August 2004 #2, Sept. 2004 #1 Caspari Center Media Review
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During the period of time covered by this review, we received 66 articles as follows:
8 dealt with Messianic Jews and anti-missionary organizations
11 dealt with Christians and the status of non-Jews in Israel
4 dealt with Christian solidarity with Israel
5 dealt with anti-Semitism and Jewish-Christian relations
8 covered Christian tourism and tourist sites
4 covered issues of archaeology
10 were film and book reviews
The remaining articles dealt with domestic Israeli and Christian or Jewish affairs on their own merit.
“Missionaries” and Anti-Missionaries
Yated Ne’eman English, Aug. 13, 27; BaKehila, Aug 19, 26, Sept. 9; Arutz 7, Aug. 9; Index Dati Haredi, Sept. 2, 2004
Two of the articles in this category are on the “infiltration” of Israel’s orthodox community by the Scientology cult. The deception is in the form of job training for women, who, when they answer advertisements for office jobs, are told they must first complete a course in Dianetics. This, according to Yad L’Achim, is “a cynical attempt to trap innocent orthodox women who aren’t aware of the dangers associated with this destructive cult.” (BaKehila, Aug 26; Index Dati Haredi, Sept. 2)
Many unsuspecting families and individuals are streaming to another cult’s center in Kibbutz Shfayim for self-awareness courses (BaKehila, Aug 19). This group, called “Landmark Forum,” is a synthesis of Buddhism, Taoism, Yoga, Sufism, Christianity, Scientology, psychology, and hypnosis. The courses, according to Yad L’Achim, include idolatrous messages and practices.
Arutz 7 and BaKehila (Sept. 9) report on the baptism of 13 Jews in Haifa by the Jehovah’s Witnesses at the culmination of a nine-day seminar catering to different language groups. The chairman of Yad L’Achim is quoted in BaKehila as saying, “The destructive and horrible results of the missionary event must shock every Jew. … We must not give up on a single Jew and we must not remain tranquil in the face of the campaign of conversion and destruction…” Another Yad L’Achim leader clarified that “additional ways of fighting [the mission] are being researched, in the framework of the available legitimate tools. Orthodox Judaism as a whole will say enough to the mission and to anyone who gives it a platform or shelter.”
Christians in Israel / Status of non-Jews
Ha’Aretz, Aug. 30; Iton Tel-Aviv, Aug. 27; Hadashot Netanya, Aug. 27; New First Class, Aug. 31; Ma’ariv, Aug. 29, Sept. 8; Yediot Ahronot, Aug. 27, 31, Sept. 10, 2004
In “The Stranger” (Yediot Ahronot, Aug. 27) Adino, an Israeli reporter, tells of his experiences disguised and living as a foreign worker for a month. In the role of an Ethiopian worker, he started off by looking for a room in an apartment with others of “his kind.” The priest at a south-Tel-Aviv church invited him to join the community at services, and offered to give him a key to the church if he couldn’t find a place to sleep. Another new acquaintance told him of a school where many foreign workers “camp out,” but warned him to first leave his money with someone he trusts. Through others he found a room temporarily available in an apartment with other Ethiopians, and was warned to always approach the place from different directions and to be careful because there were a lot of police in the area. He was told that in the event of a raid, there was a ladder in the bathroom with which to climb out the window, and his flat-mates keep valuables boxed and ready to ship in case they’re arrested. The following day he rented a room with an Ethiopian family, but on his third day there, the husband was arrested and he had to leave to avoid a police raid, so he rented a room with a Nigerian contact for a few nights.
Keke, from Zimbabwe, gave Adino advice on working for Israelis: “Calculate how long it’ll take you to clean the apartment, then add two hours that you can spend drinking coffee or resting. But you have to arrange to clean in the morning, when the employers aren’t home. Clean the living room really well, but you can go easier in the bedrooms – they don’t care. Don’t ever clean their closets, or you might be accused of stealing. Also, get paid on the same day – even if they’re nice and smile at you, refuse to wait till next week.” The following day Adino went to clean Tamar’s house, on the upscale Shenkin St. The work turned out to be a lot harder – and took longer – than he expected. The next day he found a new job, cleaning Rina’s house. From the contents, it’s obvious she’s a left-wing political activist. She told him what to clean first, and didn’t even offer water. He overheared her telling a friend on the phone that she found a “nice nigger” to clean – and at that moment he really hates her. The next job is cleaning a large home in a wealthy neighborhood. It takes six hours, and again he isn’t offered even a drink of water or a break. Adino finally finds a room to rent, but is not allowed to open the windows for fear of the police. This fear is ever-present among Israel’s foreign workers, who never know when they might be imprisoned and deported.
Adino finally “sets himself up” to be arrested. He is taken in, held with others for hours, then questioned and given a deportation order. A few hours later, a group of men is handcuffed in pairs and taken to prison, where some will stay for months. Adino drops his assumed identity after one night, and is released following another round of questioning. The government has “succeeded” in reducing the number of foreign workers, but in the words of one, “The Israelis may have deported 100,000 illegal workers, but at the same time they have lost 100,000 ambassadors.”
In “Sleeping with Arabs?” Hadashot Netanya (Aug. 27) reports on a scandalous fact that Jewish and Arab youth slept in the same compound during a joint trip intended to promote co-existence and friendship. Rabbi Lakhover, a municipal official in Netanya, complained about the incident after hearing from parents who expressed concern that relationships [of an unspecified nature] were formed between their children and Arab youth. The head of the youth recreation department stated in response that he doesn’t see any problem, and that they have always promoted co-existence in their programs. To this, Rabbi Lakhover replied, “It’s not racism. I commend the recreation department for their work among Arab youth. But to encourage assimilation? To arrange overnight camps for Jews and Arabs together is a … recipe for relationships that can lead to marriage, to a great tragedy. I like to hear … those who speak of openness … but when their daughter goes to an Arab village, they’ll be quick to ask Lev L’Achim for help. These encounters should never happen.”
Jerusalem Report, Sept. 6; Yediot Ahronot, Sept. 12; Yated Ne’eman, Sept. 13; Yated Ne’eman English, Aug. 27, Sept. 3, 2004
“With Friends Like These…” (Jerusalem Report) covers the new Christian Allies Caucus in the Knesset and some of the organizations the caucus works with. While acknowledging the help Christian organizations are providing for Israel, the author expresses suspicion of their motives. Speakers at the International Christian Embassy’s Feast of Tabernacles event included US pastors who support the Messianic movement and evangelism, and some openly missionary groups working in Israel have also been hosted. Evangelical Christians are described as being focused on End Time events, and their vision often includes mass conversion – or extinction – of the Jewish people. Some of the Jews working with these Christian supporters are willing to ignore these issues, but others urge caution in dealing with “a problematic friend.”
Yated Ne’eman (Sept. 13) also carries an article about a Lev L’Achim “exposeי” of the new caucus in the Knesset. According to Lev L’Achim, the government is “aiding and abetting” wealthy organizations whose only purpose is to convert the people of Israel. Among these “missionary” organizations are Bridges for Peace, the Christian Embassy, and Christian Friends of Israel, who support Israel politically and materially. Israeli schoolchildren recently received backpacks and school supplies from Christian donors that were accompanied by a letter from caucus members saying that the donations were intended to promote friendship between Israel and Christians. Rabbis and orthodox leaders are very upset by the mere existence of the caucus, “which promotes missionary organizations that harm the wholeness of the Jewish people and incite and preach conversion.”
The English version of Yated Ne’eman (Sept. 3) carries a short report on a group of 200 pro-Israel Christian leaders from seven Asian countries who met with members of the Christian Allies Caucus in the Philippines.
Ma’ariv, Aug. 30, Sept. 3, 7; Jerusalem Report, Sept. 6; Jerusalem Post, Aug. 27, Sept. 5; Ha’Aretz, Sept. 3, 5; HaTzofeh, Sept. 3, 2004
The Jerusalem Post (Aug. 27) carries a book review by scholar Jacob Neusner. “Making Christianity comprehensible” is about the book Rabbi Paul by Bruce Chilton, in which the apostle Paul is seen as “Christianity’s maker” who popularized Jesus’ message and shifted it toward a personal religious encounter. In this book Christianity “emerges … as an autonomous source of religious experience. It is not a revision of Judaism … but a distinctly different way of knowing God. … For the Jewish reader, the narrative provides the definitive account of why most first century Israelites (and all generations to follow) rejected Christianity in favor of the Torah of Sinai and a life with God nurtured by the commandments.”
Karl Barth’s Dogmatics has been translated to Hebrew, and is favorably reviewed in Ma’ariv (Sept. 3). The reviewer describes the book as a very helpful introductory text for Jews who know little or nothing about Christianity. The reviewer notes approvingly Barth’s negative remarks about Nazism and his calling the Jews the chosen people and anti-Semitism “the loss of God.”