Caspari Center Media Review… August 2005 #2
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 39 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
2 dealt with Jewish-Christian Relations
4 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes
2 dealt with Tourism
1 dealt with Christian Support of Israel
7 dealt with Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Christians
2 dealt with Status of Non-Jews
3 dealt with Attitudes about Jesus
1 dealt with Messianic Jews
The remaining 17 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
(Jerusalem Post July 15, 2005)
In an opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post (July 15, 2005) author Daniel Septimus tells how the Jewish press is “abuzz over the apostasy” of rapper Aviad Cohen becoming “a Jew for Jesus.” He notes that faith in Jesus “was not the first heresy” and that many Jewish artists and authors, including Marc Chagall and Bernard Malamud have “borrowed Christian imagery.” He observes that Jews can “reject God” yet “still have a place in the Jewish community,” and says, “when Jesus enters the building some collective communal dogmatist kicks in.” Septimus cites the novel “Children at the Gate” in which a Catholic befriends an Orthodox Jew, and the relationship develops to the point where the Jew becomes a “latter-day Jesus.” His conclusion is that all of the artists were probably “more attracted to Jesus than to Christianity” and that “success through destruction” is the story of Jesus.
(HaModia July 14, 15, 2005; BaKehila July 14, 2005; Ma’ariv July 17, 2005; Shaa Tova, July 15,2005)
HaModia (July 14, 2005) and BaKehila (July 14, 2005) report about a meeting initiated by the chairman of Yad L’Achim in which Rabbis from all streams of Judaism met together in order to “strengthen the fight” against the “notorious cult” of Messianic Jews in the town of Arad. The meeting was opened by those who “are investing all their strength and energies” in the name of the “fight against the mission.” The articles reported about “Pinat HaPnai” which is described as a place where “massive missionary activity” takes place, and where “Christian preaching is carried out while exploiting the poor and needy by the distribution of clothes and food.” The reports also say that “missionaries work undercover, by infiltrating language learning centers and musical activities put on for immigrants.” The rabbis were encouraged to return to their synagogues and “wake up their congregants” in order that everyone would “join in the struggle, show alertness and do all that was required.” According to the reports many residents of Arad are “ignorant” and therefore a “massive publicity campaign is required” to “warn them of the grave danger.” The chairman of Yad L’Achim says that in all his experience “a relentless protest which causes ‘them’ no peace is the only thing that will reduce missionary activity.” Lipshitz says that they have information that “one of the (Messianic) leaders “is planning to leave town” and that this is the “proof of the success of Yad L’Achim’s strategy.” The meeting concluded with the sense of “much satisfaction” and “a renewed determination for the ultimate removal of the ‘mission’ from Arad.”
HaModia (July 15, 2005), BaKehila (July 14, 2005) and Shaa Tova (July 15,2005) all report on a meeting held between Dov Lipshitz, the chairman of Yad L’Achim and Avraham Hirchsezon, the Minister of Tourism. The meeting concerned the proposed building of an “Evangelical village” on a five hundred dunam property located at the Sea of Galilee. According to the articles, Lipshitz demanded from the minister that ‘evangelicals’ sign a legal document in the presence of lawyers – among them lawyers representing Yad L’Achim – in order to ensure that no “missionary activity” would be carried out at the site, and that no “evangelicals” using or visiting the site would engage in missionary activity. Yad L’Achim is also demanding that the property would be leased – as opposed to sold – to the “evangelicals,” so that in the event of “breaking the contract the property would immediately be retuned to the State.” The articles conclude that the Minister of Tourism responded “positively to all of Yad L’Achim’s requirements” and promised to be “personally involved in the implementation of these demands.”
In a letter to the editor (Ma’ariv July 17, 2005) the author says that the Ma’ariv editing board is “obviously intent in capturing the hearts of the hundreds of thousands of ‘Christians’” that emigrated from the former Soviet Union. This is because in a trivia quiz appearing in the paper “over half of the questions were about Christianity” and “only one was about Judaism, and that one question had the wrong answer.”
Israeli/Jewish attitudes towards Jesus
(Globes July 21, 2005; Yediot Ahronot July 19, 2005)
In a feature titled “A Mountain Filled with Goodness,” (Globes July 21, 2005) Mount Tabor is noted to be “most holy” because of being “steeped in Christian tradition.” The church on the top of the mountain was built because “it was there that Yeshu appeared before His disciples ‘shining and glowing,’ conversing with Moses and Elijah.” Matthew 17: 1-13 is noted as a reference.
Yediot Ahronot (July 19, 2005) runs an article about the forthcoming release of the movie “The Da-Vinci Code,” and the Vatican’s struggles with the movie’s ideology. The article relates the plot of the movie. The Holy Grail which is “usually thought of as a physical object, is claimed to be a metaphor for the “immortalisation of Mary Magdalene, a prostitute who was redeemed by the divine love of the ‘crucified one.’” It also says that in the Catholic Church “the notion that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute no longer exists,” in contrast to the movie which claims that not only was Mary “Yeshu’s closest disciple but was also married to him.”
Israeli/Jewish attitudes towards Christians
(Yediot Ahronot July 15, 2005; HaAretz July 15, 19, 2005)
A short article in Yediot Ahronot (July 15, 2005) and HaAretz (July 15, 2005) carries the story of the Vatican’s opposition to the Harry Potter series. The papers says that before entering the papal office, Joseph Ratzinger wrote a letter declaring the Harry Potter books to be “a cunning exercise which endeavours to tempt the souls of Christian children.” The articles also say that many commentators see the timing of the release of this dated letter – one day before the book was to be available in shops – as “not a coincidence.” The article also gives locations of shops in Israel where the book can be purchased.
HaAretz (July 19, 2005) reports on how the Hollywood industry is adopting Christian themes in order to “recover from the fall in sales of movies since ‘The Passion of Yeshu.’” The article is titled “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain? On the contrary…” It cites the success of “The Passion of the Christ” and reviews the ideology behind the new movie “Mr and Mrs Smith,” in which the actors in the movie “cannot play their part without the cross.” It notes that in one scene, Brad Pitt and his co-star are seen to be wearing borrowed jackets with the logo “Jesus rocks” on them. A number of directors are interviewed in the article, one of them is quoted “from (the movie) ‘Cloud Ten Pictures’ we saw that there was a lot of money to be made from Christianity.” In response, a Christian producer is interviewed and claims that “Hollywood has not understood that Christians are just ordinary people.”
An article in HaAretz (July 19, 2005) reports on mega-churches in the USA and the “turning of the Houston Rockets stadium into a house of prayer,” by Lakewood Church, headed up by “best-selling author” Joel Osteen. Lakewood is described as a “non-denominational church which was the first to achieve more than 30,000 congregants per week.” Joel Osteen is quoted “many sports champions were crowned here and we believe we will crown the champions of life.” The article also notes that many of Osteen’s critics do not believe that he “relates seriously to the nature of sin and the need for repentance” and that “his theology is comfortable for the times, which succeeds in turning the language of Scripture into a self-help tool.”
(Makor Rishon July 15, 2005)
An article examining the growth of anti-Semitism within the growing Catholic populace appears in the religious weekly Makor Rishon (July 15, 2005). In the opinion of the author although the Catholic Church has “changed somewhat it’s official position in relationship to the Jewish people,” nevertheless “the more Catholics there are in a country, the higher the incidences of anti-Semitism.” The author claims that the “responsibility of the Jewish people in the murder of ‘Yeshu’ is not the only reason for anti-Semitism.” The adoption of replacement theology is also cited as a factor. However he believes that the root of replacement theology can be traced back to the Apostle “Saul” (Paul), who he describes as “short, sickly and a charismatic man, who converted to Christianity and changed his name to Paul.” He also says that it is Paul who can be considered the “founder of Christianity” and likewise it was Paul who “attacked Judaism, the Torah, and the Halacha.” The author claims that it was his “hateful sermons” which are “responsible for the enmity between Judaism and Christianity.”