July 15 – 2004

June 2004 #2 – July 2004 #1 Caspari Center Media Review


During the period of time covered by this review, we received 109 articles as



7 dealt with Messianic Jews and anti-missionary organizations

2 dealt with Christian solidarity with Israel

20 dealt with Christians and the status of non-Jews in Israel

20 dealt with anti-Semitism / anti-Zionism and Jewish-Christian relations

17 covered Christian tourism and tourist sites

11 covered film and books


The remaining articles dealt with domestic Israeli and Christian or Jewish affairs

on their own merit.


“Missionaries” and Anti-Missionaries


Makor Rishon, June 18; Jerusalem Post, July 2; BaKehila July 8, 2004


Makor Rishon, a Tel-Aviv area weekly, reports on the infiltration of schools-

including orthodox yeshivas-by lecturers affiliated with the “Scientology cult.”

The students also received books from the visiting speakers, including one

called “The Way to Happiness” by L. Ron Hubbard. The article goes into some

detail about Scientology, including its founding, growth, and methods (which are

likened to brainwashing). Representatives of the group have brought numerous

programs into Israeli schools, especially focusing on teaching tolerance, mutual

respect, and other such topics, but are now starting to meet with a backlash

from parents who are complaining that these programs were so easily approved

by authorities.


Bakehila reports on a “Trap for Israelis who fly to New Zealand: a Messianic

Jewish missionary center.” Yad L’Achim, the anti-missionary group, is

organizing a pre-flight PR campaign, in cooperation with Israeli travel agencies,

to warn vulnerable travelers.


Also in Bakehila, there is a report that the Interior Minister has stated that

“some [missionary] activity, if done according to law, is part of the freedom of

religion and worship.” The context for these words is “known missionary”

Christina Ben-Haim’s application for citizenship, based on her being a

Messianic Jew. Mrs. Ben-Haim was not born Jewish, but married into an Israeli

Messianic Jewish family, and when she applied for citizenship the interior

ministry asked Yad L’Achim for proof that she’s a missionary, which they gladly

supplied. The case went to Interior Minister Poraz for review, and he wrote that

the “only evidence [for her being a missionary] was a letter from Yad L’Achim,

which is not satisfactory enough to base a decision on. The minister believes

that activity which is tied to religious faith (including persuading someone to

convert), as long as it is not prohibited by law, should not be seen as

contradicting the founding principles of the state of Israel.” The minister

therefore advised that Mrs. Ben-Haim be granted legal status based on her

marriage to an Israeli citizen. Yad L’Achim said, in response, that Minister Poraz

had chosen to ignore the fact that her husband had also obtained citizenship by

deceiving the authorities.


The Ben-Haims, along with Baruch Maoz (a Messianic leader), and two lawyers,

were also interviewed on Channel 10. The interviewer was very sympathetic,

introducing Messianic Jews as being good citizens and nice people who are

persecuted for their beliefs. The discussion included the Ben-Haims’ citizenship

problems (the Interior Ministry is threatening to revoke Seth Ben-Haim’s

citizenship), the harassment experienced by various believers, and the fear they

live in. Baruch Maoz and his daughter recounted some incidents they

experienced, including physical attacks and vandalism in their home, and one of

the lawyers spoke for a believer who was fired from his job because of his faith.

They also spoke about the fact that their faith is something personal, that each

person chooses – even their own children – thus refuting the accusations that

believers baptize people into Christianity by force.


Christians in Israel / Status of non-Jews


Ha’Aretz English, June 25; Ha’Aretz Hebrew, June 25, July 2; Rosh 1, June

9; Yediot Ahronot, June 21; Index Jerusalem, June 23, 30; Jerusalem Post, June

17, 18 July 9; B’Ayin Aheret, Summer 2004; Hadashot Hadera, June 25;

Maariv, July 9; Yediot Haifa, July 2; Mishpaha, June 17; HaTzofeh, July 1, 2;

B’Sheva, July 1; Israel Today, June 2004


The Jerusalem Post (June 18) and B’Ayin Aheret report on the mostly Christian

veterans of the South Lebanese Army who have been living in Israel for about 4

years. Even though they were granted temporary citizenship, most feel like

outsiders and that Israel is not truly their home. Besides missing homes and

family in Lebanon, they are also struggling economically, surviving on low-

paying jobs and government subsidies. Returning to Lebanon, however, is not a

viable option for many, since they are considered traitors there and will face trial

and/or retaliation from militias.


The Knesset has voted down, 41-14, a bill to appoint non-Jewish chaplains to

care for the spiritual and religious needs of Muslim, Druze, and Christian

soldiers in the IDF (HaTzofeh, July 1). The cabinet, which did not support the

bill, prefers to deal with the issue in committee. In other legal news, an adoption

case which has been in the news for a few months has now acquired religious

overtones. In this case, the birth mother requested her child back, and the

adoptive parents are fighting to keep him. HaTzofeh (July 2) and Mishpaha

(June 17} report that the Chief Rabbi has stated that though in principal a parent

can never give up a child completely, if the birth mother is not Jewish, and the

child has been converted to Judaism by the adoptive parents, the tie between

the birth mother and her child is permanently broken. However, in this case the

conversion process had not been completed, so the birth mother is still eligible,

according to Jewish law, to receive her child back if the courts decide to give

her custody.


Ha’‘Aretz (English and Hebrew, June 25), Jerusalem Post (June 11), and /srael

Today (June 2004) report on Palestinian Arab Christians, especially in the

Bethlehem area. The Ha’Aretz articles say that the separation fence is seriously

damaging the lives of Christians due to confiscation of lands and the collapse of

tourism. fsrael Today reports on the relationship between Moslems and

Christians in Bethlehem, citing tension, intimidation of and attacks on

Christians. And the Jerusalem Post reports on the Christian exodus from

Bethlehem and the country as a whole, which is worrisome to the Catholic

Church which doesn’t “want dead stones; we want living communities.”


Christian Support for Israel


Ha’Aretz, June 21; Ha’Aretz English, June 25, 2004


In “Birthright-the Christian Version,” Ha’Aretz reports on groups of Evangelical

students visiting Israel from the USA in order to learn how to help Israel with

positive PR as well as to study the Jewish roots of Christianity. The project is

fully subsidized and organized by a New York church, headed by a Christian

Zionist pastor. Only 10 students took part this year because of the high price of

the trip, but he hopes to raise enough funds to bring much larger groups in the



“Brother against brother,” in Ha’Aretz English, covers the differing views of

American Christians on the Middle East. In recent years, Christian Zionists have

become more vocal and influential, but recently pro-Palestinian Christians have

also been speaking up in various ways. Television and other ads portray the

suffering of Palestinian Christians under the occupation, and prominent mainline

Protestant and Catholic leaders have also protested against the separation

fence .


Diaspora Affairs


Yated Ne’eman, July 7; BaKehila, July 1; HaModia, June 25, 2004


BaKehila and Yated Ne‘eman report on the decline of Jewish communities in

the Diaspora, saying that they are in danger of extinction due to assimilation

and inter-marriage. According to a new census, 92% of Jews live in the richest

5% of countries, mainly in the West and the former Soviet states. The good

economic situation encourages assimilation, but the highest assimilation rate-

80%-is in Russia and the Ukraine. In the US, the assimilation rate is 50%, and

the lowest rate other than Israel’s (5%, mostly immigrants) is Mexico’s-10%. A

major contributing factor to preventing assimilation is Jewish education; in

Mexico, 85% of Jewish children attend Jewish schools. The census

recommends an easing of conversion requirements to stem the tide of

assimilation, but Yated Ne‘eman says that this would have the opposite effect.


HaModia warns its readers about tours which claim to be kosher, but which, in

fact, expose travelers to unacceptable circumstances. Two haredi (ultra-

orthodox) families bought a tour package to Switzerland and Italy for the

Passover vacation. The travel agent promised a completely kosher tour, in an

orthodox atmosphere, with visits to synagogues and other Jewish sites. Instead,

they found themselves in a hotel with crosses and pictures of “that man” (Jesus)

on the walls, visiting gentile theaters and other places, where they were

exposed to the language and sights of gentiles, including idolatry. The writer

admonishes his readers that even when they are on vacation, they are

responsible to guard their souls, and must be careful and research all the

details so as not to fall into such dire straits.


Anti-Semitism / Jewish-Christian Relations


Holon-Bat Yam, June 25; Eretz Aheret, Spring 2004; Tzafon-1, June 18;

Mishpaha, June 24; HaTzofeh, June 29, July 6; Intl Herald Tribune, June 29, 30;

30; Israel Today, June 2004; Jerusalem Post, July 9, 11; Hayim Aherim, July

2004; Ha’Aretz English, July 9; Ha’Uma, July 2004; Kol HaSharon, June 30;

BaKehila, July 1; HaMahane HaHaredi, June 24; Ha’Aretz, July 4, 6; Nativ, June



A number of articles dealt with anti-Semitism in Europe. Nativ covers the

historical aspect under the title “Anti-Semitism is built into European culture.”

The problem has deep roots, a thousand years old, starting with religious anti-

Semitism in the 11th century and followed by the crusades in the 12th century,

pogroms, etc. The “new anti-Semitism” is sometimes called anti-Zionism, and

focuses on Israel’s political reality-though the motifs and caricatures are taken

straight from racial anti-Semitism. In “Forcing Europe to Look at Itself’ (Eretz

Aheret) a Spanish journalist writes about the pro-Palestinian paradigm which

has taken over the European media. According to this paradigm, Israeli victims

of violence are ignored, while Palestinian victims are surrounded by an “epic

halo.” The writer further challenges Europeans’ right to criticize Israel’s moral

standing, considering their own monstrous failures in this area, and wonders

whether their uncritical support for the Palestinians is rooted in a guilty



The Catholic Church recently equated anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism (Ha’Aretz

English), and efforts are being made to encourage the church to join in the fight

against anti-Semitism. A Jewish leader called this a significant announcement,

saying that “In the past, Zionism was equated with racism, and this statement

turns anti-Zionism statements to a form of racism.” The Vatican has also

released strange evidence in defense of its wartime role: a 1943 letter from a

bishop complaining that the church was saving too many Jews. (BaKehila; Int

Herald Tribune, June 29) This document is sure to fuel the debate over the

Catholic Church’s response to the Holocaust. Going back a few centuries, the

Vatican has also apologized for the inquisition, but says that “We didn’t burn

that many heretics” (Mishpaha; HaMahane HaHaredi.


Apparent anti-Semitic incidents are also occurring in Israel. Tzafon-1 reports on

the desecration of a synagogue in Nahariya. Thieves broke into the synagogue,

and besides stealing money from charity boxes and having a snack in the

kitchen, they drew a large cross in a prayer book and swastikas on a table. In

Bat Yam, there are rising tensions between orthodox Jews and immigrants from

the CIS (Holon-Bat Yam). According to this article, a fight broke out between

yeshiva students returning from synagogue and some Russian youths. The

details are different, however, depending on who’s telling the story. The

orthodox youth and their rabbi say that the Russians were following them,

sticking a large cross necklace in their faces, yelling “death to the Jews!” and

finally punching them. On the other side, the Russian youth say that the

orthodox taunted them, saying “stinking Russian with a stinking cross.” Another

group of Israeli youngsters decided to get back at the person responsible for

sending out emails promoting neo-Nazi internet sites and anti-Semitism, who

turned out to be a Palestinian Christian living in Germany (Ko! HaSharon). After

receiving these emails, they banded together with some “hackers” who traced

the origin of the emails and launched attacks on the neo-Nazi internet sites.

They also hacked into the sender’s computer, deleting all anti-Semitic content

from his hard-drive and leaving him a picture of Jesus with a Hitler mustache

and swastika that they had found on the internet.


Books and Film


Ayalon, July 2; Ha’Aretz, July 9; Jerusalem Post, July 9; Israel Today, June 2004



The Jerusalem Post’s Summer 2004 Literary Quarterly includes a review of

Shiksa, the Gentile Woman in the Jewish World. Shiksa documents the stories

of 30 women who sought entrance to Judaism and the Jewish community,

including the general lack of acceptance they’ve experienced. The author

bemoans this attitude, saying that in light of the high rate of assimilation the

Jewish community would do well to welcome these women instead of rejecting

them. For reasons | do not comprehend, the review is accompanied by a photo

of a Messianic Jewish wedding in Jerusalem, though the article makes no

mention Messianic believers.


The Passion of the Christ has made Jesus a celebrity in the USA, according to

a review in Ha’Aretz. The Jewish publication Tikkun recently published an issue

on “Jesus the Jew,” “our brother who is part of Jewish renewal and the tradition

of prophets, mystics, social activists and teachers who for 2,800 years have

been trying to return Judaism to the lofty vision and deep truths.” [Note: this is a

translation of a Hebrew translation from English, so it may differ from the

original.) Another US publication, Cross Currents, examines the influence of Mel

Gibson’s movie, calling the movie anti-Semitic and very dangerous. /srael Today

Today reports that the perception that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death

has been strengthened among Americans, with 26% blaming the Jews

compared to 19% in 1997. Ayalon reports that pirated copies of the movie,

which was not screened in Israel, are being sold in Ramle and Lod, which have

Arab Christian populations.


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