November 2004 #1 Caspari Center Media Review
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 181 articles as follows:
15 dealt with Messianic Jews and anti-missionary organizations
27 dealt with Christians and the status of non-Jews in Israel
8 dealt with Christian solidarity with Israel
14 dealt with anti-Semitism and Jewish-Christian relations
20 covered matters of Church and state
24 covered Christian tourism and tourist sites
9 were film, music, 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, Nov. 4; Jerusalem Post, Nov. 4, 12, 19; HaTzofeh, Nov. 11, 12; HaShavua B’Yerushalayim, Nov. 11, 18; Sha’a Tova, Oct. 29, Nov. 5; HaModia, Nov. 5, 15; HaModia English, Nov. 10, 17; Arutz 7, Nov. 24, 2004
In “Kings of Clal” the Jerusalem Post (Nov. 12) reports on the opening of the Pavilion, King of Kings Congregation’s new worship and conference center in the Clal center in downtown Jerusalem. The reporter describes a prayer service as comparable to “a country-rock concert with Jesus themes, Jewish overtones and a Baptist ‘Amen-Hallelujah’ style … in a center utterly devoid of both Christian and Jewish iconography.” Accusations of missionizing are also addressed, with quotes from Yad L’Achim: “It’s deceitful from the start. They know that Christianity doesn’t attract Jews, so they dress it up in a kind of costume.” An employee of King of Kings responds: “Yad L’Achim calls everything missionary activity. If you pray, that’s a missionary activity;” and the Jerusalem police spokesman comments that there is no evidence to suggest that King of Kings is a missionary congregation.
Other articles (Yated Ne’eman, Jerusalem Post Nov. 4; HaModia, Nov. 5; HaModia English, Nov. 10; HaShavua B’Yerushalayim, Nov. 11) cover protests against the Pavilion organized by Yad L’Achim and led by Rabbi Lipshitz, who said it is “inconceivable that anyone would sit by complacently if Hamas set up a large center in the heart of Jerusalem” (Does the quote end here?) – so why the indifference toward missionaries?
HaTzofeh (Nov. 12) profiles Benjamin Kluger, a prominent anti-missionary activist who was born in France to a Catholic family. As a teen, Kluger was drawn to the Baptist church, where he became a zealous missionary – until his pastor started teaching him how to share the Gospel with Jews. He felt that using different language and arguments to make the Gospel more acceptable when speaking with Jews was lying, and started wondering if his pastor was lying to him as well. Thus started a period of questioning and studying the Bible, at the end of which he came to believe that Christianity is a lie. He still believed in God, however, and was drawn to Judaism. He eventually moved to Israel and converted to Judaism. Now he says that after leading people astray in the past he knows the tricks and deceptions of missionaries, and has made it his life’s work to rescue innocent people from their clutches.
Christians in Israel / Status of non-Jews
Ma BaPetah, Oct. 29, Nov. 5; Zman Netanya, Oct. 29; Galei Zahal, Oct. 24; Jerusalem Report, Nov. 20; Yediot Haifa, Nov. 12; Ha’Aretz English, Nov. 19; Ha’Aretz, Nov. 15, 19, 21; Walla!, Nov. 21; HaModia, Nov. 12; Jerusalem Post, Nov. 5, 12, 19; Yated Ne’eman, Nov. 19; Ha’Ir, Oct. 28; Kol Ha’Ir, Nov. 12; Yediot HaGalil, Oct. 29; Malabes, Oct. 29, 2004
Ma BaPetah reports on Ze’ev Bern’s lawsuit against the Petah Tikva municipality, in which he has refused to compromise and accept monetary compensation for being fired. Bern, who used to work in the education department, says that he was fired because of his religious affiliation with a Messianic congregation, though an opposing witness claimed that he spoke of his faith with students, breaking Israel’s law against evangelizing minors.
Ha’Aretz (English, Nov. 19 & Hebrew, Nov. 21) and Walla! carry stories about a service led by Benny Hinn in Tel Aviv’s Yad Eliyahu stadium. The service included preaching, praying, and faith-healing, was attended by foreign workers, Israeli believers, and tourists, and generated anti-missionary protests outside the stadium.
In northern Israel, Upper Nazareth’s mayor says that last Hanukah there were more Christmas trees than Hanukah candles in the city, and that an influx of non-Jewish residents, along with troubled relations with Arab neighbors, make the city’s situation grim (Yediot HaGalil). In the western Galilee village of Abu Snan, the new Christian mayor is being protested against by the town’s Druze majority, who are concerned that he will not take their interests into account (Ha’Aretz English and Hebrew, Nov. 19). And in Isafiya, a Haifa suburb, a debate is raging over whether schools should be closed Friday and Saturday, to accommodate the Muslim holy day, or Saturday and Sunday, to accommodate Christians. One former council member has proposed a three-day weekend as a way out of the stalemate (Yediot Haifa).
The Jerusalem Post (Nov. 5) concludes its series “The Cloistered Among Us” with a profile of Father Yaakov Willebrands, a Dutch monk living the life of a hermit in Galilee. He leads prayer services in Hebrew and Arabic and has tried to recruit local Catholic Arabs to join his monastery, but so far has only managed to become a destination for Israeli tourists.
Kol Ha’Ir, Nov. 5, 2004
An article titled “Apocalypse Now” covers a musical event produced by the Jamm, which the writer calls “Jesus Christ’s home base in the local music scene.” The event, a fundraiser for at-risk youth, included 14 bands with differing styles of music, and attracted a large crowd. Most of the music described was by secular Israeli bands, though the Jamm’s “house band” is also mentioned. The writer comments on the fact that this club does not allow drinking or smoking, and unlike most clubs – which are dedicated to hedonism – this one is dedicated to the saving of souls. His conclusion about the event is that it’s a definite step towards the end-times.
Church and State
Once again, the U.S. elections were a major topic in the Israeli media. The following is a list of headlines and sub-headers from these articles (and a few quotes), to give you a feel for the opinionsin Israel.
It doesn’t seem kosher to mix religion and politics. American Jewry, which has battled for separation of church and state, will now have to reconsider its position and tactics. (Ha’Aretz English, Nov. 18)
God Forbid. God has been a constant participant in America’s political life since its founding, the question is only how to talk about Him. George Bush has discovered the formula: to make Him part of his biography. (Globes, Nov. 18)
Embarrassment and Shame. (A play on words: the Hebrew for embarrassment is “busha.”) (Ma’ariv, Nov. 5) “A pumpkin has a higher IQ than [President Bush], and by saying that, I’m offending the pumpkin.”
A Justified Alliance. What’s wrong with having a core of support in the world’s superpower? What’s wrong with its leader coming from that core? But the left has a hard time accepting the alliance between Evangelical Christians and the Israeli right wing. (Ma’ariv, Nov. 9)
God Lives in America. Bush isn’t the idiot that Israelis and the American left like to make fun of. He is America. (Yediot Ahronot, Nov. 15)
Electronic Assimilation. Most American Jews preferred their ethnic identity, as a national minority, and voted for the Democrats. But the orthodox Jews preferred to vote with the Republican Christians. (Ma’ariv, Nov. 4)
Onward Christian Voters. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 11) “Israel should be thanking God for the rise of the Christian Right. They are the best hope for ensuring long-term US diplomatic support for the Jewish state in an increasingly hostile world.”
Repentance. Bush may have humiliated Kerry all the way to the White House, but he made America a hostage of the radical Christian right. (Ma’ariv, Nov. 5)
The New Jewish Voice. The election results point to the creation of two Jewish communities: the Ultra-Orthodox minority, who support Bush, and the Conservative-Reform majority, which stayed Democratic and took a big hit. (Yediot Ahronot, Nov. 5)
Black and White Victory. The clear majority think that America should be separate from the other nations and stay faithful to its principles, in their purest form, even in the face of international criticism. (Yediot Ahronot, Nov. 5)
Support for Bush worries many Jewish officials. Christian moral values cause discomfort. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 11)
In the Name of God! Is a very religious person like George Bush, who said more than once that “God speaks through me,” worthy to lead the world? (Yediot Ahronot, Oct. 22)
Hour of Favor in the USA. The main partners in Bush’s victory are religious Christians. Arafat’s death together with pro-Israel support in Washington give Israel a chance to change the rules of the game against the Palestinians. (Makor Rishon, Nov. 12)
Son, Father, and Holy Spirit. (Yediot Ahronot, Nov. 5) “’What is the most important characteristic you expect to see in a president?’ asked the pollsters. Eight percent answered, ‘that he have strong religious faith.’ Only seven percent said, ‘that he be intelligent.’”
Who is for Destroying Terror? John Kerry hesitated, but Bush stated confidently: We must fight Islam. And that’s just what the American people wanted to hear. (Ma’ariv, Nov. 5)
Bush is Bad for Israel. By being indecisive, Bush has turned the region into a bloodbath. (Ma’ariv, Nov. 7)
Alliance of Twins. Ariel Sharon and George Bush, with differences in age and weight, are actually the same type. (Ma’ariv, Nov. 5)
Post Election. The Americans chose the candidate who feels comfortable being himself, who doesn’t pretend to be someone else. They turned their backs on the northern, arrogant candidate who tried too hard to show that he’s one of the gang. But above all else, Americans said “no” to the leftist media, to gay marriage, to single mothers, to freedom to have an abortion, to permissiveness, to liberalism. The USA against the world. (Ma’ariv, Nov. 5)