September 2004 #2 Caspari Center Media Review
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 108 articles as follows:
10 dealt with Messianic Jews and anti-missionary organizations
8 dealt with Christians and the status of non-Jews in Israel
13 dealt with Christian solidarity with Israel
14 dealt with anti-Semitism and Jewish-Christian relations
10 covered Christian tourism and tourist sites
3 covered issues of archaeology
13 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, Sept. 29; BaKehila, Sept. 14; Kol Ha’Ir, Sept. 29; Mishpaha, Aug. 26, Sept. 9; HaModia, Sept. 29; HaModia English, Sept. 14; Arutz 7, Sept. 22, 28, 2004
Arutz 7 (www.a7.org, Sept. 22) carries a report from Yad L’Achim that there are “over 100 mission congregations and cults in Israel.” According to the anti-missionary organization’s research, the “shocking fact” is that thousands of Jewish children will not cry “Sh’ma Yisrael” (“Hear O Israel”) with the faithful believers on the Day of Atonement. Aside from the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Messianic Jews (who are the most dangerous cult), there are also Jewish children – children of Jewish mothers who intermarried – living in most Arab villages, growing up without knowledge of their heritage and often in difficult circumstances.
Yad L’Achim is celebrating success in its activities in the past year with a conference attended by over forty “mission refugees” who were rescued by the anti-missionary organization. The conference is intended to strengthen the relationship between these “refugees” and their rescuers, and to move them beyond “avoiding evil” and into orthodox Judaism (www.a7.org, Sept. 28; HaModia, Sept. 29). Yad L’Achim is also conducting its annual fundraiser under the banner “Don’t give up a single Jew” (BaKehila, Sept. 14). The campaign is considered by leading rabbis to be equal to the saving of a soul (life), and thus even the Sabbath restrictions can be broken to further this work. Donors giving 180 NIS or more will be prayed for by yeshiva students at the Western Wall and other holy sites on the eve of the Day of Atonement and during the Feast of Tabernacles.
Christians in Israel / Status of non-Jews
Ha’Aretz English, Sept. 15; Ha’Aretz, Sept. 27; Jerusalem Post, Sept. 28; Iton Yerushalayim, Sept. 23; Zman HaNegev, Sept. 10; Zman Haifa, Sept. 10; HaShinui, Sept. 2004
Zman Haifa (Sept. 10) reports that a new restaurant and bar, built at the entrance to a church, will not be allowed to open. The Haifa court agreed with the church’s representatives that having to go through an establishment which sells alcoholic beverages would “harm the religious feelings” of church visitors. The owner of the restaurant is appealing the decision.
Ha’Aretz English (Sept. 15) reports that Interior Minister Poraz has promised the Vatican that Israel will resolve the problem of clergy visas. Many Catholic clergy seeking to enter Israel come from Arab countries, and thus are subject to rigorous security screening, and often their visa applications are rejected. Poraz suggested that the Vatican provide recommendations for Arab clergy to facilitate the process.
HaShinui, a monthly affiliated with the leftist Shinui political party, carries two articles about the proposed law instituting civil marriage in Israel. The compromise bill, worked out by secular and religious leaders, would grant the rights and responsibilities of marriage to those entering into the new “Couple’s Covenant,” though the latter would not be recognized as a marriage in Jewish law. The new law would provide a solution to the hundreds of thousands of couples who either cannot – or don’t want to – be married by a rabbi under Jewish religious law, thus ending what secular Israelis consider “religious coercion” on the part of the Rabbinate.
Mishpaha, Sept. 14; Ha’Aretz English, Sept. 15; Jerusalem Post, Sept. 20, 28; Ha’Aretz, Sept. 23; B’Tfutsot, Sept. 2004
A reporter from Mishpaha attended the Republican National Convention in New York, and was impressed by Republicans’ support for Israel and the Jewish people. One White House representative opened his speech with a quotation from the Psalms, and party leaders told orthodox Jewish representatives that they have much in common – including the fact that both President Bush and orthodox Jews are often made fun of for their faith.
Ha’Aretz English reports on non-Jewish – even Christian – musicians who perform in synagogue services on the Jewish High Holy Days. Some of these musicians have been so affected by the services that they ended up converting to Judaism, though for others, including one Presbyterian, it’s “a natural extension of who I am as a person and one who worships God.”
Christian Support for Israel
Ha’Aretz, Sept. 22, 27; Yated Ne’eman, Sept. 29; News First Class, Sept. 22; Jerusalem Post, Sept. 10, 28; Yediot Ahronot, Sept. 22; HaDaf HaYarok, Sept. 23; Firma, Sept. 2004
Firma, a Tel-Aviv monthly, carries a 5-page feature titled “Yeshu is here” – a play on the pro-settlement slogan “Yesha (the Hebrew acronym for Judea-Samaria-Gaza) is here.” The article covers Christian support for the settlements, both political and material, and the opposition to that support by some Jewish religious leaders. The article includes interviews with Jan Willem Van der Hoeven, head of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (he is not the head of the International Christian Embassy but has his own organization. He was one of the founders but is no longer associated with the CE.), representatives of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, orthodox rabbis, and settlers. Van der Hoeven is quoted as saying that all of Israel – to the river of Egypt – belongs to Israel because that’s what the Bible says; that Jesus was very Jewish and is unlike today’s Christian priests; that secular Israeli Jews are more dangerous to Israel than those called “missionaries.”
A religious representative in Jerusalem’s city council is wary of accepting money from Christians. He states “This is known as ‘elegant missionizing’ … every Christian organization has goals of taking over schools, needy people, the culture.”