Caspar Center Media Review
February 2005 #2 — March 2005 #1 Caspari Center Media Review
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 286 articles as follows:
23 dealt with Messianic Jews and anti-missionary organizations
57 dealt with Christians and the status of non-Jews in Israel
21 dealt with Christian solidarity with Israel
16 dealt with anti-Semitism and Jewish-Christian relations
19 covered cultural issues
34 covered Christian tourism and tourist sites
23 were film, music, art, or book reviews
The remaining articles dealt with Christian or Jewish affairs on their own merit.
“Missionaries” and Anti-Missionaries
Jerusalem Post, March 15; HaModia English, Feb. 15; Sha’a Tova, March 11; HaModia, March 11, 13, 18 Yated Ne’eman, March 11; BaKehila, Feb. 10, March 10; HaShavua B’Yerushalayim, March 10, 17; INN – Israel National News, News, March 2, 3, 22, 23; Yom L’¥Yom, Feb. 17; Mishpaha, Feb. 17; Kol HaNegev, Feb. 18; Yated Ne’eman English, Feb, 25, 2005
Numerous articles raise complaints about the Lilach Crisis Pregnancy center, which is an outreach of the Ba’ad Haim Israel pro-life organization (INN, March 2, 3; HaShavua B’Yerushalayim, March 10; HaModia, March 13: Sha‘a Tova, March 11). According to these articles, the Ba’ad Haim pro-life work is a smokescreen for missionizing at-risk women and their families, who are told that the church will be their new home.
Articles in INN (March 23) and HaShavua B’Yerushalayim (March 17) cover the exposure of schoolchildren to Christianity. Israeli schoolchildren have been taken to see “The Covenant,” a musical show put on by the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, prompting complaints to the Minister of Education that the play twists history and sneaks in missionary messages.
The orthodox B’Tzedek organization has appealed to Israel’s high court against the police’s decision to forbid demonstrations directly outside the home of alleged missionaries in Arad. Orthodox residents of this city have been demonstrating regularly against missionary activity, and the neighbors of some of the “targets” of these demonstrations have complained. Recently the police gave permission for a large demonstration, but only at the other end of the street in order not to infringe on the privacy of residents. (HaModia, Yated Ne’eman, March 11)
Christians in Israel / Status of non-Jews
Ma‘ariv, Feb. 28, March 10, 18, 20, 21; Malabes, March 4: Yated Ne’eman English, March 4; Ha’Aretz, Feb. 25, 28, March 2, 9, 18 20, 21; Ha’Aretz English, Feb. 23, 28, March 3, 4, 18, 20; ton Yerushalayim, Feb. 25, March 11; BaMahane, Feb. 25; BaKehila, March 10; Yediot Ahronot, March 9, 14; Nana, March 8, 9; Yediot Haifa, Feb. 11, March 11; Jerusalem Post, Feb. 23, 25: March 3, 4, 20; Globes, March 21; Walla News, Feb. 20, March 20; NFC, March 21, Kol HaNegev, Feb. 11; HaShavua B’ Yerushalayim, Feb. 3; Hed HaKrayot, Feb. 18; Kolbo, Feb. 18; Kol Ha’’Emek V’HaGalil, Feb. 18; HaTzofeh, March 2, 3: 3; Kol Ha’lr, Feb. 25; Channel 3, Feb. 2; Ynet, March 9; National Geographic, March 2005
Numerous articles report on the new statistics that show that a larger percentage of Israel’s Christians graduate from high school than any other religious group. However in Maghar, hit by anti-Christian riots earlier this year, 75% of Christian students have still not returned to school, despite the presence of counselors and therapists to help them through their trauma. This is one symptom of the ongoing tensions in the village, which have also sparked calls for compensation from the government and better representation of Arab Christian issues through a new political action committee.
HaTzofeh (March 2) reports that Israel’s chief rabbi and settler leaders have come out against the alleged halakhic ruling that allows religious Jews to physically harm non-Jewish soldiers during the anticipated evacuation of West- Bank and Gaza settlements. The uproar gained public attention when a Druze soldier asked the Chief of Staff and government ministers why it would be permissible for him, but not Jewish soldiers, to be killed.
Jerusalem Post (March 4) profiles a former orthodox Jew and son of Holocaust survivors who became a Greek Orthodox priest serving Israel’s Christian immigrants. Avraham Ben Baruch – Father Aleksandr – still identifies as a Jew, but does not find common ground with the Messianic movement or Jews for Jesus. Instead, he tries to show the connectedness of ancient Judaism and Christianity to his Orthodox community, which in general is ignorant of the Jewishness of Jesus and the gospels.
Christian support for Israel
Makor Rishon, March 4, 18; Channel 1 – Mabat News, Feb. 7: Kol HaZman, March 18; Ha’Aretz, March 7, 13, 16, 21; Ha’Aretz English, Feb. 28, March 7, 18: 18; Jerusalem Post, Feb. 23, 25, March 4, 9, 16, 21; Walla News, Feb. 16; Mishpaha, Feb. 24; L’Yetzu’an, Feb. 2005
The main article in this category is a 50-page transcript of the TV news program Mabat, which hosted a discussion on the Hebrew documentary “The righteous and the missionary,” about Christian Zionists, also aired on Channel 1. Participants in the discussion included the producer of the documentary, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Israeli recipients of aid through the Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and Israeli politicians from both sides of the settlement issue. Also aired during the news program were quotes from American evangelical supporters of Israel, both lay people and leaders such as Jerry Falwell and John Hagee. For the most part the support of these Christian Zionists is portrayed as positive – friendship with no strings attached that greatly benefits both needy Israelis and the settlers and Israel’s political right. The one exception to this opinion is left-wing politician Yossi Beilin, who does not consider anyone who opposes the peace process as a friend of Israel.
In “Yeshu is here” (a play on the Hebrew “Yesha [Judea, Samaria, Gaza] is here,” a settler slogan), Makor Rishon (March 4) reports on the mixed feelings among some residents of Ariel about the support of Christian Zionists, the growing population of non-Jewish immigrants, and the presence of Messianic Jewish missionaries. Residents complain about unequal funding for schools, Christian items in stores (especially around Christmas time), missionary activity by the town’s 13 churches and fellowships, and Christian indoctrination of young people who were given a tour in the USA.
Kol HaZman, March 4, 18; News-Israel, March 21; Makor Rishon, March 18; Yediot Ahronot, March 15, 17; Ha’Aretz English, March 17; Ha’Aretz, March 15, 17; Ma’ariv, March 17; Kol Ha’ir, March 18; NFC, March 16; NRG, March 17: Walla News, March 15; Ynet, March 14; Jerusalem Post, Feb. 4;
All but two of these articles cover the protest by Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders against the international gay pride parade planned for this summer in Jerusalem. Saying that it’s a desecration of the holy city, religious leaders called on the Jerusalem municipality and police to stop the planned march and relatedevents. Not surprisingly, those articles that included opinion supported the liberal view of the issue, characterizing the religious protests as bigoted and reactionary.
Yediot Ahronot (March 15) covers the storm in the scientific community in the US over the fact that not a few scientists dare to disbelieve Darwin’s theory of evolution, claiming instead that a “higher power” is responsible for our existence. The articles includes quotes from Israeli scientists on both sides of the issue: “Darwin’s theory is unproved”; “if people want to believe in intelligent design, and it helps them sleep at night, let them believe”; “when we’re trying to explain a phenomenon, and we’re satisfied with a belief that someone caused it – that’s a surrender, the enemy of science.” Yediot Ahronot (March 17) also covers the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Israel, which is basically an excuse to drink beer, in some cases dyed green.
Books, Film, and Music
La’lsha, Dec. 27, 2004; Yediot Ahronot, Feb. 4, 28, March 17; NRG, March 6: Jerusalem Post, Feb. 28; March 6, 11; Ha’‘Aretz, Feb. 24, March 17; Emtza Netanya, Feb. 11; lton Yerushalayim, Feb. 18; Ma’ariv, Jan. 28, Feb. 11; Makor Rishon, Feb. 25; Jerusalem Report, March 7; Tchelet, Spring 2005
The Jerusalem Report has a review of Bruce Chilton’s book “Rabbi Paul: an Intellectual Biography.” While praising Chilton’s scholarship, and agreeing with him (and “most scholars”) that Paul invented Christianity, the reviewer does not agree that this was a good thing. While Chilton “re-Judaizes” Paul, the reviewer focuses on how the apostle’’s writings have formed the basis for much antisemitism, concluding that “such blatant conjecturing can be insidious stuff. … some respected Christian scholars regard Jewish history as a playground for their frolics of fancy.”
Yediot Ahronot (March 17) covers the TV series Everwood, saying that since conservative Christians in the US called it one of the most dangerous series for young people, it is obviously a “must see.” Makor Rishon has a survey of how the tablets of the law (on which Moses received the 10 commandments) have been portrayed throughout history, beginning with rolls of parchment and ending with the familiar rounded-top stone tablets. The Jerusalem Post (March 6) and Ha‘Aretz (Feb. 24) review the late Pope John Paul’s biography, both articles focusing on his comparison of the tragedy of abortion with the Holocaust, which raised Jewish hackles.