CASPARI CENTER MEDIA REVIEW…………………………………………………………….MAY 2000 # 2
In the two week period covered by this media review we received 54 articles from the Israeli Hebrew and English press that dealt with the subjects under review – Messianic Jews, the Mission and Christians. In contrast to the preceding several months there was a marked reduction in the numbers of articles on these subjects. In the aftermath of the papal visit, the press has been relatively silent concerning the issues that this review covers. Ten articles dealt with anti-missionary activities, 7 articles concerned Messianic Jews, 8 articles were about Jehovah Witnesses, 4 articles were about the Pope, 3 articles dealt with Ethiopian issues. The remaining articles covered areas of Jewish Christian relations, sales of Christian land and single articles dealing with Christian matters on their own merit.
Yad L’Achim Fights Against the Mission (Yom HaShishi, Shisha Yamim, 5/5/2000, Yom L’Yom, 09/5/2000, HaTzofe, 16/5/2000)
All four of these religious papers report on the reconstituted evangelization efforts of the “Jews for Jesus” organization in the Tel Aviv area. The reports say that the organization had gone underground for the past few years but is active again under the leadership of one who is identified only by his initials, S.A.
The missionary group was especially active over Passover and distributed literature. Yad L’Achim countered the activity by setting up tables with anti-missionary literature and demonstrating against the presence of the missionaries, who, according to the report, vacated the area.
The presence of a large number of missionaries with the participation of missionary singers giving concerts is expected during the summer months.
Jewish Symbols not Kosher for Messianic Jews! ( Jerusalem Post, 8/5/2000)
The Canadian Jewish Congress is challenging Chosen People’s Ministries concerning their use of the menorah as a part of their trademark. The Canadian Jewish Congress claims that the use of this well known and important Jewish symbol by Jews who believe in Jesus is “misleading.”
“Jack Silverstone, the Jewish Congress’ executive vice president, said that because the Chosen People seeks to convert Jews to Christianity is it is not a Jewish organization.”
The demand of the Congress is that the Chosen People Ministries will be disbarred from using the menorah. The case has gone to court and has had a preliminary hearing in May and will again have a hearing on June 7.
Messianic Jews to Have Shavuot Gathering (Yom L’Yom, 9/5/2000)
A report is carried in this Jerusalem weekly religious paper on the plans of the “Messianic Jews who are known as militant missionaries” to hold a large event in a park belonging to the Jewish National Fund during the Shavuot holiday. Lev L’Achim activists have appealed to the directors of the Jewish National Fund to cancel their agreement with the Messianic Jews.
End of the Campus Affair (HaAretz, 11/5/2000, Kan Darom 12/5/2000)
These two papers, one a major Hebrew daily and the other a wide circulation local Hebrew weekly, both carry the same story of the final chapter in the story of Eduardo Campus. (see previous Media Reviews for background).
Much controversy has surrounded Campus since he received national recognition and an award for outstanding volunteer service. Campus was an employee in the Vita foods concern and is the director of the Ashdod branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
These papers report on Campus’ resignation from his job. Both papers attribute this development to the activities of Yad L’Achim and cite it as a victory for them. Campus finally bowed to the pressure that Yad L’Achim exerted on him and his employers – after months of struggle, he resigned.
The agenda and modus operandi of Yad L’Achim are clearly described in the articles. They instituted a thorough investigation of Campus but were “unsuccessful in finding even a hint of proof that he acted to cause people to change their religion.” They then worked to pressure his employer to fire him and for a retraction of his award for excellence as a volunteer. When that was unsuccessful, they “decided to take away his income.” They threatened to remove Vita’s kashrut license if Campus was not fired and forced a decision from Vita to “ choose either Campus or the kashrut license.” Vita chose the kashrut license and negotiated with Campus to move him to another position in the company. This was followed by a public outcry and as a result, Campus remained in his job. Vita, however, took all Campus’ authority away from him and emptied the job of content.
Last week, Campus resigned after signing a secrecy agreement not to reveal the terms of his severance agreement. “Even though the majority of his co-workers stood by him, he feared that they would lose their livelihoods.”
(Editors note: Although this story is not concerned with the Messianic community, it has been reviewed to show the agenda, methods and power of the anti-mission organizations. In the mind of these organizations, there is no difference between the Jehovah Witnesses and the Messianic Jews.)
Ethiopians Oppose the Mission (Kol Hazman/Jerusalem Supplement to Ma’Ariv, 19/5/2000)
It has come to light that an outstanding social worker in the Ethiopian community comes from a missionary family. The social worker herself is Ethiopian and according to all concerned, has enjoyed popular acclaim and great success in her work in the community. She emphasizes that “she herself is not involved in any missionary activity.”
The residents of Givat Hamatos, where the social worker serves, have petitioned city officials to fire her because she comes from a missionary family. Since her family connections have become known, she has encountered much hostility.
Norwegian Christian Women Engage in Missionary Activity in Israel (HaModia, 19/5/2000)
Haver HaPeilim (anti-mission activists) warn about an increase in missionary activity by the “Israel Mission” of the Norwegian church. This group is active in the north of Israel and among its other activities, “does social work in the weak sectors of society and especially cares for the elderly.”
The anti-mission activists report on the dangerous infiltration of the of the Norwegian “cult” and of the difficulty of obtaining information about their activities due to the “special secrecy that surrounds the dark activities” of the group.
(Editors Note: The tone of this article was antagonistic and confused.)
Mission Center at Beit Brenner (HaTzofe, 21/5/99)
This short article in the religious Hebrew daily laments the sale of the historic Histadrut worker’s building in Tel Aviv to the Messianic Jews. It points out that the city council of Tel Aviv was aware of the use to which the building would be put – a baptismal hall where “it would be possible to convert people in a sheltered environment, instead of at the Kinneret, where Yad L’Achim lay in wait for the missionaries.”
Ethiopians Jews Waiting to Immigrate Told to Divorce Christian Spouses (HaAretz, 22/05/2000)
Officials of the Israeli Ministry of the Interior working in Addis Ababa are asking Ethiopian Jews married to Christians to divorce them and abandon their children born of the marriages as a prerequisite to immigrate to Israel. Although this is contrary to the law and is being done only verbally, numbers of those requesting permission to immigrate have been refused or the process delayed unless they divorce.
The paper relates the experiences of two families. Minister of the Interior, Natan Sharansky has said that he has sent a directive and will require the offices in Addis Ababa to hang signs that would forbid representatives of the office in Ethiopia “to make any suggestions that relate to the personal status of the candidates for immigration.” He has also said that he will investigate the stories that appeared in HaAretz.
Counter-Missionaries Sent to Siberia (Jewish Chronicle, 26/05/2000)
This London based Jewish weekly reports on the activities of the Chabad (Lubavitch) movement to counter the efforts of the what they term an American Christian group, “Hear O Israel Ministries” in Novosibirsk, Siberia. The mission organization, founded in 1993, is planning a 12 day long event that targets the Jewish community of Novosibirsk that numbers 15,000.
Russian law prohibits the activities of non-mainstream religions and the Chabad Federation of Jewish Communities is opposing the event on the basis of false advertising. The Federation maintains that the mission organization convinced city officials that the event was cultural and not religious. They thereby were able to evade the strict laws and to at the same time have the support of local officials.
“Hear O Israel Ministries” is reported (by their own publications) to have effected the conversion of 20,000 Jews since 1993.
In response to the efforts of those opposing the event, city officials have promised to shut down the event “if there is any sign of religious content.” As of this date, the event is still scheduled to go ahead.
Newspaper List Available on Request
MEDIA REVIEW, RUSSIAN SUPPLEMENT……………………………………MAY, 2000
The period of 10.05.00 to 26.05.00 was not very active from the point of view of the Russian media’s covering of matters related to Messianic Jews, the Mission, and Christianity. There were a total of 38 articles in the Russian press, mostly “Vesti” and “Novosti Nedeli”.
Of these articles, 10 dealt with the status of non-Jews, 8 – with the country’s religious matters (various religious organizations and centers), 6 – with the issue of separating religion and the state in Israel (including various feature articles), 5 were aftermath evaluations of the Papal visit, 5 dealt with missionary activity in Israel, 4 dealt with opinions within the Russian Orthodox Church towards Jews.
Discussion in Moshe Shareth Center (27.04.00, Vesti)
On April, 17 Moshe Shareth Center in Jerusalem held a discussion called “Will the immmigration of million Christians lead to the ultimate change of the Jewish democratic state’s character?” This discussion was the fist one this year, held by the Social Zionist Club in the Center.
“In Rabbi Izchak Peretz’s opinion, the Jewish Agency now has been actively involved in helping the new repatriates in Israel, even if these people have nothing to do with Jewishness. Rabbi Peretz also added, that the Christian churches on the territory of Israel have lately acquired a great number of new parishioners.”
“Professor Yuli Tamir stressed, that it’s necessary to fight any discrimination towards non-Jewish part of the population, also connected with the issues of marriage, education, burials. ..Yuli Tamir noted, that she opposed categorically any changes or amendments to the Law of return, since in the long run it might cause its abolishment as such. At the same time the minister said, that it might make sense to abolish the rules, which have to do with the automatic right for repatriation for all the relatives of the person who has gone through conversion, even if they have nothing to do with Jewishness.”
Tommy Lapid: “We Shall Win!” (11.05.00, Vesti)
In a two-page article under a photo of Tommy Lapid, the Russian daily presents an interview with the leader of the party “Shinui”, ex-journalist Tommy Lapid. He elaborates Shinui’s views on the idea of separation of religion and the state in Israel.
“We could ask for a complete separation of religion and the state – in the same manner it has been done in the USA and France. But we are not demanding it. We only demand to separate religion from the state budget. Total separation is not acceptable for me personally, since it’s very important for us to preserve the Jewish character of this state.”
“Already today, when the idea of ‘one and inseparable’ Eretz Israel is dead, and the debate between the right and left on this matter can be considered completed, the problem of relations between the secular and religious is becoming the main problem of the Israeli society. After the accomplishment of peace there will be no two opinions about it. Here the two political parties will be united, and the religious parties will be forces to acknowledge their defeat.”
“We shall win! We will convince people, that the Jewish character of the state is not about wearing the clothes, which Polish Jews wore two centuries ago! We are counting to have support of the huge Russian-speaking community. The Russian aliah is absolutely secular and hostile towards religion… It’s antireligious.”
“Our party presents people of different political opinions, united for two purposes: separation of religion from the state and building here a free economic society.”
The Unaccepted Challenge (11.05.00, Vesti)
The lengthy article under a photo of the Russian patriarch Aleksi II together with the Russian president Vladimir Putin deals with the different opinions within the Russian Orthodoxy concerning their attitude towards Jews.
“In the past, when Soviet officials corrupted the church in Russia by a deadly combination of monitoring, repression and material support, such an issue would have been impossible to raise. But even now, when the Russian Orthodox Church has finally gained its freedom, it cannot exercise it in any way other than through defensiveness, bravado, and silly polemics with the western Christianity about the nuances of ‘filioque’”.
“The Polish priest Chrostovsky in his work ‘The Meaning of Holocaust in Christian Understanding of the Bible’ writes: ‘In Jewish circles there is a widely-spread opinion, that anti-Judaism is a characteristic feature of the church as such. Indeed, in the theological tradition of Christianity many things witness to the fact, that Christians acquired their identity by separating themselves from Judaism and confronting it. But after the Holocaust any form of anti-Judaism turns out to be a serious moral accusation against Christian theology as a whole and adds to it a contradiction, which asks for solution. The new theological approach involves critical comparison of the various trends of theological tradition with the real contents of the Bible.’ The Eastern church and especially the Russian Orthodoxy remain uninfluenced by this process.”
“One can judge about the size of this phenomenon by the amount of Nazistic publications in Russian Internet (for instance, the “Orthodox Russ” site), which still call Jews ‘Christ-haters’. …‘Orthodox Russ’ cannot, of course, be considered the official tribune of the Russian church. But this and many other Internet sites of the same kind, as well as similar publications, present a picture of the way of thinking of the most active part of Orthodox public in Russia. The part, which with the help of merciless intellectual terror successfully blocks new initiatives of their own leaders.”
New Warriors of the Temple (16.05.00, Novosti Nedeli)
In a one-page article under three photos of Christian Zionist leaders the Russian daily looks into the principles and origins of Christian Zionism both in the Middle East and abroad.
“The term ‘Christian Zionists’ is not an oxymoron: yesterday British aristocrats stood at the roots of restoring Israel, today regular Protestants build synagogues in Jerusalem, send gifts to Jewish soldiers and pray for Israel. Its safety is the assurance of their main expectations coming true.”
“Unlike immigrants, Christian Zionists don’t get either financial help or even immigrants’ status in their new ‘home’. Nathan Scharansky, the Minister of Internal Affairs in Israel, thus explained the paradox: ‘Not everyone, who loves America, can become a citizen of the United States. The same happens in other countries. We value the friendship of Christian Zionists very much, but cannot affirm it legally so far.’
‘Ephraimists’ don’t get embarrassed by this and create their organizations in the Holy Land. The most famous of their leaders is Jan Villem van der Hoven. A Dutchman, son of Queen Juliana’s secretary, he received theological education in England, and now for over 30 years he has been living in the Near East. In 1981, when under the pressure of the Arab world all foreign embassies moved from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv, van der Hoven and his followers opened in Jerusalem “The International Christian Embassy” – to counterattack the ‘treason’.”
“Van der Hoven’s main battlefield is Jerusalem. He has even been awarded the rare order of the Keeper of Jerusalem. Christian Zionists are more categorical in their opposition to giving the three Arab villages to Palestinians, than Jews themselves. With Biblical quotations in their hands they are proving, that the Messiah Jesus will be ruling from Jerusalem, the undivided capital of the restored Israel.”
“Twenty years ago Jan van der Hoven established an annual celebration of Jerusalem ‘Festival of the Feast of Tabernacles”, coinciding with the Jewish holiday of Sukkoth. Christian Zionists have made it into the day of solidarity of Christians and Jews and the Day of Awaiting the Second Coming.”
57% Israelis Want to Determine Their Jewishness According to Their Father’s Line (17.05.00, Novosti Nedeli)
The article reports on the conference of the Israel Movement of Progressive Judaism that was to take place in Kibbutz Shfaim. The Minister of Absorption Yuli Tamir is reported as one of its participants. Two issues were supposed to be on the agenda: approving of the new platform of the movement and discussing the issue of determining Jewishness according to the father’s line.
“The last issue seems to arouse heated debates not only inside the Movement, but in the society itself. The results of a public poll, held by the Center of Jewish Pluralism, confirms this fact. According to the results of the poll, 57 % of the Jewish population supports determining Jewishness according to who the father was, 36 % support the halakhic determination of Jewishness. In the Movement of Progressive Judaism itself, there is no unity as to whether it is right to determine Jewishness by the father’s line. A lot of “father determined” Jews suffered from anti-Semitism, had Jewish names, felt themselves to be Jews, but in Israel their nationality is written down as “Russian”, or “Ukrainian”, or “unlisted”. The head of the Union of Progressive Rabbis of Israel said, that determining Jewishness according to the father by Reformers will be supported by the majority of immigrants.”
Run, Brothers, Run! (18.05.00, Novosti Nedeli)
In a two-page article, accompanied by a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ poster the Russian weekly reports on a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Congress and looks into the issue of missionary activity in Israel. (The author seems to unite Christians and “sects” under the notion “missionaries”). The author gives an account of the congress itself, attaching his own evaluation of the event.
“Instead of propagating their religion among Muslims, they involve themselves in eliminating Jews as a nation. They timidly try to address the servants of Islam, but the degree of their influence on these people is ridiculously small. We have already a million of repatriates. It is exactly among these people that they are active, attacking the weak and the confused, those who don’t understand who they are and where they have arrived. In small Israel missionary activity has a distinct destructive political character.”
“We are losing Jews, have lost them always and in mass amounts. And I don’t think, that the reason for this is only fear and forcing to convert under the threat of death. Indeed, Judaism is the religion of the chosen. Nevertheless, we have won not by the quantity of converts, but by the quality of the faithful, who have preserved their heritage on Earth for thousands of years…”
“Running away from Jewishness is still going on: either by the old habit ‘to be like all’, or for the fear of the future of this state of Jews… Some have always left us, but some have always stayed – our ‘keepers of eternity’. I like it better being with them: with the people of wisdom and courage, not in a company of weak, ignorant and miserable converts, who have lost themselves, their history and their people.”
Supreme Court Allows Women to Pray at the Western Wall. SHAS Objects (23.05.00, Vesti)
The Supreme Court of Justice has made a decision, allowing women to pray at the Wailing Wall. The motion was made by the women’s organization “Nashot Ha-Kotel (Women of the Wall)”, who are struggling for equality between men and women in religious matters. The state organs have been given half a year to prepare special places for women at the Wailing Wall.
“According to the agreement, representatives of the Conservative Judaism Movement will be able to conduct prayers at the Wailing Wall already during the upcoming holidays of Shavuot (but only in the area of Robinson’s Arch, in the Southern Wall).”
“Besides the Orthodox and Conservative, there is a very active group of reformists in Israel. But they don’t fight for a place at the Wailing Wall. In the opinion of many religious authorities of this group, the Wailing Wall is not a holy place and is not in any way different from any other place, where prayers are lifted up.”