June 12 – 2005

Caspari Center Media Review… June 2005 # 1

During the period of time covered by this review, we received 61 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity, and the Mission. Of these:

  • 5 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes
  • 4 dealt with Messianic Jews
  • 3 dealt with Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Christians
  • 3 dealt with Book Reviews
  • 3 dealt with Film Reviews
  • 3 dealt with Christian Support of Israel
  • 3 dealt with Jewish Christians Relations
  • 2 dealt with attitudes about Jesus
  • 2 dealt with Tourism
  • 1 dealt with status of non-Jews


The remaining 32 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.

Messianic Jews

(Sha’a Tova ?, 2005; Zman HaNegev May 27, 2005; Zman Haifa May 20, 2005)

“Massive centre for the forced conversion of Jews is to be set up by Lake Galilee,” is the heading of an article in the religious weekly Sha’a Tova (?, 2005). The paper reports that the chairman of Yad L’Achim, Rabbi Lipshitz, has turned to finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu following the government’s intent to develop evangelical tourism in the north of the country. According to Lipshitz, many Christian tourists come to Israel “under the cover of tourism and as friends of Israel, but with the intent of carrying out significant missionary activity.” The article also says that Yad L’Achim are “worried and concerned,” because the Israeli public do not realize that the evangelical Christians are awaiting the revelation of “that man” which according to the “evangelical faith can only happen after all the Jews are back in the land and have recognized him as Messiah.” Rabbi Lipshitz says that it is therefore “not about tourism.”

There is a blurred photo of a baptism with the caption “the shocking baptism (may our Forefathers be remembered as a blessing) at Capernaum on the shores of Galilee.” The same article reports that “in addition, if that wasn’t enough,” next Sabbath a bus is due to set off to the Jordan River from Beit Brenner, “the missionary building in Tel Aviv.” The trip will be led by “the notorious missionary Michael Zin” and the article says that the objectives of the trip are clear, “to baptize Jews into Christianity at the Jordan River.”

The “religious war” in Arad continues according to Zman HaNegev (May 27, 2005). The article describes the continuing “conflict” between the Orthodox followers of Gur and the “cult” of the Messianic Jews. Zman HaNegev says that in the past the conflict was about the “spreading of lies from both sides” and now the conflict has reached into “the very heart of the new immigrants.” The Messianic Jews in Arad are described as “a cult who naively believe that Yeshua will come and redeem Israel from her sufferings.” The chess club that has been set up by the Messianic Jews is described as a “method by which members are added to the cult.”

“An unbelievable story about a Haifa family from a Messianic congregation” is the opening lines of an article about Philip and Heidi Lytle, Zman Haifa (May 20, 2005). The paper reports on their efforts to sue the Arab International Bank for its support of terrorism following the death of their daughter Avigail in a bus bomb in March 2003. Philip is described as the “priest” of the Messianic congregation Beit Eliyahu, which is noted as a place whose “members are people who believe in Yeshua”. Philip says “in the book of Jeremiah God promised a new covenant with Israel” and “Daniel and Job speak about resurrection.” Philip continues by saying, “although Yeshua was sacrificed He arose from the dead and our hope is based on the fact that He arose and is no longer dead and buried.” The paper narrates that after identifying their daughter’s body Philip and Heidi told the other children and then read together from the Gospel of John, the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, once again saying that “although it is hard there is hope.” There is a full-page picture of Avigail and two other pictures, one of Philip and Heidi and one of all the family together before the bomb.


Anti-Missionary Attitudes

(Kol Ha’Ir May 11, 2005; BaKehila May 26, 2005; Index Dati Haredi May 26, 2005; Yated Ne’eman May 27, 2005; Hadashot Binyamin May 2005)

Four religious papers cover the news of the government’s decision not to present an award of excellence to the Norwegian Christian organization Nachamu Ami (Comfort My People) (Kol Ha’Ir May 11, BaKehila May 26, Index Dati Haredi May 26, 2005). BaKehila reports that “with only a few hours to go until the presentation Yad L’Achim “did all we could and as a result, the ceremony was successfully cancelled.” According to Index Dati Haredi, “it is the third biggest missionary organization in Norway and its missionaries are in 4 continents and 36 countries.” Rabbi Lipshitz, the chairman of Yad L’Achim, tells the paper there can be no presenting an award to an organization which “hunts Jewish souls with the intent of bringing the Jewish people and her memory to extinction.” He continues saying “any prize given would have convicted the State of Israel of aiding and abetting Nachamu Ami in the pursuit of Jewish souls.”


Christian Support of Israel

(Jerusalem Post May 31, 2005; HaAretz May 30, 2005)

The same article about Christian donations mainly from the IFCJ (International Fellowship of Christians and Jews) to local councils appears in Jerusalem Post and HaAretz (May 31, 2005). The papers say that Christian contributions “represent the major form of assistance” and that “there is hardly a needy local council that does not get assistance.” The political  splinter groups that oppose the use of Christian monies are noted to be the ultra-Orthodox and the left-wing parties. The ultra-Orthodox oppose the donations because the aim of evangelicals is “getting the Jews to convert to bring in the Messiah” and the left oppose it because of “the political position of the Christians and their support of the settlers.” The article notes that the evangelicals “do not hide their belief concerning the ingathering of the exiles” and that “if there is no Israel there can be no second-coming.” The author also stresses “there are no signs that the donations are connected to missionary activity.” The right-wing parties who are associated with the evangelicals claim that “it is a waste of time arguing about the hidden intentions of the donors” and therefore regarding Messiah it is “best to wait and see who it will be.”


Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Jesus

(Time Out May 19, 2005)

Time Out (May 19, 2005) has a short article about Israeli interior design artist Dror Karta who has designed an image from metal of a crucified Jesus to be used as a coat hanger. There is a photograph of the artist’s work with the caption “they have crucified Yeshu once again.”

The same edition also reports about the illegal trade of bootleg DVDs and the fact that “the Passion of Yeshu” is doing good trade in the market stalls in Tel Aviv. The author says that if someone thought that “Yeshu suffered you wouldn’t believe it according to the glittering trade that is going on in Allenby Street, Tel Aviv, and that it makes it look like  Yeshu owned a guest house.” There is a photo of the front cover of the illegal DVD with the title “the Passion of Yeshu.”


Jewish-Christians Relations

(International Herald Tribune May 16, 18, 2005; Makor Rishon May 27, 2005)

An article and a subsequent letter to the editor deal with the Catholic Church’s part in the Holocaust and the way forward in Christian-Jewish dialogue International Herald Tribune (May 16, 18 2005). Arthur Hertzberg, the author of the article and formerly the chairman of the first Jewish delegation to formally meet with the Vatican, expresses doubt concerning “a new age” in Jewish-Catholic relations. Hertzberg states that while Pope Benedict has acknowledged that “Catholics can err,” this acknowledgement and apology do not admit that the Church and the Pope are infallible, which he believes is necessary for headway to be made in Jewish-Christian relations. The author mentions Cardinal Ratzinger’s report of 2002 that “expressed regret that certain New Testament passages that condemn individual Jews had been used to justify anti-Semitism.” However. he goes on to say “no amount of personal outreach to Jews and Judaism from the Pope will make Jews forget that the institution of which he is the monarch has not come to terms with that history.” In a letter to the editor the writer endeavors to remind Arthur Hertzberg that “many reports suggest that Pope Pius XII was a friend of the Jews” and that the Catholic Church was “in no more of a position to forbid the Holocaust than Jewish authorities are today in a position to forbid the atrocities in Iraq and Sudan.”


Israeli/Jewish Attitudes Concerning Christians

(Zman Tel Aviv May 13, 2005)

Zman Tel Aviv (May 13, 2005) carries a three page feature about Jo Abu-Hanni, an Israeli Arab Christian who when driving a car, had an accident that killed his best friend James Pale and was subsequently tried for manslaughter. James Pale had come to Israel to serve in the Holy Covenant Church in Jerusalem. James’ parents had asked the judge in the case to give Jo a light sentence and “show mercy to the man who killed their son.” They are reported as saying “we have no resentment or sentiments of anger towards Mr. Abu-Hanni, we have put these feelings aside and have forgiven him completely.” Jo Abu-Hanni says that five years ago he turned to drink and drugs after an IDF shell landed on his home and he lost everything. By chance he met a “representative” from the “Messianic congregation of the Holy Covenant” which proved to be the “turning point” in his life. Jo joined the church and it was there that he met James, they both dedicated themselves to helping the needy in the Arab community and both were known as “bridge builders” between the Jewish and Arab communities. James’ parents wrote a letter to Jo two days after the accident stating “although the reasons of the accident are unknown to us, the fact that you lived means that God has a plan for you and that He has not finished with you.” James’ parents head up the Evangelical Alliance of Canada and the paper notes that a few years ago they also lost one of their daughters in a car accident.


Different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.

Ma’ariv for Youth (23 March, 2005)

“It’s magic time” is a two-page feature appearing in Ma’ariv for Youth (23 March, 2005). The feature explains about Wicca and witchcraft and offers advice on how to use witchcraft to “defeat bullies and win competitions” at school. Magic is described as “the ability to change your reality using your own will power and supernatural powers.” The Wicca ceremonies are described as “colorful and beautiful” and there are instructions about how to cast a spell and the items needed for doing so. In answer to a rhetorical headline “is witchcraft connected to Satan worship” the answer is “not at all.” According to the article “the origins of Satan are first found in an ancient Persian religion, the first monotheistic religion.” The article says “it was the church that first linked the Wicca ‘faith’ to Satan worship” and that it was this link, “established by the church, which is responsible for so many persecutions.” The article also says that Wicca witches “do not even believe in the existence of Satan and certainly do not worship him. On the contrary, Wicca has high ethics and honors people and creatures.” There is also a column where children have written in with questions such as “where can I buy tarot cards” and “is there a specific stone against the evil eye”. The answers, as well as the Israeli Wicca website are provided.