Caspari Center Media Review……March, 2003 #1
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 35 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 8 dealt with Anti-Missionary attitudes
- 7 dealt with Jewish/Christian Relations
- 4 dealt with Early Christianity/Archeology
- 3 dealt with Tourism
- 2 dealt with Christian support of Israel
- 2 dealt with Status of Non-Jews
- 2 dealt with Christian Sites
- 1 dealt with Israeli attitudes concerning Jesus
The remaining 6 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
Anti Missionary Attitudes
(BaKehila Feb. 27, 2003) (Yom HaShishi Feb. 28, 2003) (Hadashot Mishpaha Feb. 27, 2003) (Yediot Haifa Feb. 28, 2003) (Yated Ne’eman Mar. 06, 2003) (Jerusalem Report Feb. 10, 2003)
Three papers (BaKehila Feb. 27, 2003, Yom HaShishi Feb. 28, 2003, Hadashot Mishpaha Feb. 27, 2003) carried the same article entitled, “‘Zol Po Chain Saved At Last Minute From Cooperation With Missionaries.” The reports explained that the “Bridges for Peace” organization employs “active and renowned missionaries,” and that it deals with the transferal of foodstuffs to needy immigrant families.
Bridges for Peace was about to sign a cooperation agreement with the Israeli food store chain “Zol Po,” whereby a regular contribution of hundreds of items would be conveyed to the organization. The journalist claims that the directors of Bridges for Peace presented themselves as a group that “distributes thousands of foodstuffs to needy families among immigrants from the former Soviet Union.” The cooperation agreement was due to be accompanied by a vast advertising campaign to publicize Zol Po’s cooperation in supporting the needy.
Upon identifying the “suspicious” organization, the managers of Zol Po contacted Yad L’achim, who in turn approached Bridges for Peace saying that the directors of the food chain are not interested in further contact. Yad L’achim explained, “It is important to understand that such cooperation would give the missionaries official legitimacy, of which they are in great need.”
“Anti-Missionary Group Rejoices At Closure Of Mormon University,” was the title of an article in The Jerusalem Report (Feb. 10, 2003) that dealt with the “delight” of Jewish anti-missionary activists in response to the termination of the Brigham Young University’s Jerusalem based studies program. The opening of the complex had sparked major ultra-orthodox protests.
Tens of complaints regarding missionary activity throughout Israel are allegedly reaching the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Yated Ne’eman (Mar. 06, 2003) reported that minister Gideon Ezra said that the activity is especially concentrated in the city of Haifa and its vicinity. He added that in the past, the possibility of undertaking an explanatory project to inform the public about missionary activity had been considered. However, due to the reduction of government funds to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, this would not be possible.
Additional members of parliament, David Azoulay, Uri Ariel, and Nissim Dahan raised the issue that the police are not enforcing the law concerning this matter, and that the missionaries are taking advantage of new immigrants and those in economically challenged circumstances, in order to convert them.
The religious community in Haifa is infuriated by activity by Jehovah Witnesses at the Haifa International Convention Center. The recent baptism of twenty-two people particularly caused reactions of both shock and rage. The article reported on a dialogue between the Mayor’s office and the Jehovah Witnesses regarding their activity in the city. (Yediot Haifa Feb. 28, 2003)
Status of non-Jews
(Ha’Aretz Mar. 05, 2003)
Ha’Aretz (Mar. 05, 2003) ran a feature entitled, “One Out Of Every Two Ethiopian Immigrants Will Be From the Falashmura.” The article dealt with differences of opinion between Ethiopian immigrants requesting that the remaining people in the Falashmura tribe be bought to Israel and those who claim that the Falashmura will attempt to integrate into the veteran Ethiopian community and will damage its image.
The Falashmura are Ethiopian Jews who “converted to Christianity,” while maintaining some Jewish traditions. Unable to prove their Jewishness, most of the Falashmura were not allowed to immigrate to Israel, even though many have family ties to the Jewish State. The article deals with the Falashmura’s background and their legal rights to immigrate to Israel.
“Minister of Interior: Parents Of Non Jewish Soldiers Will Receive Permanent Status” (Ha’Aretz Mar. 05, 2003) details initial steps taken by Minister of Interior, Avraham Poraz, to carry out a policy in which residential status, or citizenship on a universal, humanitarian basis will be granted to non-Jews, specifically to parents of non-Jewish soldiers serving in the I.D.F.
Poraz’s decision was apparently based on a conversation he had with Israel’s president, Moshe Katsav, during which Katsav expressed his support for this iniative.
The soldiers’ parents new status will allow them residential and working permits, as well as basic social benefits.
Christian Support for Israel
(Arei Modiin Feb. 20, 2003) (BaMahane Hashavua Jan. 31, 2003)
A delegation from Nigeria visited the city of Modi’in (Arei Modiin Feb. 20, 2003). The group, which included Israel-loving government ministers and heads of churches from the African country, was very impressed with the building and establishment of the city.
Esther Liba, a seventy-year-old Christian volunteer in the I.D.F. from England was quoted as saying, “Everyone owes Israel for paving the way to Life, by the Old Testament and the Faith. I would like to stay here for eternity.” She also said she is prepared to do as much as she can to improve the image of Israel in her country and condemned the way Israel is portrayed in the British media, expressing, “It’s terrible, and I am embarrassed by it. Everything is biased and so incorrect. I am constantly calling the B.B.C. and shouting at them.” (Ba Mahane Hashavua Jan. 31, 2003)
(Globus Mar. 05, 2003) (Yated Ne’eman Mar. 04, 2003) (Hatzofe Feb. 24, 2003)
“The Ministry Of Tourism Will Encourage The Visit Of Millions Of Christians to Israel” and “Minister Of Tourism: The Aim – To Persuade Jews And Christians Who Love Israel To Come To The Land As Tourists” were the titles of articles published in Yated Ne’eman (Mar. 04, 2003) and Globus (Mar. 05, 2003) These articles quoted the newly sworn-in Minster of Tourism’s acceptance speech in which he expressed an understanding of the current effect that the political situation has on tourism. He also emphasized, “Our true goal is to reach the entire Jewish community worldwide, and to motivate them to visit Israel, and also to approach the millions of ‘Israel loving’ Christians and to see them visiting us here.”
Eight hundred pilgrim tourists from Korea are scheduled to visit Jerusalem. This program is the result of an agreement signed between the Olive Tree Hotel and a tourism wholesaler, Gerbidian, who brings pilgrims from South Korea. The hotel’s manager said that the pilgrims’ stay would bring revenue of 150 thousand dollars, and he said that Koreans are not influenced by the situation in the Middle East, and that there is therefore no fear of cancellation.
(Jerusalem Post Mar. 06, 2003) (Hatzofe Mar. 07, 2003) (Maariv Mar. 06, 2003, Mar. 07, 2003)
Four articles (Jerusalem Post Mar. 06, 2003, Hatzofe Mar. 07, 2003, Maariv Mar. 06, 2003, Mar. 07, 2003) carried a story on developments regarding “Jesus’ ossuary.” The burial box bearing the inscription, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” believed by some scholars to store the remains of James, Jesus’ brother, was confiscated by the Antiquities Authority “to determine whether it was authentic.”
The Antiquities Authority officials are looking into suspicions that Oded Golan, the box’s owner, bought the ossuary only a few months ago. This would be in violation of a 1978 law stipulating that all archeological finds from after that date belong to the state, and can therefore not be sold or used by private citizens.
The Authority has set up two teams to determine the object’s authenticity. Their conclusions will be made public in the next few months.
An additional controversy over an inscription on an ancient stone tablet with Biblical passages in the ancient Phoenician scripts was mentioned. The Antiquities Authority said that they would like to study the tablet, but do not know its whereabouts at present.
Patriarch vs. Makor Rishon
(Makor Rishon Jan. 31, 2003)
Jerusalem’s district court annuled the slander claim for damages in the amount of four million shekels lodged by Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Irineos, against the Makor Rishon Magazine. The claim was lodged against the paper on the basis of an article that appeaerd on December 12, 2001 entitled, “The Greek-Palestinian Church Ltd.” The article claimed that the Patriarch supports the Palestinian Authority. (Makor Rishon Jan. 31, 2003)
(Ha’Aretz English Edition Mar. 09, 2003) (Yated Ne’eman Jan. 31, 2003) (Hatzofe Mar. 05, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Mar. 04, 2003) (Ha’Aretz Feb. 26, 2003)
Ha’Aretz English Edition (Mar. 09, 2003) reported on a three day world conference of Catholics and Jews that took place in Paris. Among the participants were Rabbi’s and Jewish leaders from the U.S.A. and Europe, as well as dozens of European Catholic bishops.
The World Jewish Congress together with the North American Boards of Rabbis (NABOR) organized the conference, while the Catholic part was organized by France’s Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, who is the head of the European Bishop’s conference.
The issues addressed included:
- The growth of Anti-Semitism in Europe
- The place of religious heritage
- God in the European Union’s proposed constitution
An additional “historic” gathering between a delegation of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and senior Vatican officials was held in Grottaferrata, adjacent to Rome, in which the following main topics were discussed:
- The sanctity of life
- The sanctity of family life
After the five days of meetings, a joint statement was signed in which the Jews were recognized as “the chosen people,” and all missionary activity to convert the Jews to another religion was rejected. The declaration also stated that terrorist violence is “a contradiction in the faith of God and that taking any human life, including one’s own even in the name of God is sacrilegious.” (Jerusalelm Post, March 04, 2003)
The Vatican has held talks with many rabbis from around the world, but this was the first time talks were held with representatives from the Israeli body. (Hatzofe Mar. 05, 2003, Jerusalem Post Mar. 04, 2003)
Yated Ne’eman (Jan. 31, 2003) ran a short item regarding the Vatican’s announcement to close its center for Jewish studies that is being moved to Rome where, “students would receive a more integrated knowledge and understanding of the Jewish religion, culture, and history and enjoy greater intellectual collaboration between Jewish and Christian specialists.”
“There Are Stains Which Are Very Difficult To Purify” was the title of a feature in Ha’Aretz (Feb. 26, 2003) dealing with the Papacy’s attempt to clear its name from involvement during the Holocaust. The Vatican agreed to expose some documents from its archives. However, the files opened were from pre-holocaust days and therefore suspicions about cooperation with the Nazi’s against the Jews have increased. The article dealt with Pious XII and his active dialogue with the Nazis, war crimes, and Germany’s defeat.
(Ha’Aretz English Edition Mar. 09, 2003)
A prominent Jewish leader in Los Angeles, U.S.A., Rabbi Marvin Hier, asked actor Mel Gibson to make certain that his new film on the last twelve hours in the life of Yeshua does not portray the Jews as collectively responsible for the crucifixion.
(Ha’Aretz Mar. 06, 2003)
The journalist whose opinion was given in Ha’Aretz (Mar. 06, 2003) points out that as a member of the media, he has observed that Israeli newsmakers are completely cut off from a group of Americans who constitute 46% of the the U.S. population. This group is commonly known as evangelicals or “fundamentalist Christians.” He refers to several instances of this group’s influences in American society including the book series, “Left Behind,” by Tim Lahaye; the popularity of television preacher Benny Hinn; and the fact that the majority of Americans, including President George Bush, now believe in creation rather than evolution.
The article deals with the media’s mockery of evangelicals on one side, but on the other side show that, as Professor Phillip Jenkins explains in his new book, “Fundamental Christianity is accumulating greater power in the developing world. The number of Christians in Africa has increased in the past century from 10 million to 360 million.”
Who is Yeshua?
(Globus Feb. 27, 2003)
The feature’s writer explains how he asked his children who they think Yeshua is, to which they replied with the words of the title of a fable by Atlas “The Most Important Man In The World.” Atlas’ fable is then briefly related.