August 31 – 2000




The number of articles found in the Israeli media’s coverage of matters relating to

Messianic Jews, the Mission and other Christian matters, came to a total of 26. Of

these, nine articles dealt with missionary and anti-missionary activity, five articles

were on Catholic and Protestant opinion regarding the future of Jerusalem in a peace

agreement, two articles were on what seems to be a land scandal involving the Greek

Patriarch, two articles related to the American presidential campaign, and two articles

were on Jewish attitudes concerning Messianic Jews. The remaining five articles were

on miscellaneous topics dealing with Christian, Arab or Jewish matters on their own



The Cradle of Christianity Exhibit (Muza, July-August 2000)


The article describes an exhibition currently showing at the Israel Museum which

includes writings and archaelogical finds from the 4″ -— 7″ centuries AD, the period in

which the Byzantines ruled over the Holy Land and Christianity was slowly becoming

the religion of the Byzantine empire.


The exhibit consists of three parts. The first deals with Jesus’ life and times. The other

two relate to the church’s structure and liturgy, to pilgrimage to the Holy Land and to

the monastic movement of the time. Also on display is Christian art from this time

period. Most of the items in the exhibit were found in Israel, and many are being

shown for the first time.



“Missionary activity is on the rise in the Jezreel Valley region” (Hadash BaEmek,




According to this article in a regional weekly, three young people distributing

material of a missionizing nature in the Migdal HaEmek Mall were attacked by

passers-by, and ultra-orthodox activists were severely beaten in the process. The

police intervened and reportedly kept the three from being “lynched”, later collecting

testimonies from them.


Orthodox and ultra-orthodox sources claim they will put their utmost effort into

keeping these missionary movements from strengthening, and they will spare no

means in getting them out of the region.



Symposium dealing with the Jewish tendency to seek spiritual fulfillment in other

religions (The Jerusalem Post, 16/08/00)


In a symposium on the topics of conversion, “borrowing” from religions other than

Judaism, and multiple religious perspectives, which took place at the Elijah School for

the Study of Wisdom in World Religions, professors from various universities

discussed the Jewish tendency to seek spiritual fulfillment in other religions whilst

trying to hold on to their Jewish identity. It was suggested that many Jews turn to

other religions, cults and sects, among which Buddhism, Hare Krishna and Messianic

Judaism were mentioned, because they are unable to find a spiritual home in Judaism.

Possible reasons for this tendency were discussed, one of which was the defensive

reaction of traditional Judaism to the influences of other religions. Dr. Alon Goshen-

Gottstein, director of the Elijah School, stated that as far as Jewish religious leaders

are concerned, it is better for a Jew to be completely secular than to seek spiritual

fulfillment in another religion. It was the opinion of Goshen-Gottstein that should a

Jew find someone who appears to be on a higher spiritual plane, there is value in

benefiting from the wisdom of this person, learning from other religious traditions

without engaging in them, and being inspired by beliefs without accepting them. He

emphasized the importance of Jews maintaining their main allegiance to Judaism.



An Opinion on the Vatican and Missionary work (HaZofeh, 20/08/00)



In this article in a religious daily, Dr. Zvi Fenton expressed his opinions on the

Vatican, while sending out a warning about missionary work in the land. He stated

that the foundation for the Christian faith was still alive and well (!): if the Jews don’t

start believing in the Christian Messiah soon, He will not return.


Dr. Fenton warned that any activity initiated by any Christian organization purposing

to reconcile Jews and Christians by supplying basic necessities to the poor, should be

completely rejected. He accused such organizations of contributing millions of dollars

to government offices and officials and even yeshiva institutions, and of “meddling”

with the Ethiopian community. He claimed that the money is coming from believing

Christians headed up by famous missionaries in the USA. He said that, to his dismay,

“most of these work through non-profit organizations (amutot) and are supported by

Jewish orthodox rabbis who believe in ‘reconciliation and dialog’, especially if it is

backed up with a substantial contribution of dollars.” Dr. Fenton claims to have

records of these things.



Yad L’achim Chairman Taken for Questioning, Three Activists (Hamodia, 20/08/00

and 23/08/00)



According to these articles in a religious daily, Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifshitz, chairman

of Yad L’achim, was taken in for questioning after the “missionary organization”

Jehovah’s Witnesses filed “false complaints” against a number of key Yad L’achim

activists for harrassment in a public place (the incident is mentioned in a previous

media review).


The three activists accused are facing a possible year’s imprisonment should they be

found guilty. Their trial is scheduled to start September 4″”. According to the articles,

orthodox lawyers who were called for an emergency consultation were shocked at the

speed with which the Israeli police reacted to the complaint, and were trying to come

up with legal ways to fight the police prosecutor for what they claim was a democratic

protest. The activists say that this is the first time the State of Israel has recognized the

Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religious organization.


Yad L’achim posted the following protest flyer: “Who is being accused? Not only

Yad L’achim activists are being accused, but also the [Jewish] martyrs of ages past.

The saints of the [Spanish] Inquisition and of the crusades, who were burnt at the

stake crying the ‘Shma’; the saints of the Holocaust whose souls rose up to heaven

singing the ‘Ani Maamin’. Every Jew who believes in the Creator of the world and

His Torah — is being called to trial. Who is not being accused? The soul hunters, the

missionaries who spend days and nights trying to cause Jewish souls to change their

religion. Therefore, every Jew, whom our Torah demands to act against conversion,

must demand that there be legislation to forbid the activity of the Mission in the land,

and must join the struggle in person and in finance.”


My Sister, My Spouse (The Jerusalem Post, 22/08/00)


In this article, penned by David Parsons, public relations officer at the International

Christian Embassy, the issue being discussed is sovereignty over the Old City of

Jerusalem. Yasser Arafat, chariman of the PLO, is quoted stating that in his quest for

Jerusalem he represents the interests, not only of Palestinians, but of Moslems and

Christians everywhere. The writer expresses his disappointment over the fact that

Israeli leaders did not object to this claim, and remarks that “there are plenty of

Christians who would beg to differ with the wily PLO chief.” He goes on to say that

the thought of Arafat ‘liberating’ the holy sites, is “alien if not repulsive” to most

Christians. He claims that most of the Arab Christians living in East Jerusalem

privately prefer living under Israeli rule rather than Moslem-dominated Palestinian



Parsons goes on to delineate the reasons why tourists and pilgrims, not to mention the

majority Jewish population of the Old City, would probably benefit from Israeli

control of the holy sites. He also backs up Israel’s claim to the city on grounds of

historical, biblical, religious and cultural grounds. Drawing on the Genesis story of

Abraham’s introduction of Sarah to pagan rulers as his sister in order to protect

himself, Parsons goes on to explain: “In one sense, Jerusalem is a sister that can be

shared according to its biblical calling as a ‘house of prayer for all peoples,’ whether

Jewish, Christian, or Moslem. Israel knows and has respected this faithfully.”


“But on another, higher level,” Parsons goes on to say, “Jerusalem is the wife of the

Jews only. They are vested with a unique relationship with this city common to no

other faith or people. They are the proper guardians of its sacred treasures, and the

rightful heirs to its divine destiny. Christians know and respect this — or at least they

would if they simply opened their Bible. And woe to Arafat or anyone else who

would desecrate or sever that holy bond.”