and God help America during this bleak and uncertain hour.

Few reports have focused on the two organizations involved in the flotilla. They are the IHH (Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief [Insani Yardim Vakfi]), billed as a "charity" group from Turkey and Free Gaza, an organization of leftist radicals who wish to foment violence against Israel.

The IHH is a front group with a history of supplying weapons to Islamic terrorist groups in the region. Even the French recognize this group as a front for terrorists.

Free Gaza was founded in 2008 to agitate for Islamists in the Gaza Strip. Involved in the founding of this were former Weather Underground domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dorhn, and Jodie Evans, a founder of Code Pink , an anti-military and anti-American organization. Code Pink routinely pickets military recruitment centers, barges into congressional hearings, and does whatever it can to subvert our efforts against Islamic terrorism around the world.

President Obama began his political career in the living room of Ayers and Dohrn . Ayers had been involved in the bombing of the Pentagon and a New York City police department in the 1970s during the Vietnam War. Both had gone underground for years to avoid capture for their terrorist activities.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators and ask that they strongly support the efforts by Israel to protect themselves from Islamic terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip. Every nation has the inherent right to protect itself from invasion or attack by enemies.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Obama's Charm Offensive Masks Israel Policy Change

"So we end up with a tale of two Obama personas -- the one that charms Jews at a gala White House event and the other that kicks them in the rear as they leave the premises.

From American Thinker

By Leo Rennert

The two contrasting faces of President Obama in his relations with Israel and American Jews were on full display this week.

On Thursday, Obama hosted some 250 Jewish luminaries and high-achievers at an elaborate White House reception to mark Jewish Heritage Month. The administration pulled out all the stops to make this a memorable, first-ever event.

It gave Obama another chance to pump up his charm offensive to persuade Jews who voted overwhelmingly for him to remain lined up behind him. The President spoke about the "unbreakable Israeli-U.S." alliance and pulled out his oratorical skills to dispel any concern that his administration might be going wobbly on Israel.

But even as Jewish leaders basked in the glow of the White House, the president's diplomatic team was busy in New York cutting a nuclear deal at the UN with Egypt and other Arab states that stabs Israel in the back.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jews Move to Halt Spitting at Christians in Jerusalem

From The National Catholic Reporter
By John L. Allen, Jr.

Globally speaking, the most serious new tension dividing Jews and Catholics is Pope Benedict XVI’s decision just before Christmas to advance the sainthood cause of Pius XII, the wartime pontiff whose alleged “silence” on the Holocaust has long been a subject of polarizing historical debate.

On the ground in Jerusalem, however, Jewish/Christian animus has a much more prosaic cause: Spitting.

Recently, the Jerusalem Post carried a piece quoting Rabbi David Rosen, a veteran of Catholic/Jewish dialogue, acknowledging that incidents of ultra-Orthodox Jews spitting at priests, nuns and other Christian clergy is “a part of life” in Jerusalem. Such incidents have been occurring for the last twenty years and are now on the rise, according to the story, although they appear to be limited to Jerusalem.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Obama Is Pushing Israel Toward War

President Obama can't outsource matters of war and peace to another state.

From The Wall Street Journal
Commentary By Bret Stephens

vents are fast pushing Israel toward a pre-emptive military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities,
probably by next spring. That strike could well fail. Or it could succeed at the price of oil at $300 a barrel, a Middle East war, and American servicemen caught in between. So why is the Obama administration doing everything it can to speed the war process along?

At July's G-8 summit in Italy, Iran was given a September deadline to start negotiations over its nuclear programs. Last week, Iran gave its answer: No.

Instead, what Tehran offered was a five-page document that was the diplomatic equivalent of a giant kiss-off. It begins by lamenting the "ungodly ways of thinking prevailing in global relations" and proceeds to offer comprehensive talks on a variety of subjects: democracy, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, "respect for the rights of nations," and other areas where Iran is a paragon. Conspicuously absent from the document is any mention of Iran's nuclear program, now at the so-called breakout point, which both Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his boss Ali Khamenei insist is not up for discussion.

What's an American president to do in the face of this nonstarter of a document? What else, but pretend it isn't a nonstarter. Talks begin Oct. 1.

All this only helps persuade Israel's skittish leadership that when President Obama calls a nuclear-armed Iran "unacceptable," he means it approximately in the same way a parent does when fecklessly reprimanding his misbehaving teenager. That impression is strengthened by Mr. Obama's decision to drop Iran from the agenda when he chairs a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 24; by Defense Secretary Robert Gates publicly opposing military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities; and by Russia's announcement that it will not support any further sanctions on Iran.

In sum, the conclusion among Israelis is that the Obama administration won't lift a finger to stop Iran, much less will the "international community." So Israel has pursued a different strategy, in effect seeking to goad the U.S. into stopping, or at least delaying, an Israeli attack by imposing stiff sanctions and perhaps even launching military strikes of its own.

Thus, unlike Israel's air strike against Iraq's reactor in 1981 or Syria's in 2007, both of which were planned in the utmost secrecy, the Israelis have gone out of their way to advertise their fears, purposes and capabilities. They have sent warships through the Suez Canal in broad daylight and conducted widely publicized air-combat exercises at long range. They have also been unusually forthcoming in their briefings with reporters, expressing confidence at every turn that Israel can get the job done.

The problem, however, is that the administration isn't taking the bait, and one has to wonder why. Perhaps it thinks its diplomacy will work, or that it has the luxury of time, or that it can talk the Israelis out of attacking. Alternatively, it might actually want Israel to attack without inviting the perception that it has colluded with it. Or maybe it isn't really paying attention.

But Israel is paying attention. And the longer the U.S. delays playing hardball with Iran, the sooner Israel is likely to strike. A report published today by the Bipartisan Policy Center, and signed by Democrat Chuck Robb, Republican Dan Coats, and retired Gen. Charles Ward, notes that by next year Iran will "be able to produce a weapon's worth of highly enriched uranium . . . in less than two months." No less critical in determining Israel's timetable is the anticipated delivery to Iran of Russian S-300 anti-aircraft batteries: Israel will almost certainly strike before those deliveries are made, no matter whether an Iranian bomb is two months or two years away.

Such a strike may well be in Israel's best interests, though that depends entirely on whether the strike succeeds. It is certainly in America's supreme interest that Iran not acquire a genuine nuclear capability, whether of the actual or break-out variety. That goes also for the Middle East generally, which doesn't need the nuclear arms race an Iranian capability would inevitably provoke.

Then again, it is not in the U.S. interest that Israel be the instrument of Iran's disarmament. For starters, its ability to do so is iffy: Israeli strategists are quietly putting it about that even a successful attack may have to be repeated a few years down the road as Iran reconstitutes its capacity. For another thing, Iran could respond to such a strike not only against Israel itself, but also U.S targets in Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

But most importantly, it is an abdication of a superpower's responsibility to outsource matters of war and peace to another state, however closely allied. President Obama has now ceded the driver's seat on Iran policy to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He would do better to take the wheel again, keeping in mind that Iran is beyond the reach of his eloquence, and keeping in mind, too, that very useful Roman adage, Si vis pacem, para bellum.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Israeli Pro-Life Organization Warns of Demographic Threat to Nation's Survival

From LifeSiteNews
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

EFRAT, an Israeli pro-life organization that works with women contemplating abortion by providing emotional and material support, is warning that the demographic implications of abortion in the nation are the greatest danger to Israel today.

"Israel has lost more than one and a half million Jewish children to abortion since 1948. In a country of about 5.5 million Jews this number has great demographic significance. Imagine how much stronger Israel would have been today with one million more Jews," a statement from Efrat says.

Over 50,000 abortions are performed yearly in Israel, according to Dr. Eli Schussheim, director of Efrat.

"The Arab birthrate is about double the Jewish birth rate of 2.3. It is forecasted that the Arabs will be the majority in Israel by the year 2020," Dr. Schussheim said.

An article in the Jerusalem Post says that the demographic threat is both an external and internal problem: "nearly four million Palestinians over whom we have no wish to rule, and a rapidly growing and increasingly irredentist Israeli Arab population."

"Arabs constitute 20 percent of the population," the article explains, "and the Arab population is much younger than the Jewish population - half of the Israeli Arabs are under 18; only one-third of the Jews are - and has a birthrate twice that of the Jewish population."

Pointing to the demographic collapse of ethnic Europeans in the face of rising growth rates of Muslin families in the EU, the Jerusalem Post warns, "Demographically, Israel's situation is even worse than that of Western Europe, which, at current rates of growth, will have a Muslim majority by the end of the 21-century."

An interesting comparison is made by Efrat that in an average week in Israel, nine people are killed in road accidents, one Israeli is murdered by terrorists, but over 900 babies are lost to abortion, mainly due to economic concerns.

Dr. Schussheim says that over 25,000 mothers have been helped to bring their children to birth by Efrat over the years by the simple method of providing economic and emotional support to women considering abortion because of financial reasons.

Mothers are offered infant equipment and necessities, grocery vouchers for six months prior to birth and six months thereafter, and personal social and emotional support by one of 3000 Efrat volunteers.

"In the over 25,000 cases Efrat has supported over the past 30 years, I have yet to meet the first mother who told me she is sorry to have her child alive and well in her home," Dr. Schussheim said.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Obama 'Like Romans Who Destroyed Jewish Temples'

Jews read Lamentations at U.S. consulate on religion's saddest day

Jewish protesters at U.S. consulate in Jerusalem (WND photo by Gemma Blech)

From WorldNetDaily
By Aaron Klein

arking the saddest day on the Jewish calendar,
about a thousand Jewish protesters today read the biblical book of Lamentations in front of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to protest against the Obama ad
ministration's demand to freeze Jewish construction in eastern sections of the city.

Tonight marks the fasting day of Tisha B'Av, or the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. It commemorates a series of tragedies that befell the Jewish people all on the same day, most significantly the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, which occurred about 656 years apart on the same day. Jewish tradition calls for the reading of Lamentations.

"The Obama administration is following in the footsteps of Rome. He is trying to do what the Romans did, passing anti-Jewish decrees at the time of the destruction of the Temple," Nadia Matar, the protest organizer, told WND.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

European Left Is More Dangerous for Jews than the European Right

Jewish groups in Europe and the United States have reacted with alarm to the gains made by far-right political parties in the recent elections for European Parliament. Right-wing and nationalist parties posted significant victories in Austria, Britain, Denmark, Hungary, Romania and the Netherlands in four days of voting that ended on June 7.

The Paris-based European Jewish Congress (EJC), an umbrella organization for Jewish communities in Europe, said: “As we assess the results of this week’s elections, one disturbing trend has already crystallized; the gains made by extreme-right groups is a Europe-wide phenomenon. The success of the far-right and nationalistic parties that won seats in the elections on the basis of racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic platforms points to a clear erosion of tolerance and a clarion call to European officials to immediately engage in intercultural dialogue. The success of such rabid groups as The Freedom Party in the Netherlands, the Freedom Party in Austria (FPO), the Danish People’s Party, the British National Party, and Jobbik in Hungary, among others, will sadly only serve to embolden those who espouse the dangerous concepts of extreme nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.”

The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it was “deeply distressing that the blatantly anti-Semitic parties received so many votes,” and called on European leaders to “ensure that anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry never again gain a foothold in Europe…. It is imperative that European leaders do not remain silent, but speak out and reject the hateful and bigoted worldview of parties of the far-right and their supporters.”

The Geneva-based World Jewish Congress (WJC) said: “Far-right parties and extremists have made gains across Europe amid protest votes and low turnout for the European Parliament (EP) elections. The elections were held in all 27 EU member states from Thursday to Sunday last week. Support for centre-Left parties and governments collapsed across the EU as fringe parties, picked up protest votes.”

Although these and other Jewish groups are not alone in their concerns about rising anti-Semitism in Europe, their fear of the far right often obscures the indisputable fact that some of the greatest threats to Jews (and Israel) in contemporary Europe stem from the left side of the political aisle. Indeed, it is no big secret that all across the European continent, left-wing intellectuals are playing a crucial role in making anti-Semitism seem respectable. Of course, they are (usually) careful to promote their hatred of Jews only indirectly. Instead, modern anti-Semitism is typically disguised as anti-Zionism and an obsession with Palestinian victimhood.

European Judeophobia often takes on new life forms such as anti-Semitic boycott campaigns and anti-Israel demonstrations, the growing intensity of which the European left not only overlooks or obscures but often actively supports. It is transmitted by Europe’s left-leaning mass media, which not only believes that the systematic demonization of Israel promotes the postmodern and postnational ideological worldview of Europe’s governing class, but also appeases the wrath of Europe’s Muslim immigrants, lest they expose the myth of European socialist multicultural utopia.

As the European left intensifies its common cause with the Palestinian movement, Islam itself has emerged as a major threat to Jewish life in Europe. Although definitive statistics are scarce, most of the acts of violence against Jews and Jewish institutions in Europe in recent years seem to be perpetrated by Muslim extremists. Indeed, a 2003 report published by European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) attributed the increase in anti-Semitic violence in Europe mainly to Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups. But those findings were so embarrassing that European left-wing elites quashed the report and commissioned another one. A subsequent EUMC report, which used a more politically correct research methodology, concluded that the “noticeable rise in reported anti-Semitic incidents” was the fault of “young, white Europeans incited by traditional right-wing extremist groups.”

In any case, right-wing groups such as Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and the Danish People’s Party, far from being the purveyors of “rabid” racism and anti-Semitism that the EJC claims, are some of the best allies that Jews (and Israel) will find in Europe today. In fact, the Danish People’s Party is a strong supporter of Israel as well as the US-led War on Terrorism, of which Israel is a major beneficiary. It has called for stronger sanctions against totalitarian regimes and dictatorships, especially those in the Islamic world. It has also supported academic grants for specific research into terrorism and Islamism. For his part, Wilders calls himself a true friend of Israel. During a recent visit to Jerusalem, Wilders said: “We see Christians and Jews as part of one culture. When I’m here I’m with my people, my country, my values. I feel more at home here than in many other European countries. Israel’s a democracy – it’s everything we stand for.”

Wilders and a growing number of other Europeans understand the threat that Islam poses to Europe and to the Western world. They are also taking a stand against an European leftwing political class that despises its Judeo-Christian heritage so much that it has become an undiscerning apologist for Islam. Unfortunately, the Islamization of Europe, which is being promoted by an intolerant leftwing multicultural dogma that gives immigrants more rights than natives, is one of the main factors contributing to the alarming rise of truly troublesome extremist groups like the Hungarian Jobbik party.

The European political right is far more nuanced and complex than catch-all labels such as “far right” or “extreme right” imply. Whereas right-wing groups in Denmark and Holland, animated by common sense, are pushing back against a European multicultural movement that has run amok and has pushed Western Civilization to the edge of the abyss, other groups like those in Austria, Hungary and Romania, animated by ignorance, are promoting hatred against any and all immigrants just for the sake of it. It is a world of difference.

The knee-jerk tendency to stereotype the European right-wing as anti-Semitic obscures the fact that, with few exceptions, the only genuine European supporters of Jews and Israel are on the political right-wing. Indeed, in the bigger scheme of things, Jews have much more to fear from the European left than they do from the European far right.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estrat├ęgicos / Strategic Studies Group

Thursday, May 14, 2009

ISRAEL: Atittudes Toward Christians

From Los Angeles Times, "Babylon & Beyond"
By Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem

Jewish Israelis are very diverse. In a nation whose immigrants come from countries and cultures far and wide, pluralism often refers to tolerance among different cultural groups of Jews.

But diversity discourse in Israel differs considerably when it comes to interaction with non-Jewish groups. Rival historic, religious and national narratives make real diversity a tough principle to practice.

Most Christians in Israel are Arabs, a minority within a minority squeezed between different layers of conflict. Christians account for 2.1% of the population. Israel's non-Arab Christians are mainly immigrants from the former Soviet Union, foreign workers, resident clergy and even Catholic Jews. And Jewish Israelis don't quite know how to perceive any of them -- for cultural, national and religious reasons.

Fifty-two percent of Jewish Israelis have no Christian friends or acquaintances, but almost 100% of them have opinions about them. A recent poll surveyed attitudes among the adult Jewish population toward Christians, Christianity and the Christian presence in Israel. The results of the survey, carried out by the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations (JCJCR) and the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies (JIIS), shed light on how Jewish Israelis perceive Christians and what they know about them, or think they do know.

Generally, most answers showed that the higher the level of religious observance, the more negative the attitude toward Christians. Such attitudes also were seen the lower the level of age, income and education. The following numbers mostly refer to the overall sample, but keep in mind the observance breakdown of the respondents: 23% Orthodox, 24% traditional and 53% secular.
* 54% of the Jewish population think it is necessary to teach about Christianity in schools, including 25% of Orthodox Jews. But only 37% believe it's necessary to teach about the New Testament.

* 42% believe Christianity is closer to Judaism than Islam. A total of 32% believe Islam is closer. The breakdown of religious observance is interesting here, with 49% of Orthodox Jews believing Islam is closer and only 17% believing that Christianity is. But 54% of secular Jews believe Christianity is closer and 22% that Islam is.

* 41% agreed very much or largely with the claim that "Christianity is an idolatrous religion," including 24% of secular and 78% of Orthodox Jews.

* 37% believe it is forbidden for a Jew to enter a church, with the predictable observance differential. Still, the percentage of people who say they do not enter churches in practice is lower (29%) than those who believe it's forbidden.

* 23% are greatly or significantly bothered when meeting in the street a Christian wearing a cross, including 8% of secular respondents and 60% of Orthodox Jews. This was an issue during the papal visit: Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall, had asked that the pope remove or at least cover his cross when visiting the site. He didn't. Rabinowitz said he felt the same way about a Jew entering a church with a prayer shawl and phylacteries. Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar responded by wearing a chain with a pendant depicting the tablets of the Ten Commandments when he met the pope Tuesday.

* And here's one that says a lot: 46% do not agree that Jerusalem is a central city for the Christian world, including 31% of secular and 67% of Orthodox Jews.

* 21% agree with the claim that all or most Christians want to convert Jews to Christianity, including 14% of secular and 43% of Orthodox Jews.

* 39% believe the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church to Judaism and Jews is positive. 58% believe there has been a change for the better in the church's attitude toward Jews in the last 50 years. Nearly 20% had no opinion on this one.

* 55% say it is acceptable for Jewish organizations to receive financial assistance from Christian religious bodies, including 70% of secular and 20% of Orthodox Jews. 41% of the population said it was unacceptable.

* So, should Israel allow churches to operate in Israel? 39% say yes -- but that they shouldn't be helped in any way. 34% say they should be assured freedom of religion and helped like any other religious institution, while 20% believe their activities should be restricted as much as possible.

* And here's one thing most agree on: 71% say Israel should not permit Christian bodies to purchase property in Jerusalem for building new churches.

* 45% believe the Arab Christians have a positive attitude toward the state; 45% believe their attitude is negative. 39% consider them loyal to the state.

* 56% don't think Israel needs to take any action on Christian emigration from the country; 9% thought Israel should do something to stop it and 31% say that the state should encourage it.

Briefing reporters before the pope's visit, JCJCR director Daniel Rossing stressed the importance of inter-religious dialogue for society but also for the peace process. One of the flaws of the process, he said, was that the mainly secular actors assumed that to succeed, religion needed to be removed from the picture. Rossing believes this creates a vacuum that invites extremists to fill it.

On Christian emigration, Rossing said it was important that Christians continue to be a vibrant community and that "this not become a Disneyland of holy places without a living community. They can serve as a bridge and everyone stands to lose if they disappear from here."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Obama's Atomic Umbrella: U.S. Nuclear Strike If Iran Nukes Israel

From Haaretz
By Aluf Benn

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's administration will offer Israel a "nuclear umbrella" against the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran, a well-placed American source said earlier this week. The source, who is close to the new administration, said the U.S. will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Israel Preparing Options for Iran Strike

The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel Defense Forces are drawing up plans "for a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities that do not include coordination with the United States." An Israeli Defense Ministry official states that "while it is always better to coordinate," they are also planning for action independent of the United States. The full story is here.