CASPARI CENTER MEDIA REVIEW……………………………………………….MARCH # 2
The Israeli media’s coverage of matters relating to Christianity was above average, understandably so. The Pope’s visit has been the focus of nearly every newspaper in the past two weeks, making very little space for matters relating to Messianic Jews and the Mission.
The total number of articles for the period of time covered by this review was 182. Of these, 139 articles dealt with the Pope and his upcoming visit in some way or other. Only three articles dealt with missionary and anti-missionary activity in Israel. Twelve articles dealt with Christian – Jewish relations, and six articles dealt with the status of non-Jews in the country. The remaining 22 articles were on miscellaneous topics dealing with Christian, Arab, or Jewish religious matters on their own merit.
Missionaries Pose Threat to Jewish People (Galei Tzahal (radio), 21/02/00)
This subject was dealt with on one of Israel’s more famous radio programs. Micah Friedman gives a background to the report, saying that the Minister of Interior, Sheranski, wants to use his power to expel missionaries from the country. He knows he cannot expel missionaries without some adjustments to the law, so he has asked the Prime Minister’s legal advisor to declare that missionaries pose a threat to the Jewish people.
Kave Shafran reports, that though the Minister of Interior is authorized to expel, it has never been done before where missionaries are concerned.
Batya Carmon, who works at the Ministry of Interior told reporters that they are currently trying to assess whether or not missionary activity is anti-Jewish. “We have dozens, if not hundreds of people who fall under this category.”
Shafran: “It should be noted that the missionaries being dealt with in this case are not necessarily those who proselytize, but anyone who is responsible for the publication of missionary material that is permitted by law in this country. If a decision is in fact reached, it will not pass silently… as Noam Hendren tells us.”
Hendren: (head of the Messianic Congregations in Israel) “They are after citizens who are loyal to this country, trying to describe them as criminals by using the word missionary, who are working against the Jewish people. It is scandalous to describe them in this way.”
Shafran sums up by saying that the Ministry of Interior knows only one thing for certain: a decision like this one will not pass quietly.
Christians Targeted to Contribute to Jerusalem’s Poor (The Jerusalem Post, 02/03/00, Ha’aretz, 10/03/00)
A television ad was aired across the United States this month, aimed mainly at the Christian community, asking for financial aid to help the poor in Jerusalem. According to the ad, 50% of Jerusalem’s children live under the poverty line.
“Become a righteous friend of Jerusalem – pray for the peace of Jerusalem. God would not want his children to walk around His holy city in poverty and despair.”
This ‘infomercial’ is funded by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews in Chicago. The fellowship raised $20 million in 1999, almost all of which came from Christian donors.
A second article dealing with the same subject reveals that the Jewish community in America is not happy with the money’s source. They claim that the only reason Christians would donate money is theological. “The second coming of Jesus depends on the ingathering of Jews in biblical Israel” (this concerning money donated to helping the immigration process of Jews from Ethiopia and Russia).
Christians are accused of supporting Israel but not Judaism. The Absorption ministry, however, “welcomed the funds with an open heart.”
Jehovah’s Witness Receives Israeli Citizenship (Kan Darom, 03/03/00)
Eduardo Campus, who is the leader of the Jehovah’s Witnesses movement in Israel, was granted Israeli citizenship in an emotional ceremony.
Campus was recently involved in a scandal, after being fired from his job after 15 years. He was fired from the food company because the religious Jews threatened to take away the company’s kosher label if they did not get rid of their “missionary.” The secular Israeli community decided to fight back and banned the company’s products until Campus would get his job back.
Campus was hired again only days after his dismissal. Later he applied for, and was granted, Israeli citizenship by the Minister of Interior himself, Sheranski.
It should be noted that most of Campus’ family had Israeli citizenship by power of the Law of Return.
Query Submitted Concerning Illegal Status of Messianic Jews (Hamodia, 05/03/00)
A Knesset member submitted a formal query to the Ministry of Interior concerning the Illegal status of people connected to the Jehovah’s witness cult, and the Messianic Jewish cult.
The query stated that “these people are considered to be part of another religion, after converting of their own free will, and are liable to lie in order to deceive the authorities and be granted Israeli citizenship against the law.”
Israeli Reporter on the Christian Arabs in Israel (The Jerusalem Report Magazine, 10/03/00)
Steve Edwards is well known among the English speaking community in Israel. He has anchored and reported for the IBA English news for years, and he has recently completed a documentary focusing on the Christian Arab minority in Israel. These Christians are constantly faced with the question of their status, both in Israel and Palestinian Authority areas.
Edwards says that “I was able to find serious and high placed people willing to talk; many of them speak powerfully about their Christianity and Christian faith, in a way that hasn’t been discussed on Israel television.”
His purpose in making this documentary is “to raise local awareness of the concerns of the community of Christian Arabs which has lived here for hundreds of years. The goal… is to show the local population and its leaders that factors other than cold political considerations must be taken into account when dealing with the Christian community; they are a fragile minority deserving government protection. Otherwise the promise of Israeli democracy has not been realized.”
Christian Soldiers Demand New Testament (Yom Hashishi, 10/03/00)
“The Law of Return is creating wonders” says the writer of this article. It has been discovered in recent months that many of the new immigrants from Russia are not Jewish. But to add insult to injury, it now looks as though some of those immigrants are in reality dedicated Christians.
The latest proof of this comes from the army, where a group of Christian citizens recently requested that a New Testament be given to them instead of a Bible when they complete their basic training.
The army does in fact provide Muslim soldiers (Druze and Bedouins) with a Koran, but says it does not have a supply of New Testaments in Russian. “The army offered these new ‘crusaders’ an English New Testament, but they refused.”
Must a Postal Worker Distribute Missionary Material? (Yated Ne’eman, 10/03/00)
A postal worker submitted this question to a religious based newspaper, and was answered in a short, yet clear, letter.
Though the law might require this person to pass along any material coming their way, the writer says that “this is a severe prohibition according to the Torah.”
He goes on to remind her of her ancestors who gave up their lives to avoid sins of this kind, and says “understand that if even one soul converts because of this poisonous material, the sin will be placed on your head. If you are a Jew, do your duty as a Jew and don’t be scared of mortal man who is here today and in the grave tomorrow.”
Center for Study of Christianity Opens at University (In Jerusalem, 17/03/00)
A center for the Study of Christianity opened this month at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It is the first center of its kind at an Israeli university.
“The center will focus on research dealing with Christianity from its earliest beginnings, including its Jewish components and its development throughout the Oriental and Western worlds. Special emphasis will be placed on topics related to Christianity in the Holy Land and the Middle East and the relationship between Christianity and Judaism throughout history.”
Missionaries Submit Report to US Congress (Hamodia, 15/03/00)
Yad L’achim received an unexpected blow this month when they discovered that missionary organizations in Israel submitted a report to the US congress accusing them of leading a persecution campaign against Christianity.
In response a spokesman for the activist group said that “the missionaries must be under a lot of pressure as a result of our activities.”