January 14 – 1997

Jerusalem, Jan. 14 1997



Ma’ariv, Dec. 17 1996


An angry crowd of orthodox youth mobbed a Bnei-Brak apartment house on Saturday afternoon, throwing rocks and smashing the windows of a flat occupied by a 21 year old Armenian immigrant suspected of being a missionary. The victim called the police, who evacuated him and advised him not to return. That evening, he called the apartment from a friend’s house, and was alarmed at hearing a busy signal. He notified the police, who escorted him home, only to find that the flat and its contents had been utterly destroyed: doors, windows and furniture smashed, appliances broken and possessions strewn all over the floor.

The victim had been threatened by orthodox “visitors” that if he didn’t leave they would destroy his home, a threat they duly carried out. Neighbors claim that he was a missionary, and that since he “didn’t learn the easy way, he had to learn the hard way.”



Ma’ariv, Yediot Aharonot and Jerusalem Radio, Dec. 22 1996


The Israeli Prime Ministers’ choice of au pair for his children has become an item of national interest, thanks to a member of Knesset from the opposition Labor party. MK Pinnes claims to have received information from a Dutch journalist about the “Near East Monastery,” a radical Christian sect whose members believe that Jewish rule in the Holy Land will expedite Jesus’ second coming. He goes on to say that the PM has come under the influence of extremist Christian groups, and that he should fire the au pair. The PM’s office stated that the matter does not deserve comment.



Kol Ha’Ir, Dec.13; Ha’Aretz, Dec.20,24; Yediot Aharonot, Dec.20,23; Ma’ariv, Dec.22; Israel Radio Dec.20 1996


The Dean of the Hebrew University’s Law Faculty gave permission for Christian students at the school to hold a Christmas party complete with a decorated tree. The move drew an angry response from Education Minister Zvulun Hammer of the National Religious Party, who said that allowing the Christmas tree was a dangerous move that would offend the sensibilities of many Israelis. To prove him wrong, the media approved the freedom of religion and equality shown by the school to its Christian students, calling Hammer’s response itself a dangerous precedent for those who would curtail the freedom of Jews living in the gentile Diaspora.



Jerusalem Radio, Dec.24 1996


In this interview, Prof. Hillel Shoval, head of the “Hemdat” (Hebrew acronym for Freedom of Science, Religion and Culture) organization, responds to Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Rabbi Haim Miller’s condemnation of the tradition of distributing Christmas trees to local Christian residents.

Prof. Shoval: “I see a dire threat to the independence of Jerusalem in Rabbi Miller’s opposition to giving trees to the Christian population. The declaration of independence obligates Israel to treat all religions honorably and equally. If the Orthodox fanatics want to take away a service offered for years to Christian citizens, this will endanger the future of Jerusalem. Some Christians demand international rule for the city, and one of their  arguments is that they can’t trust the Jews to give equal rights to Christians. Rabbi Miller and the Orthodox fanatics are playing into the hands of the enemies of Israel and giving them ammunition.”



Itton Tel-Aviv, Itton Yerushalayim Dec.13 1996, by Menahem Ben


These twin articles in the literature section reveal an openness to the teachings of Jesus combined with a typically Jewish rejection of him as Messiah. In the first, the author explains that Jesus can’t possibly be Messiah because the Messianic age has obviously not arrived yet, but despite this fact he finds Jesus and his teachings interesting and even inspiring. He understands the New Covenant to be one which releases us from observing the law physically, while understanding and applying its precepts spiritually. He even confides that he circumcised his sons verbally, not with a knife, because the physical act of circumcision is only a foreshadowing of the real, and more important, circumcision of our hearts.

In the second article, the author rails against the attempt by some lawmakers to censor and prohibit any literature having to do with Jesus and Christianity. He quotes the writings of a few Israeli authors in praise of Jesus, and questions whether these, too, would be banned as “missionary.” In conclusion, he asks what the difference is between the offer of freedom in Jesus presented in the “Shalom” booklet, and the good-luck charms and blessings promised to those who would vote for the religious parties in the latest elections.



Jerusalem Post, Dec.25, 1996


David De Mayo, an Israeli architect, has won a contest by designing a 51 meter statue of Jesus to be erected in Sicily for the next millennium. The complex will include a church, a pantheon, and a satellite dish which will broadcast religious programs. The head of the statue will serve as an observation deck, from which “people can see the world through Jesus’ eyes.” De Mayo adds, “I turned the deck towards Jerusalem … the crossroads for all the religions.”



The Jerusalem Post, Dec.25 1996


The eternal Christmas question: what to get the person who has everything? If an Israeli company has its way, the answer is: sand.

“Holy Steps” may be a simple gimmick, but it could become one of the best bargains for flummoxed Christmas shoppers in years to come. It’s nothing more than quality shoe soles imbedded on the bottom with Jerusalem sand.

I.G. Harmony Ltd., of Holon, is marketing the inner soles for $15, under the assumption that Christians (not to mention Jews) who can’t be here in person would still like the feel of Jerusalem underfoot. The upper surface of the soles are inscribed with a stylized skyline of the capital with the words “Blessed is the one who walks on the soil of Jerusalem.”

We’ll know it’s selling really well when we begin to notice the desert disappearing.

(Quoted in full from the Jerusalem Post.)



Ma’ariv: National daily, published in Tel-Aviv. Politically tends to the right, mostly objective towards believers (depends on the reporter).

Yedi’ot Aharonot: National daily published in Tel-Aviv. Attitude to believers depends on the reporter.

Kol Ha’Ir: Jerusalem leftist weekly. Pro-Palestinian, anti-religious, objective towards believers.

Ha’Aretz: National daily, published in Tel-Aviv, mostly objective towards believers.

Itton Tel-Aviv: Tel-Aviv weekly.

Itton Yerushalayim: Jerusalem weekly.

The Jerusalem Post: National English language daily, published in Jerusalem. Tends to the religious right, but careful and relatively fair towards believers (has a large Christian readership). Friendly towards right-wing political Christianity.