January 2005 #1 Caspari Center Media Review
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 150 articles as follows:
6 dealt with Messianic Jews and anti-missionary organizations
26 dealt with Christians and the status of non-Jews in Israel
10 dealt with Israeli attitudes toward Christians and Christianity
11 dealt with Christian solidarity with Israel
22 dealt with anti-Semitism and Jewish-Christian relations
1 covered archaeology
18 covered Christian tourism and tourist sites
12 were film, music, art, and book reviews
The remaining articles dealt with Christian or Jewish affairs on their own merit.
“Missionaries” and Anti-Missionaries
Yediot Haifa, Dec. 24, 31; Sha’a Tova, Dec. 31; BaKehila, Dec. 30, 2004; HaModia English, Jan. 5; NFC, Jan. 2, 2005
Yediot Haifa reports on missionary activities carried out by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Haifa, including the distribution of brochures promising eternal life on earth. Haifa’s Jewish leadership is very upset, calling for new laws which would make the distribution of “missionary materials” illegal. An orthodox member of Haifa’s city council is demanding that the police investigate this activity by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, saying, “besides the anti-Semitic character of this missionary cult, who deny Israel’s right to exist, … we must remember that our fathers gave their souls for their faith and kept their Jewish identity, and resisted all attempts to force on them belief in the Messiah of Jesus (sic). How painful and sorrowful it is that here in Israel, the Jewish state, innocent Jews are forced to receive materials with the message that they should convert.” (Yediot Haifa, Dec. 31)
Other articles in this category were reprints of stories covered in the previous Media Review.
Christian solidarity with Israel
Yediot Ahronot, Jan. 11; Jerusalem Post, Jan. 11, 12; Ha’Aretz English, Jan. 7, 14; Ha’Aretz, Jan. 7; Iton Yerushalayim, Jan. 14; Kol HaZman, Jan. 14, 2005
Yediot Ahronot and the Jerusalem Post report on the Jerusalem mayor’s refusal to have his picture taken with a “Christian check.” At issue is a donation of $500,000 from American Evangelicals, donated through the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which has been held up for the past 18 months. Mayor Lupoliansky, who is an orthodox Jew, has in the past refused to meet with Evangelical Christian supporters of Israel because they are seen as being “missionaries” (note that the Israeli media does not distinguish between “evangelical” and “evangelist”). Kol HaZman includes an opinion that the International Fellowship should make its donations “in secret,” without conditions, demands, or appearances on prime-time media. Ha’Aretz (English and Hebrew, Jan. 7) includes a feature article about the International Fellowship and its founder, Yechiel Eckstein, describing their work in raising money for Israel’s poor, new immigrants and disabled. Numerous viewpoints about this work are presented, including those who disagree with accepting money from Christians and with Eckstein’s high-profile publicity.
Ha’Aretz (English and Hebrew, Jan. 7) also includes an article titled “Gush Katif’s foreign legions,” about American Jews and Christians who are waiting to join the settlers’ struggle for Gaza. These right-wing supporters not only give financially to the settlers, but are also planning to arrive in Israel to help in the struggle against the government-mandated evacuation of Israeli settlements, and to use violence if necessary.
Ha’Aretz English (Jan. 14) carries two reports about more mainstream Christian support for Israel. “Missionary work, with a smile” reports on Evangelical Christian dentists from the US who spend their vacations volunteering in a dental clinic for needy children in Jerusalem. Despite the title, there is no mention of missionary work, just fulfilling a religious responsibility by caring for people around the world. “Christian Evangelicals launch daily Western Wall vigil” covers the efforts of Earl Cox, (Is there any information given about this man other than his name? If so, it would be good to include it here) who has launched a year-long prayer mission in front of the Western Wall. Cox, who recently moved to Israel to oversee the project, hopes to recruit Christians to pray for Israel at the Western Wall every day during 2005.
Israeli attitudes toward Christians and Christianity
Kol HaTzafon, Dec. 31; Iton Holon Bat-Yam, Dec. 31; Koteret, Dec. 2004; Ha’Aretz, Jan. 3, 7; HaTzofeh, Jan. 2; Jerusalem Report, Jan. 24; Yated Ne’eman, Jan. 5; HaModia, Jan. 7; Globes, Jan. 7; Orhot, Jan. 2005; Azure, Winter 2005
A 25-page article in the quarterly Azure titled “God’s Beloved: A Defense of Chosenness” discusses the different views of Judaism and Christianity about God’s love and human love. According to the writer, God’s love is preferential – he chose Abraham because of Abraham’s qualities, and continues to love people individually based on their righteousness. God’s justice, on the other hand, is universal, not preferential. Christianity’s view of God’s love is different: it is universal, not based on individual merits or character, and thus given equally to the likes of Hitler and Mother Teresa. The extension of this understanding is that Judaism supports preferential love among people, while Christianity calls for believers to love everyone equally, because it’s a religious duty. In the writer’s view Judaism is also more focused on family: if God loves the Jewish people preferentially as his children, those children must have children of their own to “continue” that love. Christianity, on the other hand, states that our witness is the most important way to perpetuate God’s love, and though family is important, this continuation of the faith can happen with people other than family.
New text follows:
A 25-page article in the quarterly Azure titled “God’s Beloved: A Defense of
Chosenness” discusses the different views of Judaism and Christianity about
God’s love and human love. According to the writer, God’s love is
preferential – he chose Abraham because of Abraham’s qualities, and
continues to love people individually based on their righteousness. God’s
justice, on the other hand, is universal, not preferential. Christianity’s
view of God’s love is different: it is universal, not based on individual
merits or character, and thus offered equally to the likes of Hitler and
Mother Teresa. The extension of this understanding is that Judaism supports
preferential love among people, while Christianity calls for believers to
love everyone equally, because it’s a religious duty. (Cindy, I understand that you have this item as one paragraph, but in reality, it should be divided here.) In the writer’s view Judaism is also more focused on family: if God loves the Jewish people
preferentially as his children, those children must have children of their
own to “continue” that love. Christianity, on the other hand, states that
witness is the most important way to perpetuate God’s love, and though
family is important, this continuation of the faith can happen with people
other than family, and indeed in some branches of Christianity celibacy is
required for those in ministry. Their belief in God’s preferential love is
what kept the Jewish people alive through centuries of dispersion and
persecution, according to the writer: “The dedication of generations of Jews
to Jewish law was not out of a blind sense of duty, but out of a firm belief
that these laws were the expression of the Creator’s special love for the
Jewish people, and their betrayal would be a betrayal of that love.”
“Sometimes I’m ashamed to be a Jew” (Ha’Aretz, Jan. 7) covers the responses of Jewish and Christian clergy to the tsunami that hit south Asia. The writer describes Christian fundraising efforts he sees on television with the lack of sympathy for non-Jews that he sees in leading orthodox rabbis.
Globes (Jan. 7) carries an opinion piece about the concept of “biblical proportions” as applied to the devastation wrought by the tsunami. The writer explains that “biblical” does not mean the same thing to Jews and Christians, since the Christian Bible includes the New Testament books along with the Hebrew Tanakh (Old Testament). However, this description of the tsunami does indeed refer to the Tanakh, especially to the wrath of God, which is replaced in the New Testament by his love. The characterization of the God of Israel as being wrathful predates Christianity, but was adopted by the Christian church in order to set Christianity above and separate from Judaism as more ethical and advanced, rather than acknowledging that it is a natural outgrowth of Christianity. This was reversed as part of the Reformation, during which the Tanakh was re-emphasized, to the extent that some Protestants came up with theories according to which they themselves were lost Israelites.
Two daily religious newspapers (Yated Ne’eman, Jan. 5; HaModia, Jan. 7) ran opinion pieces about secular Israelis’ celebration of New Year’s Eve, called “Sylvester” (after the Catholic saint) in Hebrew. Though not directly about Christians, these articles bemoan the fact that Jews are “descending to the depths of adopting gentile culture,” and “uniting with the Christians, the descendants of those who killed our fathers.” Most of the blame for this is placed on the educational system, which is injecting heresy into Israeli youths’ veins.
Christians in Israel / Status of non-Jews
Yediot Haifa, Dec. 24, 31; Kolbo, Dec. 24; Kol Ha’Ir, Dec. 31; Arutz 3, Dec. 20; Ayalon, Dec. 31; Jerusalem Post, Dec. 24; Du-Et, Dec. 2004; Eretz V’Teva, Nov.-Dec. 2004; Olam Ha’Isha, Dec. 2004; Ha’Aretz, Jan. 2, 3, 7; Ma’ariv, Jan. 7; Ha’Aretz English, Jan. 2, 14; Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 7, 9, 12; HaModia, Jan. 12; BaKehila, Jan. 6; Kol Ha’Ir, Jan. 14; Iton Yerushalayim, Jan. 7, 2005
Ha’Aretz (Hebrew Jan. 7, English Jan. 14) carries a profile in their “Family” series about Lucky Fisher, administrative director of the Baptist Village. Lucky’s day is described, including prayer and Bible reading along with his more mundane tasks. He also describes coming to faith as God answered his questions and his desire to have a relationship with God like Moses’.
Arab students at Haifa University wanted a Christmas tree to be displayed prominently alongside the traditional Hanukah menorah this year, and not in a “humiliating” and peripheral building. When the university turned down their request, the students went to the district court, which sided with the university. Student leaders plan to change this pattern once and for all by appealing to the High Court of Justice. (Yediot Haifa, Dec. 24, 31; Kolbo, Dec. 24)
In news reminiscent of an incident that occurred last fall, an Armenian priest was assaulted by yeshiva students in Jerusalem’s Old City. The incident began when a student spat on the priest, called him a dog and then refused to go with him to the police. More students joined the argument and began hitting the priest, and when a government official and security came to the aid of the priest they fought with him until police arrived and arrested them. The students were released on bail, ordered to stay out of the Old City, and will be indicted. The Anti-Defamation League and Jerusalem’s mayor condemned the attack. (Jerusalem Post, Jan. 7, 9; Ma’ariv, Ha’Aretz, Jan. 7)
Anti-Semitism and Jewish-Christian Relations
BaKehila, Dec. 30 2004; Yated Ne’eman, Jan. 11, 14; HaModia, Jan. 5; Ha’Aretz, Jan. 12, 16; Yated Ne’eman English, Jan. 7; Nana, Jan. 15; NRG, Jan 15; BaKehila, Jan. 6; Mishpaha, Jan. 5; Jerusalem Post, Jan. 9, 10; HaModia English, Jan. 5; Ha’Aretz English, Jan. 9, 14; Ynet, Jan. 19; Arutz 7, Jan. 19, 2005
All but three of the articles in this category covered various news about Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust. As the Vatican has been working to beatify the wartime pope, new evidence has come to light that he not only did not intervene to save Jews, but also instructed Christians who had rescued Jewish children not to return those children to their families or to Jewish foster homes.
Yated Ne’eman (Jan. 14) and Mishpaha (Jan. 5) have feature articles with stories of individual children, some of whom did not find out until recently that they are Jewish, who were adopted by Christian families.. Ha’Aretz (Hebrew Jan. 12, English Jan. 14) ran an opinion piece calling on the Roman Catholic Church to redress its crimes by determining how many Jewish children were kidnapped by the church, and then notifying these victims or their survivors. In addition, the Church should immediately cease all efforts to canonize Pope Pius XII.
Another news story about Pius XII covers a story in an Italian Catholic paper according to which Hitler wanted to abduct the controversial pope during WWII. The plan was to kidnap him in 1944 in order to get him out of the way of Hitler’s ambitions (Ha’Aretz, Jan. 16; Nana, NRG, Jan. 15). Arutz 7 adds the opinion that this story is well timed for the Vatican’s move to beatify Pius XII, stating that it might serve to “make him kosher.”