Caspari Center Media Review…………………..August, 2002 #2
In the period of time covered by this review, we received 55 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 15 articles dealt with Church related issues.
- 10 dealt with Christian support of Israel.
- 12 dealt with Missionary activity.
- 1 dealt with messianic issues.
- 9 dealt with non-Jewish immigration to Israel.
- 4 dealt with issues in Israeli society
The remaining 4 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
Messianic Hebrew (Ma’ariv 02.08.02)
This article studied the messianic movement’s struggle for identity and recognition in light of its use of modern Hebrew. The article also compared parallels between the linguistics of Christianity and Judaism. The article reviewed various words that messianic Jews have brought into use, such as the Hebrew equivalents for the words evangelism, reconciliation, testimony, and congregation. It explained how by ‘resurrecting’ rarely used biblical words along with daily Hebrew, Messianics are able to express key ‘Christian’ concepts that were previously non-existent in today’s Hebrew language.
The article explained the messianic movement’s struggle for legitimacy through its fight for use of the proper biblical name of Jesus (Yeshua) instead of the derogatory name (Yeshu) used by the majority of Israelis. Another example is the term “Messianic Jew” itself, which was chosen over others after much debate. It was thought that terms such as “Hebrew Christian” denoted a separation from Jewish roots whereas “Messianic Jew” preserved the Jewish identity of one who believes in the Jewish Messiah.
Readers were referred to recent articles from the messianic magazine “Kivun” for further reference.
Involvement of Christian Leaders (Ha’arets 11.08.02, 12.08.02) (The Jerusalem Post 12.08.02)
These articles reported an unprecedented meeting between Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah and Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in Gaza City. Accompanied by Christian clerics, Sabbah sought to renew a dialogue between Palestinian officials in order to bring and end to violent Hamas terror attacks that have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis. “We are not seeking promises from any human being, we are hearing and making a dialogue with everyone, and depending on our Lord Jesus Christ.” said Sabbah.
In an additional attempt to intervene on behalf of peace in the mid-east, Pope John Paul II issued a strong statement against terror attacks in his weekly sermon. The pope stressed that there is no justification for the killing of innocents and expressed his sympathy for the victims of violence on both sides.
Non- Jewish Immigration (Ma’ariv 06.08.02, 12.08.02) (Yediot Aharonot 09.08.02, 14.08.02) (Yated Ne’eman 13.08.02, 14.08.02) (HaTsofe 14.08.02) (Iton Yerushalayim 09.08.02)
Nine different articles reported an increase of non-Jewish immigration which apparently has peaked during the past months. They report that although the amount of immigrants entering Israel has grown lately, the percentage of Jews has decreased.
According to the religious paper ‘Yated Ne’eman’ (13.08.02), in the last few months most of the immigrants, especially those from the C.I.S, have not been Jewish. It reports that they are encouraged to leave their homes and come to Israel even though many have no religious or
Zionist connection to the country. Apparently many are assisted by the Christian ‘Ebenezer Fund.’
Different personages warned that the result of this would be a ‘demographic disaster’ in which the Jewish majority in Israel would disappear while allowing missionary organizations to grow and gain influence. “Is this the reason that a Jewish nation was founded…for thousands of Christian refugees?” said former Prisoner of Zion Joseph Medelovitch.
On a related issue, several articles commented concerning a group of Russian Israelis who, in a letter President Putin, asked for a Russian autonomy in Israel. They claimed that they felt foreign in Israel as a result of the country’s dominant Jewish identity. This letter caused much controversy and one article summed up its reply in one phrase: “Go back to Russia!”
Anti-Missionary Activity (HaModia 02.08.02,12.08.02) (Yom Ha Shishi 02.08.02, 09.08.02) (Hadashot Mishpacha 01.08.02) (Shisha Yamim 01.08.02) (Iton Tel Aviv 02.08.02)
Several Religious newspapers warned in most urgent tones against the building of a ‘Missionary’ center by the name of “Mila Shel Chaim” (Word of Life) in Jerusalem. These different papers reported that massive efforts were being made by organizations such as Yad L’achim in order to prevent such a thing from happening.
Yom HaShishi reported that in a letter to Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, the chairman of Yad L’achim stressed the dangers of missionary activity. In his reply, Olmert spoke of the need for tolerance towards all three of the religions for whom Jerusalem is Holy, and that this tolerance in itself would be a testimony to Jewish thought.
Studies of Society (Gesher Summer 2002) (HaUma Summer 2002) (Azure Summer 2002)
Three longer articles presented different in-depth studies of Israeli society and its changing Jewish identity in light of current events.
- On the National State- Part Two: Guardian of the Jews
This article is the second in a three-part essay by Yoram Hazony, president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and author of ‘The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel’s Soul’ (Basic Books and The New Republic 2000).
This section of the essay studied the need for a state that is Jewish in essence in light of Zionist political tradition. The author reviewed the three traditional purposes of the Jewish state 1.) as a solution to persecution in the Diaspora, 2.) a state that would allow the founding of a Jewish culture and 3.) enable the development of an independent Jewish character. “…It is important to remind ourselves why we should accept the burden of building and sustaining a Jewish state …to establish our loyalty to the idea of a Jewish state on firmer foundations it is necessary to understand the purpose of this state and it is to such an exploration that I will devote the remainder of this essay.”
- Between a Rock and a Hard Place: a Comparison of Islamic, Jewish and Christian Thought
This is a study of the fundamental differences between ethics of the three religions, and how these have affected the way that Israel is seen in the world in light of current events and terror attacks by Muslim extremists. The author, Sarit Yelov, explains how growing anti- Israeli sentiments in the world may be due in part to the monumental differences between the Christian tradition of “turning the other cheek” and the Islamic ‘Jihad’, the Holy war, which brings justification to the killing of non-Muslims.
- Israeli Assimilation: Towards Changes in the Jewish Collective- its Identity and Limitations.
Daily, 125 immigrants arrive in Israel of which 90 are not Jewish and 10 of this number are non-Jews converted to Judaism. This means that in fact every day 80 non-Jews join the ‘Jewish collective’ in Israel. In addition, over ten percent of the population is made up of foreign workers and immigrants who are not Jewish. “From these statistics it becomes apparent that today Israel is on the brink of a “serious social, religious, political and national problem of the sensitive issue of collective identity.” In this article Asher Cohen writes of the impact that these demographic changes will have on Israeli society in the future.