CASPARI CENTER MEDIA REVIEW JANUARY 1999
Ha’Aretz, Dec.24; Kol HaNegev, Dec.25 1998
“WE’LL FIGHT THE MISSIONARIES TILL THE LAST DROP OF BLOOD”
These are the words of Beersheba’s new Chief Rabbi, Yehuda Deri, spoken at an emergency anti-missionary meeting in that city. He went on to say, “… they baptize Jewish infants. They have torn children away from their parents. How can we sit quietly and do nothing… Today’s missionaries drip poison disguised as honey. … In the past they came with a huge cross, today they come with nice words about helping others and trap Jews in the mission.”
The meeting was organized by Yad L’Achim after the huge demonstration outside Beersheba’s Messianic congregation, and was attended by either 500 (according to Ha’Aretz) or 1200 (according to Kol HaNegev) people.
The phrase “Yeshu, may his name be blotted out” became the mantra of the meeting, after it was repeated at least 35 times by the Rabbis, who inflamed the crowd. After Deri’s speech, many yelled that the missionaries should be “taken care of” immediately, and one young orthodox man said that he’s only waiting for the Rabbis’ O.K. to “destroy them.”
In an incident outside the meeting, a young woman cried out, “I’m willing to convert to Christianity. When I was secular I was happy, but my husband who became religious threw me out. I’d rather be a Christian, if that’s how Judaism treats women.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: on Saturday, Jan.30th, the congregation in Beersheba was again “visited” by orthodox protesters. As I have not seen anything about it in the media, here is a portion of a letter written by a friend:
It was about 12:30, and the Saturday morning service had just ended. People noticed a special atmosphere there that morning: An atmosphere of real prayerfulness. Several minutes later, H., one of the elders, came back inside the building, looking rather troubled, and asked another believer for his camera, urgently; he wanted to take some pictures of a handful of ultra orthodox men who had appeared at the entrance to the congregation, and started heckling the congregants. They were shouting the worst kinds of obscenities about Yeshua and H., who somehow resembled all things evil to them. Y. came out to see what was going on, his wife following him with their baby in her arms. To their surprise, they were both personally greeted by the leader of the small orthodox gang: “Ah! Y., our precious Y., how are you? And here’s your precious wife, and our little baby! How are you? Do you know, I came specially for you!”
The leader was identified later as Yirmy Kalifah, the assistant of Yehuda Deri, the new chief Sephardic Rabbi of Beer Sheva. He immediately resumed swearing and cursing at poor H., switching into English for the task. In between hurling curses at H., he kept talking to Y. and his wife, telling them they are good Jews who should “come back home”. Their 3 year old son, who sensed the extreme hatred in the air, got scared and started crying. Kalifa kept on, and Y. asked him if he really thinks that by cursing and threatening he would persuade them to come back home.
At the same time, the police arrived at the scene, and immediately forced the other members of the small gang to back off and allow congregants to leave the building for their homes. However, the police kept away from Kalifah, allowing him to continue undisturbed throughout the event. As people started leaving the building, many of them were assailed by angry cursing, shouting, and more blasphemy.
Kalifah went on, following Y. and family to their car, and alternating between cursing and asking them to return home to Judaism… Their son was quite frightened by him, and they asked him to please back off because he was scaring him. This caused him to come closer, shove his head as close as possible to the boy’s face, and shout “So he should be! Scaaaaared! He should learn how evil his parents are!”
As it turns out, Y. recognized that Kalifah had been to his place of employment one day earlier on Friday, supposedly to check the Mezuzahs. He talked to staff members about Y., and we now know he also called Y.’s boss and told him lots of lies. Y.’s boss called him up and told him he doesn’t believe what Kalifah said about him, but still summoned him for a talk. At the talk the boss told Y. that Kalifah had brought up serious accusations against him, such stuff as that he baptized children…. As he told Y., he does not believe these accusations, but on the other hand, he is worried that the issue will become public debate, and there may be a public outcry about a supposed missionary working with kids. In light of these possibilities, he asked Y. to step down and give up his job…
Please feel free to forward this letter to anyone who may be interested in praying for the protection of this congregation and these people. They really do need your prayers.
Itton Yerushalayim; Itton Tel-Aviv, Jan.1 1999, Literature column by Menahem Ben
Most Israelis know nothing about the New Testament, which is banned by the educational system. Especially serious is the persecution of believers in Jesus and those who distribute the New Testament. I just read the terrible news in Ha’Aretz about the meeting in Beersheba aimed at fighting the Messianic Jews. (see above review – ed.) It should be noted here, by the way, that there is a law in Israel against “hurting religious sensitivities,” and yet in a public meeting there was criminal incitement against Jesus, and Rabbi Deri has not yet been arrested or questioned.
What does all this have to do with literature? Well, in contrast to the rabbinate, which persecutes those who celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, and in contrast to our orthodox Members of Knesset, who try to pass laws against the distribution of the New Testament, a number of well known Israeli writers happen to love Jesus and the New Testament. Definitely without converting, God forbid, and without necessarily believing in the Messiahship of Jesus, they nonetheless have a deep love for this man’s spirituality and charming words. And so, even though most Israelis have never read it, the best of our poets and writers have opened the New Testament and internalized some of Jesus’ words.
Uri Zvi Greenberg is the favorite poet of the Nationalist camp, but few know that in his early days he wrote poems full of love for and identification with Jesus, though he expressed loathing for Christianity itself.
“Jesus, our outcast brother / he is hanging in the middle of the world, watching / until the end of the ages / at the end of the world / and great is his longing for Eretz Israel / and he will return to Eretz Israel with the prayer shawl / that was on his shoulders when he was crucified. / He will rise to the occasion / the redemption of the world / at the end of the ages, / as a rising light / with the crown of the son of David / on his holy head.”
(Ben goes on to quote other Israeli writers’ words about Jesus and the N.T. and ends with the following:)
Amos Kenan, in his book “The Rose of Jericho,” says this about Jesus’ generation: “This is the generation in which those who saw Jesus on the cross as children, saw the Jews’ last temple go up in flames as adults.” Is there a connection between the Jews’ persecution of Jesus and the destruction of the Temple? And doesn’t the persecution of Christians in Israel today threaten us all? Think about it.
All newspapers and media, Jan.99
Fourteen members of the “Concerned Christians” cult from the USA were deported from Israel on Jan.9th, after their arrest at two homes outside of Jerusalem. The cultists were suspected of planning to commit mass suicide and / or acts of violence in Jerusalem in order to “hasten the coming of Jesus.” The leader of the cult, Monte Kim Miller, is reported to have told his followers that he was one of the two witnesses that would die and be resurected in Jerusalem in the end times.
The arrest and deportation highlighted growing fears of violence by extremist apocalyptic cults. A number of articles warned of other (un-named) groups that planned to commit suicide or provoke violence, and doubts were raised as to the Israeli authorities’ ability to screen out the “crazies” from the legitimate tourists and pilgrims. Local Christian leaders expressed concern that the fears would get out of control, and that all Christians would be seen as unbalanced extremists and potential security threats.
These events also sparked a number of articles on “millenial madness” in general, with stories on Jerusalem Syndrome (some 40,000 visitors are expected to need psychiatric help) and the end times expectations of various groups. Some experts predict a wave of anti-semitism when Jesus fails to appear in the year 2000 (because of the Jews’ failure to return to God and build the 3rd Temple), others that many Christians will become distressed, suicidal, or will simply refuse to leave Israel. (Many Israelis, on the other hand, would prefer to take a sabbatical and miss the excitement -ed.)
COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY TO SHUT DOWN MISSIONARY RADIO STATION
HaModia and Yated Ne’eman, Jan.7 1999
“The Ministry has added the subject to its plan of action and will act to locate the station and close it. It should be noted that the Ministry usually deals with complaints in the order in which they were received, but it gives special priority to closing, as quickly as possible, stations whose transmissions interupt and endanger human life, for instance – communications with airplanes and the military.”
This was Communications Minister Livnat’s answer to two questions from MKs, who wanted to know the Ministry’s reaction to the pirate broadcasts of the missionary “Kol HaYeshu’ah” radio station which is run by the the “Messianic Jews.” Livnat added that when the Ministry shuts down illegal radio stations, the content of their broadcasts is not a consideration.
SHAS TO ESTABLISH A NEW ANTI-MISSIONARY ORGANIZATION
HaShavu’a B’Yerushalayim, Dec.31 1998
The Sephardic Orthodox political party, Shas, is establishing its own anti-missionary organization, “Or L’Achim” (Light for the Brothers), along the lines of Yad L’Achim and Lev L’Achim, which are identified with Hasidic and Lithuanian Judaism respectively. The main reason for the move is apparently tied in with the new group’s second aim of getting new students registered in Shas’ “El HaMa’ayan” schools. According to Shas leaders, Lev L’Achim prefers to send prospective new students to schools other than those affiliated with Shas. Shas also found that a large portion of missionary work in Israel is among the lower classes, most of whom are Sephardic.
NEWSPAPERS USED IN THIS EDITION:
Ha’Aretz: National daily, published in Tel-Aviv, mostly objective towards believers.
Kol HaNegev: Southern region weekly.
Itton Yerushalayim: Jerusalem weekly.
Itton Tel-Aviv: Tel-Aviv weekly.
Ha’Modia: Jerusalem religious daily. Very hostile to believers.
Yated Ne’eman: National religious/political daily published in Bnei Brak. Very hostile to believers.
HaShavu’a B’Yerushalayim: Jerusalem weekly.