Caspari Center Media Review……….June 2005 # 2
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 126 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 19 dealt with Jewish Christians Relations
- 12 dealt with Christian Support of Israel
- 12 dealt with Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Christians
- 10 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes
- 5 dealt with attitudes about Jesus
- 4 dealt with status of non-Jews
- 4 dealt with Book Reviews
- 4 dealt with Messianic Jews
- 2 dealt with The Holocaust
The remaining 54 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
(HaMekomon Yerushalayim Jun. 1, 2005; Jerusalem Post Jun. 16, 2005; Yated Ne’eman Jun. 12 2005)
In a column titled “Sites in Jerusalem,” HaMekomon Yerushalayim (Jun. 1, 2005) Dr. Adam Ackerman reviews moshav Yad HaShmona. The article describes what Yad HaShmona has to offer from the point of view of local tourism and praises the standards of the moshav. He says that Yad HaShmona was founded by a small group of Finnish Lutheran Christians whose belief in the Tanach (Old Testament) caused them to want to “help settle the land” in order to “atone for the blood” of the 8 Jews who attempted, unsuccessfully, to find refuge in Finland from the Nazis. The article says that in 1979 a group of Messianic Jews who “also believe in the Tanach and the New Testament,” joined the moshav. The Messianic Jews are noted to “serve in the army, be against ‘the mission’, circumcise their sons and share the same faith as the Finnish people on the moshav,” which is described as “a faith that loves the people of Israel and a belief in the return of the Jewish people to Zion.”
According to the Jerusalem Post (Jun. 16, 2005) a high-profile American Orthodox Jewish entertainer is now calling himself a “Jewish Jesus Freak”. Rapper Aviad Cohen says “it was totally set up by God” and that “it happened after watching the movie ‘The Passion’ and attending a Jews for Jesus meeting.” The Jerusalem Post notes that he is the first high-profile Orthodox entertainer to declare himself a “Jew for Jesus.” The Jewish New York magazine ‘Heebs’ reported it to be a “sad day” in the world of Jewish rap.
Yated Ne’eman (Jun. 12, 2005) reports that “many Christian and missionary organizations exploit the arrival of Jews to Jerusalem during the festival of Shavuot.” The paper says “the conference and cult centre,” The Pavilion, which is “in the ‘Klal’ building and belongs to the King of Kings organization” held a conference organized by Christian Friends of Israel which is celebrating 20 years since it’s establishment. The article notes that at the end of each day a “religious ritual was conducted by a priest.” The same piece also reports about a “conference of congregations” that comprised the theme for another conference called “The Gospel of the Kingdom” in honor of “that man” at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, Jerusalem. It is said that many went out into the streets to “call upon Jews to join in the conference.” The readers are warned that during the festival of Shavuot there will be “religious rites done in honor of ‘that man’” and that “innocent Jews who do not keep the Torah are liable to join in the festivities without understanding the danger.”
(HaModia Jun. 6, 10, 2005; Yediot Haifa Jun. 3, 2005; BaKehila Jun. 2, 2005; Index Dati-Haredi Jun. 2, 2005; Yated Ne’eman Jun. 7, 2005)
Four religious papers cover the story of “mass baptism” whereby “tens of Jews” were “baptized into Christianity” at the Congress Centre in Haifa (HaModia Jun. 6, 10, 2005; Yediot Haifa Jun. 3, 2005; BaKehila Jun. 2, 2005; Index Dati-Haredi Jun. 2, 2005). “Deep shock and amazement” are the words that describe the “atmosphere” in Haifa following the event. Only Yediot Haifa (Jun. 3, 2005) reported that it was an event run by Jehovah Witnesses, the other articles made no such distinction between Christians and Jehovah Witnesses.
The religious daily Yated Ne’eman (Jun. 7, 2005) reports that a Lev L’Achim worker was attacked by a “missionary” after the organization was summoned to the Exhibition Grounds in Tel Aviv by someone who “complained” that “ missionary material” was being distributed there. The paper says that the “missionary” attempted to strangle the Lev L’Achim worker and as a result Lev L’Achim have filed a complaint of assault with the police. The paper also advises its readers “missionary activity is being stepped up during large gatherings and the public are called upon to be alert and report all and every kind of missionary activity.”
During talks with various ultra-Orthodox rabbis, Yad L’Achim chairman Rabbi Shalom Dov Lipshitz presented “beyond any shadow of a doubt” that evangelicals who wish to establish an evangelical center by Lake Galilee have been, and are presently involved in “missionary activity” HaModia (Jun. 10, 2005). Lipshitz said in order to obtain planning permission the Mormons had to sign an agreement stating that they would not engage in any missionary activity. Only after the signature was “loud and clear” were they given permission and the decision was approved. Lipshitz says that this was a “vital and important precedent.”
Christian Support of Israel
(Jerusalem Post Jun. 6, 7, 17, 2005; HaAretz English edition Jun. 8, 2005)
In an interview with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), Eckstein explains attitudes of the Jewish community towards the evangelical American Christians Jerusalem Post (Jun. 16, 2005). He says that evangelicals support the Jewish people and Israel “because the Bible tells them to” and that “the Jews are the chosen people and therefore Christians are commanded to bless Israel and the Jews.” Rabbi Eckstein says that it is a “Christian mitzvah” and therefore has “nothing to do with end time theology” and “converting Jews.” He also says that once the media had acknowledged that evangelicals support Israel then they “needed to explain it away or undermine it.” Rabbi Eckstein says it is this approach that has lead to idea that evangelicals are “not genuine.” He says that the media is also responsible for suggesting that they are “trying to bring in Jesus through the back door” and “by bringing the Jews back to Israel the Jews will convert to Christianity and won’t die like they all do in the book of Revelation.”
HaAretz English edition (Jun. 8, 2005) reports of a joint delegation of Christians and Jews who traveled to the Gaza settlement of S’derot in an “act of solidarity” against the government’s disengagement plan. Joining the party was Pastor Jim Vineyard “an evangelical Christian” from the USA. HaAretz reports that Vineyard quoted “freely from the book of Genesis” warning people of “the Biblical disaster that awaits them if they don’t listen to the Word of God.” He wore a T-shirt saying “Israel belongs to the Jews” and said that “even though as a Christian, I don’t usually curse, the Jews in Israel should tell Bush to go to hell.” The Jerusalem Post (Jun. 7, 2005) reports on the same story and quotes Vineyard as saying “Christians who support Israel are the spiritual seed of Abraham.” Jim Vineyard also has a full two-page “letter to Israelis” published in the Jerusalem Post (Jun. 17, 2005). He appeals to the Israeli public “not surrender any grain of sand of your land to any foreign power” and that Israel’s right to exist does “not depend on the approval of other nations whatsoever.” He quotes several Scriptures from the book of Genesis explaining, “God gave the land as an everlasting covenant.” Mr. Vineyard says that seeking peace “because of international pressure” is “the worse possible approach” and “arouses contempt.” In his letter he also turns to Israeli Knesset members urging them not to support the disengagement plan. He assures his “Jewish friend in Israel, I am your Yedid and Haver” and concludes his letter by saying that it “is such a blessing that the Lord is allowing me to live at a time like this” because he is “simply a poor boy from Texas who can say to the Jewish apple of God’s eye in Israel, don’t give away one grain of sand.”
Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Jesus
(Jerusalem Post Jun. 8, 2005; Ma’ariv Jun. 8, 2005; Yediot Ahronot Jun. 8, 2005; HaTzofeh Jun. 7, 2005; Nesiot Jun. 2005)
Both Ma’ariv and the Jerusalem Post (Jun. 8, 2005) report about Israeli scientist, Professor Benjamin Brenner who has published a letter in a medical journal suggesting that Jesus died of blood clotting in His lungs and did not “bleed to death.” Ma’ariv says that the “circumstances surrounding the death of Yeshu, the Father of Christianity, have been a huge issue over the last two thousand years” and “it’s not just an issue that interests artists and researchers but doctors too.” In his letter, Professor Brenner “backed up by …medical texts and the Christian Bible” says that “the 34 year-old Jesus of Nazareth may have had additional risk factors because he was Jewish.” Brenner says “thrombophilia is linked to a mutation common in Israel and especially people residing in the Galilee area” which makes it “not unlikely that he had inherited a hypercoagulable state.” Brenner also notes that Jesus was “under great emotional stress” and the “Roman soldiers did not fracture his legs even though this was done with the ‘two thieves’ to speed up their deaths.” Professor Brenner hopes his thesis will increase awareness of the disease.
Under the heading “an abridged Jerusalem dictionary” the religious daily HaTzofeh (Jun. 7, 2005) defines the Via Dolorosa as “the road of torment, the name of the last path that the ‘one named Yeshu’ walked down.” The same article describes the Temple Mount as “a place where once were built two Jewish temples, which were destroyed because of our sin, and now they are replaced by churches, castles and mosques.”
In a short article about places to visit in Israel, the Mount of Beatitudes is described as the place where “Yeshu ‘gave His address’ called ‘the Sermon on the Mount’ to His disciples” Nesiot (Jun. 2005). The article notes that “each verse begins with ‘blessed’” and that “according to Christian tradition the place is holy to Christians because it is here that He chose His disciples.”
Israeli/Jewish Attitudes Concerning Christians
(HaAretz Jun. 6, 14 2005; HaAretz English edition Jun. 6, 2005; Jerusalem Post Jun. 8, 15, 2005; Olam Ha’Isha Mar. 2005; Kol HaEmek VeHaGalil Jun. 3, 2005; Sha’ar L’Matchil Jun. 7, 2005)
The Jerusalem Post and HaAretz have long articles about “charges of evangelical Christian proselytizing” in the US Air Force Academy (Jerusalem Post Jun. 8, 2005; HaAretz Jun, 6, 2005; HaAretz English edition Jun 6, 2005). HaAretz (Jun. 6, 2005) focuses on the experiences of a Jewish military graduate who says he encountered much anti-Semitism after the movie “The Passion of Christ” was screened at the academy. As a result of his experience Weinstein has “turned into a leader of the battle against religious coercion” and says that “117 complaints have been filed through him and only eight of these complaints are from Jewish cadets.”
According to the Jerusalem Post (Jun. 8, 2005) surveys have shown that present and former cadets have “felt a heavy emphasis on evangelical Christianity.” Weinstein remarks “it is not Christian verses Jew” but rather “the evangelical Christians against everybody else.” Both articles report about the graduate who emailed a greeting card to the other 3,000 students with the verse “bear each others burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” HaAretz notes, “this is the sort of quote that critics of the academy believe should not appear in correspondence sent among the cadets.” Weinstein is described as someone who “does not intend to wait long” because the pilots are “ the people who are going to hold the trigger to our nuclear bombs.” He describes America as being “on a religious war against all who are not Christians.”
In a letter to the editor published in response to the article HaAretz (Jun. 14, 2005) the Jewish cadet Weinstein is quoted and the conclusion of the writer is that “evangelical support of Israel stems from the belief in the Battle of Gog and Magog, which will cause the second coming of the Messiah and the conversion of the Jewish people and the whole world to Christianity.” The writer says that the “evangelical love for Israel is a camouflage for their real intentions” and that “Israel needs to be aware of ‘friends’ like these.”
Three papers deal with the issues of “Christians” who have converted to Judaism. Claudia Zintaroni is described as a “German Christian” who “encountered Judaism” and was among the founders of the annual New Age Shantipi festival Kol HaEmek VeHaGalil (Jun. 3, 2005). Zintaroni is described as believing that the “whole truth is solely found in Judaism.” She speaks of her experiences at the New Age festival and says that “missionaries used to distribute tracts about Yeshu at Shantipi and I always thought to myself that it was inappropriate.” As a result of this Zintaroni filed a complaint with the festival organizers and “to my delight they accepted what I said.” She also says “I do not wish to negate seminars that are held on yoga and reike.” Sha’ar L’Matchil (Jun. 7, 2005) features a short biography of another German “Christian” who married an Israeli Jew. Her conversion to Judaism is described as a “lengthy process” and one that “was embarked upon because of being in love.” The article describes the ups and downs of their life here and concludes that they have “built a wonderful life” in Israel. In a letter to the editor in the Jerusalem Post (Jun. 15, 2005) Shilah Anderson describes herself as a “goy, converting because my heart tells me where I belong.” She says that she was “raised in an evangelical Christian family” and still believes that “the Messiah came to us in the person of Yeshua Ben Miriam.” Anderson says that she “daydreams about Aliya” but that her “dear goy husband won’t hear about it.” She closes her letter by rhetorically asking “would I feel at home in an Israel that is a secular state and not a Torah-based one?”
(HaAretz English edition Jun. 5,10, 2005; Jerusalem Post Jun. 10, 2005; Yediot Ahronot Jun. 10, 2005; HaTzofeh Jun. 10, 2005)
Several papers report on the meeting held in the Vatican between Jewish leaders and Pope Benedict XVI. HaAretz English edition (Jun. 10, 2005) notes that since his election Pope Benedict “has reached out to Jews and denounced the crimes of the Nazis.” According to Yediot Ahronot (Jun. 10, 2005) the president of the World Jewish Congress, Edgar Bronfman said “they are confident that the Catholic Church will continue to build upon its growing relationship with the Jewish community.” Rabbi David Rosen who was also present called the meeting “very remarkable in its tone” Jerusalem Post (Jun. 10, 2005).