Caspari Center Media Review…………………….….July # 1
During the period covered by this review, 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 42.
- 12 articles dealt with the dispute between religious Jews and the Scottish Church in Tiberias
- seven articles dealt with Messianic Jews and the Mission
- four articles dealt with the reconstruction of a baptismal site on the Jordan River
- one article dealt with Jewish/Christian relations
The remaining 18 articles were on miscellaneous topics dealing with Christian, Arab, or Jewish matters on their own merit.
Church of Scotland vs. Religious Jews – Follow Up (HaAretz, 22/06/01, 03/07/01, 09/07/01, Yom L’yom, 28/06/01, Yated Ne’eman, 29/06/01, 05/07/01, 06/07/01, The Jerusalem Post, 02/07/01, 03/07/01, Globes, 05/07/01)
This dispute was covered in the June #2 Media Review, but has since become a matter of interest for many more papers, with new developments taking place almost daily. HaAretz secular daily first reports on this issue on June 22. The paper reveals that the Israel Antiquities Authority “has postponed its excavations in the area and it is uncertain when they will begin.” The excavations referred to are of the burial site of some 600 graves. They were postponed due to extreme pressure on the part of religious Jews.
HaAretz informs its readers that “the plans for the project were authorized by the various planning committees without any opposition from the ultra-Orthodox.” However, upon the discovery of several ancient graves, rabbinical heads issued a letter stating that “the struggle against the excavations is a holy duty.” The ultra-Orthodox struggle went so far as to involve the Foreign Ministry and several Knesset Members. Some of these personally contacted the Church of Scotland in Tiberias, asking them to put a stop to their plans.
On June 28 the religious daily Yom L’yom reports that the excavations have been stopped. The paper praises the efforts of the religious communities. It claims that the “holiest of holies” (Jews) are buried at the grave-site, and reminds its readers of the true intent behind the construction of the so-called hotel: a mission center.
Yated Ne’eman, another religious weekly, describes how the Church of Scotland is refusing to cooperate with any of the authorities. The paper states that certain religious authorities “appealed to various members of the church hierarchy, but met only outright rejection. Ironically, when they pointed out to the Church that in Scotland it is illegal to build in a cemetery, they were told curtly, ‘But the law is different in Israel and we are allowed to build there.’” The paper then shifts the blame to the State of Israel, saying that “the State and its institutions have little sympathy for the rights of dead Jews, and it is left to the haredi (religious) community to struggle alone for the basic respect that our ancestors deserve.”
It should be noted that both secular daily papers, HaAretz and The Jerusalem Post, point out that the “religion of those buried in the graves” is not known. It is by no means certain that the grave site is of Jewish origin. The Israel Antiquities Authority planned to carry out excavations that could possibly determine the religious nature of the site, but these excavations, as mentioned earlier, were put on hold as a result of growing religious activity.
On July 3, HaAretz reported that “about 40 religious Jews from Tiberias and Jerusalem went wild yesterday morning at the Scottish Church in Tiberias. They tried to break through the fences surrounding the building site of the hotel of the Church of Scotland… According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, the police informed them (the IAA) that they had received instructions from ‘high up’ not to secure archeological excavations at the site.” As a result, the excavations were halted for fear of the safety of those involved. If the police would not secure the site, the threat of attack was too great.
The Scottish Church in Tiberias is considering taking the matter to the High Court of Justice. One paper claimed that the Church will use the money for this project ($20 million) to build a church in Edinburgh if the struggle proves too difficult. In response to religious accusations of breaking the law, the Church said that it has “acted in accordance with the law from the moment the ancient tombs were found at the site.”
The Jewish Agency Working with Missionaries (Chadashot Hamishpacha, 28/06/01, Hamodia, 03/07/01)
These religious papers report on what seems to them to be very disturbing information. The writers assure their readers from the outset that all their information is well researched, well documented, and true to the very core. They claim to have detected a link between the Jewish Agency and mission organizations such as Mivtsa Zabotinski (Operation Jabotinsky) and Even Ezer (Ebenezer). The papers claim that “it is now clear, without a doubt, that hundreds of Jews with no financial means are sent by the Jewish Agency to missionary elements who adopt these Jews and, by various temptations, take them in and eventually cause them to convert. All this is done through direct cooperation with the Jewish Agency.”
The papers then go on to “name and shame” the organizations and individuals involved in such missionary activity. The fact that Even Ezer helps the Jewish Agency bring Jews by ship is a matter of great concern to Yad L’achim. The voyage lasts several days (as opposed to several hours by plane) providing the missionaries with ample opportunity to brain-wash the new immigrants. Avi Mizrahi and his congregation – Adonai Roi – are then named as missionary activists.
One Jewish family who made Aliya found itself entangled in this “relationship” between the missionaries and the Jewish Agency. Olga Lomov, a widow with eight children, decided to make aliya. She made her way to the Jewish Agency office in Samara where a Christian secretary told her she would be well taken care of when she arrived in Israel. The secretary gave her the name of Yuri Kalmakov, and told the woman he’d be waiting for her at the airport. When Olga and her family arrived in Israel, Yuri met them and took them to their new apartment. Several days later, Yuri returned and forced the woman and her children to go to a Christian prayer meeting. The woman, feeling obliged to Mr. Kalmakov for the apartment, did not protest. Yad L’achim, however, got hold of this story, and were able to rescue the woman and her children from the clutches of the mission by taking on all her expenses.
Yad L’achim claims to have a tape in which Kalmakov states that he tells the immigrants about Jesus “only if they want. We do not force anybody…”
Yad L’achim then asks, “who knows how many hundreds of Jews have been baptised into Christianity with the blessing of the Jewish Agency?”
The agency’s response: “The Jewish Agency operates an organized system in order to bring immigrants to Israel, and does not send them for processing to any other organization. Having said that, the Agency cannot prevent the activities of other organizations who contact the immigrants personally and help them (on their own initiative) to come to Israel by different means. It should be noted that once the immigrants arrive in Israel they are handed over to the care of the Ministry of Absorption.”
Jews Fight Against Messianic Jews in England, the United States and Russia (Jerusalem Post, 08./07/01, Yeted Ne’emaan,, 15/06/01)
Jews for Judaism and Jewish leaders in the US, Russia and England have organized to act against the efforts of various Messianic organizations and their summer outreach campaigns. The organizations mentioned are Jews for Jesus and Chosen People Ministries.