A Tale of Two Bible Museums—and of Anti-Religious Bigotry

New York’s Museum of Biblical Art is set to close its doors. The reason? Despite its avowedly secular approach to the Bible, it proved to be “too religious” for most donors. Meanwhile, the Green family, proprietors of the Hobby Lobby chain, is planning a massive Bible museum in Washington DC that enthusiastically embraces both religious and secular appreciation for the sacred text. Naomi Schaefer Riley writes:

As Richard Townsend, the Museum of Biblical Art’s director, explained, the museum has tried “to move out of the shadow of [its explicitly Christian founders], but I think that, try as we might, there was brand confusion.” The implication, of course, is that you must be one brand or the other—the kind of person who thinks the Bible is a great book that has inspired beautiful literature and art or the kind who thinks the Bible contains Truth. Not both. . . .

[By contrast, although] the Green family is mostly Protestant, their museum has found partners with Jewish groups, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and even the Vatican. And they have welcomed the input of scholars with no religious background at all.

The Greens have been regularly mocked for their position that their business should reflect their values. . . . The Museum of the Bible will reflect their values as well. But as it turns out, the Greens seem to be much more tolerant and welcoming of non-believers than the secular elite seems to be of them.

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Read more at New York Post

More about: Bible, Ecumenicism, Hobby Lobby, Museums, Religion & Holidays, Religious art, Secularism

 

Jerusalem’s Economic Crisis, Its Arabs, and Its Future

Oct. 18 2018

The population of Israel’s capital city is 38-percent Arab, making Arab eastern Jerusalem the largest Arab community in the country. Connected to this fact is Jerusalem’s 46-percent poverty rate—the highest of any Israeli municipality. The city’s economic condition stems in part from its large ultra-Orthodox population, but there is also rampant poverty among its Arab residents, whose legal status is different from that of both Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Jerusalem’s Arab inhabitants are not Israeli citizens—in part because Palestinian society views acceptance of Israeli citizenship, [available to any Arab Jerusalemite who desires it], as acceptance of Israeli claims of sovereignty over the city, and in part because Israel is not eager to accept them, even as it formally views itself as having annexed the area. Nevertheless, they have a form of permanent residency that, unlike West Bank Palestinians, allows them unimpeded access to the rest of Israel. . . .

There are good reasons for this poverty among eastern Jerusalem’s Arabs, rooted in the political trap that has ensnared the Arab half of the city and with it the rest of the city as well. Right-wing Israeli political leaders have avoided investing in Arab eastern Jerusalem, fearing that such investments would increase the flow of Palestinians into the city. Left-wing leaders have done the same on the grounds that the Arab half would be given away in a future peace deal.

Meanwhile, eastern Jerusalem’s complicated situation, suspended between the Israeli and Palestinian worlds, means residents cannot take full advantage of their access to the Israeli economy. For example, while most Arab women elsewhere in Israel learn usable Hebrew in school, most Arab schools in eastern Jerusalem teach from the Palestinian curriculum, which does not offer students the Hebrew they will need to find work in the western half of the city. . . .

It is not unreasonable to argue that Jerusalem cannot really be divided, not for political reasons but for economic ones. If Jerusalem remains a solely Israeli capital, it will have to integrate better its disparate parts and massively develop its weaker communities if it hopes ever to become solvent and prosperous. Arabs must be able to find more and better work in Jewish Jerusalem—and in Arab Jerusalem, too. Conversely, if the city is divided into two capitals, that of a Jewish state and that of a Palestinian one, that won’t change the underlying economic reality that its prosperity, its capacity to accommodate tourism and develop efficient infrastructure, and its ability to ensure access for all religions to their many holy sites, will still require a unified urban space.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli economy, Jerusalem