Caspari Center Media Review… August, 2003 #2
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 51 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 9 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes
- 8 were Film Reviews
- 7 dealt with Jewish Christians Relations
- 3 dealt with Archeology
- 3 dealt with Tourism
- 3 were Art Reviews
- 2 dealt with Christian support of Israel
- 2 dealt with Christians and Politics
- 2 dealt with Status of Non-Jews
- 2 dealt with Television Reviews
- 1 was a Book Review
- 1 dealt with Christian Sites
The remaining 8 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
Anti Missionary Attitudes
)Yated Ne’eman Aug. 22, 2003 – two articles) (Hamodia Aug. 08, 2003; Aug. 15, 2003) (Mishpaha Jul. 06, 2003) (Makor Rishon Aug. 15, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Aug. 19, 2003)
Articles in both The Jerusalem Post (Aug. 19, 2003) and Yated Ne’eman (Aug. 22, 2003) reported that the Jewish community in Cleveland, Ohio, is acting to counter “an aggressive campaign” launched by Jews for Jesus in which college campuses, shopping malls and cafes are targeted to “convert Jews to Christianity.” The Chairman of the Community Relations Committee (CRC) of Cleveland’s Jewish community Federation, Louis Malcamacher stated, “We’re ready, and hopefully, they won’t be coming again.”
According to Yated Ne’eman (Aug. 22, 2003), concern has been voiced regarding “missionary material” that is being distributed to Jewish patients in London hospitals.
Three items (Mishapaha Jul. 06, 2003; Hamodia Aug. 08, 2003; Aug. 15, 2003) covered an investigation by Yad L’achim. The investigation revealed that the House of Victory in Haifa, “missionaries” David and Karen Davis run rehabilitation center where substance addicts are treated. The House of Victory, according to the articles, is actually “a missionary center that, in typical fashion, targets a vulnerable sector of society.”
A brief account of House of Victory’s beginnings is given as well as excerpts of regular newsletters sent out by the Davis’. Yad L’achim’s founder, Rabbi Shalom Dov Lipshitz, claims to have solid proof as to “what’s going on in the missionary detoxification center.” Yad L’achim’s legal counsel assured that they would take all legal measures possible in response to the “criminal activity going on in House of Victory.”
A journalist from Makor Rishon, Hagit Cohen, expressed her disgust for missionaries and their evangelism tactics (Aug. 15, 2003). She highlighted the method of sending invitations to order literature regarding “Yeshua” by mail. Cohen says that she has missionaries in her family, and as neighbors.
Continued Controversy About “The Passion” Film
)Ha’Aretz English Edition Aug. 14, 2003) (Ha’Aretz Aug. 14, 2003; Aug. 15, 2003) (Ma’ariv Aug. 13, 2003) (Hatzofe Aug. 17, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Aug. 13, 2003; Aug. 15, 2003) (Yediot Aug. 15, 2003)
Articles about Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion,” continued to appear in both secular and religious papers. The film is due to be released in spring 2004. Following are a few of the major issues covered:
- Following several incidences of hate mail received The Simon Wiesenthal Center has urged Gibson to make changes in the film. The mail included accusations that Jews are “Christ killers.” (Jerusalem Post Aug. 15, 2003; Hatzofe Aug. 17, 2003)
- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops officially apologized to Gibson for their representatives attacking the new film before verifying its content. (Ma’ariv Aug. 13, 2003)
- The Anti-Defamation League expressed concern that the motion picture “could fuel hatred, bigotry, and anti-Semitism” and that it could undermine Christian and Jewish dialogue should it be released in its present form. (Jerusalem Post Aug. 13, 2003, Ha’Aretz English Edition Aug. 14, 2003, Ha’Aretz Aug. 14, 2003)
- Yediot (Aug. 15, 2003) reported that, following the uproar about his movie, Gibson is planning a series of meetings with Jewish leaders throughout the U.S.A.
(Jerusalem Post Aug. 15, 2003) (Ha’Aretz Aug. 21, 2003) (Jerusalem Report Aug. 25, 2003)
Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review and coauthor of the recently published book, “The Brother of Jesus,” lengthily expressed his opinion that the Israeli authorities responsible for determining whether the ossuary with the inscription, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” is authentic or not, are handling the situation very badly. Shanks follows the investigation while pointing out its faults, asking, “If the Israel Antiquities Authority is so sure it is a fake, why has no full, scientific report been released?” (Jerusalem Post Aug. 15, 2003)
“Outside the Box” was the title of an item in The Jerusalem Report (Aug. 25, 2003) in which the Discovery Channel’s documentary entitled, “James, Brother of Jesus” was discussed.
Ha’Aretz (Aug. 21, 2003) featured a brief piece about excavations at two churches dating from the Byzantine period in Susita. Two graves were found next to an altar in one of the churches, and a bronze pitcher dating back to the ancient Arabic period was found in the other. The pitcher finding proves that the church continued to function during the period of the Arab conquest.
Judean Plain Monasteries
(Metaylim Aug. 2003)
A feature about monasteries in the Judean plain that were active until the War of Independence appeared in Metaylim (August 2003). The churches’ and monasteries’ history is traced back to the eleventh century. Many of the churches and monasteries that are still standing have been refurbished. Several photographs of the refurbished monasteries are shown.
Tour Guides Integrating Missionary Activity Into Work
(Sha’a Tova Aug. 22, 2003)
Sha’a Tova (Aug. 22, 2003) recounted an incident in which a tour group from the U.S. approached an ultra orthodox Jew, asking if he would be interested in hearing a song. Once the man was with the group, several songs from the Psalms were sung in his presence. The tour group leader proceeded to share the group’s Christian faith and gave the Jew a book about “conversion.” The brief item was entitled, “Tour Group Leaders in Israel Integrating Missionary Activity Into Their Work.”
Appointment of Irineos
(Sha’a Tova Aug. 08, 2003) (Makor Rishon Aug. 15, 2003) (Ha’Aretz English Edition Aug. 18, 2003) (Ha’Aretz Aug. 18, 2003)
The Israeli government has appointed a ministerial committee to decide whether or not to appoint the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Irineos, to the Israeli government. This is due to heavy international pressure, particularly from the U.S.A. and Greece. The committee, named by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is headed by Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, and includes Justice Minister Tommy Lapid, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Zevulun Orlev, and ministers Natan Sharansky and Meir Sheetrit. (Makor Rishon Aug. 15, 2003; Ha’Aretz English Edition Aug. 18, 2003; Ha’Aretz Aug. 18, 2003; Sha’a Tova Aug. 08, 2003)
Church in Ashdod
(Zman Hadarom Aug. 08, 2003)
In an article appearing in Zman Hadarom (Aug. 08, 2003), a weekly magazine distributed freely to homes in the southern part of Israel, a question was raised in an interview with a candidate running for mayor of the city of Ashdod, Itzhak Gabai. The question was if he supports the activity of Christians building a church for themselves. Gabai responded positively, explaining that in every port city there should be a synagogue, a mosque and a church. He stated that he would support such a building should land be provided for it.
Status of Non-Jews
(Sha’a Tova Aug. 08, 2003) (Hamodia Aug. 15, 2003)
The religious magazine, Sha’a Tova (Aug. 08, 2003) reported Rabbi Amar’s opinion that new immigrants in Israel are not “seeking Judaism,” but rather desire a comfortable place to live. He also asked that a special approval committee be set up to “filter” the new immigrants arriving in Israel claiming to be Jews. According to Rabbi Amar, immigrants disguised as Jews are prone to Anti-Semitic attitudes. He mentioned that there are sixty churches meeting in various shelters and homes in Tel Aviv.
Hamodia (Aug. 15, 2003) ran a personal article by Eliyahu Richter in which he commented on immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The writer referred to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s statement that the immigration from the former U.S.S.R. is the greatest gift Israel has received since its birth, as the society is strengthened through them. Richter pointed to the “ignored” fact that 800,000 of the million immigrants are gentiles. “Is this a Russian or a Jewish state?” he asks, while acknowledging “hundreds of thousands of non-Jews are flooding the land, not even wanting to be Jews. We are losing the Jewish character of the state.”
Israel’s Allies – Evangelical Christians
(Jerusalem Post Aug. 15, 2003) (Ma’ariv Aug. 22, 2003)
The development of closer ties with Evangelical Christians over the past years was the subject of an article in The Jerusalem Post (Aug. 15, 2003). The item described the influence of this group in the American political arena, their financial contributions and supporting letters to Israel. The writer, vice president of the World Jewish Congress, Isi Leibler, also expressed caution, that despite all the enthusiastic support received from Evangelicals, is it important “not to delude ourselves.” She says there are bound to be “malcontents, and deep seated internal differences, and the possibility of encountering problems, possibly unpleasant differences, even outright hostility, exists.”
Even though Leibler is concerned about these risks, she summarized her view, saying that we should make every effort to strengthen the relationship between the Land and Christians abroad, as long as “we take care not to become involved in broader areas that would inevitably lead to misunderstandings and conflict.”
Ma’ariv (Aug. 22, 2003) asked several penetrating questions regarding support by “Evangelical Protestants.” A brief answer is given, “They believe that it is right to support Israel, because Jews present in the Land are about to repent (convert to Christianity) when ‘Yeshu’ returns for His second coming.”
Yeshua in Art
(Ha’Aretz Aug. 15, 2003)
“Yeshu Once Again Comes Down From the Cross” was the title of a feature in Ha’Aretz (Aug. 15, 2003). At the beginning of the 19th century, three paintings were very badly damaged as a result of a fire in Florence. One of the paintings was the “Deposition from the Cross” by Santi di Tito. The paintings have recently undergone cleaning and reconstruction. The article deals with modern methods used to reconstruct damaged art pieces.
Abraham Ben Abraham
(Sha’a Tova Aug. 15, 2003)
Sha’a Tova (Aug. 15, 2003), a religious magazine, ran an extensive piece outlining the life of Abraham ben Abraham, a former South African priest and farmer who converted to Judaism, and who for many years has lived with his family in a tent encampment in the Negev.
(Ha’Aretz Aug. 15, 2003)
“Yeshu Once Again Comes Down From the Cross” was the title of a feature in Ha’Aretz (Aug. 15, 2003) dealing with “The Da Vinci Code,” a book by Dan Brown about Leonardo Da Vinci. The book includes topics such as symbolic numerology, verbal riddles, as well as an “alternate version of Christianity” interwoven with the Holy Grail legend. Brown claims that it was not the disciple John sitting at Jesus’ side, but rather Mary Magdalene, “Yeshu’s bride,” dressed as a man. A large painting of the scene is shown as part of the article, with pointers to various parts of the picture and captions describing the following:
- There is no item on the table that can be understood to be a grail. The wine appears to be in cups.
- “Yeshu” and “Mary Magdalene” are dressed in opposing colors, which hypothetically symbolizes the yin yang elements.
- “Mary Magdalene” and “Yeshu” are leaning away from each other, forming a “V” – an ancient, effeminate sign for a grail. It is also possible to see the letter “M,” symbolizing marriage or Magdalene.
- A hand holding a dagger appears to be extending from the audience in a gesture of deep friendship. The hand, however, seems not to belong to any person present at the table.