CASPARI CENTER MEDIA REVIEW NOVEMBER, 2000 #2
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 59.
- 16 articles dealt with international Christian opinion on the recent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians, and Arab Christian involvement in the crisis
- 15 articles dealt with missionary and anti-missionary activity
- nine articles discussed the recent massive immigration to Israel of non-Jews from the former Soviet Union
- eight articles reported on current land disputes between the church and Israeli companies
- five articles dealt with Jewish-Christian relations
The remaining six articles were on miscellaneous topics dealing with Christian, Arab, or Jewish matters on their own merit.
Crazy about Jerusalem – the Jerusalem Syndrome (Eretz Veteva, November/December 2000)
The Jerusalem Syndrome, a behavioral disorder unique to the Holy City, was first documented 200 years ago. Most of those diagnosed with the syndrome are pilgrims and tourists who come to Jerusalem, temporarily lose their sanity, and who see themselves as messiahs or as mystical or religious characters.
This article in a Tel-Aviv monthly describes the background for the Jerusalem Syndrome and tells the stories of some of the interesting characters who suffer from it. The writer explains that the source of the messianic idea is Judaism, which is founded on the belief that a descendant of King David will appear one day, break the rule of the gentiles, reestablish the Kingdom of Israel and gather in those of her subjects who have been scattered. He will then rebuild the temple and reinstate the animal sacrifices. Speculations about the this king’s date of arrival have become a regular part of Jewish culture ever since the Middle Ages.
The Christians, according to the article, are Millenialists who believe in the reappearance of Jesus Christ. Interpretations of Daniel and Revelation describe the order of events: following the rule of the Antichrist, woes and destruction will fall upon the earth. Then redemption will come, one of the highlights of which will be the fall of “Babylon.” Then Satan and his helpers will be cast into hell for 1,000 years (The Millennium). This period will end with the battle of Gog and Magog, in which the good will triumph. The dead will rise to life, and the New Jerusalem will be built. Many of the Millenialists use verses from scripture to prove the connection between current events and the approach of redemption.
Over 500 tourists have been hospitalized at Jerusalem’s psychiatric hospital “Kfar Shaul,” over the past 20 years. Many more have needed counseling and were not actually hospitalized. Most were religious or very religious Jews and Christians (equal numbers of both!), claiming to be the Messiah, Elijah the Prophet, Satan, Mary, or John the Baptist. Many of them believed they were on a mission from God. About two thirds of the people had suffered from mental illness earlier, and most had had behavioral problems before their arrival in Jerusalem.
Yad Lachim Holds Special Meeting to Discuss Increase in Missionary Activity (Yom Hashishi 03/11/00, Shisha Yamim 03/11/00)
A special consultation was held at the headquarters of Yad Lachim on the week prior to the 3rd of November. Rabbi Shalom Lipschitz, chairman of the organization, announced that missionary activity had increased by large percentages both within Israel and without, and that these missionaries were receiving backing and encouragement from organizations outside of Israel. A number of cases were discussed, including the Jerusalem March and the charge against three Yad Lachim activists for hurting the religious feelings of a Jehovah’s Witness [both incidents were covered in previous reviews]. They decided on a number of steps to be taken to strengthen Jewish people and to further their knowledge of Judaism.
Possibility of Cancelation of Jerusalem because of Messianic Jews (Hashavua B’yerushalyim (9/11/00, 16/11/00)
In an article and a response following, a report was carried on the recent annual Jerusalem March held during Succot. The headline of both of the articles carried the words ‘missionary march,’ and both commented on the large number of complaints that had been received from the public regarding the participation of Messianic Jews in the annual march. The future of the march is under discussion and the possibility of cancelation is being debated in the Jerusalem municipality. The participation of Messianic Jews who, by carrying signs that advertise their religious views and could injure the sensitivities of the public was the reason for given for possible cancelation of the march.
Baptism of Seven Israelis by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Laws Regarding Missionary Activity (Hed Hakrayot 10/11/00, Hadshudati 17/11/00)
Yad Lachim activists photographed a baptism held by Jehovah’s witnesses that took place in Haifa two weeks before the first article was published. According to this report, seven Israelis were baptized: three recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union and four Israelis.
The first article goes on to say that missionary work is not prohibited by law, unless it is directed at minors or conversion is rewarded financially or done by force. The director of the northern branch of Yad Lachim, Mordechai Tomshapolski remarked, “The law does not prohibit the conversion of a Jew to another religion… But for us, every Jew who converts to Christianity is a shock to the Jewish people.” He goes on to say that he sees the immigration from the former Soviet Union as one of the reasons for the increased number of conversions and increased inter-marriage between Jews and non-Jews.
Messiah Now, an Evening on the History of Messiahs (Ayalon 10/11/00)
An evening on messianic history was held in Rishon Lezion on November 15th. Four scholars were to take part in the gathering, and speak on the mysterious Essene messiah named Menahem, who preceded Jesus. His story is extraordinarily similar to that of Jesus, as is becoming evident from literature found in Qumran. They were to speak also on the history of messianism, and discuss various messianic expectations, from the time of the Old Testament and from traditional Jewish beliefs. They were also to speak on various individuals who claimed to be the messiah and on messianic movements that claim to bring redemption in various ways.
Evangelical Christian’s Money Used to bring Ukrainian girls to live inUltra-orthodox Jewish Educational Institution in Israel (Kol Ha’ir 10/11/00)
Rabbi Yehiel Eckstein, chairman of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews which raises funds for Israel among communities of Evangelical Christians, was present at the opening of an archaeological garden at an Ultra-orthodox institution to which Ukrainian girls were brought through funding of the fellowship. The writer of the article remarks that it now appears that MP Meir Porush doesn’t seem to mind that the money came from those who are seen by him as idolaters. “It doesn’t matter where the money is from. What’s important is the cause,” said Porush.
“Missionary Attack” on Tel Aviv – Messianic Jews Put 120,000 Envelopes in Mailboxes (Hamodia Hebrew edition 14/11/00 and English edition 24/11/00, Hadshot Mishpakhah 16/11/00, Yom Hashishi 17/11/00, Shisha Yamim 17/11/00)
These Ultra-orthodox papers all include virtually identical articles on this incident. They report that Messianic Jews launched a massive missionizing campaign the week before the first article. The Messianic Jews distributed 120,000 letters in residents’ mailboxes, inviting them to order free tapes on Christianity (or on “That Man” in the Hebrew articles). According to Yad Lachim sources, about 1,000 people ordered tapes.
Yad Lachim chariman, Rabbi Shalom Lipschitz said that this marks an intensification of missionary activity in Israel, which goes on unhindered. He condemned the Israeli authorities for turning a blind eye to this blatant proselytizing.
The articles report that Yad Lachim activists have launched various activities aimed at combating the missionary campaigns, though details cannot be made public. They ask the public to cooperate with Yad Lachim by informing them if the missionaries try to infiltrate Ultra-orthodox neighborhoods.
Palestinian Christian Leaders Join Discussions of the Islamic Convention (Yated Neeman 14/11/00)
This Ultra-orthodox Jewish paper reports that prominent Palestinian Christian officials have joined the Palestinian delegation to the Islamic Convention. The Christian delegates explained that their purpose was to display a united front against Israel, and to express that the suffering was of all Palestinians, Muslim and Christian alike. They added that they had joined the delegation at the request of Yasser Arafat.
Archbishop Theodosius Hanna, form the Greek Orthodox Jerusalem Patriarchate said that it will not be possible to achieve peace in the Middle East unless a Palestinian state is formed, with Jerusalem as its capital. “Jerusalem is occupied Arab land, and we don’t recognize the annexation. That is the Church’s position,” he added. “We do not think that Jerusalem should have international status, because that means relinquishing Arab rights to the city. Jerusalem is an Arab-Palestinian city and the capital of a sovereign Palestinian state.”
Letters to the Editor – Christians write to the Jerusalem Post (The Jerusalem Post 14/11/00, 15/11/00, 24/11/00)
Letter from three Christians from Holland and the USA were published in the Jerusalem Post. The writers expressed their support for Israel during the recent difficulties. All told of their belief that the Land of Israel was promised to the Jews by God, and one mentioned his belief that Jerusalem should remain united under Israeli sovereignty as the eternal capital of Israel.
Protestant Minister Protests French President’s Stance on Israel (Hazofeh 15/11/00)
This Ultra-orthodox daily, reports on a letter recently published in a Jewish-French paper, by a protestant minister regarding the Middle East peace process. Gerald Frohenschultz in his letter to the French president objects to the president’s referral to the Temple Mount as the Mosque Plaza. In Frohenschultz’s opinion, this expresses all to clearly a pro-Palestinian position regarding the current crisis. Instead of France stepping in to bring resolution to the crisis, this remark adds fuel to the fire. Frohenschultz reminds the President that although the Temple Mount is the third most important place to Muslims, it is the only Jewish holy place.
The minister goes on to say that Scripture clearly states that the temple was given to the Jewish people until the coming of the Messiah, and that although he does not wish to get involved in political matters, this issue is clearly biblical. He goes on to say that it is not good to defy prophecy, because a nation cannot fight the Lord.
Frohenschultz claims that his opinion is one held by many Christians around the world and in France, and that many of them are planning to come to Israel, where they have Jewish-Christian as well as Palestinian friends, some believers and some non-believers.
Orthodox Women at the Wall Fear Takeover by Messianic Jews (Kol HaIr, 17/11/00)
This local Jerusalem paper reports on the opposition of a group of orthodox Jewish women to the efforts of the group ‘Women at the Wall’ to organize monthly prayers of women at the Western Wall. The opposition group fears that opening the Western Wall to women will lead to messianic groups, ‘like Jews for Jesus’ having access to prayer at the Wall. One of the article’s headlines reads “A group of orthodox women, ‘Voices of the Wall,’ has suddenly taken a stance against the group ‘Women of the Wall,’ fearing that after Anat Hoffman, the Messianic Jews will come.”
American Roman Catholic Bishops Support Palestinians (Jerusalem Post 17/11/00)
A pro-Palestinian declaration by US Roman Catholic bishops was criticized by the American Jewish Committee on grounds that it did not call upon Palestinians to “fully respect the religious liberties of its citizens.” The Jewish committee also noted that Palestinians have desecrated Jewish holy sites, and that some Moslem leaders had urged “attacks on Jews worldwide.”
Solidarity with Israel Reception for Christian Supporters (Jewish Chronicle 17/11/00)
This British weekly reports on a “Solidarity with Israel” reception for Christian supporters that took place at the Israeli Embassy in London. The Israeli Ambassador, Dror Zeigerman, explained Israel’s stance in the recent crisis.
In reply, the six Christian group leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a Jewish state, as long as its people “remain faithful to God.” Michael Young of Christian Action for Israel said, “Israel will be a happier nation when its people are more God fearing.”
Freddie Knoller, a key figure in forging the relationship with Christian groups supporting Israel also addressed the reception. He noted that for an Austrian Jew like himself, the idea of Christian backing for Israel had been “like a dream.” Having come from “the anti-Semitic atmosphere of Vienna,” he reflected, “it took some time to get used to the idea of Christians who love Israel and the Jewish people.”
“A Journey Into Christian Art” (The Jerusalem Post 17/11/00)
In this review of a book on Christian art written by Helen de Borchgrave, the reviewer mentions some of the author’s remarks regarding Jews.
Meir Ronen, the reviewer, remarks, “The New Testament is barely tolerant of Jews, despite the Jewishness of the Son of God and all the disciples. Christian art, with its great themes of salvation illustrating biblical stories, was sometimes quite antisemitic too, but such works were the exception and none are to be found in this book. It is disappointing then, to find the author inserting nasty little digs about the Jews and their religion in the course of supplying the context of various artistic interpretations of the biblical story and the role of the Pharisees in getting rid of an unwanted troublemaker.”
Ronen goes on to say the Christ’s Jewishness is referred to only obliquely, whereas wayward and rigid Jews, like the Prodigal Son or the Cohen and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, are identified as Jewish.
An Interview with the President of Middle East Television (HaAretz 24/11/00)
In this secular daily, Michael Carter, president of cable’s Middle East Television (METV) channel, is interviewed, mostly regarding disagreements with the Israeli government over rights to air commercials.
The writer of the article remarks that, in many ways, METV owes its existence to Israel. When the station first went on the air in Southern Lebanon in 1982, the Israeli government was happy about the relatively pro-Israel news broadcasts and supported the station. At the time, nobone was concerned about the “blatantly missionizing character” of the station, especially of “The 700 Club.”
Michael Carter was born again (or “discovered religion”), in 1975. He tells of this turning point in his life with excitement. He came to know the Lord through “The 700 Club” and a friend, and the article includes his testimony.
When the interviewer starts asking Carter questions about the station’s programming agenda, especially with regards to evangelistic broadcasts into Israel, Carter explains that anyone who wishes to, can change the channel. “We have our ideology, but only 5% of our programs are religious, and they are not directed at Jews, but at Christians.” When accused of an apocalyptic ideology which supports instability in the Middle East, he says that [the staff] believe in the Battle of Gog and Magog because God said it would happen, but that doesn’t mean that they would promote it. “Quite the contrary – our role as Christians is to promote peace in the Middle East, and that’s what we’ve been doing during the 18 years of our existence.”
Israel’s Government Described as “Christian” (Kolbo 24/11/00)
In this Haifa weekly, a reader makes the following remarks: “The Pope must be very content in recent days. The government of Israel has finally seen the light: its leaders are acting like real Christians. The government is turning the other cheek of Israeli citizens to the Palestinians, holding back, and behaving with cowardice that it calls “restraint.” The government is creating demoralization and paralysis among the public by sending out warnings of an all-out conflict that would occur if we dare to respond.
“This very Christian response, of the martyr who takes a beating without responding, conveys weakness and encourages Palestinians and the rest of the Arab nations to declare a full-scale war in order to destroy Israel as it wallows in its weakness…”
41% of Russian Immigrants are Non-Jews (MaAriv 22/11/00, HaTzofeh 28/11/00, HaModia 29/11/00)
Both the secular and religious press report on a recent survey that was done by a professor from Haifa University. According to the findings of the survey, 41% of the immigrants who arrived during the years 1995-1999 are not Jews. The survey also showed that each year the number of non-Jews arriving is increasing, from 20% in the beginning of the 1990’s to 68% so far in the year 2000.
The increasing percentages of non-Jewish immigrants to Israel is causing concern in both the secular and religious camps. According to Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Michael Melchior, at the present time there are 250,000 non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Israel.
Protest Against Construction of Hesed Ve’Emet’s “Missionary Center” at Kanot Junction (Hamodia 28/11/00)
This Ultra-orthodox paper announces a protest that was scheduled to take place Wednesday, November 28th at Kanot Junction. The writer calls on people to come and protest the laying of the cornerstone for a “church that will preach for conversion out of the Jewish religion.” According to information received by Yad Lachim, the congregation of “Hesed Ve’Emet” from Rishon Lezion is planning to build a large hall in which they are planning to hold missionary gatherings. The paper claims to know of two other missionary churches in Moshav Bnei Aish that meet in private homes.
The flyers distributed in the area warned, “Don’t let the missionaries gain a foothold in our area, in our souls, and in the souls of our children.”
Christmas Celebrations Canceled in Bethlehem (The Jerusalem Post 30/11/00)
There will be no Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem this year, beyond religious observances, said city officials on Nov. 29th, citing the continued Israeli-Palestinian fighting. Seven Palestinians from the Bethlehem area have been killed in two months of rock-throwing clashes and gun battles with the IDF troops. Israel has also imposed a strict blockade on Bethlehem, keeping residents in and tourists out.
“In view of the very bad situation we are living in,” said Tony Marcos, a municipality spokesman, “it doesn’t make sense that we celebrate.”