Caspari Center Media Review………………… May 2005 #1
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 102 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 44 dealt with Jewish Christians Relations
- 4 dealt with Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Christians
- 4 dealt with Tourism
- 4 dealt with Messianic Jews
- 3 dealt with Christian support of Israel
- 2 dealt with status of non-Jews
- 2 were Book Reviews
- 2 dealt with attitudes about Jesus
- 2 dealt with attitudes about anti-missionaries
The remaining 35 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
Messianic Jews (Yediot Haifa Apr. 15, 2005) (Iton Yerushalayim Apr. 15, 2005) (Television Channel One Apr. 10, 2005) (At Feb. 16, 2005)
The ‘Mabat’ current affairs program (Channel One Apr. 10, 2005) reported about the “black list of Messianic Jews at the Ministry of Interior.” Haim Yevin introduced the report as a “story of religious persecution reminiscent of the dark ages.” Messianic Jews were described as being “true Israelis” who do army service, pay taxes, and hold various professions. Yet, despite this, the Messianic Jews “find themselves on the black list of the Ministry of Interior.” The short report followed the story of Sean, a Christian from America and his wife Ayelet, a native-born Israeli Messianic Jew. The program detailed their refusal to be granted Israeli citizenship, because they are Messianic believers. Nitzan Chen, the correspondent, plays excerpts from an interview Ayelet had with a clerk at the Ministry of Interior, he stated ironically that the clerk was playing God with Ayelet. Ayelet was asked if she believes in “Yeshu.” She acknowledged her faith and corrected the name from “Yeshu” to “Yeshua.” An unidentified interviewee said that the Ministry of Interior had no right to do what they are doing especially as many Jews believe in Buddha or are atheists yet they are still granted citizenship. Mafdal member Mina Penton was also interviewed and said that the Ministry must protect the Jewish State and Judaism. When Nitzan Chen inquired as to citizens’ rights concerning Messianic Jews, Penton stated that these are only applicable to “Jews”
The report closed with a reminder that 15,000 Messianic Jews celebrated the liberation and freedom of the people of Israel through the Passover. Nitzan concluded by saying that “freedom for the individual is seemingly not so important in Israel 2005.” According to Haim Yevin, the Ministry of Interior responded to the program by stating that issues regarding Messianic Jews are made entirely on a “professional basis,” and if there has been discrepancy as to how some individuals were dealt with, then every effort would be made to prevent a repeat of such things happening in the future.
Yediot Haifa (Apr. 15, 2005) carries a story about Israeli young people who received “missionary propaganda,” at the Congress Center In Haifa, after attending a rock concert by a group called “The Jews.” The article claims that a “new movement” distributed the material, “Keren Ahvah Meshihit,” who has “joined forces with the Messianic Jews and Jehovah Witnesses.” Keren Ahvah Meshihit is assessed as a “Christian organization with an evangelical faith.” The content of the pamphlets was detailed saying, “Messiah will be cut off, the Jews will return to their promised land and then they will all convert to Christianity.” Town Council member Arieh Blitanthal turned to Yad L’Achim for help after he said that he received “many complaints from worried parents.” He promised to tackle the “growing problem.”
Avi Weizman, the Shas chairman in Haifa, has approached Knesset member Eli Yishai, the Chairman of Shas, in order to try and revive the anti-missionary legislation that will “prevent this kind of event from occurring in the future.” Weizman describes the occurrence as “mission activity of the highest order and exploitation of the weak and poor.”
Barbara Ludwing, a Messianic Jewish American student, has been denied renewal of her student visa to continue her studies at the Hebrew University because she is a Messianic Jew (Iton Yerushalayim Apr. 15, 2005). The article states that Ludwing has continually requested a visa but the Ministry of Interior has “unwaveringly refused.” She is described as belonging to the Messianic community that is comprised of 15,000 people. Despite bringing papers from the university, Ludwing says that the only question that she was asked at the Ministry of Interior was does she “believe that Yeshu is the Messiah.” The report quotes Barbara Ludwing as saying that the Ministry of Interior required that she “write down the names of her friends and where they meet.” Ludwing’s attorney will appeal and the Ministry of Interior says that she will be allowed to complete this year but must leave the country by the end of July.
In the woman’s magazine “At” (Feb. 16, 2005) there is a book review about the best seller “Diet according to the Bible.” The review tells the story of the author Jordan Robin who after being diagnosed with a serious illness decided to follow a diet that is set out in the Bible. The article describes Jordan Robin as a “Messianic Jew who turned to the Bible for help.” Jordan says that sometimes he broke the diet and he prayed to God that he wouldn’t put on weight. He concludes that because he didn’t put on weight there must be a God.
Israeli/Jewish Attitudes About Jesus (Ma’ariv Apr. 19, 2005, www.nana.co.il Apr. 15, 2005)
The Israeli Internet site Nana contains a letter titled “why do Christians keep Sunday holy?” (www.nana.co.il Apr. 15, 2005). The author, Baldad HaShuchi, advocates that Christians thought that some aspects of Judaism were healthy so “they decided that they also wanted a day of rest.” According to the author, Christians refused to adopt the Sabbath simply because it was Jewish, which puzzles him because “Yeshu, assuming that there was such a person, kept the Sabbath and was a believing Jew.” He goes on to say that it was only the new Christians who wanted the Sunday to be holy so they could separate themselves from all things Jewish and it was also the day in which “according to their faith Yeshu rose from the dead.”
Anti-missionary Attitudes (Galai Tzahal Apr. 8, 2005, Yediot Ahronot Apr. 14, 2005).
In a radio program about “Missionary activity and attempts to convert Jews,” (Galai Tzahal Apr. 8, 2005) a caller engages in a conversation stating that in his opinion “not every Christian on the face of this earth intends to convert Jews.” The interviewer, Dalik Wallinitzch, says that he often listens to Jewish religious radio stations that report about a couple who distribute New Testaments in Jerusalem. According to Wallinitzch, these announcements remind him of the threat of Jewish extinction at the hands of Christians because of the concept of “’May His name and memory be blotted out’ (Yeshu).” The caller argues that although there has been much Jewish blood shed over the last 2,000 years because of Christian anti-Semitism, Judaism has far more in common with Christianity than Islam does and not every type of anti-Semitism is founded on Christianity or other religions.
Yediot Ahronot runs a long article on the story of the Jewish Finlay brothers who were “snatched” out of a Catholic family by Israeli security services after the war to be reunited with their family in Israel (Yediot Ahronot, Apr. 14, 2005). The paper relates that despite appeals to remain in the Jewish faith the Catholic woman baptized them and tried to “make them completely Christian.” The brothers gave a speech at Yad Vashem in honor of the Holocaust day. Gadi Finlay is quoted as saying; “Our story is one of the few rare occurrences where Judaism has actually triumphed over Christianity.”
Israeli/Jewish attitudes towards Christians (Ma’ariv Le Noar, Feb. 9, 2005, www.nfc.co.il May 1, 2005, Yated Ne’eman Apr. 15, 2005, Time Out Mar. 10, 2005)
Following the funeral of John Paul II, the religious daily Yated Ne’eman carries an article comparing Judaism to Christianity (Yated Ne’eman Apr 15, 2005). Natan Grossman explains that Judaism is very different from Christianity because “in Judaism the spirituality of man is not dependent on religious ceremonies.” He compares the Catholic ceremonies to Reform Judaism and suggests that should the average Israeli embrace Reform Judaism then “heaven forbid we will end up with a Christian Judaism focused on empty ceremonies and void of all spiritual richness.”
Ma’ariv Le Noar (Feb. 9, 2005) runs a very short article concerning the origins of Valentine’s Day. According to the author there were three Christian saints in history who were all punished and killed because ‘they fell in love.” The article explains that this was forbidden to Christians because they had to “save themselves for the army and wars.”
Time Out (Mar. 10, 2005) ran a short piece about a poster that advertises the movie “Constantine.” There are two photos of the poster, the American version and the Israeli version. The star of the movie is pictured in the American poster holding a large cross; this has been omitted in the Israeli poster. The letter “T” in Constantine also was in the shape of a shiny cross on the American version, but on the Hebrew poster it was blurred. The author suggests that the Hebrew poster simply looks like his mobile phone in his breast pocket is on fire. According to Time Out, Noach Films who are responsible for the publicity “refused to comment.”
A series of lectures titled “the seven deadly sins” is to be held at the Tel Aviv nightclub Tzavta according to Time Out (Mar. 10, 2005). Dr. Shapiro, who will give the lectures, explains that his incentive to explore the world of sin and pleasure was birthed when he was on the beach relaxing. He says he immediately felt guilty which made him think, “I must explore the pleasurable things in life that Christianity forbids and views as sins punishable by death.”
Status of non-Jews (HaAretz Apr. 17, 2005, Yated Ne’eman Apr. 15, 2005)
HaAretz reports about a formation of a Christian coalition in the land which intends to represent various denominations regarding statutory issues (HaAretz Apr. 17, 2005). The article says that evangelical denominations are a minority and are not recognized by the State, which leads to all kinds of bureaucratic and daily problems. An un-named resident of Nazareth says, “this coalition is not anyway intended to be political.”
Christian support of Israel (Ma’ariv Apr. 17, 2005, HaDaf HaYarok Apr. 7, 2005, www.nfc.co.il Apr. 17, 2005)
Ma’ariv (Apr. 17, 2005) www.nfc.co.il (Apr. 17, 2005) both report on Christian evangelical support of a Jewish delegation that will travel to Israel to protest against the disengagement. Ma’ariv reports that a meeting was held in Texas between Ariel Sharon and evangelical leaders John Hagee and Robert Murray. In New York, Pat Robertson and Gary Bauer met with Knesset member Efi Eitam. The Baptist organization “Friends” that is due to come to Gaza. (www.nfc.co.il (Apr. 17, 2005) says that evangelical Christians will arrive in protest against the disengagement. The chairman, Bob Ross, is reported as saying: “Thousands of Christian Zionists will come to Israel, we will stand alongside our friends and let’s see what they (the Israeli police and army) will do about it.”
Jewish Christian Relations (BaKehila Apr. 14, 2005, www.ice.co.il Apr. 18, 2005, Jerusalem Post Apr. 15, 2005, Rating Apr. 20, 2005, Jerusalem Post Apr. 14, 2005, Globes Apr. 18, 2005, HaAretz Apr. 14, 2005, Apr. 17, 2005, Apr. 18, 2005, Apr. 19, 2005, Yediot Ahronot Apr. 14, 2005, Apr. 18, 2005, Ma’ariv Apr. 19, 2005, HaAretz English Edition Apr. 18, 2005, Yediot Ahronot Apr. 17, 2005, Jerusalem Post Apr. 18, 2005, www.nrg.co.il Apr. 20, 2005, Apr. 25, 2005, Jerusalem Post Apr. 18, 2005, Apr. 20, 2005, HaTzofeh Apr. 20, 2005, HaAretz English Edition Apr. 20, 2005, Ma’ariv Apr. 20, 2005, HaAretz Apr. 20, 2005)
Four articles report on the “exaggerated” (BaKehila Apr. 14, 2005) and “saturated” (Rating Apr. 20, 2005), Israeli coverage of the late Pope John Paul II funeral. The Jerusalem Post (Apr. 15, 2005) expresses that because of the excess coverage “one could be forgiven for thinking Israel was a Catholic country.” It also alerts readers to the lack of critique expressed towards the late Pope and asks the question “do we not express honest criticism because we are fearful of being called ‘anti-Christian.’”
Many papers followed closely the mysteries and ceremonies of the conclave and the process of election of the new Pope. (Jerusalem Post Apr. 14, 2005, Globes Apr. 18, 2005, HaAretz Apr. 14, 2005, Apr. 17, 2005, Apr. 18, 2005, Apr. 19, 2005, Yediot Ahronot Apr. 14, 2005, Apr. 18, 2005, Ma’ariv Apr. 19, 2005) There were also articles concerning the importance of electing a Pope who would be sensitive to Jewish-Christian relations. (HaAretz English Edition Apr. 18, 2005, Yediot Ahronot Apr. 17, 2005, Jerusalem Post Apr. 18, 2005). HaAretz expressed that the attitude of the new Pope towards the Jews will be expressed in three areas: the theological – contacts between the Church and the Jewish faith, the diplomatic – relations of the Church with Israel, and the ideological-political – relations between Christianity and the Muslim world. (HaAretz English Edition Apr. 18, 2005)
Several papers and websites carried biographies of the newly elected Pope and with it hopes and fears as how his election will impact the Jewish world. (www.nrg.co.il Apr. 20, 2005, Apr. 25, 2005, Jerusalem Post Apr. 18, 2005, Apr. 20, 2005, HaTzofeh Apr. 20, 2005, HaAretz English Edition Apr. 20, 2005, Ma’ariv Apr. 20, 2005, HaAretz Apr. 20, 2005). All papers note that he was in the Hitler Youth but stress that it was not of his own choice. HaAretz (Apr. 20, 2005) recalls that Ratzinger, according to Rabbi David Rosen, wrote the “most important introduction” of a document that came out of the Pontifical Biblical Studies Commission. The document deals with the pivotal place of the Jewish people in Christian teachings. Joseph Ratzinger argues in the paper “the Jewish refusal to accept Jesus as Messiah must not be seen as an act of rejection of God.”