May 24 – 2005

Caspari Center Media Review……………….… May 2005 # 3

During the period of time covered by this review, we received 166 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:

  • 46 dealt with Jewish Christians Relations
  • 10 dealt with attitudes about Jesus
  • 8 dealt with Tourism
  • 6 dealt with Messianic Jews
  • 5 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes
  • 5 dealt with the Holocaust and anti-Semitism
  • 5 dealt with Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Christians
  • 4 dealt with Christian support of Israel
  • 4 were Book Reviews
  • 1 dealt with status of non-Jews


The remaining 72 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.

Messianic Jews (Jerusalem Post May 11, 2005, May 13, 2005, May 15, 2005)

Three letters to the editor appeared in the Jerusalem Post (May 13, 2005) following an extensive feature published in the same paper on the growth of the Messianic movement in Israel (Apr. 29, 2005). One person writes suggesting that Yad L’Achim “enter the scene when it is too late” The writer claims that it is because of the lack of foresight and social care from organizations such as Yad L’Achim that ‘many fall’ and it is “Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews for Jesus and Benny Hinn who provide the net.” Another writer advocates that Messianic Jews have “betrayed the faith of their fathers while even the Church Fathers concurred with the sages that one cannot be both a Jew and a Christian. A Messianic Jew whose name was withheld also had a letter published in which he stated that the author of the previous week’s article had “made a self-created eraser in an attempt to wipe us out.” The letter goes onto say that Messianic Jews are faithful and law-abiding Israeli citizens who “follow Yeshua who we believe to be the promised Messiah, was born in Israel and lived His whole life as an observant Jew.”

The Jerusalem Post carries a short article on the life and death of the Rev. Hugh Montefiore, a “Jewish-born Anglican archbishop” (Jerusalem Post May 15, 2005). It says that Montefiore “converted to Christianity,” after he had seen a vision of Christ, and that he liked to be known as a “Jewish Christian.”

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “unwittingly” met with Jay Sekulow, a “high profile Messianic Jew” in the USA, says the Jerusalem Post (May 11, 2005). The meeting happened during an attempt by Sharon to “shore up his standing in the influential US Evangelical Christian community.” The paper reports that an official in Sharon’s office was “unaware of Sekulow’s Jewish background.”

Anti-Missionary Attitudes (Iton Yerushalayim May 6, 2005, May 13, 2005) (Jerusalem Post May 19, 2005)

Iton Yerushalayim (May 6, 2005) carries a two-page report on the Norwegian organization “Comfort My People.” According to the paper, the organization was to be presented with a prize of excellence and recognition by the Ministry of Health for it’s “dedication and service” to the Psychiatric hospital Eitanim. The Ministry of Health canceled the ceremony twenty-four hours previously because Yad L’Achim reported that the organization is “dealing in missionary activity.” The Ministry of Health has decided to conduct an inquiry and states that “if we come to the conclusion that there is no missionary work here then they will be legible for the honor.” The controversy started just before Passover when according to Yad L’Achim, a report in a Norwegian magazine cites an Israeli worker in the hospital as saying that he “started to love Yeshu” because of the “faith and service that he had seen exhibited in and through the volunteers in the hospital.” In response to the article, a letter to the editor appears in the same paper (May 13, 2005) in which the author says that the claims that Comfort My People are engaging in missionary activity is “illogical,” because “rather than dedicate years of their lives to hard work at the hospital it would be easier to go to the beach, join in the parties and exploit the young people there… because the catch would be bigger and the work would be easier.”

A one-page opinion by Ellen Dlott (Jerusalem Post May 19, 2005) describes the authors “surprise” when two people knocked on her door and asked if she “knew Jesus.” Ellen Dlott claims, “I am a Christian myself but I’ve always had a problem with proselytizers.” She expresses the opinion that while some Christians have “accomplished great financial deeds and vehemently support the State of Israel they want something in return.” She praises Judaism because “no one has ever tried to convert her” and says that proselytizing is “not just a matter of style, it simply isn’t my religion anymore than it is yours.”

Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Jesus (Tachlet Summer 2005) (HaTzofeh May 6, 2005) (Yated Ne’eman May 6, 2005) (Jerusalem Post May 3, 2005, May 6, 2005 May 16, 2005) (HaAretz Apr. 20, 2005, May 4, 2005)

In a letter to the editor, a reader of the Jerusalem Post (May 5, 2005) expresses praise for Rabbi Shmuely Boteach’s book review of David Klinghoffer’s “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus.” He writes that according to the Gospels, “Jesus was totally human, yet the Epistles present him as completely divine,” and sees this as a contradiction which “Christianity has not yet resolved.” In the opinion of another reader who submitted a letter to the editor, commenting on an article the previous week concerning Mel Gibson’s “The Passion”, he states that “Jesus was arrested, tried and executed by the Roman authorities and the Jews had nothing to do with it.” He describes the account in Matthew’s Gospel as “laughable”, had not the story “been used as an excuse for centuries of anti-Semitism.” Another reader suggests that when Christians blame Jews for the death of Jesus they “miss entirely what the New Testament teaches.” The author, Donna Diorio, names herself as a Christian and goes on to say that “we are all subject to the same passions and failings and therefore we are all guilty for Jesus’ death.”

The religious papers Yated Ne’eman (May 6, 2005) and HaTzofeh (May 6, 2005) both report on the deputy Minister of Social Affairs attempt to prevent a cross from being printed on a commemorative stamp in honor of the late John Paul II. Rabbi Avraham Ravitz claims that the cross has “horrific connotations for many” and says that it will be a “painful and constant reminder as to what was done in the name of this symbol.” Ravitz has approached minister Danny Naveh and requested that the cross will not appear in “any manner, shape or form” on the stamp.

HaAretz (May 4, 2005) reviews an essay written by Israeli author A.B Yehoshua and compares the thoughts behind the essay with that of the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Yehoshua proposes that the identity of the Jewish people which “is both religious and genealogical, radiates insecurity and it is this insecurity that is partially responsible for gentile hatred towards Jewish people.” The author of the article disagrees with Yehoshua and places the blame mainly on the crucifixion of Jesus, saying that “although the historical facts of the crucifixion contradict themselves, Christian hatred nevertheless finds expression of its hatred towards the Jewish people because they are the people and race who supposedly murdered and betrayed Him.”

“Two Nations in the Womb,” (Yakov Yovel, Alma Publishers) is a book review in HaAretz (Apr. 20, 2005). The book deals with the relationship between Christianity and Judaism, and according to the critic focuses on the “inherent differences between the Passover meal and the last supper of Yeshua.” Matthew 26:26 is quoted as is 1 Corinthians 5:7-8. The author of the book says that at the time of breaking the bread Yeshua was “still a ‘kosher Jew’” and that the “Christian distortions were formed as a misunderstanding and ignorance as to the text of Rashi’s commentary on Exodus 12.”

A theological article in the journal Tachlet (Summer 2005) deals with the election of the Jewish people and poses the question “what is divine love?” The author says that the understanding of the divine election of one people, the Jewish people, is in “direct contrast to the Christian understanding of election which claims that according to ‘Yeshu’, everyone can be chosen.” The Christian theology is substantiated by quoting John 3:16, Matthew 28:19 and Romans 1:7. The argument is refuted on the basis that the people of Israel serve one God who is “exclusive and not universal” and the author concludes that the New Testament is “at it’s core directly opposed to the nature of God in the Tanach (Old Testament).”

The Jerusalem Post (May 16, 2005) reviews a book by the former Episcopal bishop of Newark, John Shelby Spong (The Sins of Scripture). The book describes Jesus and Mary Magdalene as being married and the apostle Paul as a “self-hating gay.” The Post suggests that the book is long overdue because “one of the mistakes liberals make is to forfeit battles in which faith plays a crucial role.” Spong deals with issues in Scripture asking “can we really worship the God who sent the angel of death to murder the first born males?” He casts doubt on the idea that Judas betrayed Jesus and “particularly denounces preachers who selectively quote Scripture against homosexuality.” The critic says that the book is to be welcomed because the “emphasis on compassion gives plenty of ammunition.”

Israeli/Jewish Attitudes Concerning Christians (Makor Rishon May 6, 2005, May 13, 2005) (The Jerusalem Report May 30, 2005)

Ariel Sharon’s visit to the USA is reported in Makor Rishon (May 6, 2005). The article expresses mistrust towards the Jewish-USA friendship and claims that “neither the world, Christianity or Islam has come to terms with the establishment of the State of Israel.” Makor Rishon makes an exception concerning American Evangelical Christians who have come to terms with it because  “according to their theology, the State is legitimate and necessary because the Jewish people are back in the land which precedes the return of the Messiah.”

The paper also follows the story of “Citizen K,” a right wing protester who spent the Passover eve in jail because he spat at a group of cross-carrying Christians (HaModia May 13, 2005). The article describes him as being “mistreated unfairly by the Israeli police,” and claims that the State is “muddling it’s priorities.”

An opinion in the Jerusalem Report (May 30, 2005) encourages people to examine more deeply the alliance between Christian Evangelicals and Jews and the “superficial supposition that Christians and Jews share common values.” The author suggests that while there may be common ground between Evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews, “honesty demands recognition that these common values divide us in profound ways.” He compares halakhic analysis of text which allows for wider interpretation of text and suggests that the “inability to adopt this important Jewish tradition leads to triumphalist Christian theocracies.”

Christian Support of Israel (Ma’ariv May 10, 2005) (Jerusalem Post May 19, 2005) (Jerusalem Report May 30, 2005)

The Jerusalem Post (May 19, 2005) reports on a tribute paid to the ICEJ at the Israeli Knesset. Christian Allies Caucus hosted the event and the ICEJ was described as “pioneers in reaching out to the people of Israel.” Director of the Caucus praised the ICEJ for their “ability to look past minor differences and see that Christians and Jews are bound together by faith in God.” There is a photo of Malcolm Hedding, director of ICEJ standing at the ceremony with two MK members.

“We are not alone” is the title in a short article in Ma’ariv (May 10, 2005). The author says that Israel has many enemies and her friends are not just the USA, the international Jewish community but also Evangelical Christians. He says that Evangelical Christians support Israel “mostly unconditionally,” and comprise one third of the USA Christian community. The author explains that their support is “founded upon the importance given to Genesis 12:3” and is also an “expression of atonement against the thousands of years whereby Christians persecuted the Jewish people.” According to the article many Jews are “suspicious of the motives of Evangelical Christian support” and feel that the hidden agenda is to convert Jews. The author says that according to the evangelical faith, “conversion is a work of God and can not be brought about by forcing someone to change their religion.”

Jewish/Christian Relations  (Jerusalem Post May 16, 2005)

David Parsons, Publications Officer of the ICEJ, has an article published in the Jerusalem Post (May 16, 2005).  It covers the formation of a new group comprised of Jews and Christians that exists to “fight an epidemic of toxic slander against Christians.” David Parsons writes that Evangelical Christians and Christian Zionists have been “openly branded as dangerous, racist and thirsting for Armageddon” and he sees it as “proper for Jews to be joining with Christians to share our Biblical heritage – not withstanding our theological differences.” He points out the common denominators shared by Judaism and Christianity and concludes that the growing derision of Christians is “derision of Judeo-Christian ethics which reflects humanity’s growing rebellion against the whole thought of having to answer to our Maker.”

Book Reviews (The Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2005)

Two book reviews deal with the growing relationship between Evangelical Christians and Jews. “For the Sake of Heaven on Earth” (Rabbi Irving Yitz Greenberg, Jewish Publication Society), tackles the relationship and challenges both sides to move on. Rabbi Greenberg says that both religions “must recognize that they are divinely complimentary Revelations and …that Christianity must recognize the continued validity of God’s covenant with the Jewish people,” and he says that Judaism “must recognize and validate a non-Messianic, non-divine Jesus.”  Knesset Member Benny Elon’s book, “God’s Covenant with Israel: Establishing Biblical Boundaries in Today’s World” (Rabbi Binyamin Elon, Heartland to Heartland), proposes ‘radical changes in Jewish-Christian relations but of a different order’. According to the critic, the book offers a list of Biblical references to the connection of the Jews to the land but then “outlines a bizarre peace plan.” The book is aimed at the Christian community, and Benny Elon is described as one who has “spearheaded the drive” to reach out to the Evangelical community.

Status of Non-Jews (HaAretz 15 May 2005, Yated Ne’eman May 13, 2005)

HaAretz (May 15, 2005) follows the stories of some Israeli citizens who had their citizenship disqualified by the Ministry of Interior. Mimee Ishto, an Ethiopian who came to Israel in 1991 had her Israeli ID card taken away. The paper reports that she was registered on the ID as ‘Christian’, although she claims her mother was Jewish. She fell pregnant to an Ethiopian non-Jew and turned to the Ministry of Interior for help in gaining status for the child’s father. According to Ishto, the Ministry of Interior immediately took her ID and told her; “you are a Christian, he is a Christian, go back to where you belong.” Another incident was reported concerning a non-Jewish immigrant who after being issued a divorce was put in Nazareth Detention Centre and had her citizenship disqualified. Up until that point Titanya Levitin carried a blue Israeli ID that gave her full rights as an Israeli citizen.

Removal of Greek Orthodox Patriarch (Jerusalem Post May 8, 2005, May 10, 2005) (Yediot Ahronot May 1, 2005, May 8, 2005) Ma’ariv May 1, 2005 May 5, 2005, May 8, 2005) HaAretz English Edition May 1, 2005, May 2, 2005, May 8, 2005, May 15, 2005) HaAretz (May 1, 2005, May 5, 2005, May 8, 2005, May 9, 2005) HaModia May 8, 2005)

Much of the Israeli press devoted wide coverage of the developments leading up to the impeachment of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Irineos I. The official statement by the Greek Orthodox Church, published in HaAretz (May 19, 2005) declares that “he is now Persona non-Grata,” and that Irineos I has now had “all authority removed by him by the Church.”