Caspari Center Media Review………………September, 2002 #2
In the period of time covered by this review, we received 61 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 12 articles dealt with Church related issues.
- 15 dealt with Christian support of Israel.
- 17 dealt with Missionary and counter-missionary activity
- 9 dealt with the status issues of non-Jews in Israel
The remaining 8 articles dealt with individual matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
Feast of Tabernacles (Ha’aretz 18.09.02, 22.09.02) (HaTsofe 19.09.02) (Yediot 22.09.02)
Several articles reported on the twenty-third annual ‘Feast of Tabernacles Convention’ held by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. The feast brought thousands of Christians to the country for the eight-day celebration of Succoth, where events included the traditional ‘Jerusalem March’ and ceremonies with the attendance of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Moshe Katsav. Organizers say that over 2,000 visitors from 70 different countries participated in the celebrations.
The convention was begun in 1980 by the ICE in order to show support for Israel when most countries removed their embassies from Jerusalem when East Jerusalem was annexed to the rest of the city.
Christian Support of Israel (Jerusalem Post 05.09.02, 20.09.02) (HaTsofe 13.09.02)
Several different articles reviewed the continuing Christian support of Israel and the dynamics of Christian Jewish relations in light of this support. These included reports of different donations and rallies on Israel’s behalf and some of the articles quoted various Christian leaders voicing their support for Israel.
The reports showed how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is reflected in the political sphere within the American Church. While most of the Evangelical community strongly supports Israel, and persons such as Franklin Graham have come out as blatantly anti-Islam, other factions in the church have complained of the Bush administration’s ‘one- sided’ support of Israel and have demanded a change in U.S. government policy.
Anti-missionary Activity (Tsomet HaSharon 06.09.02) (Hamodia 10.09.02, 19.09.02) (HaShavua b’Yerushalayim 05.09.02) (Yom l’Yom 05.09.02)
Seven articles, all in the religious press, featured lengthy reports under headlines like ‘Christian Friends of Israel Have Flown Young People from Settlements to America to Christian Brainwashing Camps.’ The papers report that the anti-missionary department of Yad L’Achim uncovered this grave and dangerous phenomena that began last summer in which the missionaries held intense teaching sessions and attempted to brainwash the youth and convert them to Christianity. Apparently, a Christian group had previously raised funds for the settlement of Ariel and invited the youth to participate in summer camps abroad.
Other papers warned against missionaries who would be participating in the annual ‘Jerusalem March.’ Along with more general warnings along the same lines, several different articles warned of a center that has begun to work among Russian Jews in Brooklyn, New York.
Shas International also canceled a large convention that was to be held at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem. Shas reported that this was a result or the center’s refusal to cancel different Christian events that were to be held there and promised to continue their fight against the mission in order to expel them from the Holy City.
Foreign Workers “The Seven Good Years” (Zman Tel-Aviv 13.09.02) (HA’arets 15.09.02)
Two articles discussed the problems facing foreign workers in Israel and reported on the deportation of some earlier this month. Among those deported were two leaders of the Ghanean church in Tel Aviv. Their midnight arrest was a shock to the community whose church has been a ray of light in the midst of nightclubs and massage parlors. It was usual to have visits from key Israeli personalities. Their spokesman, Anthony Hedrosepo was quoted as saying, “ Seven years everyone came; policemen, politicians and journalists. We honored them all because we preach love and peace…for us now the seven bad years have come. We are afraid to leave our homes.” (Zman Tel Aviv, 13.09.02). The community as a whole recognizes the government’s right to deport illegal workers, but they never imagined that they would be taken away in the middle of the night and kept jailed in difficult conditions.
Along with the fear of sudden deportation, foreign workers must deal with many difficult adjustments. Many who come are separated from their families for long periods of time and must also deal with changes that Israeli culture imposes on all aspects of their lives Now, with the birth of their children they face new problems of a generation that is born in Israel but has virtually no identity or rights. Hanna Zohar, the manager of a hotline that helps foreign workers, said earlier “the expulsion is unnecessary, it costs us both financially and also damages the way that the world sees us…It’s not enough that we have the Palestinian problem, now we need to be seen as cruel to these foreign workers as well?” (Zman Tel-Aviv 13.09.02)
Status Issues (Chadashot Mishpacha 12.09.02) (Globus 13.09.02) (Ma’ariv 19.09.02) (Jerusalem Post 19.09.02)
Several newspapers covered an assortment of situations concerning status issues. One article dealt with a custody battle between a Christian and a Jewish family over a child. A second article reported an instance in which a woman who kept her shop open during the Sabbath received a fine and is now in the process of conversion in order to be allowed to keep her business open. Another article reported on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s promise to give citizenship to non-Jewish parents of soldiers.
In another story, much controversy was caused when the Deputy Minister of Education, Avraham Ravitz, was quoted saying that Jewish children should learn in different schools from ‘goy’ children. In response, Building Minister Natan Sharansky asked the government to reasses Ravitz’s position. The government also received complaints from the Anti Defamation League and from M.K Tomi Lapid, chairman of the ‘Shinui’ party about these ‘racist’ remarks. Ravitz himself claimed that separating education was acceptable in all democratic countries and that his remarks were not racist.
Catholics, Jews and the work of Reconciliation (The New York Times 15.09.02)
In the midst of religious conflict and turmoil, news of reconciliation provides a ray of hope. In August, a group of Roman Catholic Bishops and American Rabbis issued a joint statement entitled ‘Reflections on Covenant and Mission.’ In the document, the Catholic Church states that it ‘has come to recognize that its mission of preparing for the coming of the kingdom of God is shared with the Jewish people… which in essence is recognition of the legitimacy of Jewish theology.’ The statement also contained a commitment to stop attempts to convert Jews.
Although most were in favor of these steps, some Christian organizations were strongly opposed, saying that the fact that Jews would be denied access to evangelism was ‘theological discrimination.’ Cardinal W.H Keeler, head of relations with Jews at the Bishops conference, noted that the document was not so much a formal position but an encouragement for reflection. This approach continues the policy set by Pope John Paul ll that has worked toward improving relations with Jews as part of an apology for Christian aggression throughout history.