Caspari Center Media Review…………………June 2002, #2
In the period covered by this review, 66 articles appeared in the Israeli Hebrew and English press that dealt with the subjects of Messianic Jews, the Mission and Christianity. Of these:
- 15 dealt with Christian support of Israel
- 10 dealt with missionary activity
- 6 dealt with the status of non-Jews in Israel
- 5 dealt with anti-missionary activity
- 4 dealt with Greek Orthodox issues
- 4 dealt with Catholic matters
- 2 human interest stories
The remaining 20 articles were single articles dealing with matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
Christian Support of Israel (International Herald Tribune, 10/06/02; Yated Ne’eman, 07/06/02, 21/06/02; HaAretz, 21/06/02; MaAriv 23/06/02; Jerusalem Post, 11/06/02, 14/06/02, 18/06/02, 26/06/02; HaTzofeh, 28/06/02; HaAretz, 17/06/02, 28/06/02; The Jerusalem Report, 17/06/02)
All of the major Hebrew and English daily papers, both secular and religious as well as some of the weekly papers report on increased Christian support of Israel. The papers also printed a number of letters to the editor that expressed Christian support of Israel.
Several ariticles covered the story of the recent two million dollar donation from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews that was used to fund the immigration of 531 American immigrants to Israel. These new immigrants will each receive grants of between $5,000 – $30,000 to help with their absorption in Israel. Most of the funding is from Christian sources.
Other articles report on growing cooperation between Jewish and Christian groups. Several ‘Christian leaders’ attended the recent 34th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem as a part of the delegation from the British Zionist Federation.
The Jerusalem Post (14/06/09) reported on an iniative by Earl G. Cox, an American Evangelical Christian, who is sponsoring a series of 20-30 second commercials to be screened for a month on Israel Channel 2. These ads express Christian support of Israel. Cox is a former US government official and political strategist who has served in four presidential administrations.
In another story, (Jerusalem Post, 11/06/02) covered a conference held in Dallas Texas where over 4,000 Christians gathered to hear Jerusalem’s mayor, Ehud Olmert speak on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. $400,000 was raised at that event to be used for victims of terrorism in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Prayer Team, led by Mike Evans sponsored this event.
Argentinean Immigrants Targeted by Missionaries ( HaTzofeh, 11/06/02; HaModia, 12/06/02, 14/06/02; Hadashot Mishpacha, 13/06/02; HaShavua B’Yerushaliam, 13/06/02; Yom L’Yom, 13/06/02)
These religious papers all report on missionary activity directed towards the large numbers of new immigrants from Argentina. Spanish speaking people (who are missionaries) are organizing free tours of Israel for the new immigrants. According to this article the tours have a clear missionary agenda. “The missionaries target specific, vulnerable groups for their dubious, destructive goals. But their favorite groups are people who aren’t established financially and who can easily be drawn into cult activity with the lure of money and presents.”
Word of Life Sweden Plans to Build Large Christian Center in Jerusalem (Iton Yerushaliam, 14/06/02)
Ulf Ekmann, pastor and leader of Word of Life Ministries from Uppsala, Sweden came to Israel at the head of a group of over 100 persons from 16 different nations. This was a trip to express solidarity with Israel. Ekmann spoke of his intention to build a ‘giant’ Christian center in Jerusalem. This center would be used to teach thousands of students from all over the world about the Old Testament, Judaism, Christianity, and Middle Eastern Politics.
Ekmann is an unconditional supporter of Israel. His organization has been responsible for the immigration of thousands of Russian speaking immigrants to Israel to the extent of purchasing a boat to transport them from the former Soviet Union. He said he belongs to a movement that “comes to bring the Old Testament closer to the community of believers and unconditionally supports the Jewish people and emphasizes the importance of the Jewish people to the world. In my estimation, there are about 500 million Christians who belong to churches and different Christian organizations whose world view is similar to ours.”
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Condemns Terror (Jerusalem Post 26/06/02)
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Irineos I, sent a letter in Hebrew to Israel’s president, Moshe Katzav, in which he condemned terror, “I, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Irineos I, call for the leaders of all faiths to unite in full and clear condemnation of the terrible act and ask them to work together to prevent more such appalling acts in the future…” Patriarch Irineos I is as yet not officially recognized by Israel.
Vatican Approves Tourism to Israel (Jerusalem Post, 18/06/02; MaAriv, 28/06/02)
A decision to renew pilgrimage to Israel was taken by the Vatican. The Vatican announced this decision on June 17th and indicated that it was to take effect immediately. Pilgrimage sites are Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The first group of Italian pilgrims arrived in the week of June 22nd. It is estimated that there are over one billion Catholics worldwide so the potential for tourism to Israel is great.
Chosen People Ministries Loses Court Case (HaModia, 14/06/02)
In a ruling handed down by a Canadian Federal Court judge, Chosen People Ministries lost the “Official Mark” status for their use of a stylized menorah. This status had been approved two and a half years ago but was contested by the Canadian Jewish Congress on the grounds that the menorah is an ancient and distinctly Jewish symbol. This official status granted an even broader protection than that granted to trademarks. The CJC particularly objected to Chosen People Ministries use of the symbol saying “Hebrew-Christian missionary groups like Chosen People Ministries and Jews for Jesus flourish on deception. They create the misleading perception of Jewish affiliation through their appropriation of Jewish religious symbols, holidays, traditions and terminology, all to facilitate their proselytizing campaigns.”
The court handed down their 24 page ruling on May 28 stating that “It would be counter productive to prohibit Jewish organizations and associations from using and adopting a mark such as the menorah, since it has always been historically associated with the Jewish culture.”
Law of Return to be Changed (Yidiot Achronot, 26/06/02)
In this article written by a prominent Israeli media personality, Yaron London, he reports that the government has decided to ammend the Law of Return. Up until now, the Law of Return granted citizeship to the grandchild of a Jewish grandfather, even if he (the grandfather) was the child of a non-Jewish mother and grandfather. The article states that from now on, this will be permitted only if the grandfather also immigrates to Israel. In this case the justification is considered to be family reunification. The change does not affect an individual whose maternal grandmother is Jewish. There are further ramifications of this ammendment that remain to be determined.
The change in the Law of Return is occassioned by the large number of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are non-Jewish. This has given rise to the statistic that over 10% of all those who are currently serving in the Israeli army are non Jews. Most of these non-Jewish soldiers have expressed a desire to convert to Judaism but due to the strict controls on conversion they are not encouraged to take this step. The writer of the article recommends that the army itself should implement a progam for the conversion of those who wish to convert to Judaism and thus take conversion out of the control of the orthodox.