CC Media Review June 99
Orthodox Fear Satellite Television (Zman HaBira, 19/5/99)
Heads of a number of Yeshivot and the leadership of Yad L’Achim have expressed grave concern following the decision by the minister of communications to authorize the use of private satellite dishes. They fear that the ‘Christian message’ will be able to infiltrate every home in Israel. They point to the statements of leading Christian evangelists (Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell) regarding their global effort of evangelism and their particular focus on the Jewish people.
Steiner School in Tivon (Tzafon-1, 20/5/99)
In a three page feature article, this widely read local newspaper gives the history of the anthroposophic movement in Tivon and discusses the controversy surrounding the beliefs of the sect. The concern that is highlighted is that this group is advocating a form of mystic Christianity and thereby undermining Israeli identity. In the past few years, Tivon has become home to a naturopathic clinic, a kindergarten and an alternative school, all of which are anthroposophic projects.
The anti-missionary group Yad L’Achim expressed its frustration at the lack of support from parents to close the alternative school. Yad L’Achim points out their success in closing a similar school in Jerusalem.
Court’s Ruling on Mixed Marriages (HaAretz, 27/05/99)
This article deals with the controversy surrounding the interpretation of Paragraph 4A of the Law of Return as highlighted by the Supreme Court decision in early May. This decision forbade eviction of non-Jewish spouses from Israel but also ruled that the law of return did not apply to the non-Jewish spouse. Paragraph 4A became law in 1970 and it granted Israeli citizenship and immigrant rights to the spouse of the Jewish partner. The Ministry of the Interior claimed that this paragraph related to the spouse of a Jew in a marriage that took place outside of Israel who then immigrated to Israel together with the Jewish spouse.
For the past 25 years, this law has in effect granted citizenship and immigrant rights to both Jewish and non-Jewish spouses of Jewish immigrants to Israel. From 1997, the Ministry of the Interior has been granting citizenship and immigrant rights only to those who were already married before their immigration to Israel. This was intended to deal with fictitious marriages.
The current decision was made in the context of two cases, one involving a Jewish Israeli who married a non-Jew outside of Israel and another couple where a Jewish immigrant married a non-Jew in a civil ceremony. Both of the non-Jewish spouses were denied citizenship and immigrant rights until such time as the marriages be judged to be ‘true’ marriages by the Ministry of the Interior. This process could take up to several years and the Ministry of the Interior has the right to evict the non-Jewish spouse if it decides that the marriage is not a ‘true’ marriage.
The decision is being appealed.
Ringleader of Attack on Christian’s Apartments Sentenced (Yidiot Achronot, 9/6, Yeted Ne’eman, 9/6, Hamodia, 10/6, HaAretz, 9/6, Jerusalem Post, 9/6, Zman HaBira, 10/6)
All the major daily papers and the weekly religious papers carry the story concerning the sentencing of Aharon Kornblitt to 18 months in prison for his part in the trashing of two apartments belonging to three Swiss Christian women. Kornblitt was convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime, arson, breaking and entering, and willful damage. He was one of the leaders of a mob of ultra-orthodox who vandalized the aprartnments of the Swiss women in Mea She’arim in November 1998.
Judge Ruth Orr wrote in her decision, “If there were attacks like this against Jews in a Christian country, the haredi rioters involved in the case before us and Jews all over Israel would demand that the authorities in that country throw the book at these Christian rioters and punish them severely to deter them from repeating such acts. And they would be right.”
Two of the other perpetrators of the act have already been sentenced, one of them (a minor) to six months in jail and 12 months suspended; the other to eight months in jail and four months suspended. Aharon Kornblitt is due to be released in May, 2000 but could be released in as soon as five months from now on the grounds of good behavior. Kornblitt has a previous criminal record that includes participating in a riot, making threats and insulting a public official.
The religious papers express shock and outrage at the severity of the sentence in this case. They view this as censure of the haredi community.
Yad L’Achim Leaders Questioned by Police (Hamodia 1/6/99)
Rabbi Shalom Dov Lipshitz was taken in by the Bat Yam police for investigation after they had received a number of complaints from ‘the mission’ regarding Yad L’Achim’s activities. The police investigator warned Rabbi Lipshitz that if Yad L’Achim continued putting up posters against missionaries and following their activities that he would be arrested immediately. Yad L’Achim activists and leaders expressed outrage at the police investigation and have vowed to continue their activities against the mission.
Missionary Activity in the Schools (Yom L’Yom 3/6/99)
In Kiriat Gat, during the normal Bible class, Bibles were discovered which were not the Old Testament but rather the New Testament. The students reported that two pairs of men had entered the school grounds and distributed Bibles and other ‘Christian literature’ during school hours. The men claimed that they were religious and they wanted to contribute Bibles free of charge to the students. It later came to light that these men had distributed Bibles and other literature in a number of the local primary and secondary schools in the city.
Yad L’Achim made an effort to round up and dispose of all the offending literature.
Family Law (Jerusalem Post, Shabbat Supplement 4/6/99)
In answer to a question posed by a Christian woman married to an Israeli Arab Moslem, this column addressed the issues of divorce and child custody. The marriage in question was a civil marriage and the wife did not convert to Islam. The article referred to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court regarding custody and maintenance.
Marriages of this type can only be dissolved by application to the Supreme Court in Jerusalem which will decide after consultation with the relevant religious court. If the two parties in the marriage are of different religious affiliation, the Supreme Court will determine jurisdiction.
In the case reviewed, since the children had been raised in a Moslem context, the Moslem religious court was given jurisdiction. In general, cases concerning child custody and maintenance can be brought to the family court which may have jurisdiction, depending on the children’s identification with Christianity. However, the local Shaari Court will have jurisdiction if they are held on the facts to be Moslem.
Everyone is Singing Halleluia (Yidiot Achronot 4/6/99, Hamodia 11/6/99)
A five page feature article reports on the upsurge in popularity of concerts of church music. Twenty thousand Israelis attended the recent series of concerts at Abu Gosh during the Shavuot (Pentecost) holiday. The audience consisted of well educated, secular, and for the most part Ashkenazi Israelis. This audience feels at home in the church setting and appreciates Christian liturgical music that is sung by Israeli choirs and soloists.
The article interviewed numbers of secular Israelis concerning their experience with church music and in every case the comments are positive. On the other side, Yad L’Achim leader Rabbi Lipshitz expressed concern that the Israeli public will be seduced by this ‘forbidden’ Christian music. Other orthodox elements expressed their displeasure disrupting one of the concerts.
The ultra-orthodox daily paper also reports on the phenomena of Jews flocking to hear Christian music. The orthodox view is that this represents a cultural and religious war between secular and religious elements in Israel.
Plants from Jerusalem on the Shroud of Turin (Jerusalem Post 16/6/99)
Remains of pollen grains form the Jerusalem area have been found on the Shroud of Turin, traditionally the burial shroud of Jesus, in Turin since 1578. This was reported at the 7th Annual Conference of the Israel Society for Ecology and Environmental Quality Sciences in Jerusalem.
Researchers said, that upon examination, pollen grains collected from the shroud in 1973 and 1978 together with investigations of photographs of plant images from 1898,1930 and 1978 led them to the conclusion that the pollen comes from the thorny thistle which is believed to only grow in Israel. They also found images of the leaves of another plant found in the Jerusalem area. “These plants lead us to state that the Shroud of Turin existed before the 8th century; that it originated in the vicinity of Jerusalem; and that the assemblage of plants became part of the shroud in the spring months of March-April.”
Need for another Door in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem Post 17/6/99, 20/6/99, 21/6/99)
There is only one door into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and this will present a growing security problem in the year 2,000 as record numbers of pilgrims are expected to visit the site. The interior of the church is huge and during some Greek Orthodox services over 17,000 worshippers are in the church at one time. With this number of people, the exit process can take up to four hours. Since lighted candles and torches are used, there is a danger of fire.
At one time there had been ten entrances into the Holy Sepulchre but currently these are difficult to locate. There has historically been a struggle for control, ownership and use of the church and today these issues are regulated by status quo agreements.
The Ministry of Tourism announced that representatives of the various churches who use the church have agreed to determine the site for a new door by the end of June. The costs for a new entrance will be paid for by the Ministry of Tourism.
A result of this decision is that for the first time since 1289, Christians will hold the key to the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Since the conquest of Jerusalem by Sala a-Din in 1178, Moslems have held the key to the only door of the church. All other doors were sealed at that time and the key was given to the Moslem Nusseibeh family who have retained the key until today.
A number of difficulties remain to be solved before a final agreement is reached. Any agreement must be ratified by the patriarchs of the various churches and disagreements between the Copts and the Ethiopians must be resolved.
Jewish/Catholic Dialogue (Jerusalem Post 23/6/99)
In the context of a message on the millenium given in May 1999, the Pope stressed the importance of Catholic-Jewish dialogue. The Pope repeatedly named the Jews as ‘elder brothers’ and acknowledged the Jewish covenant with God. He spoke about the liturgical wealth of the Jewish people and said that “today dialogue means that Christians should be more aware of those elements which bring us closer together.”
The Pope called on Christians and Jews to collaborate in “proclaiming and realizing God’s saving plan for all humanity.” He highlighted the “urgent need for this common effort to restore peace and social justice.”
Ha’Aretz: National daily, published in Tel-Aviv, mostly objective towards believers.
Ha’Modia: Jerusalem religious daily. Very hostile to believers.
Itton Yerushalayim: Jerusalem weekly.
Ma’ariv: National daily, published in Tel-Aviv. Politically tends to the right, mostly objective towards believers (depends on the reporter).
Tzafon-1: Acco weekly.
Yedi’ot Aharonot: National daily published in Tel-Aviv. Attitude to believers depends on the reporter.
Yom L’Yom: Jerusalem religious/political weekly. Hostile to believers.
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.
Yated Ne’eman: English language religious/political weekly, published in Jerusalem. Very hostile to believers.
Zman HaBira: Religious weekly, published in Jerusalem. Hostile to believers.