Caspari Center Media Review… August, 2003 #1
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 59 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 11 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes
- 7 were Film Reviews
- 6 dealt with Christian Sites
- 6 dealt with Jewish Christians Relations
- 5 dealt with Christian support of Israel
- 4 dealt with Archeology
- 4 dealt with Tourism
- 3 were Book Reviews
- 2 dealt with Christians and Politics
- 2 dealt with Christianity and Business
- 1 dealt with Messianic Jews
The remaining 8 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
Anti Missionary Attitudes
)Yated Ne’eman Aug. 01, 2003, Aug. 07, 2003) (Hamodia Jul. 30, 2003) (Sha’a Tova Aug. 01, 2003) (Bakehila Aug. 06, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Aug. 05, 2003) (Ha’Aretz Aug. 06, 2003) (Ha’Aretz English Edition Aug. 06, 2003, Aug. 08, 2003)
Five articles (Ha’Aretz English Edition Aug. 06, 2003, Aug. 08, 2003, Yated Ne’eman Aug. 07, 2003, Ha’Aretz Aug. 06, 2003, Bakehila Aug. 06, 2003) covered a demand made by British Jews to remove a billboard posted by Jews for Jesus in a heavily populated Jewish neighborhood of London. The billboard features a group of ultra-orthodox Jews at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, one of whom is wearing a red Jews for Jesus t-shirt, with the caption, “Think for Yourself.” Many of the articles that cover this reprint the billboard.
The Board of Deputies, the umbrella body of Britain’s Jewish community, called the advert “objectionable and offensive,” while the U.K. director of Jews for Jesus, Joseph Steinberg, responded, “I believe that the Bible and the New Testaments are true, and that Jesus is the Messiah. Hundreds of thousands across the world believe in that as well. Instead of dealing with the message, the Jewish community leadership decided to shoot the messenger.”
Ha’Aretz English Edition (Aug. 08, 2003) dealt specifically with “the edgy war” between Jews for Judaism and Jews for Jesus. Larry Levey, who served as the president of Jews for Judaism in the late eighties and who is “himself a former Jew for Jesus,” announced that the anti-missionary organization, Jews for Judaism, has opened an office in Israel.
On Aug. 01, 2003 Sha’a Tova and Yated Ne’eman covered a story that was featured on a documentary television program, “Uvda” (“Fact”). The documentary was about Jewish youth who had immigrated to Israel, converted to Christianity as a result of visiting a monastery and are currently serving as monks and nuns in a monastery in Greece. Personal accounts of their journey were featured.
Toronto’s Jewish community is bracing for an “onslaught of Jewish missionaries” planning a campaign in August, “targeting Jews for conversion.” The city’s Jewish leaders anticipate that it will likely be the largest missionary drive ever undertaken in Canada. In response to the campaign, Jews for Judaism is offering a series of educational activities and public events, including tips on how to refute missionary arguments. (Hamodia Jul. 30, 2003, Jerusalem Post Aug. 05, 2003)
Catholic and Vatican Matters
)Ma’ariv Aug. 10, 2003, Aug. 07, 2003) (Globus Jul. 28, 2003) (Sha’a Tova Jul. 25, 2003) (Zman Haifa Jul. 25, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Jul. 30, 2003)
Both the Jerusalem Post, Jul. 30, 2003 and the Hebrew daily, Ma’ariv Aug. 10, 2003 report on an extensive article that was featured in a Vatican publication entitled, “Children’s Hospital Heals More Than Illness” on the Schneider Medical Center for Israel (SCMCI) in the city of Petah Tikva. The feature praised the SCMCI for serving as a “bridge for peace.”
Haifa’s mayor, Yonah Yahav, traveled to the Vatican in order to reach an agreement regarding housing units for Arabs living in the city. Yahav claimed that the Vatican owns land sufficient for one thousand housing units. The journalists writing for Globus (Jul. 28, 2003) and Zman Haifa (Jul. 25, 2003) said that ongoing discussions regarding this matter are expected.
“Will The Vatican Admit To Theft Of Temple Utensils?” was the title of an item published in Sha’a Tova (Jul. 25, 2003). Following on from President Moshe Katzav’s meeting with the Pope in 2002, when this matter was discussed, the article explains that the Vatican has promised to present a list of historical, Jewish treasures hidden in its basement.
)Eretz Aheret May-June, 2003) (Kol Ha’Ir Aug. 01, 2003) (Index Yerushalayim Jul. 30, 2003) (Kol Hazman Aug. 01, 2003) (Haim Aherim July, 2003)
Eretz Aheret (May-June 2003) explores the ideal of the city of Jerusalem on earth as well as the Heavenly Jerusalem by interviewing followers from every religion, including Christianity. The journalist quotes Galatians 4:25-26, “…But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.” Early views of Jerusalem according to Christian theologians are also portrayed.
A plan to build a Greek Orthodox Church and living quarters for priests, pilgrims and monks on the Mount of Olives that had been previously rejected was given approval. (Kol Ha’Ir Aug. 01, 2003, Kol Hazman Aug. 01, 2003). The reason reported for denying the building permit was fear that the establishment of Christian institutions on the mount would take precedent over existing buildings. The approval was granted when the church’s perimeters were decreased.
Index Yerushalayim (Jul. 30, 2003) featured the “Saint John of the Desert” Monastery, outlining its location, history, and lifestyle of the resident monks.
“The Gospel According to Yeshua” was the title of a feature in the July 2003 edition of Haim Aherim, and focused on the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth’s Old City. This church is thought to be at the location where the angel Gabriel first appeared to Mary to inform her that she would give birth to the Messiah. Myths, history, and geography surrounding the church, as well as background regarding Yeshua’s birth are presented.
(Kol Hazman Jul. 25, 2003) (Zman Mekomi Jul. 25, 2003) (Zman Hasharon Aug. 01, 2003)
Two comprehensive articles dealt with “exaggerated” security checks at the Ben Gurion Airport, providing several examples of invasion of privacy and insults to tourists leaving Israel. Zman Mekomi and Kol Hazman (both on Jul. 25, 2003) gave examples of clergymen, including a Franciscan monk and Cardinal Martini, who were treated suspiciously when leaving the country. The articles state that statue of Yeshua that was carried by the monk was purposely broken during the security inspection.
A third article made up of letters of response to the above mentioned articles was published in Zman Hasharon (Aug. 01, 2003).
Prime Minister Meets with Tom DeLay
)Jerusalem Post Jul. 28, 2003) (Ma’ariv Jul. 25, 2003)
Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, met with House Majority leader, Tom DeLay, a conservative Republican from Texas, and an evangelical Christian. In addition to talking about the roadmap, about which DeLay expressed serious misgivings, the articles in Ma’ariv (Jul. 25, 2003) and The Jerusalem Post (Jul. 28, 2003) also reported that the two men discussed the Bible.
)Bamahane Hashavua Jul. 25, 2003) (Ma’ariv Jul. 29, 2003)
A feature regarding online shopping in Bamahane Hashavua (Jul 25, 2003) addressed several questions on the subject including “why it is beneficial to be a missionary – having malls that serve Yeshua”, referring to the following internet site: http://objective.jesussave.us/mallmission.html.
The article introduced the site’s founder, Wendy Tullar, once a shopper who succumbed to secular consumerism until the “Light of Jesus showed her the way to Salvation.” Tullar’s purpose is to share the gospel in malls using the “best tools available – the Word of the Lord, inspired witnessing, and informational pamphlets – to bring to those unfortunates the Good News that they are not mere ‘consumers’, that they are instead children of the Lord.”
In response to the controversial campaign of the Evangelical Environmental Network against jeeps and large vehicles that uses the slogan “What would Jesus drive?” the Union of Jeep drivers came up with their own motto, “The Real Jesus Drives a Jeep.” The article in Ma’ariv (Jul. 29, 2003) delves into the environmental issue of Americans driving large, polluting cars, using Yeshua in their advertising campaigns.
Christian Support of Israel
)In Jerusalem Aug. 09, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Jul. 25, 2003, Jul. 31, 2003, Aug. 04, 2003) (Hatzofe Aug. 01, 2003)
Two articles reported that a $500,000 donation from The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Christian supporters of Israel, designated for special welfare cases in Jerusalem has not been claimed by the Jerusalem Municipality for the past two months. Rabbi Yehiel Ekstein, the organization’s founder, said that he sent out a letter to Mayor Uri Lupolianski in June asking him to contact him to receive the funds, however, to date there has been no reply from the mayor.
Asked why the funds were still unclaimed, Mayor Lupolianski’s spokesman stated that the mayor “is working intensely to solve disputes and disagreements on this subject, which came up even before he took office, in order to transfer the money to the welfare department soon.” (In Jerusalem Aug. 09, 2003, Jerusalem Post Jul. 31, 2003)
Erez Uriely, the Director of the Norsk Israelsenter in Norway, sent a letter to the editor of The Jerusalem Post, published on Jul. 25, 2003, pleading with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, not to give away the Jewish homeland to Arabs. Uriely stated that a great number of Christians “have a dilemma in supporting the Israeli government because they feel some Israeli politicians are running away from their obligations as keepers of the holy sites of our common Judeo-Christian heritage.”
The Fassouta Computer Literacy Project is a three-year initiative sponsored by the Jewish Federation and the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago aimed at benefiting Israel’s Christian minority. The village of Fassouta, a Melkite Catholic community in the Galilee is to receive computer equipment, Internet access, and vocational training thanks to the Jewish-Catholic partnership in Chicago. The Jerusalem Post (Aug. 08, 2003) confirmed that the project had its roots in concerns expressed by Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, to federation leaders regarding the fate of the Christian community in Israel.
A short feature in religious paper, Hatzofe (Aug. 01, 2003), praised The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews for their efforts to contribute to Israel. The item lists a number of donations made by the fund.
Mel Gibson’s film – “The Passion”
)Ha’Aretz Aug. 07, 2003, Aug. 08, 2003) (Ha’Aretz English Edition Aug. 08, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Jul. 30, 2003, Aug. 11, 2003) (International Herald Tribune Aug. 03, 2003) (Yediot Aug. 05, 2003)
Many of the major newspapers continued to cover Mel Gibson’s upcoming controversial film that depicts the last twelve hours of Yeshua’s life. The main points mentioned may be summarized as follows:
- A panel of experts together with a Catholic bishops group warned that the film’s screening in various Christian countries could lead to waves of anti-Semitism.
- Ted Haggard, leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, defended the film against charges that it incorrectly recounts the crucifixion and hours leading up to it, and that it may provoke anti-Semitism. (Jerusalem Post Jul. 30, 2003)
Evangelist Arrested in Lebanon
)Yated Ne’eman Aug. 07, 2003)
Yated Ne’eman (Aug. 07, 2003) briefly reported that Lebanese authorities arrested the Christian evangelist Bruce Balfour by military court order. He is accused of visiting Israel and collaborating with “the enemy,” a crime punishable by up to three years imprisonment.
Jew and Catholic Wed in Legalized Same-Sex Marriage
)Jerusalem Report Aug. 11, 2003)
A feature focusing on a Canadian court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriages appeared in The Jerusalem Report (Aug. 11, 2003). Michael Leshner, a Jew, and his Catholic partner, Michael Stark, long time gay rights crusaders, were shown toasting to their historic wedding.
)Jerusalem Post Jul. 27, 2003)
The American Jewish Committee flew an Anglican priest from the Israeli city of Ramle, a Rabbi from a Kibbutz, and an Imam from Jerusalem to the U.S.A. in order to promote coexistence in their native country. In meetings at churches and synagogues, the clergy described their work in interfaith programs, urging their American audiences to both encourage and fund coexistence work from abroad. (Jerusalem Post Jul. 27, 2003)
)Jerusalem Report Aug. 08, 2003)
The Jerusalem Report (Aug. 08, 2003) featured an article describing the ways in which Messianic Judaism in on the rise in Israel, due to both immigration and “sophisticated outreach among veteran Israelis.” A large portion of the item focuses on the Adonai Roi congregation in Tel Aviv including their activities and an account of a Saturday congregational service. Several concerns are raised regarding evangelism of Israelis using questionable means, like visiting terror victims in hospitals and appealing to those who are in financial distress.
The pastors mentioned in the report are Avi Mizrahi and Baruch Maoz, and brief testimonies of how each came to faith in Yeshua, as well as their family histories are depicted. Dr. Gershon Nerel of moshav Yad Hashmona is quoted and the moshav is presented as being a center of messianic activity.
The issue of immigration of Messianic Jews was addressed, stating that the Israeli Interior Ministry confirms, “no Jews who openly confess to belief in Jesus have been accepted as immigrants.” Regarding evangelism, the journalist gives budgetary figures from the Jews for Jesus Organization that are designated for evangelism. “Messianic Jews don’t build old age homes with charity in mind. Conversion is their single, solitary motive.”
The article uses the terms Messianic Jew and Hebrew Christian interchangeably.
Interview with Emil Shopani
)Eretz Aheret May-June, 2003)
The May-June edition of Eretz Aheret featured a lengthy six-page interview with Father Emil Shopani, who initiated a journey to Auschwitz that included both Arab and Jewish participants. Shopani’s views on theology and relationship between Muslims, Jews and Christians in Israel are given considerable space.
)Ha’Aretz English Edition Jul. 25, 2003) (Jerusalem Report Aug. 11, 2003) (Kol Hazman Jul. 25, 2003)
A book review of “From New Christians to New Jews” by Yosef Kaplan appeared in Ha’Aretz English Edition (Jul. 25, 2003). The book is about the Sephardi Jews of Amsterdam, “the new Jews,” who claimed that they live according to a code of behavior that would demonstrate and prove the “superiority and beauty of Judaism.”
The Jerusalem Report (Aug. 11, 2003) published a letter to the editor by Irving D. Cohen from Florida, U.S.A., in which he refers to a book review of “A Moral Reckoning” by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen that appeared in the same magazine on Jul. 14, 2003. Cohen states that the New Testament is “replete with hatred-filled, violence-inciting, slanderous accusations against Jews.” Referring to the author’s anti-Semitic texts, Cohen says that comments such as his have led to the torture and slaughter of millions of Jews over a period of two thousand years.
“The Gospel According to Pedro” was the title of an extensive feature in Kol Hazman (Jul. 25, 2003) regarding the Christian Portuguese author, Pedro Payashao. His pro-Israel articles and biography were both featured.