Caspari Center Media Review……January, 2003 #1
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 74 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 19 dealt with Christian Festivals
- 15 dealt with Jewish/Christian Relations
- 14 dealt with Anti-Missionary attitudes
- 7 dealt with Christian support of Israel
- 5 dealt with Christian Symbols
- 3 dealt with Christian Sites
- 2 dealt with Book reviews
- 2 dealt with Status of Non-Jews in Israel
- 2 dealt with Jewish/Christian Dialogue
- 1 dealt with Business and Commerce
- 1 dealt with Anti-Semitism
- 1 dealt with Messianic Jews
The remaining 2 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
Anti Missionary Attitudes
(Kol Ha Bira Dec. 12, 2002) (Yom Hashishi Dec. 27, 2002) (Jerusalem Post Jan. 02, 2003) (Hamodia Jan. 03, 2003, Jan. 09, 2003) (Ba Kehila Jan. 02, 2003) (Hashavua Ba Hadashot Jan. 03, 2003) (Hadashot Mishpaha Jan. 02, 2003) (Mishpaha Jan. 02, 2003)
“Hundreds of Thousands of Non-Jews from The Former Soviet Union Attempting To Drag Many Jews To End Of Year Parties” was the title of two articles (Kol Ha Bira Dec. 12, 2002, Jan. 03, 2003) in which Rabbi Lau, Israel’s Chief Rabbi, severely attacked all those celebrating January 1st, saying that end of year parties are gnawing at the nation’s identity. The journalist claims that hundreds of thousands of non-Jews, who immigrated mainly from the former Soviet Union, join up with foreign workers living in the Land to observe the evening in non-kosher restaurants, thereby causing many Jews to stumble.
In another article printed in Yom Hashishi (Dec. 27. 2002), Rabbi Lau, in a lecture to students at an Ashkelon college referred to Christmas and Sylvester celebrations saying, “These phenomenon, that increase from year to year among the Jews, are the sign of a society lacking spiritual, cultural and national spine.” Among other comments regarding the matter, he quotes from Psalm 106:41-42, “He handed them over to the nations, and their foes ruled over them. Their enemies oppressed them and subjected them to their power.”
Hamodia (Jan. 03, 2003) printed an article entitled, “The Family Saved from Missionary Clutches Lives in a Bus.” The item describes the family’s financial crisis, their living conditions, and that missionaries are trying to take advantage of their situation, while Yad L’achim have taken them under their wing. An additional three articles (Ba Kehila Jan. 02, 2003, Hashavua Ba Hadashot Jan. 03, 2003, Hadashot Mishpaha Jan. 02, 2003) reported that after being “saved” from a cult called The Messianic Jews, the couple decided to perform their new-born son’s circumcision in their home, discovered to be the bus. Yad L’achim founder, Rabbi Shalom Dov Lipshitz, accused the government of failing in the absorption of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, that have become “easy prey for missionaries.”
A letter to the editor of The Jerusalem Post appears on Jan. 02, 2003, in response to an article printed on Dec. 27, 2002 entitled, “Stop Whining about Missionaries.” The writer of the letter, an American Jew from Oregon, describes the article accusingly of being “in passive support of Christian missionary activity in Israel.” He mentions that in Portland they are ‘forced’ to hold anti-missionizing seminars to prepare youth to combat “outrageous efforts by Christian activists” to influence them. He states that as an observant Jew, he would do everything short of violence to prevent Christians from coming into his community with “their insulting, insensitive behavior and messages.”
“Yad L’achim: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Supports Granting Missionary Priest Entrance Permit” is the title of an article printed in Hamodia (Jan. 09, 2003). The “Priest” in question is Israel’s Ambassador in Sweden, Ulf Ekman, who is allegedly planning to establish a missionary center in Jerusalem. Yad L’achim wrote letters of objection to both Mr. Ekman and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, receiving the following response from Gadi Golan, Head of the Religious Section:
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of the issue of conversion, and absolutely opposes this phenomenon. On the other hand, we are also aware of the fact that tens of millions of Christians worldwide stand at Israel’s right hand during its difficult times, visit the Land and identify with it, and do not attempt to converting our religion. Priest Ulf Ekman belongs to this group and has proven to be a friend by his actions. I have concluded by our conversations that his intentions are not to convert Jews from their religion, which is the consideration in our decision to grant permits to Christians.”
Almost two full pages in Mishpaha (Jan. 02, 2003) were devoted to a feature entitled. “Watch out! The Evagelicals Love Us.” The article questions why fifty million American Evangelicals “love us so much”, and what is behind their “strangling bear hug.” Points discussed in the feature include:
- Activities emphasizing American Evangelical Christians’ undying support of Israel.
- History and comments regarding the International Christian Embassy established in Jerusalem.
- Support of Israel’s right-winged government of the Evangelicals, focusing on Benjamin Netanyahu’s closeness to them, and a quote he made recently, “The Evangelicals are currently the spear-point of Israel’s support. The Evangelicals do not identify with Israel. They are Israel!”
- An examination into the Evangelicals’ motive for their vigorous activities for Israel in which the journalist states, “According to their futile belief, the role of Jewish concentration in the land of Israel, and the ruling over it is in order to allow the return of Yeshua. After He converts the religion of the Jews, He will proceed to take control of the entire world. Those among the Jews who do not receive the Christian beliefs – will be destroyed.”
- The History of Evangelicals dating back 150 years.
- Evangelicals’ prayers during and views of the Holocaust.
- Their enthusiasm at the establishment of the State of Israel.
Anti Missionary Radio Program Silenced
(Hatzofe Jan. 03, 2003)
Hatzofe (Jan. 03, 2003) printed an article about a radio program aired on a local radio station in New Jersey, U.S.A, in which a Jewish activist spoke out against missions. The program infuriated Christian listeners, who demanded that the broadcast be terminated immediately. The station subsequently agreed and the program was concluded.
Status of Non-Jews
(Mishpaha Dec. 26, 2002) (Kol Ha’Ir Dec. 27, 2003)
An interview with Dr. Zeev Reiz, from the Center for Jewry Clarification among Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, reveals methods for identifying “counterfeiters” attempting to immigrate to Israel, the way in which those assumed to be Gentiles are discovered to be “genuine” Jews, and which methods of proof presentation arouse suspicion. The article discloses that every doubtful case regarding whether an immigrant is not Jewish, reaches the Center, in fact, almost all cases of immigration applications to the Land are reviewed. In addition, many “genuine” Jews are distrusted, due to the wave of frauds, which causes much embarrassment. (Mishpaha Dec. 26, 2002)
An article in Kol Ha’Ir (Dec. 27, 2003) focused on the foreign workers’ celebrations of Christmas, claiming that the Philippine workers were the only Christian community to celebrate. Colombians, Rumanians and Christian Arabs were also mentioned. The item states that there are fifteen thousand foreign workers in Jerusalem, most of which are Christians.
(Jerusalem Post Jan. 02, 2003, Jan. 03, 2003, Jan. 07, 2003, Jan. 10, 2003) (Yediot Haifa Jan. 03, 2003)
“Pope: End ‘Senseless’ Mideast Conflict” was the title of a Jerusalem Post article (Jan. 02, 2003) dealing with Pope John Paul II pleading for an end to the “fratricidal and senseless” conflict in the Middle East. The Pope explains, “There must be cooperation of all who believe in God, knowing that authentic religiousness, far from placing individuals and peoples in conflict with one another, rather pushes them to together build a world of peace.” He said that peace is the most precious good to invoke from God and that we must therefore build it with every effort.
Eight letters to the editor of The Jerusalem Post (Jan. 03, 2003, Jan. 07, 2003, Jan. 10, 2003) respond to the question, “Is Catholicism Really a Friend of the Jews?” asked in an article entitled, “Catholicism Is Our Friend” published Dec. 27, 2002 in the same paper. The views range between radical disagreement of the statement, to devoted support of the religion.
Yediot Haifa (Jan. 03, 2003) printed an article regarding tens of citizens having to leave their homes after discovering their they belong to the Church.
Greek and Russian Orthodox Church Matters
(Ha’Aretz English Edition Jan. 10, 2003) (Ha’Aretz Jan. 10, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Jan. 07, 2003, Jan. 09, 2003, Jan. 12, 2003)
Three major Israeli newspapers ran brief articles regarding a meeting between the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Irineos, with Yasser Arafat, to mark Christmas. (Ha’Aretz English Edition Jan. 10, 2003, Ha’Aretz Jan. 10, 2003, Jerusalem Post Jan. 09, 2003)
“Greek Orthodox Church Spokesman says Suicide Bombers are ‘Heroes’” was the title of an article in The Jerusalem Post (Jan. 12, 2003). A shocking quote by Archimandrite Atallah Hanna, a highly controversial figure in the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, is stated in which he praises suicide attacks saying, “These martyrdom freedom fighters are the heroes of the people and we are proud of them. We categorically reject suspicious attempts to cast suspicion on their deeds. They are not suicidal, as some are claiming. Nor are they terrorists, as others are claiming. They are resisting the occupation.” According to the same report, Hanna also urged Palestinian and Arab Christians “to join the resistance against the Israeli occupation in all forms and methods. The Christians are part of the Palestinian people and this nation.” He also called for joint Islamic-Christian action to thwart the planned war against Iraq.
(Hamahane Haharedi Jan. 02, 2003)
An Anti-Semitic art exhibition entitled, “Judaica Collection”, is displayed in a Tel Aviv gallery and is budgeted by the State. Members of the local council accuse the exibit of being scandalous and infuriating explaining, “With all the tolerance we have for art, there is a limit to bad taste and to how much the Israeli public can stand, most of whom originate from Holocaust surviving families. The most offensive painting mentioned is one where a Passover meal is shown within an illustration of a tied boy in drops of blood. A yellow star is pinned to the boy’s clothing. The interpretation that the journalist depicts is that the boy is Christian, waiting to be slaughtered by Jews in order to extract blood for kneading the unleavened bread. The article printed in Hamahane Haharedi (Jan. 02, 2003) reports that the exhibition will be displayed hereafter in two museums in Germany and states, “The Germans will surely receive the exhibition with unconcealed fondness.”
(Kol Hadarom Dec. 27, 2002) (Iton Tel Aviv Dec. 27, 2002) (Zfon-1 Dec. 27, 2002) (Kol Hazman Dec. 27, 2002) (A la Gush Dec. 2002) (Zman Hadarom Dec. 27, 2002) (Rating Jan. 01, 2003) (Makor Rishon Dec. 20, 2002, Jan. 03, 2003) (Gal Sheva Jan. 03, 2003) (Ha’Aretz Jan. 08, 2003)
A short item in Kol Hadarom (Dec. 27, 2002) explains that on Christmas day, the religious Jews are ordered not to study the Torah. The reason for this stems from the Kabbalah, which claims that prayers on this day will strengthen the powers of darkness.
Iton Tel Aviv (Dec. 27, 2002) reported that Jaffa citizens complained that Santa Claus dolls were not placed in the streets to mark the Christmas holiday.
“Merry Christmas?” is the title of an article printed in Zman Hadarom (Dec. 27, 2002) in which a journalist visiting the city of Ashdod found that the atmosphere of Christmas festivities were felt more than in Bethlehem. The article attributes this phenomenon to the large number of new immigrants in the city, even though it concludes that they celebrate New Year’s Eve more than Christmas.
“Without Jews There Is No Immigration” is the title given to an article in Ha’Aretz (Jan. 08, 2003) dealing with Christmas Trees. The journalist denotes that in most Diaspora homes, Christmas Trees are symbols of absolute assimilation, and continues to explore the usage of symbols such as these among immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
An article in Rating (Jan. 01, 2003) entitled, “Jesus Christ” vulgarly and mockingly describes a Mass held by Philippines in Jaffa on the occasion of Christmas.
Gal-Sheva (Jan. 03, 2003) ran a short item regarding Christmas being celebrated in Ramle for the sake of the Christian community in the city.
Authorities in the David Yalin College insisted in positioning a large Christmas Tree on campus, despite offense to students and lecturers. The college’s principal stated, “Positioning a Christmas Tree is like positioning a Hannukiah,” while Zvulun Orlev, a Knesset member acting as the Chairman of Education and Culture in the Ministry of Education, called for the incident to be investigated saying, “The David Yalin College is a Hebrew college, and no-one can force those passing by to be confronted with a Christmas Tree that symbolizes the Christian religion.” (Makor Rishon Jan. 03, 2003)
An additional four articles spoke of Christmas tours being offered by the Western Galilee Tourist Association to the villages of Tarshiha and Meila (A la Gush Dec. 2002, Zfon-1 Dec. 27, 2002), to churches in Jerusalem (Kol Hazman Dec. 27, 2002), and Church of the Gospel in Nazareth (Makor Rishon Dec. 20, 2002). The latter was documented by Israel television. Details of the tours and contact numbers were presented.
Christmas in Nazareth
(Yediot Hagalil Dec. 27, 2002) (International Herald Tribune Dec. 17, 2002) (Kol Ha Emek ve Ha Galil Dec. 20, 2002)
Three newspapers printed articles regarding Christmas in Nazareth, that included Menachem Ariav, Mayor of Nazareth Elite, visiting kindergartens in the area (Yediot Hagalil Dec. 27, 2002), a brief recent history of the city (International Herald Tribune Dec. 17, 2002), and a description of a festive Christmas (Kol Ha Emek ve Ha Galil Dec. 20, 2002). In the latter article, Igor Ovseyvich, head of the Yisrael be Aliya political party, says that there are many immigrants from the former Soviet Union living in Nazareth Elite, many of whom celebrate traditions and customs brought from their homeland, such as Christmas. Ovseyvich claims that most of the immigrants carrying out these customs do not do so from the religious aspect, but rather from the cultural and social point of view.
(Ba Sheva Dec. 26, 2002) (Ha Daf Hayarok Dec. 26, 2002) (Zman Mekomi Dec. 27, 2002) (Yediot Haifa Dec. 27, 2002, Jan. 03, 2003) (Mishpaha Jan. 02, 2003) (Makor Rishon Jan. 03, 2003) (Iton Tel Aviv Jan. 03, 2003)
Eight local newspapers printed articles related to New Year. The items included a feature regarding Christmas and New Year in Be’er Sheva (Ba Sheva Dec. 26, 2002), New Year club celebrations (Ha Daf Hayarok Dec. 26, 2002), an invitation to a large New Year party in Rishon le Zion (Zman Mekomi Dec. 27, 2002), an ex-Knesset member’s plea to stop the barbaric Sylvester tradition of throwing bottles from balconies (Yediot Haifa Dec. 27, 2002), the head of Christian communities welcoming the New Year (Yediot Haifa Jan. 03, 2003), a New Year’s Eve party for four hundred Philippine workers held in Tel Aviv (Iton Tel Aviv Jan. 03, 2003), a letter by the editor of Mishpaha (Jan. 02, 2003) disapproving of New Year celebrations in Israel resembling the way other the day is celebrated by non-Jewish nations, and celebrations covered on Israeli radio stations (Makor Rishon Jan. 03, 2003).
Christian Support of Israel
(Ba Sheva Dec. 26, 2002) (Jerusalem Post Jan. 01, 2003) (Iton Yerushalayim Dec. 27, 2002) (Sha’ar Hanegev Dec. 2002) (Ha’Aretz Jan. 10, 2003) (Kol Ha Emek ve Ha Galil Jan. 03, 2003)
A letter to the editor of The Jerusalem Post (Jan. 01, 2003) by a Christian supporter of Israel in Indiana, U.S.A. responded to an article printed in the same paper on Dec. 27, 2002 entitled, “Stop Whining about Missionaries.” The writer contends that “no true Christian could every persecute or kill anyone in the name of Christ – let alone the people who gave to us our Scriptures and Messiah.”
“Tree Cheers” is the title given to a letter written to the editor of The Jerusalem Post (Jan. 01, 2003) by John Delancey in New York, in which he supports an article written in the same paper on Dec. 30, 2002 regarding the Meretz Party using a Christmas Tree in their Russian campaign. The writer expresses that he was pleasantly surprised that the political party had risen above “petty politics” and is borrowing a symbol from his religion – a Christmas Tree – for use in its election campaign.
The Center for Jewish Pluralism distributed food to needy Christian families, on the occasion of Christmas. The Center explained that the food distribution was their humble contribution to co-existence, and decreased hostility. (Iton Yerushalayim Dec. 27, 2002)
A donation by Christian supporters of Israel was praised on the Channel 2 program called “Yom Tov”. The item in Ba Sheva (Dec. 26, 2002) emphasizes that the generous donation was received with excited applause by both the studio audience and the broadcasting team. The journalist expresses that the Israeli media is quick to scorn Christian supporters of Israel, calling them ephemeral and missionizing, however, as soon as they donate a large sum of money, the media changes into Christian-loving Jews. In the media’s eyes, Christians are permitted to love Israel, as long as they do not love the Jews more than the Jews love themselves.
A delegation of 60 Dutch Christians representing the Christians for Israel Organization, arrived from Holland to present an array of tulip bulbs to be planted in the Negev region. (Sha’ar Hanegev Dec. 2002)
“The Friendship Fund”, an organization founded by Rabbi Ekstein to strengthen ties between American Christians and Israel, donated ten thousand coats to needy children throughout Israel. The article in Ha’Aretz (Jan. 10, 2003) emphasized that in the last years, American Christians have transferred more than three hundred million dollars to the Land for the purpose of financing various essential projects for the government, cities, and local councils.
Teachers and workers of a school for Muslims and Christians, Ort Achva, donated approximately three thousand shekels to needy pupils. (Kol Ha Emek ve Ha Galil Jan. 03, 2003)
Vatican offended by Israeli Comedian
(Maariv Jan. 05, 2003, Jan. 06, 2003)
Maariv (Jan. 05, 2003, Jan. 06, 2003), reported that the Vatican was offended by Eli Yatzpan, an Israeli comedian. The entertainer dressed up as a “religious Christian” and mocked visitors to the “wishing well” in Rome, calling them shameful names, while they innocently assumed that the “Cardinal” is granting them a blessing, and therefore obeyed his instructions. The incident was filmed for a weekly television program, similar to Candid Camera.
Diplomatic Italian sources expressed that the event portrayed religion cynically, and continued that should the Jewish religion have been subject to such mockery, Jewish organizations would have justifiably claimed that the occurrence was one of racism and anti-Semitism.
The producers of the broadcast defended themselves claiming that the activities were done in full agreement of the tourists who were filmed. They added that they did not intend to hurt the feelings of any public, and apologize should this have been the case.
Christians and Terrorism
(Jerusalem Post Dec. 31, 2002) (Hatzofe Dec. 31, 2002)
The Jerusalem Post ran an article entitled, “Katsav, Netanyahu Urge Clergy to Speak Out Against Terrorism.” (Dec. 31, 2002) Both condoned the “ungodly acts”, while President Moshe Katsav asked why the Christian world should criticize Israel for taking preventive action regarding terrorists being allowed to take shelter in the Church of the Nativity, and Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu making the point that human rights began thousands of years ago in the Holy Land, enshrined in the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”
In another address, this time to the Heads of Christian communities, President Katsav expressed the severity of terrorists carrying out their acts in the name of religion. (Hatzofe Dec. 31, 2002)
(Israel Today Jan. 2003)
A conference for Messianic leaders that took place at the Shffayim Kibbutz in December was covered by Israel Today (Jan. 2003). The item mentions that the American Christian leaders, Don Finto and Larry Kreider, taught on the importance of raising up “spiritual fathers and mothers” in the Body of Messiah. Finto told the journalist that there is a worldwide revival taking place, because the Jewish people are returning to the Land and coming to the Lord.
Mike Bayliss, a Messianic Jew, is the focus of a feature in the same magazine (Jan. 2003). Bayliss, a professional artist, explains that the prompting behind his latest series of paintings that portray young Israeli’s mourning at fresh graves, as being the desire to capture the raw pain and desperation experienced by terrorism in Israel. The Kaddish (Jewish prayer of mourning) appears in the background of the paintings “representing hope of who God is”. The article lays out Bayliss’ testimony of salvation, and quotes, “God is my Abba [Father]. His love is unconditional and eternal. He stretches out His hand to us, His creation, and reconciles us through His Son Yeshua. And that is what I want to express through my art.”
Bishops avoid Security
(Israel Today Jan. 2003)
Israel Today (Jan. 2003) reported that a group of Arab Christian bishops refused to submit to security checks at Ben Gurion Airport, when setting out for the Ecumenical Peace Conference in England. Upon their return, the clerics called a news conference in which they angrily accused Israel of discrimination, saying that as Church leaders they have diplomatic immunity and are exempt from security checks. The bishops convinced Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, to intercede with Israel’s Foreign Ministry on their behalf. Christian clergymen have been involved in terror in the past, and as Shmuel Evyatar, advisor for Christian Affairs in the Jerusalem Municipality put it, “It was odd that Christian leaders, who should be a role model, would try to undermine Israeli security checks.” By falsely accusing Israel of discrimination, these bishops put their Arab nationality above their “Christian” spirituality.
Christian Boom vs. Jewish Decline
(Jerusalem Post Jan. 03, 2003)
“What Good are Jews?” an opinion printed in The Jerusalem Post (Jan. 03, 2003) deals with Christianity being the world’s largest religion, while Judaism is declining. The writer accentuates Christianity’s growth due to evangelism and states that it was Judaism that invented missionizing. He quotes Lawrence J. Epstein, author of A History of Jewish Attitudes Towards Conversion, “Christianity used the Jewish missionary zeal and methods ultimately transforming the Jewish concept of conversion from an ideal into a requirement and transforming the means of effecting conversion from offering into intrusive missionary work.”
(Yediot Ahronot Jan. 03, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Jan. 07, 2003)
A book written by Amos Oz entitled, “There Are Actually Two Wars Here” is reviewed in Yediot Ahronot (Jan. 03, 2003). The book deals with politics, yet also has a section where Yeshua is termed “Rabbi Yeshua” by Oz, and is said to be the son of Miriam and Joseph, an outstanding Jew, a barefooted Galilean poet, who confronted the Jewish, traditional religion in its petrification and hypocrisy.
A Russian born Orthodox priest in Athens, Father Iosif, writes his opinion of a collection of works by Christian theologians recently published in Russian, in order to aid terror victims entitled, “Babylon and Jerusalem: the Biblical View of the Middle East Conflict”. He expresses that the Jews are still waiting for the Christians to come to them and atone for anti-Semitism, however, in his opinion, as in the story of the Prodigal Son, the Jews too must go outside to embrace the Christians as their beloved children.