Century Marks

Century Marks

Hot Seat

No one can question Reu­ven (Ruvi) Rivlin’s commitment to Zion­ism. He opposes a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; and he sees nothing wrong with continued Jewish settlement of the West Bank, since he thinks the land belongs to Israel anyway. Now that he’s become president of Israel, a largely ceremonial post chosen by the Knesset, he is outspoken in his criticism of racism and jingoism in Israeli politics and in support of Palestinian rights. He even visited an Arab village to apologize for a massacre of 48 Palestinians in 1956 and made an antibullying video with a Palestinian boy who had been bullied. Rivlin himself has been vilified and called a “lying little Jew.” Photo­shopped pictures of him wearing a red kaffiyeh, the Palestinian head scarf, are circulating on the Internet (New Yorker, November 17).

Few vacancies

The American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature have issued a jobs report for the 2013–14 academic year. Only 452 positions were listed with them, down from 548 the year before. In 2007–08, just before the economic downturn, there were 652 listings (Inside Higher Ed, November 12).

Military intelligence

The Military Advisory Board, representing all branches of the military, has issued a study about the national security implications of global warming. The report says that “climate change impacts are already accelerating instability in vulnerable areas of the world and are serving as catalysts for conflict.” The board calls for “coordinated and well-executed actions to limit heat-trapping gases and increase resilience to help prevent and protect against the worst projected climate change impacts” (Forbes, November 14).

Toned down

Evangelical leaders are softening their tone in opposition to same-sex marriage. They recognize that the public is accepting same-sex marriage, so they’ve shifted their focus to protecting religious rights. A generational shift may also be contributing: according to a 2014 Public Religion Research Institute poll, 70 percent of all evangelicals oppose gay marriage, but 43 percent of white evangelical millennials support it (CNN, November 16).

Latest hoax?

In the new book The Lost Gospel, Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici and York University professor Barrie Wilson claim that Jesus was secretly married to Mary Magdalene and had sexual relations as well as a family. The book is purportedly based on the decoding of a 1,450-year-old manuscript that’s been in the British Library since 1847. Nineteenth-century scholars had decided the document was insignificant. The text features a figure named Joseph who has characteristics similar to Jesus. “It sounds like the deepest bilge,” says Oxford historian Diar­maid MacCulloch (Washington Post, November 10).