Caspari Center Media Review……December, 2002 #1
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 50 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 11 dealt with Anti-Missionary attitudes
- 9 dealt with Christian support of Israel
- 6 dealt with Anti-Missionary legislation
- 5 dealt with Issues pertaining to Culture and the Arts
- 4 dealt with Christian Sites
- 3 dealt with Missionary activities
- 2 dealt with Book review
- 1 dealt with Status of Non-Jews in Israel
- 1 dealt with Christian History
- 1 dealt with Jewish/Christian Relations
The remaining 7 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
Anti Missionary Attitudes
(Yom le Yom 21/11/02) (Ha’aretz 21/11/02) (Hamodia 15/11/02, 22/11/02, 01/12/02) (Yediot Ahronot 24/11/02, 26/11/02) (Yom Hashishi 15/11/02) (Ba Kehila 28/11/02) (Mishpaha 28/11/02) (Hashavua ba Hadashot 29/11/02)
Yom Hashishi (15/11/02) ran an exclusive two-page article regarding “Christians Belonging to Emma Berger’s Missionary Cult.” The story was published on the occasion of the group’s take over of a factory in a Samaritan settlement. The factory produces purification instruments for use against A.B.C. (Atomic, Biological and Chemical) attacks. The journalist claims that the missionaries are taking control of the settlement by promising to hire resident unemployed settlers. The head of the regional council, Benzi Liberman, supports the new venture. Although there were rumors that Emma Berger’s followers were involved at the forefront of missions in Israel in the past, Yad L’achim claims to have proof that these are indeed active missionaries today to the extent that the profits from their company are designated for missionary activities.
The article goes on to illustrate how the ‘cult’ members looked for ways to penetrate different settlements, and how they eventually, after being rejected by a number of other settlements, chose Chinanit, where the families are vulnerable; being secular Jews and new immigrants, with serious financial difficulties, and ‘no spine’. Yad L’achim activists predict that ‘with dangerous missionaries such as these’ around, within a year or two a center of idol worship will be set up, which will also be used by local residents. When asked why he doesn’t fear a missionary presence in the settlement, Chanan Niv, the Chairman representing the residents, replied, “Only the Gentiles help us, Jews don’t help us at all.”
The article concluded with a related item in which the manager of the industrial area where the company is located, says in response to the article printed above, that a private investigation was carried out before the company was established in order to ensure that there was no missionary intention. Only after it was verified that this was not the case was approval granted.
Three pages in Yom le Yom (21/11/02) were dedicated to the struggles and successes of the anti-missionary organization, Yad L’achim. Their efforts were described as a fifty year long war in which they have recruited hundreds of volunteers and set up tens of their branches. An interview with the organization’s founder, Rabbi Shalom Dov Lipshitz, reveals several of Yad L’achim’s tactics in identifying those whom missionaries ‘target,’ the ways in missionaries approach their ‘victims,’ statistics of Jews who have been negatively exposed to the missions, and how Yad L’achim works to oppose these activities.
Two adjacent columns appear, one of which presents statistics of finances invested in missionary activity, and the numbers of missionary volunteers and congregations in the Land. Several organizations are mentioned, among them are ‘Messianic Jews’ (described as the largest group) who are known abroad as ‘Jews for Jesus,’ missionary centers in Tel Aviv, Petah Tikvah and Rishon le Zion, the Lapid bookstore in Jerusalem, and Dugit bookstore in Tel Aviv.
The second column entitled ‘The Modern Missionary’ describes a large percentage of missionaries acting in Israel as people who were born Jewish, and who later changed their religion. The article describes a missionary as an ordinary looking person, who will try to deceive his/her ‘victim’ by showing that they are Jewish on their identity card, and offering literature that looks Jewish on the cover. The journalist urges the readers to learn to identify missionaries and to warn family members and neighbors of various tactics to look out for.
A clear banner is printed at the bottom of the last page of the article, bearing the words “For reporting details and information, call Yad L’achim”, and displays a toll-free number.
A short article titled “Tens of Young People Continue to Change Their Religion Due to Missionary Activity.” appears in Hamodia (22/11/02). An anonymous group dedicated to educating foreigners in Israel has issued an official document stating that their purpose is to fight missionary efforts.
Articles in two leading newspapers (Yediot Ahronot 24/11/02 and Ha’aretz 21/11/002) reviewed the case of hundreds of soldiers in the South Lebanese army living in the northern Israeli City of Kiryat Shmona, who have apparently turned the local youth center into a ‘church.’ The controversy arose when it was discovered that the soldiers gather every Friday in the presence of a priest who comes from Jaffa with a cross to pray for them. One of the 500 soldiers expressed that the gathering has been happening for the past year and a half and has never bothered anyone before. The city’s Rabbi, Zfania Drory, opposes the soldiers using the local center as their church, and suggested that they use a vacant church in Banias.
The non-profit organization Yedid that aids soldiers, opposed the disruption of the prayers, saying, “It is a pity that on top of the great suffering which the refugees have experienced, the religious establishment is also trying to harm them.”
In addition, a letter to the editor appeared in Yediot Ahronot (26/11/02), maintaining that the Rabbi of Kiryat Shmona has not, either by his attitude or actions, regarded the Lebanese soldiers, in the way the Bible portrays, i.e. to treat the aliens among us with tolerance and to be sensitive to their distress.
Three papers (Mishpaha 28/11/02, Hashavua ba Hadashot 29/11/02, Hamodia 01/12/02) printed articles regarding missionaries trapping innocent religious Jews, by offering workshops that deal with creativity, power, coping with difficulties, improvement of lifestyle, personal and family communications, new abilities, and self-confidence. The articles claim that many of the teachings and exercises are derived from impure sources and blatant idolatry. In addition, it was stated that those who join the workshops become spiritually and socially enslaved, and consequently fall prey to the insatiable greed of those who take advantage of these innocent participants. Yad L’achim warns against attending any workshops or courses without thoroughly checking that it they are not one of those used by the “new method” of the missionaries. In some cases they (Yad L’achim) have “had to” advertise a specific course by name in order to explicitly caution interested parties. A request is made to report each and every such course that is discovered, and provides the telephone number of Yad L’achim in Jerusalem. Rabbi Lipshitz, founder of Yad L’achim clarifies saying, “this is the same method used by the Hellenists, in order to draw more and more Jews, they claimed that they simply want to enrich the Jews’ knowledge and their senses.”
Christian Support of Israel
(Jerusalem Post 18/11/02,19/11/02) (Sha’ar Hanegev 06/11/02) (Israel Today 11/02) (Ha’Aretz English edition 20/11/02) (Ha’aretz 25/11/02) (In Jerusalem 22/11/02, 29/11/02) (Makor Rishon 18/10/02)
Sha’ar Hanegev (06/11/02) reported that tens of members of the Norwegian organization, ‘Christians for Israel,’ attended the opening of a children’s club that was funded by the group on Kibbutz Or Haner. The organization’s motive was to assist Israel in matters of education and immigrant absorption.
Four articles (Jerusalem Post 18/11/02,19/11/02, In Jerusalem 22/11/02, Ha’aretz English Edition 20/11/02) focused on the Christian Coalition’s tour to Israel, and in particular their visit to Hebron, despite the terrorist attack only days earlier. Ha’aretz printed a large photograph of Roberta Combs, President of the organization that represents two million people in America, embracing an Israeli settler at the site of the attack in Hebron. For part of their trip, Knesset member Benny Elon, who commented regarding the connection between the organization and Israel, “The real connection is the understanding that the Bible is not just a book on the shelf, it’s something real”, accompanied the group. Ms. Combs declared that the purpose of the Christian Coalition is to show support for “the greatest ally of our country”.
An “In Jerusalem” (29/11/02) article featured an international group of 1000 solidarity marchers who paraded in the Old City of Jerusalem to “Fight terrorism with tourism.” Within 48 hours of the no. 20 bus bombing in Jerusalem, rallying students collected such a large quantity of gifts for the terror victims that the organizers exclaimed that they don’t know what to do with all of them. One of the Christians was quoted, “I wish to stand with you in your present pain and I pray that your God will strengthen your hands, knees, and hearts in these difficult days facing the nation of Israel.”
An article in Makor Rishon (18/10/02) interviews Knesset member Benny Elon regarding his involvement with and opinion of Christian supporters of Israel. Elon begins by stating that there is a fear by the left winged political parties in Israel, that ‘all of a sudden we will believe in Yeshua,’ and that they worry about what will be when Yeshua ‘really appears again.’ Elon describes his discovery of Christian supporters who stand by Israel in the midst of her difficulties. He presents his view that it is the fulfillment of the Scriptures that Israel is a “light for the nations.” Elon focuses on the Christian Coalition’s power in the U.S. government, and points out that the organization has more congressional influence than that of the Jewish community that makes up only 2.5% of the U.S. population.
Status of Non-Jews in Israel
(Yated Ne’eman 22/11/02)
A full two-page article (Yated Ne’eman 22/11/02) featured statistics of the large number of non-Jewish new immigrants who have come into Israel during the past few years by means of “the Trojan Horse – the Grandchild Law”. The journalist addressed the issue of the immigrants taking advantage of the absorption rights in Israel at the expense of tax paying Israelis, as well as different aspects of the immigrant political parties.
The article speaks about Eli Ishai’s, the Minister of Interior, view of the danger of the new law whereby non-Jewish parents of soldiers serving in the I.D.F. can be granted citizenship once their sons have completed their military service. Ishai suggests approaching the military with the proposal to recruit only young men eligible by the 1950 Law of Return (“Every Jew is eligible to immigrate to Israel”), to the army.
Opinions by a secular non-profit organization named “Majority of Jews in Israel” were expressed. Ms. Geva, the head of the organization stated, “We are completely secular people. However, we want to live in a Jewish nation and for Jews to be the majority. Judaism is my extended family, and I would like to continue living among my family, and not foreigners.”
In continuation, Ms. Geva said that by allowing non-Jews entrance into the Land, it has been an opening to organized crime, drugs, and alcohol abuse, Her hypothesis is that these phenomenon have been rare among Jews, even after two generations of assimilation, and that it has been only the non-Jewish population who have brought these things into Israel in the frightening proportions in which they appear in our society today.
The Grandchild Law is also ‘blamed’ for the issue of the large number of non-Jews granted citizenship in Israel. The “Majority of Jews in Israel” organization claims that more than 70% of those who have immigrated to Israel during the past year are not Jewish.
An article regarding the life and views of the French Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger was featured in Ha’aretz (29/11/02), mentioning that Lustiger is by origin Jewish. The journalist indicates that Lustiger wrote a book that recognizes Christianity’s debt to the Jews and apologizes for persecuting them. The article admits that in 1979, the year Lustiger wrote the book, “Most Christians were not prepared to acknowledge the connection between the Old and New Testaments.” He also mentions that the Pope called Auschwitz the Golgotha of modern times.
After describing Lustiger’s background and how he came to faith, the article quotes him as saying, “Yeshua declared Himself as the Son of God who did not come instead of Israel, but to fulfill the destiny of the nation. He is not an exchange but rather a fulfillment.”
(Jerusalem Post 26/11/02) (Ha’aretz English Edition 25/11/02) (Index Yerushalayim 28/11/02) (Hashavua 29/11/02)
An article in The Jerusalem Post (26/11/02) featured the fear of Bethlehem residents, that Christmas celebrations will be cancelled, due to the I.D.F.’s plan to stay in the city until the end of the year. The residents expressed concern that the military’s presence would lead to both Christmas and New Year celebrations being cancelled. The article goes on to discuss the current situation in Israel, and how it affects Bethlehem and its inhabitants.
A photograph of priests and nuns observing a St. Catherine’s Day mass in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was published in Ha’aretz English Edition (25/11/02). The focus of the picture is the Church’s almost emptiness, and mentions that Israel has closed off the area to prevent terrorists from taking refuge in the church.
Beit Yehudiya in Ein Kerem used to be the home of a Christian-Arab family, which has now been transformed into a museum for Old Testament sources. An American Christian organization, supporters of Israel, opened a Biblical garden on the site three years ago, that consists of authentic archeological findings dating back to the Biblical period in Israel. The feature, printed in Index Yerushalayim (28/11/02) describes the museums history, as well as what one can expect to find there.
(Kol Ha-Ir 29/11/02)
The Latin Patriarch, Michelle Sabach, has been invited to lecture at the Har Hatzofim University, on the occasion of recently published French book that is comprised of interviews with him. Kol Ha-Ir (29/11/02) reported that the Patriarch, renowned for his cool relations towards Israel, is considered to be friendly with Yasser Arafat. Sabach has been publicly known in the past to express his anti-Israel views and is described by Professor Gdalia Stromaza, who invited Sabach to the campus, as a “Palestinian Patriot, but not the first to appear at the university”. The title of the lecture to take place on campus is “Peace upon Jerusalem”. The talk was organized by the Center for Christian Research at the university.
Culture and Arts
(Hadashot Haifa ve HaTzafon 20/11/02) (Tzfon Ha’Ir 20/11/02) (Ha’aretz 24/11/02) (Zman Haifa 22/11/02) (Kolbo 29/11/02)
Four articles in Northern Israel’s weekly magazines (Hadashot Haifa ve HaTzafon 20/11/02, Tzfon Ha’Ir 20/11/02, Zman Haifa 22/11/02, Kolbo 29/11/02) printed information regarding the “Feast of Feasts” Festival taking place for the ninth year in a row in the Nisnas Wadi, with this year’s theme being “The Mediterranean”. The festival takes place annually around the time of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Ramadan, and exhibits art works, concerts of liturgical music, tours, food, and more. The idea of harmony between the religions is the point of convergence.
The sports section in Ha’aretz (24/11/02) ran a feature about Katya Pichesky, who represented Israel in artistic gymnastics in the European Championship, coming in 13th place. The article covered an incident in which Pichesky’s fellow gymnasts from Holon called her a “Goya” (Gentile), told her to return to Russia where she came from, saying she has no place in Israel. One of her peers claimed that Pichesky is not Jewish and that she makes the sign of the cross before each exercise. Two sides are presented in detail by two of Pichesky’s trainers, who argue if the incident did indeed occur.
(Hatzofe 22/11/02) (Channel 2 television 24/11/02)
An article in Hatzofe (22/11/02) entitled “Acclaimed Christians Praise Hebrew,” discusses “Hebrew in the Nations,” a book written by Professor Shlomo Haramati. The review begins by naming the 16th century theologian, Martin Luther, as a hater of Jews, but a lover of Hebrew, and goes on to explain that like him, many other acclaimed Christians throughout the generations praised, and even glorified, the Hebrew language, considering it to be the first tongue in the world. Haramati determines that admiration for Hebrew among acclaimed Christians dates back to the Church Fathers, and continues till the present day. Various chapters of the book are mentioned, including a description of the positive association to Hebrew among Christians throughout the ages: Christians who wrote Hebrew (15th – 20th centuries), Christians who spoke Hebrew (19th century) and those who admired the language. In the final part of the book, Haramati quotes praise for the Hebrew language, expressed by forty Christians, from the time of the Church Fathers until the 20th century.
A televised interview on Channel 2’s program ‘Hotze Yisrael’, hosted by Dov Elboym, featured Dr. Mor Altshuler, who recently published a book titled ‘The Messianic Secret of the Followers’. The book is about the alleged first group who followed the idea of a Messiah, and it’s leader, the Mazloto Herald, who was a disciple of the Ba’al Shem Tov. The interview disclosed that since the 1950’s and 1960’s, when Professor Yusum Shalom, founder of a research method into the Kabbalah, the concept of Messiah has remained stagnant, so much so that until present day, there are researchers who teach anti Messianic ideas in universities. Dov Elboym speculates that in order to develop Zionism and to have hope to improve man’s abilities, it is important to maintain the messianic foundation, to which Dr. Altshuler responds, “Messianism is like a blazing sword turning on and having a hold on its believer. It has a positive side that advances us and pulls us forward. It gives hope and light, but it also has a dark and dangerous side, and it is this side that needs to be latent.”