Caspari Center Media Review……March, 2003 #2
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 53 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 13 dealt with Christians and Terrorism
- 8 dealt with Christian support of Israel
- 4 dealt with Status of Non-Jews
- 4 dealt with the Arts
- 3 dealt with Anti-Missionary attitudes
- 3 dealt with Christian Sites
- 2 dealt with Book Reviews
- 1 dealt with Jewish/Christian Relations
- 1 dealt with Tourism
The remaining 14 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
Anti Missionary Attitudes
(Hatzofe Mar. 11, 2003) (Yom Leyom Mar. 13, 2003) (Hamodia Mar. 14, 2003)
“Tens Of Complaints Reach Ministry of Religious Affairs Regarding Criminal Missionary Activity” was the title of an article in Hatzofe (Mar. 11, 2003). A conversation between government ministers Gideon Ezra and Tzachi Hanegbi was presented in which the Ministry of Internal Security was cited as being responsible for law enforcement regarding missionary activity that was described as “criminal.” Additional members of parliament, including Nissim Dahan and Uri Ariel, were said to have agreed to making more stringent legislation against missionary activity.
Ariel said, “The economic situation makes people discouraged even to the point of being tempted by missionaries who take advantage of this difficult situation. Therefore, the government, Knesset, and judicial system are obliged to enforce the law and not to be lenient with anyone in this matter. It has been concluded that the Prime Minister and his legal advisor will be asked to deal severely with this matter.”
An additional article in Yom leyom (Mar. 13, 2003) dealt with the same issue. Parliament member David Azoulay asked the Minister of Religious Affairs how the increase of missionary activity in Haifa can be prevented.
Hamodia (Mar. 14, 2003) ran a piece entitled, “Vigorous Activity By Yad L’achim Caused Missionary Villa In Jerusalem To Close Down,” referring to a project called “Saving Heart,” in which youth who left religious frameworks could find shelter until their relationships with their parents were restored. According to the report, a Messianic Jew, David Stern, leads this project.
Radio Networks Headquartered in Jerusalem
(Iton Yerushalayim Mar. 07, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Mar. 17, 2003) (In Jerusalem Mar. 21, 2003)
Three articles in Jerusalem papers (Iton Yerushalayim Mar. 07, 2003, Jerusalem Post Mar. 17, 2003, In Jerusalem Mar. 21, 2003) covered a Christian-owned and operated radio network that has “unabashedly” headquartered itself at the Mount Zion Hotel in Jerusalem. The network’s founder, evangelist Earl Cox, and his five member team, have been interviewing prominent Israelis and commenting on daily events on their weekly programs entitled, “Front Page Jerusalem.” Cox said he was sick of always hearing Israel being presented as the aggressor on radio and television.
The broadcasts are currently aired on 65 Christian radio stations in America, with Cox’s goal being to broadcast on 300 stations.
Another Christian radio program, The Media Line, is also headquartered in Jerusalem, broadcasting to several hundred Christian radio stations in the U.S.A., providing news on the Internet and television with the frequent participation of visiting high-caliber Christian broadcasters.
Cox describes the main differences between the two networks as follows:
- Front Page Jerusalem is a Christian venture in which Christians are broadcasting to Christians.
- Front Page Jerusalem is strictly pro-Israel, whereas the mission statement of the Friedsons, founders of The Media Line, does not state that truth and justice stand only on the side of Israel.
Christian Support of Israel
(Hatzofe Mar. 17, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Mar. 12, 2003, Mar. 17, 2003, Mar. 18, 2003, Mar. 23, 2003)
The Jerusalem Post (Post Mar. 12, 2003, Mar. 17, 2003, Mar. 18, 2003, Mar. 23, 2003) reported several items regarding Christians support of Israel. The articles included:
- Christian solidarity group raising $500,000 for rehabilitation expenses of victims of terrorism. The item also included information regarding the donation’s givers, Mission Valley Christian Fellowship, a Church in San Diego, California, and briefly described the pastors’ tour of Israel together with their Church youth group who accompanied them. (Mar. 12, 2003).
- A “Prayer Shield Petition,” a collection of virtual signatures to protect US troops and Israel in the current war, started by US-based Jerusalem Prayer Team Web site was reviewed (Mar. 12, 2003).
- Donation of blankets and heaters to four hundred needy Bedouin families in the Negev by The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (Mar. 17, 2003).
- A letter to the Editor of the paper by “your very good friends in Norway,” who sent a petition signed by eighty supporters, pleading with the people of Israel not to hide their Judaism, but rather to stand proudly and fight for their rights. The plea to “stop negotiating with terrorists” is made. The Norsk Israel Center, who wrote the letter, said, “We are not tired of supporting you, but first you Jews have to wake up and fight. We can help Israel survive if you stop committing political suicide.” (Mar. 23, 2003).
- An article entitled, “Unhealthy Partners” claimed that Christian support for Ariel Sharon is damaging the prospects for peace in the land. The piece deals with the difference between the Jewish Messianist and Christian Evangelical view of the “end of days vision” explaining, “Christian Evangelicals believe that the ‘liberation’ of the Land of Israel in the Six Day War was part of a Messianic process designed at ultimately hastening the ‘end of days.’ While the right wing Jewish Messianists believe that the Redeemer will be Jewish, the Christian Evangelicals see the Jewish return to the Land of Israel as being no more than a necessary stage on the road heralding the ultimate arrival of their own Christian Messiah.” The conclusion of the article is that Christian fundamentalist support in a hostile world may be welcome, but that its contribution to the Middle East conflict is a negative one (Mar. 12, 2003).
- A letter to the Editor of The Jerusalem Post in response to the “Unhealthy Partners” article, supports the Christian Evangelists who are “dedicated to sustaining rather than emasculating our nation.” (Mar. 18, 2003)
Hatzofe (Mar. 17, 2003) ran a short piece regarding Canadian Christian who support Israel, in conjunction with a meeting between the Minister of Tourism Benjamin Elon and representatives of the Canadian Evangelical community.
Believer Killed in Suicide Bombing
(Zman Haifa Mar. 14, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Mar. 10, 2003, Mar. 12, 2003) (Ha’Aretz English Edition Mar. 10, 2003) (Maariv Mar. 10, 2003, Mar. 14, 2003) (Yediot Mar. 10, 2003, Mar. 14, 2003) (Hayom Haze Mar. 09, 2003) (Behezi Hayom Mar. 09, 2003)
Eight articles in major Israeli papers (Zman Haifa Mar. 14, 2003, Jerusalem Post Mar. 10, 2003, Mar. 12, 2003, Ha’Aretz English Edition Mar. 10, 2003, Maariv Mar. 10, 2003, Mar. 14, 2003, Yediot Mar. 10, 2003, Mar. 14, 2003), as well as news radio and television broadcasts, covered the tragic death of Abigail Litle, aged 14, one of 16 people murdered by a suicide bomber who attacked a bus in Haifa.
Abigail was American-born, but grew up in Israel. Her parents, Baptist believers from Missouri, came to Israel when she was a few months old to work with Campus Crusades for Christ in Israel. Abigail was one of five children. She was laid to rest in a moving ceremony, attended by hundreds of school friends, teachers, and members of the Baptist, Evangelical and Messianic Jewish communities. Daniel Kurtzer, the U.S. Ambassador in Israel, spoke at her funeral, “Abigail is a true bridge between our two countries, having been born in the United States and now in eternal rest in the Land of Israel. She is a true bridge between our many faiths, so dedicated as she was to family and to God, and so dedicated as she was to her friends and to her community.”
The articles reported that “the funeral service was conducted in Hebrew with verses from the Torah and the New Testament and psalms set to music and sung by a choir accompanied by acoustic guitars.”
Parliament member Yuval Steinitz, head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, representing the government, said that Abigail symbolized the start of a new era of friendship and common fate between the Jewish and Christian faiths, “On your coffin there was a cross, but on the flag there was the Star of David and this symbolizes the hope that you and your family mark for a courageous and new friendship between us.”
In a television interview (Hayom Haze Mar. 9, 2003) with the Litle’s pastor of the Beit Eliyahu Congregation, Shmuel Awida, he was asked who Messianic Jews are, to which he replied, “We believe that Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel, not based on all kinds of ideas, but we simply read the Old Testament, not writings authored by man, not those of priests nor rabbis, but the Old Testament which foresees a Messiah. This many know, however, they do not all know who the Messiah is. We have discovered that He is Yeshua. He is our hope, and we are not ashamed to profess Him.”
Additional questions asked were whether Messianic Jews observe any specific religious laws, and what was his reaction to Messianic Jews being termed “missionaries.”
Suicide Bombing Victim Saves Four Lives
(Jerusalem Post Mar. 12, 2003) (Yediot Mar. 10, 2003) (Kol Yisrael Mar. 09, 2003) (Hayom Haze Mar. 09, 2003)
The Haifa suicide bombing also claimed the life of Anatoly Biryakov, aged 20, who was buried in a Messianic Community cemetery in the city. His family decided to donate his organs for transplant. Biryakov’s heart, liver, and kidneys were used to save the lives of four patients, two Jews, an Arab and a Druse, who had been awaiting organ donors.
(Ha’Aretz Mar. 10, 2003) (Tzomet Hasharon Mar. 14, 2003)
The Covenant is an original show, describing significant “stations” in the history of Israel, using multimedia and song. Reviews in Tzomet Hasharon (Mar. 14, 2003) and Ha’Aretz (Mar. 10, 2003) briefly described the musical presented by the International Christian Embassy, and Tzomet Hasharon interviewed its writers and producers, Robert and Elizabeth Moran.
Status of Non-Jews
(Maariv Mar. 13, 2003) (Ha’Aretz Mar. 10, 2003, Mar. 11, 2003, Mar. 19, 2003)
Ha’Aretz ran three articles dealing with the status of non-Jews in Israel. On Mar. 10, 2003, an article entitled, “Pro Sharpening The Jewish Identity, However, Not At Expense Of The Non-Jewish Immigrants” appeared, challenging the acceptance of the new Minister of Absorption, Tzipi Livni.
On Mar. 11, 2003, an article appeared entitled, “Poraz Awakening Hope Among Non-Jews Requesting Legal Status” in which Avraham Poraz, Minister of Internal Affairs, explains that he sees tending to the non-Jewish sector of the public as top priority. A table was published that showed various previously rejected cases that will be reconsidered for residential status by the Minister of Interior. An item on the same page claims that based on Poraz’s new policy, he will also have to approve the Ethiopian Falashmura tribe’s immigrant rights.
An additional article on Mar. 19, 2003, deals with Poraz allowing the following:
- Non-Jewish I.D.F. soldiers the possibility of bringing their parents to Israel from various nations.
- Non-Jewish soldiers serving in the I.D.F. will be able to request Israeli citizenship after their first year of service.
- Entrance to parents of Israelis, between the ages of 60-70, who do not answer to the requirements of the Law of Return. People in this category will receive a tourist visa and a working permit for an unlimited period.
- An option for non-Jewish spouses of Israeli citizens who were married abroad, to request status from the Israeli Consulate.
Maariv (Mar. 13, 2003) ran an article regarding a well to do Belgian family who requested a residential permit to live in Tel Aviv in protest to the hostile attitude of European countries towards Israel. The couple has been notified that they are residing in Israel illegally, since their tourist visa expired. Minister of Internal Affairs, Avraham Poraz, said that he will consider the case once he receives all the details.
First Church in Mokibla
(Kol Haemek ve Hagalil Mar. 14, 2003)
The first Church in the northern village of Mokibla, is being built. The Church will serve the Christian community of the village, consisting of 10% of its 3000 inhabitants. The budget for the establishment of the building is 1.8 million shekels. The building is estimated to be completed within two and a half years (Kol Haemek veHagalil Mar. 14, 2003).
(Jerusalem Post Mar. 14, 2003)
The Jerusalem Post (Mar. 14, 2003) printed an extensive feature concerning interfaith gatherings held by a group of Jewish, Muslim, Druse, and Christian women. The Women’s Interfaith Encounter is a program of the Interfaith Encounter Association, and brings women together for faith-based and non-political dialogue. Women from the array of religions represented share their personal experiences and feelings about the meetings.
(Jerusalem Post Mar. 11, 2003)
A letter to the editor of The Jerusalem Post (Mar. 11, 2003) referred to an article about a poll that revealed that the majority of Israelis favor outreach to a certain people group, and the word Marranos was used. The writer points out that the word Marrano refers to “swine” and that it was used by Christian persecutors and tormentors to shame the Jews in Spain and Portugal. The letter also states that the designation “Marranos” was used to incite hatred and hostility towards “forcible Jewish converts to Christianity.”
Messianic Jew and Palestinian Christian spread peace
(Jerusalem Post Mar. 11, 2003)
A lecture held in Maryland, U.S.A., entitled, “Judaism and Islam: What does it mean to your future?” was presented by Ted Simon, a New York Jew, and Ramzi Hishmeh, an Arab Christian, with the promise to reveal the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The answer was unfolded: “It can be found in Scripture.” “For those willing to study it,” they said, “the Bible reveals who should get what in the disputed territories, and that peace will only come to the Middle East through prayer and the work of one mediator, Jesus Christ.”
The lectures usually go over well with predominantly Christian audiences, but the article claims that to say they’re popular with Muslims and traditional Jews would be an understatement.
(Makor Rishon Feb. 21, 2003)
An article in Makor Rishon (Feb. 21, 2003) dealt with tourism in Israel’s occupied territories, and the way in which Yigal Dilmoni, manager of the Samaria Tourist Organization, refuses to become discouraged despite the decline in Christian tourism. His way to attract tourists is to “sell” the Land of the Bible. He says, “Whoever comes to Israel, sees the Bible. Every meter is a verse. We sell this spiritual experience.” The remainder of the article is an interview with Dilmoni regarding tourism statistics in the occupied territories, both before and after the current Intifada.
(Iton Yerushalayim Jan. 24, 2003)
Iton Yerushalayim (Jan. 24, 2003) devoted two pages to a feature entitled, “the City of David,” which deals with architectural plans of the Third Temple by a Jew, a Muslim and a Christian architect. The Christian plan included a remake of Gethsemane “in order to put to rest once and for all divisions between the various churches regarding ownership of the several parts of the Church of the Holy Sepulcre.”
(Jerusalem Post Mar. 20, 2003)
“Bush’s Choice: Powell or the Prophets” was an opinion that appeared in The Jerusalem Post (Mar. 20, 2003) by Michael Fruend, who served as deputy director of communications and policy planning in the Prime Minister’s Office from 1996-1999. Fruend questions, “Given the President’s profound religiosity, why is he consenting to turn biblical Judea over to Arafat?” He says it is imperative that American Christian supporters of Israel launch an all out effort to remind Bush that many of the events in the “Christian Bible” took place in Jerusalem – in Roman-occupied Jewish Jerusalem. Therefore Christians who accept Palestinian demands to Jerusalem are essentially denying the validity of their own traditions.
Fruend also states that since Bush is a man of faith, Christian supporters of Israel should appeal to him using a faith-based approach, pointing out that the New Testament he professes to believe in provides ample evidence that sites like Bethlehem and Hebron have nothing to do with the Palestinians, and everything to do with Israel.
Jewish Youth in Chile and Brazil Convert
(Kan Darom Mar. 07, 2003)
Kan Darom (Mar. 07, 2003) ran an article claiming that several Jewish youth have become addicted to drugs and are undergoing rehabilitation in centers in Chile and Brazil, where they are forced to convert to Christianity, in order to be restored. The item discusses the situation of Israelis who travel to these South American countries and become drug addicts. Haim Messing, Chairman of the Ant-idrugs Authority, is interviewed.
The New Messiah?
(Jerusalem Report Jan. 27, 2003)
A feature about the Raelian Movement appeared in the Jerusalem Report (Jan. 27, 2003) revealed that cloning is an extension of the Raelian belief that life on Earth was created by scientifically advanced beings using DNA. Rael, a former auto racer originally named Claude Vorilhon, told the journalist how extra terrestrials had taken him to another planet and revealed that he was to be the New Messiah. He also confirmed that he has personally met Jesus, Moses, Muhammed, and Buddha, and that “I was speaking to them like I am speaking to you now.”
(Jerusalem Report Jan. 27, 2003)
A personal experience was recounted where the writer visited Cameroon at the Christmas season, and was asked by someone why she didn’t come to church on Christmas. “I don’t believe in Jesus. I’m Jewish,” was her reply. The man and his companions found this response most amusing saying, “The Jews do not exist anymore. They existed only in Biblical times, but disappeared after Jesus was born.” To which she answered, “I really am Jewish and I don’t believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah.”
Throughout their conversation they argued that she was Christian without knowing it herself; after all “God and Jesus has sent her to bring them Christmas presents all the way from Europe.” She never did manage to convince them of her true identity.
(Ha’Aretz Mar. 21, 2003)
Ha’Aretz ran an article entitled, “How Did Yeshua’s Wounds Disappear From The Story Of The Giant And His Garden” referring to Oscar Wilde’s story. The item recounts a short version of the story according to three translations.