July 31 – 2003

Caspari Center Media Review… July, 2003 #1 and #2

During the period of time covered by this review, we received 85 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:


  • 14 dealt with Christian Sites
  • 10 dealt with Anti-Missionary attitudes
  • 6 dealt with Christians and Politics
  • 4 dealt with Tourism
  • 3 dealt with Messianic Jews
  • 6 dealt with Christian support of Israel
  • 5 dealt with Jewish Christians Relations
  • 7 dealt with Archeology
  • 4 dealt with Status of Non-Jews
  • 3 was a Book Review


The remaining 19 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.


Anti Missionary Attitudes

)Yated Ne’eman July 04, 2003) (Zman Mekomi July 04, 2003) (Sha’a Tova July 04, 2003) Yated Ne’eman July 13, 2003) (Hamodia July 13, 2003) (Sha’a Tova July 11, 2003, July 18, 2003) (Hamahane Haharedi July 17, 2003)

Yated Ne’eman (July 04, 2003) reported that according to the Jews for Jesus international website, the organization was “gearing up for its biggest missionary blitz” on London, bringing in “activists” from the U.S.A, Europe and Israel as part of a month-long campaign.


Zman Mekomi (July 04, 2003), featured an article that expressed strong disapproval of a booklet in Russian that was distributed in mailboxes in the city of Holon. The booklet called people to convert to Christianity. A member of the city’s local council, Yishayahu Nuriel, who is also a Yad L’achim activist commented, “We are of course against these things that come to draw Jews out of Judaism and into Christianity. They are causing the destruction of homes.” A couple of pages of the booklet were re-printed clearly in the article.


“She Arrived At The Yad L’achim Seminar And Drew Closer To Judaism – Following Missionary’s Advice” was the title of an article in Sha’a Tova (July 04, 2003). The account is given of a “missionary” from Netanya, who was challenged by a friend to listen to the anti-missionary Russian radio station, “The Jewish Voice,” and confront them to stop speaking so negatively about what she believes in. When she called in, the disc jockey on the air proceeded to list the “dubious intentions and inappropriate methods used by missionaries in order to achieve their goals.” The outcome of the incident was an invitation to a seminar where the “missionary” could ask questions regarding Judaism and to “confess to the truth she had not known,” whereupon the woman replied, “I am willing, I am willing to sign up right now.” She was said to have joined the seminar, now regularly attends meetings held by Rabbis, and has returned to Judaism.


Two articles, appearing on July 13, 2003 in Yated Ne’eman and Hamodia respectively, reported that Lev L’achim thwarted missionary activity planned to take place at the Carmiel Festival. Two buses “filled with approximately one hundred missionaries, preaching and propaganda material” were seen arriving at the northern Israel city’s festival, whereupon Lev L’achim activists followed the missionaries, preventing them from conversing with people by “disturbing them.” A complaint was also submitted to the Carmiel Police against the missionaries on counts of preaching to minors.


A large hall in the “Clal Center” situated in central Jerusalem is secretly undergoing alterations to be used as a new meeting place to serve the POAC “a cult missionary organization.” This was the description given in Sha’a Tova (July 18, 2003) and Hamahane Haharedi (July 17, 2003). Additional points presented were:

  • The hall was purchased by the missionary organization for 2.8 million dollars.
  • Originally the media announced the purchasers of the hall as “a Christian organization,” however, Yad L’achim investigators discovered that the space was sold to the POAC, “a missionary cult well known to Yad L’achim.”
  • “Among the cult’s destructive activities in Israel, is a special school that they run in Hebrew to train missionaries for action.”


“The boy burst out crying: “‘I am Jewish!’ I don’t want to go to Church,” was the title of an item printed in Sha’a Tova (July 11, 2003) focusing on the family of lawyer Yitzhak Otzarshvili. The family resides in Lod and was discovered to be missionaries “of the worst destructive kind.” The hostile article accuses the believing mother of influencing their children towards Christianity.


Messianic Jews

)Yated Ne’eman July 04, 2003) (Ha’Aretz English Edition July 04, 2003) (Jerusalem Post July 03, 2003)

(Yated Ne’eman July 04, 2003) reported that Chosen People Ministries has lost an appeal to use a stylized menorah as a legally protected symbol. The Canadian Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling explanation was that the organization is not a “public authority.”


“Zaka Gets Donation From Messianic Jews” was the headline of an article published in The Jerusalem Post (July 03, 2003). The U.S. Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) presented a large donation to Zaka, Israel’s voluntary humanitarian organization that works alongside the police, military and emergency services at the scene of terror attacks. UMJC’s heads, Jamie Cowan and Richard Nichol were interviewed, emphasizing, “the UMJC does not missionize… Our primary identity is as Jews. We’re not evangelists.” Nichol explained, “We’re like any other stream of Judaism, such as the Reform. Like them, for example, we believe in patrilineal as well as matrilineal lineage in determining who is a Jew.”


Mr. Cowan and Mr. Nichol were also quoted in Ha’Aretz English Edition (July 04, 2003) in an item regarding the UMJC’s solidarity tour to Israel. In addition Russel Resnik, another director of the organization, was quoted, “We came to Israel to serve, to be here with our people and to show support by physically being here and spending money.”


Christian Support of Israel

)Faxtours July 02, 2003) (Zfon-1 July 27, 2003) Jerusalem Post July 21, 2003) (Index Yerushalayim July 16, 2003) (Hatzofe July 15, 2003, July 22, 2003) (Kol Hadarom July 11, 2003)


A group of American “evangelical pilgrims” entered the Dome of the Rock with the approval of the police following a period of two years during which tour groups were forbidden to enter the mosque. (Faxtours July 02, 2003)


The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews made a donation to the municipality of Shlomi in response to a request for aid in the face of their difficult economical situation. (Zfon-1 June 27, 2003)


Hatzofe (July 15, 2003) and Index Yerushalayim (July 16, 2003) reported that the Russian speaking World Congress of Jews collected money from Christian donors throughout the former Soviet Union in order to aid families who have been victims of terrorism in Jerusalem. The contribution raised was distributed to thirty families at a ceremony attended by one of Jerusalem’s mayor.


A letter to the editor of The Jerusalem Post (July 21, 2003) by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president and founder of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews was published in response to an item appearing in the same paper on July 10, 2003 entitled, “Festive Welcome For American Olim.” Rabbi Eckstein emphasizes the “little known” fact about the recent influx of Jews from North America, being that their “aliya [immigration to Israel] is rooted in the support of American Christians.”


Eckstein details the financial support that this group of people has donated towards the ideal of immigration to the Land, “These Christian friends have no other agenda than to secure the future of Israel and the Jewish people. Their actions are based on God’s covenant with Abraham and on recognition of Israel as America’s only democratic ally in a hostile Middle East. At a time when their generosity is desperately needed I believe we must give up the canards about Evangelicals supporting Israel only to prepare for the return of their Messiah.”


The orthodox religious paper, Hatzofe (July 22, 2003) announced that seventy Christian youth from Chicago, from an organization called “Souled Out” were scheduled to appear in a performance at a Haifa mall, with the purpose of presenting a message of hope and encouragement for the nation of Israel.


An article in Kol Hadarom (July 11, 2003) accused the city council of Ashdod of hoarding 564,000 shekels donated by The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, while claiming to be in debt and unable to aid the needy in the city.


Christian Right Support Israel

)Ha’Aretz English Edition July 11, 2003) (Ha’Aretz July 11, 2003) (Jerusalem Post July 11, 2003)

Gary Bauer, a leading voice for the political Christian Right in the U.S.A. that strongly supports Israel, was the focus of three articles (Ha’Aretz English Edition July 11, 2003, Ha’Aretz July 11, 2003, Jerusalem Post July 11, 2003) due to his recent four-day visit to Israel. Bauer met with several Israeli government officials including Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Education Minister Limor Livnat, and Tourism Minister Benny Elon. Bauer backs Israel for “theological and political” reasons and believes that the Holy Land was promised to the Jews.



)Globus June 30, 2003) (Jerusalem Post July 08, 2003) )Tourist Guide July 17, 2003)


A brief article relating a meeting between senior El Al officials and the Vatican’s travel agent in Rome appeared in Globus (June 30, 2003). The subject discussed was the renewal of visits by large Catholic pilgrim groups to Israel.


The Ministry of Tourism has begun the construction of a tourist plaza near the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Ministry officials anticipate that the plaza will be completed in six months, “revitalizing life and new influx of tourists” in the city. (Jerusalem Post July 08, 2003)


Benny Elon, Minister of Tourism, met with senior officials from the tourism industry of Nigeria, while they were on a visit to Israel. The purpose of the visit was to promote pilgrim tourism from Nigeria. Ten thousand Nigerian tourists are expected to holiday in Israel by the end of 2003. “Tourist Guide” (July 17, 2003) mentioned that the Nigerian authorities are encouraging Nigerian Muslims and Christians to travel to the Holy Land.


Unauthorized Mosque Near Nazareth Church Leveled

)Ha’Aretz English Edition July 02, 2003) (Ha’Aretz July 02, 2003, July 10, 2003, July 11, 2003) (Jerusalem Post July 01, 2003, July 02, 2003 – 3 articles, July 11, 2003 – 2 articles) (Yediot July 03, 2003) (Ma’ariv July 02, 2003) (Globus July 02, 2003)

All of the major Israeli newspapers (Ha’Aretz English Edition July 02, 2003; Ha’Aretz July 02, 2003; July 10, 2003; July 11, 2003; Jerusalem Post July 01, 2003, July 02, 2003, July 11, 2003; Yediot July 03, 2003; Ma’ariv July 02, 2003; Globus July 02, 2003) covered the demolition of the foundations of the unauthorized Shehab a-Din Mosque, situated next to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, where “Christians believe the Angel Gabriel told Mary she would be the mother of Jesus.”


The operation had raised tensions between Christians and Muslims in the city and had drawn criticism from the White House and the Vatican. The articles explained that Christian leaders said building a mosque so close to the basilica was disrespectful, while Muslims said they cherish the site because a Muslim religious leader is buried there.


Catholic Matters

(Yediot July 11, 2003) (Yediot Haifa June 27, 2003) )Jerusalem Post July 23, 2003) (Ha’Aretz July 20, 2003, July 21, 2003)


Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was unexpectedly invited to the Vatican. Shalom met with Cardinal Sudano, considered Pope John Paul II’s right hand man, who thanked the government of Israel for demolishing the mosque in Nazareth. Additional matters were also discussed. (Yediot July 11, 2003)


Haifa Greek Catholic leader, Archbishop Butrus Moua’lem, handed in his resignation upon reaching his seventy fifth birthday. (Yediot Haifa June 27, 2003)


In an attempt to improve relations between Jews and Christians a senior Vatican official met with various Jewish leaders on a recent visit to Australia. The current condition of relations between the church and the Jews was discussed. Cardinal Walter Kasper, the head of the Vatican’s Commission for the Religious Relations with Jews reiterated that, “The church is not in the business of trying to convert the Jews.” (Jerusalem Post July 23, 2003)


An article in Ha’Aretz (July 20, 2003) recalled President Katzav’s visit with the Pope in December 2002, mentioning that one of the subjects discussed was that of Judaica, including a seven-branched candelabrum (Menorah) being kept in the Vatican’s basement. The journalist predicted that this issue would be solved during the coming months.


A brief item in Ha’Aretz (July 21, 2003) informed that Haifa’s city council officials are negotiating with the Vatican regarding property in the city that belongs to the “Holy See.”


International Representation of Israel

(Hadashot Haifa Vehatzafon June 25, 2003)

A painter from the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Haim represented Israel in the International Forum of Churches in Berlin, a conference organized by “evangelicals.” Nahum Bendel, a Holocaust survivor, shared his own personal testimony about the Second World War and the destruction of the Jewish nation during that same period. (Hadashot Haifa Vehatzafon June 25, 2003)


Ten Commandments

(Jerusalem Post July 09, 2003)

In response to an article entitled “Ten Commandments” (Jerusalem Post July 04, 2003), an American Catholic wrote a letter to the editor of the paper (July 09, 2003) expressing the hope that American Jews and Christians would be able to work together to “achieve ‘a proper balance’ between shunning and endorsing religious expression in the public sphere.” The writer compared Judaism and Christianity beginning with both of their early histories.


To Be Recruited or to Convert

(Ma’ariv July 01, 2003)

An article in Ma’ariv (July 01, 2003) focused on a girl soldier who has been told by Rabbis that should she convert to Christianity, as per her request, she would be jailed in a military prison, and would no longer be permitted to serve in the I.D.F. (Ma’ariv July 01, 2003)


Book Reviews

(Gesher Summer 2003) )Ha’Aretz July 18, 2003) (Jerusalem Post July 24, 2003)


The Battle for Auschwitz – Catholic-Jewish Relations Under Strain by Valentine Mitchell was very briefly reviewed in Gesher (Summer 2003).


“Beyond Iraq: The Next Move” is a book that claims that Israel is being used as a pawn to pay the appeasement bill for the U.S. war in Iraq. The Jerusalem Post (July 24, 2003) reviewed the publication, by U.S. evangelical author, Mike Evans.


In a reprint from the British press, from the Guardian, a half page article presented the current American infatuation with the end times.  “The Next Generation of Prophets – America is Preparing for the Apocalypse” was the title of an article published in Ha’Aretz (July 18, 2003). The article reported on several current books, primarily the “Left Behind” series of Tim Lahaye, that deal with the subject from a Christian perspective. The journalist points to the beliefs regarding the Christian faith, specifically those concerning the end times. An emphasized caption states, “The Antichrist will rise to power and will propose a fraudulent covenant. One hundred and forty four thousand Jews will receive Yeshua as their Messiah, and the rest will be cursed for eternity. Yeshua will return and will establish His Kingdom for one thousand years in a purified Middle East.”


Status of Non-Jews

)Yated Ne’eman July 17, 2003) (Hatzofe July 17, 2003) (Ha’Aretz July 18, 2003)

Articles appearing on July 17, 2003 in Yated Ne’eman and Hatzofe and on July 18, 2003 in Ha’Aretz announced that approximately eight thousand soldiers currently serving in the Israeli Defense Force (I.D.F.) are non-Jews. The military Chief of Education discovered this statistic when requested to supply New Testaments to the non-Jewish soldiers. Member of Parliament, Colette Avital, called for measures to encourage soldiers to convert to Judaism.


Ha’Aretz (July 18, 2003) reported that Rabbi Haim Druckman was appointed as the head of the “Conversion Administration.” The change was due to the former leadership’s failure to significantly influence new immigrants from the former Soviet Union to convert to Judaism. This is one of the organization’s primary goals.


Yad Avshalom Revealed as a Christian Shrine

)Ha’Aretz July 22, 2003) (Ha’Aretz English Edition July 22, 2003)

New evidence has revealed that the historic Yad Avshalom monument in Jerusalem’s Kidron Valley, revered for centuries as a Jewish shrine, was also a Christian holy place in the fourth century. On July 22, 2003, both the Hebrew and English editions of Ha’Aretz reported that an inscription on one of the walls near the monument had recently been uncovered by chance by a Jerusalem archeologist. The inscription marked the site as the burial place of Zechariah, the Temple priest, who was the father of John the Baptist.


According to Professor Gideon Foerster of the Hebrew University, the inscription tallies with a sixth century Christian text that says the father of John the Baptist, Zechariah, was buried with Simon the Elder and James, the brother of Jesus. Foerster believes the inscription and the document are historically authentic.


Owner of ‘Jesus Ossuary’ Arrested for Forgery

)Jerusalem Post July 23, 2003, July 24, 2003) (Ha’Aretz English Edition July 23, 2003) (Hatzofe July 24, 2003) (Yediot July 23, 2003) (Ma’ariv July 23, 2003)

All of the major newspapers covered the arrest of Oded Golan, owner of the ossuary bearing the inscription, “James, brother of Jesus,” after an elaborate forgery lab was discovered in his home in Tel Aviv. Police suspect that Golan has sold millions of dollars worth of forged antiquities over the years to various museums and institutions abroad. Golan denies all allegations and says he was never involved with forgeries, claiming that the workroom in his home is actually used by an Egyptian friend who stays at his home for lengthy periods. (Jerusalem Post July 23, 2003, Ha’Aretz English Edition July 23, 2003, Hatzofe July 24, 2003, Yediot July 23, 2003, Ma’ariv July 23, 2003)


Despite Golan’s arrest, those trying to promote the ossuary’s authenticity are proceeding with plans to screen a documentary film at the Jerusalem Cinemateque regarding the controversy surrounding the discovery. The showing will be followed by a panel discussion of experts. In addition, Simcha Jacobovici, a Canadian-Jewish filmmaker, and Dr. Gabi Barkai of Bar-Ilan University are mentioned in The Jerusalem Post (July 24, 2003) to be backers of the “Jesus ossuary.”


Graves Damaged by Tractor

)Ha’Ir July 10, 2003)

Several graves were damaged at a Christian Orthodox graveyard in Jaffa following work done by tractors on the site. Michel Nasser, a Christian Arab, whose mother is buried at the cemetery, shares his discovery of the smashed tombs. (Ha’Ir July 10, 2003)


Freedom of Speech

)Zman Mekomi July 11, 2003)

Victoria Cohen, an Azur resident, wrote a letter of protest to Zman Mekomi (July 11, 2003) in response to an article that appeared in Zman Holon Bat Yam on July 04, 2003. Cohen condoned the paper’s strong rhetoric concerning the “missionary propaganda” recently distributed in the city’s mailboxes. Her opinion is that it is permissible to communicate one’s political views, as well as one’s religious views.