Caspari Center Media Review… June, 2003 #1
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 76 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 10 dealt with Anti-Missionary attitudes
- 9 were Art Reviews
- 8 dealt with Status of Non-Jews
- 8 dealt with Christian support of Israel
- 6 dealt with Jewish Christians Relations
- 5 dealt with Tourism
- 4 dealt with Christians and politics
- 4 were Book Reviews
The remaining 22 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
Anti Missionary Attitudes
)Hashavua Beyerushalayim May 22, 2003, June 06, 2003) (Kol Hazman May 23, 2003) (Mishpaha June 12, 2003) (Jerusalem Post June 06, 2003) (Sha’a Tova June 06, 2003) (Hamodia June 04, 2003) (Zman Hadarom May 30, 2003)
Three articles (Sha’a Tova June 06, 2003, Mishapaha June 12, 2003, Hamodia June 04, 2003) entitled, “Handicapped in Netanya: “Help! They Are Teaching Us About That Man Instead Of About Moses Our Rabbi” dealt with “intensive and continuous activity” being carried out by Jehovah Witnesses in the Ilan Handicapped Day Care Center in Netanya.
Hashavua Beyerushalayim (May 22, 2003) exposed a worker in a Yeshiva (Rabbinical College) who was discussing issues of faith with the students. After investigation, it was discovered that the person belongs to a missionary organization and was attempting to proselytize using “sophisticated methods.” According to the journalist, additional workers belonging to missionary groups were exposed in other Yeshivas following this incident.
The police are investigating a complaint in which music club operators are attempting to “convert minors and are even setting dates for baptism.” Kol Hazman (May 23, 2003) revealed that youth attending the musical activity club were required to declare, “I believe that Yeshua is the Messiah who gave us life.” This came to light when a sixteen year old boy asked his mother if he could go on in a trip with youth from the club. When she investigated, she discovered that he had been given literature, including the New Testament and other “preaching” material.
A Manhattan church bolted its doors to fifty members of the Messianic Congregation, Beth-El. The Jerusalem Post (June 09, 2003) reported that the lockout occurred when the congregants showed up for a bar mitzvah at Rock Church, an edifice that has provided space for Saturday services for the Fellowship since 1997. The item explained that trouble between the two groups, “both adherents of the New Testament,” began when Beth-El was notified of a rent increase.
There has been a development in the case of Zvi Nimberg. Nimberg, previously married to a Gentile who is raising their children in a Christian environment, filed several claims in an attempt to return the children to Israel and to a Jewish education. The New York Court of Justice ruled that the minors should be transferred from their current Christian atmosphere to ultra orthodox Jewish education. (Hashavua Beyerushalayim June 12, 2003)
An article in Zman Hadarom (May 30, 2003) defended a Messianic Jewess, Pnina Comforty. She was the focus of a vicious attack by Yad L’achim who accused her of baptizing families to Christianity, using her local bakery shop in the city of Gan Yavneh as a cover. The piece concludes that Gan Yavneh needs to remain open to all, without prejudices, racism and ugly religious persecution.
)Index Yerushalayim June 03, 2003)
An informative table segmenting Jerusalem’s population appeared in Index Yerushalayim (June 03, 2003). The statistics showed that 11,800 Jerusalem residents are Christian Arabs, while 2,600 residents are “other” Christians.
One in Ten I.D.F. Recruits Is Not Jewish
)Jerusalem Post May 28, 2003) (Ha’Aretz English Edition May 27, 2003) (Ha’Aretz May 27, 2003) (Yediot May 27, 2003)
Articles in four major Israeli papers (Jerusalem Post May 28, 2003, Ha’Aretz English Edition May 27, 2003, Yediot May 27, 2003, Ha’Aretz May 27, 2003) noted that more than ten percent – some eight thousand – of all new recruits to the I.D.F. are not registered as Jews. Chief Education Officer Brigadier Elazar Stern said that a military base in Northern Israel recently requested six hundred copies of the New Testament for swearing in new recruits. The Chief Military Rabbinate supplied these. Stern advocates presenting the soldiers with the most open Judaism and the easiest route to conversion possible, yet comments that the reality is just the opposite. A speaker at a Jerusalem conference on the matter pointed out “the sociological ‘conversion’ experienced by immigrants they lived here – through language, school, and patriotism – made the religious entry to the Jewish people less important.”
Status of Non-Jews
)Nekuda April 2003) (Basheva June 06, 2003)
“Nineteen Percent of Christians In Israel Arrived Under The Law Of Return,” was the title of a brief item in Nekuda (April 2003). The “Jewish Majority” Organization included this fact, taken from the Central Statistics Bureau, in a claim against Avraham Poraz, Israel’s Minister of Internal Affairs, requesting that the Minister would be much less “generous” in granting Israeli citizenship to Non-Jews.
An extensive feature in Basheva (June 05, 2003) dealt with a similar concern – that of the Jewish Agency bringing in thousands of Non-Jews under the Law of Return. The article states that during the past year most of the new immigrants to Israel have been Gentile, and complains that the Jewish Agency is ignoring the “damage” being done to the character of the Jewish State, while it “fills its quota” in order to ensure the organization’s continuation. In defense, the Agency explains that they are working within the framework of the law.
Christians and the Road Map
)Ha’Aretz May 29, 2003) (Jerusalem Post May 18, 2003, May 22, 2003, May 28, 2003)
Articles continue to appear in the media regarding American Christians’ response and action regarding the Road Map, including the following points:
- Twenty two American Christian conservative leaders signed a letter to George Bush protesting the road map, saying that in its current form it “could lead to disaster.” (Jerusalem Post May 22, 2003)
- Right-wing Israeli Parliament members and representatives of the Christian lobby for the land of Israel in the American Congress told the Israel parliament that the road map is a disaster for the state of Israel and needs to be fought against, since “the land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel.” (Ha’Aretz May 29, 2003)
- Benny Elon, Israel’s Minister of Tourism, expressed his views regarding the road map and Israel’s current situation, calling for the “relocation” of Palestinians to Jordan. While addressing these issues at an annual convention of the Christian Coalition, Elon was cheered by thousands of evangelical Christians who waved Israeli flags as he made his comments. The article taken from The New York Times and reprinted in The Jerusalem Post (May 18, 2003) also mentions Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s rebuke of Elon for pushing his plan in Washington while the Israeli government was officially reviewing President Bush’s approach.
- An opinion piece in The Jerusalem Post (May 28, 2003) comments that by formally approving the road map, the State of Israel will be effectively turning its back on the “central tenets of Zionism, making a mockery of the Jewish people’s millennial-old yearnings to return to its land.” The writer also expresses that American Christians and Jews need to forge a direct link between how they vote in the 2004 elections and how President Bush acts in the Middle East.
)Ha’Aretz English Edition May 22, 2003, May 23, 2003)
Ha’Aretz English Edition (May 22, 2003) reported that delegates from the World Jewish Congress (WJC) were expected to meet with Pope John Paul II, with the intent of raising a variety of disputed issues, including rising anti-Semitism in Western Europe. The following day (May 23, 2003) the same paper commented that international Jewish leaders have appeared to soften their demands of the Vatican over the opening of secret archives from World War Two and that they now see eye-to-eye with the Pope on this matter.
Sharon Urged to Recognize Patriarch
)Ha’Aretz English Edition May 23, 2003) (Jerusalem Post June 13, 2003)
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) urged the government to approve the confirmation of Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Irineos I, arguing that a decision to do so would improve interfaith relations. Prime Minister Sharon tried to gain government approval for the election but has failed following pressure by right-wing ministers. The accusation is that Irineos has close ties with Yasser Arafat. (Ha’Aretz English Edition May 23, 2003)
“U.S. Jewish Legislators Urge Sharon To Recognize Greek Patriarch,” was the title of an article appearing in The Jerusalem Post (June 13, 2003). The article stated that U.S. Senator Joseph Liberman had approached Prime Minister Sharon with a request to recognize the Patriarch. Israel has withheld the approval of his election for almost two years. Sharon guaranteed the ministers opposing the Patriarch that he would not implement official approval until an interministerial committee gave the okay.
)Ha’Aretz English Edition June 04, 2003) (Jerusalem Post June 11, 2003) (Anashim May 20, 2003, June 03, 2003)
Three articles (Ha’Aretz English Edition June 04, 2003, Jerusalem Post June 11, 2003, Anashim June 03, 2003) covered a visit of a group of 250 women from Aglow, the largest International pro-Israel Christian organization, from the U.S.A. for Pentecost. The women were addressed by, among others, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger who expressed the country’s appreciation for their coming despite the threat of terrorism. Benny Elon, Minister of Tourism, was given wild applause when proclaiming, “No one can force us to be uprooted from the Holy Land. When our enemies want only to fight us politically, they want to fight the Bible.”
A revival of Catholic tourism to Israel, particularly to Jerusalem, has happened since the end of the war in Iraq. Anashim (May 20, 2003) listed groups totaling 1,500 Catholic tourists from Italy, Venezuela and Spain, with an additional 600 due to come from other European countries projected.
Christian Support of Israel
)Ha’Aretz English Edition May 30, 2003, June 10, 2003) (Index Yerushalayim May 28, 2003) (Ha’Aretz June 10, 2003) (Jerusalem Post June 10, 2003, June 11, 2003) (Luach 3+ May 15, 2003) (Amudim May 2003)
Luach 3+ (May 15, 2003) introduced the concept of Israel-loving Catholics on a Christian-Catholic channel in Hebrew. The purpose of this group is not to convert Jews, but rather to form a common foundation of fellowship and discussion. A large part of the material presented was about relations between Christians and Jews both present and past, and about relations between the church and the Jewish people. The programming was all done in a supporting tone.
Three articles appeared on June 10, 2003 in Ha’Aretz English Edition, Ha’Aretz and The Jerusalem Post, respectively, stating that U.S. Christians will be donating the equivalent of NIS 12.5 million for Israel’s social welfare projects in eighty local authorities in Israel. More than 300,000 people made donations to The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which is presenting the money at a festive ceremony.
An 82-year-old South African resident, who saved more than two hundred Jews from the gas chambers by forging certificates while working as a young lawyer in Nazi-occupied Holland, joined the latest solidarity mission to Israel from South Africa. Ha’Aretz English Edition (May 30, 2003) reported that the visit to Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust Museum) was “an enormous emotional moment” for the group.
A letter to the editor of The Jerusalem Post by an American evangelical Christian (May 11, 2003) fervently expressed support for the Jewish people. The writer stated, “God also promised a Messiah. The only difference between you and us is that we believe Messiah (Yeshua in Hebrew, Jesus in Greek) has already come and will return. The irony of all this is that Jesus was Jewish, a direct descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and David and Solomon, and that he was a practicing Jew. He did not come to found a new religion but to complete and fulfill Judaism. He is your Messiah, and we Gentiles are merely grafted on. You are the blessed ones, and we honor that.”
Half a million dollars worth of medical equipment was donated by the Protestant Evangelical Valley Mission in San Diego, U.S.A. An ambulance and additional apparatus were contributed to aid terror victims, and toys worth seventy thousand dollars, were presented during a visit of several of the congregation’s members to Israel. (Index Yerushalayim May 28, 2003)
Amudim (May 2003) featured Hans and Elke Moltzan who belong to a group of German Christians. They are devoted to pray daily for the peace of a congregation in Israel whom they have on their hearts. The article covers relates German history from the Holocaust period and stories of Holocaust survivors with whom the couple is in contact.
)Kol Hazman May 23, 2003, May 30, 2003) (Kol Ha’Ir May 30, 2003) (Ha’Aretz May 27, 2003, May 30, 2003) (Bamahane Hashavua June 05, 2003) (La’Isha May 26, 2003) (Maariv June 06, 2003) (Iton Yerushalayim June 05, 2003)
Nine articles (Kol Hazman May 23, 2003, May 30, 2003, Kol Ha’Ir May 30, 2003, Ha’Aretz May 27, 2003, May 30, 2003, Bamahane Hashavua June 05, 2003, La’Isha May 26, 2003, Maariv June 06, 2003, Iton Yerushalayim June 05, 2003) with titles such as “Yeshua the Supreme Star”, “The Hippie from Bethlehem,” “The Star with the Cross,” and “Yeshua a Supreme Object” appeared in the media, announcing and describing an art exhibition depicting Yeshua in photography over the last 160 years.
)Ha’Ir May 29, 2003)
A question about the origin of Replacement Theology is asked in Ha’Ir (May 29, 2003), “Who was the person who termed the phrase ‘Jesus Israel,’ meaning that the Church is the true Israel, and when did this matter first arise?” Dr. Aviad Kleinberg, an expert on the origins of Christianity at the Tel Aviv University says that the above term is not familiar to the Academy. He explains that the idea first surfaced in an epistle by one of the apostles (“Paul”) in the New Testament, and that religious scribes throughout history repeat it in several other writings.
Jewish, Orthodox Christian Leaders Meet
)Jerusalem Post May 28, 2003)
The Jerusalem Post (May 28, 2003) reported that Jewish and Orthodox Christian leaders were planning to create a joint commission to broaden interfaith dialogue and discussions over Jewish concerns in Eastern Europe. The journalist proposed that such a move would greatly expand high-level Jewish-Christian contacts, which have been dominated by the Catholics.
Whitney Houston Visits Christian Site
)Yediot May 30, 2003)
“Why did Whitney cry?” was the title of a brief item in Yediot (May 30, 2003). A photograph of singer Whitney Houston crying while surrounded by a group of Black Hebrews at a Christian baptism site on the shore of the Sea of Galilee was published.
Matzas Symbolize Foundation of Christianity
)Mishpaha May 22, 2003)
The Chicago Tribune apologized profusely for an article published before Passover in which the explanation was given that the three matzas (unleavened bread made from flour and water, eaten on Passover) symbolized one of the foundations of Christianity. Apparently, Messianic Jews “belonging to a missionary cult” and “representing themselves as Jews” were interviewed for the paper. The apology was given as a result of furious responses, and the clarification that the original statement made was an opinion held by Messianic Jews, and not the opinion of most Jews as had been stated in the article. (Mishpaha May 22, 2003)
Request for Adoption Denied
)Maariv June 04, 2003)
An Armenian immigrant couple, were refused the possibility of adoption by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare. The reason for the refusal was that the husband is Jewish, but the wife is Christian. The decision was based on an Israeli law that both members of the couple are required to be of the same religion as the adopted child. (Maariv June 04, 2003)
Suspicions of Israel-loving Evangelical Christians
)Jerusalem Post June 04, 2003)
An opinion in The Jerusalem Post (June 04, 2003) expressed suspicions about the “warm embrace Israel has received in recent years from the evangelical Christian community.” After listing some concerns, the writer appeared to view the support of this group as a “positive phenomenon,” even though he states, “True, I’m not thrilled by a vision of the future that sees the Nation of Israel reduced one day to a decimated remnant that accepts Jesus – but I’ll worry about that when it happens.”
From Israeli to Christian Nun/Monk
)Ha’Aretz English Edition June 13, 2003)
Ha’Aretz English Edition (June 13, 2003) addressed an issue shown on a television documentary program, Fact, hosted by Ilana Dayan. The program exposed the desire of some Israeli’s “wanting to be Christians, and not only Christians but Russian Orthodox nuns or monks.” The three Russian Jews reported to have gone this route are reportedly now serving in various Russian Orthodox monasteries and convents in the country. The mother of one of the new nuns was briefly interviewed.
)Jerusalem Post June 12, 2003, June 13, 2003) (Basheva June 12, 2003) (Makor Rishon May 30, 2003)
Makor Rishon (May 30, 2003) reviewed a religious booklet published by a Christian-Arab institute, “Emaus.” The subject discussed in the booklet is, “Who is greater – The prophet Muhammad or Yeshua?” The conclusion, which places Muhammad second and criticizes him for his many wives, aroused enraged responses from the Islamic movement who viewed the literature as an American Zionistic initiative to raise internal Arab disputes. A spokesperson from the Greek Orthodox Church commented, “It is necessary to clarify that the evangelical groups who are behind the publishing of the booklet are outside of the original church founded by Yeshua. Their purpose is to distance believers from the original church. We love and respect our Muslim brothers.”
“Book Opposing Road Map Outselling Hillary Clinton,” was the title of a brief article in The Jerusalem Post (June 12, 2003) stating “American Christians are apparently rallying against the road map, if the sales of a new book by a leading evangelical author are an indication.” The book referred to, entitled, “Beyond Iraq: The Next Move: Ancient Prophecy and Modern Day Prophecy Collide” is written by Michael D. Evans, and is outselling Hillary Clinton’s “Living History” on the Amazon.com best-seller list.
A Jerusalem Post (June 13, 2003) article entitled, “Jesus for Suckers” comprehensively reviewed “The Brother of Jesus: The Dramatic Story And Meaning Of The First Archaeological Link To Jesus And His Family” by Hershel Shanks and Ben Witherington III.
“Falling into the Net” was the title of an extensive feature in Basheva (June 12, 2003) covering views on Messianic Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, international preachers and missionaries. The item was a response to an electronic booklet on “How To Become A Millionaire In Ten Minutes?” It explains that behind the tempting introduction, the book comes from a missionary movement. The article covered the tactics and methods of “missionaries” to convert innocent parties, specifically new ways of reaching people via the latest technology, by which “they catch people” and take advantage of lonely people surfing the Internet. A point-by-point list of how to “Identify the Missionary” on the Internet is also given.