CMEP Bulletin: Israel Hosts U.S. Christian Journalists
U.S. Christian Press Finds Friends in Israel [CBS News]
“The government this week is hosting a first-of-its-kind summit for Christian journalists, featuring softball questions, mutual admiration and a welcome respite for embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. … The summit’s agenda includes meetings with top Israeli politicians, most from the nationalist side. Palestinian speakers barely appear on the agenda. Sessions include discussions on archaeology and Jewish-Christian relations, but also ‘radical Islam’ and alleged media bias, legal ‘warfare’ and Palestinian ‘incitement’ against Israel. While Israel’s West Bank settlements are largely vilified in the West, participants are offered a chance to visit one,” according to CBS News.
As Bethlehem’s Mayor, I Ask: Why Are U.S. Christians Celebrating Israeli Policies Strangling Jesus’ Birthplace? [Haaretz]
Anton Salman, a Palestinian Christian and the Mayor of Bethlehem, writes, “There are no words to describe the incarceration of Jesus’ birthplace, Bethlehem. It is enclosed by 18 illegal Israeli settlements, segregated road networks and infrastructures. Bethlehem’s 2,000-year-old contiguity with Jerusalem has been cut by a network of Israeli settlements and annexation, which also prevents the town from ever expanding further. … Bethlehem is an example of what 50 years of Israeli occupation have meant for Palestine and Palestinians in general, and to the Christians of the Holy Land in particular. Ironically, in a few days, significant numbers of Christian evangelicals, mainly from the U.S., will come to celebrate those same Israeli policies strangling the birthplace of Jesus Christ. … The conference, to be held in an Israeli hotel built on Palestinian, illegally confiscated land in occupied East Jerusalem, includes a tour in support of the illegal wall which surrounds Bethlehem. They will also be taken to the lands of Beit Jala, to visit the illegal settlement of Gilo, thus supporting Israel’s destruction of the Cremisan Valley and the dispossession of dozens of Palestinian Christian families.”
Middle East’s Samaritans link Muslims and Jews [Religion News Service]
“During the recent Sukkot holiday, Yousef Sadaka HaCohen, a Samaritan priest, greeted guests eager to soak up the Samaritans’ unique holiday traditions. Among those guests were several Israeli and Palestinian officials, who, on the rare occasions they get together these days, usually meet to coordinate security or air grievances. ‘During our holidays, officials from the Palestinian Authority and Israeli commanders accept our invitation. They eat together, even laugh together. You would never know they are enemies,’ HaCohen said with a sparkle in his eyes. ‘We are not Jewish and we are not Muslim, but in many ways we are the bridge between the two.’ … Today’s  Samaritans live in two groups, separated not only by geography but culture. About 350 live under Palestinian rule on Mount Gerizim, the biblical mountain where, they say, Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. The other group took root near Tel Aviv decades ago, after war prevented Samaritans working in Israel from returning to their West Bank homes,” according to Religion News Service.