August 20 – 2005

Caspari Center Media Review… August 2005 #3

During the period of time covered by this review, we received 54 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:


  12 dealt with Jewish-Christian Relations

   9 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes

   5 dealt with Early Christianity

   2 dealt with Christian Support of Israel

   4 dealt with Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Christians

   2 dealt with Attitudes about Jesus


The remaining 20 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.



Anti-Missionary Attitudes

(HaTzofeh July 22, 2005; Yated Ne’eman July 29, 2005; Sha’a Tova, July 29,2005), 2005; Yediot Haifa July 15, 2005)


New Testaments are being distributed “to the masses” in either khaki or orange covers, a “marketing method that will appeal to anti-disengagement protesters and soldiers,” reports the religious weekly Sha’a Tova (July 29, 2005). It is coined “a mask for missionary activity” and a “gimmick that camouflages their deceitful lies.” The paper also claims that following the high-profile anti-disengagement campaign, the handing out of orange New Testaments is a way in which the “missionaries are jumping on the bandwagon.” The report says, “because of the colour it will be instinctively received as an integral part of the anti-disengagement campaign.”  The article also says that “missionaries have been spotted” handing out New Testaments at hitchhiking stations for soldiers. Yad L’Achim are reported to be doing “all they can to warn the public not to agree to take the New Testaments.”  A Yad L’Achim worker has also approached army bases and brought “the matter to the attention of the army” so that soldiers would “not be tempted to let one get into their hands,” because “it’s message is only lies” and “the goal of the ones handing out the books is to convert people.”


A very short article in Yated Ne’eman (July 29, 2005) reports that “a Christian organisation” is putting letters in mail boxes in Bnei Brak, Tel Aviv. The letters are described as “material which pretends to promote the peace process” yet is “immersed in Christian preaching.” The residents are requested to “destroy the letters” and “not let them get inside the house.”


Yediot Haifa (July 15, 2005) reports about the premises of a former electrical shop in “Nevi’im Towers” which is now “operating as a church.” Yaffa Peretz from the Mafdal party has reportedly approached the property licence committee in Haifa and asked them “to look into the issue.” She has told the municipality in Haifa “the use of the building for such purposes requires permission and a licence from the local authorities,” and “emphasises” that her own “religious convictions are not the reason for taking action.”  The report says “Philippine and other foreign workers go to the place twice a week to pray.” There is a photo of the shop with a sign in English hanging in the window saying “JIL Church.”


In an article about money and the desecration of the Sabbath (HaTzofeh July 22, 2005) the author recalls that in the Nokia Stadium, Tel Aviv, a “Christian missionary event” took place on a Saturday night despite “huge protests” from the religious community about the desecration of the Sabbath by Israeli companies. The meeting took place “because of love of money in preference over the Sabbath” and the Sabbath “was desecrated because of all the preparations that needed to be carried out during the day.” He calls upon the religious community to “break off any relationship with such companies, and those who supply services to Christians and missionaries.”


Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Jesus

(Zman Haifa July 22, 2005; Zman Modi’in July 15, 2005)


Israeli artist Efrat Daniel, “decided to deal with the myth that the Mother of the Crucified One from Nazareth was a virgin” reports Zman Haifa (July 22, 2005). The short article reviews her work that appears on posters, fliers, billboards and three advertisements in Israeli papers. There are two pictures of Daniel’s work in which Mary is depicted with various sexual partners dressed in “sadomasochist” clothes. The title of one of these works is “The Holy Trinity.” She says that her work is “inspired” by her relationship with a “close Christian boyfriend.” She states “in some countries they would crucify me for what I’ve done.” She also says that she has “no intent to hurt anyone, everything is for fun” and “my boyfriend admires me although he doesn’t really want to see my work.’


A review of a new stand-up comedy act appears in Zman Modi’in (July 15, 2005). Described as a “new show about Judaism and humour” Jackie Levi reportedly incorporates a “more Jewish idea” of God that includes the notion that “God has a sense of humour.” He also says that the “religious Jewish people awaiting Messiah have no patience, they want Him to come back immediately.”  Levi says his approach is one where “I believe in the return of Messiah, but if he doesn’t come back then it’s not that bad.” The article analyses his attitude concerning the return of Messiah and determines it to be one that is “prevalent in Israeli society.”


Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Christians

(HaAretz English & Hebrew Editions July 22, 2005; Jerusalem Post July 26, 2005)

Both editions of HaAretz (July 22, 2005) report that new evidence has been found that “confirms that the son of the founder of the Chabad movement converted to Catholicism.”  A letter written in 1820 by Moshe Zalmanovitch says, “I have remained steadfast in my desire to take upon myself the true faith of Jesus Christ, to which the holy books and the prophets testify.” The article says that opinions differ as to Moshe’s mental state at the time and that Tel Aviv historian David Assaf believes “it was Moshe’s mental state that led him to convert.” HaAretz reports that Chabad historian Yosef Kaminetzky, considers the documents “to be a fake.”


The Jerusalem Post (July 26, 2005) reports that ITAC (Israel Trust of the Anglican Church) have issued their own statement following the “sharply-worded condemnation of Israel” released by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN). ITAC director Tony Higton is said to have “gone out of his way” in saying that “not all Anglicans oppose Israel.” Various parts of the ITAC statement are quoted. Tony Higton is also noted to have “lived with his wife in Jerusalem since 2002.” The article quotes Tony Higton as saying “much of the church is predisposed, on the basis of inadequate information, to accept anti-Israel statements.” The article also says, “His church ‘s defence of Israel was not related to converting Jews” but was rather a “response to a move by the larger Anglican community that is undermining our relationship with the local community.”

Early Christianity

(Ma’ariv July 26, 2005; HaAretz July 20, 2005; Jerusalem Post July 21, 2005; Kol HaDarom Aug. 8, 2005)


Four articles (Ma’ariv July 26, 2005; HaAretz July 20, 2005; Jerusalem Post July 21, 2005; Kol HaDarom July 26, 2005) cover the story of new archaeological evidence that suggests, “Jewish customs may have influenced Christian burials.” In Rome, a Jewish catacomb has been found which predates its Christian counterparts by “at least one hundred years.” The discovery is noted to be “important” and “illustrates links between early Christian culture and Judaism.” Leonard Rutgers, a Dutch professor who led the team is quoted as saying, “the extent to which Christianity has Jewish roots is a very widespread debate and his research adds a new element to the discussion.”


Jewish-Christian Relations

(Jerusalem Post July, 31, 2005; Makor Rishon July 29, 2005; Yediot Aharonot July 26, 29, 2005; HaAretz July 29, 2005; HaTzofeh July 31, 2005)


In a letter to the editor in the religious weekly Makor Rishon (July 29, 2005) the author, Miriam Weisman, claims that in the past the “Vatican has expressed regret in holding the Jews responsible for the ‘murder of Yeshu,’” yet she believes they have not “conceded in anyway theology contained in the catechism,” which has been “used as a premise for anti-Semitism.” Part of Steven’s speech to the Sanhedrin from Acts 7:52 is quoted. The author concludes, “We cannot let Christian theologians decide our fate.”


Four papers cover the exchange of words that took place over a few days between the Vatican and Israel concerning the “verbal war on terror” (Jerusalem Post July 26, 31, 2005; Yediot Aharonot July 26, 29, 2005; HaAretz July 29, 2005; HaTzofeh July 31, 2005). The dispute was noted by some to have “the potential to do lasting damage to relations,” yet Seymour Reich, chairman of the New York International Jewish Committee for Religious Consultations, states that he believes it would not “harm affairs.” In the Jerusalem Post (July 31, 2005) the second Vatican Council is recalled and the reader is reminded that it was in this document that “the Vatican rejected anti-Semitism and that the idea that Jews were collectively responsible for the death of Christ.”


Different Matters of Jewish or Christian interest

(Yediot Haifa July 22, 2005)


Yediot Haifa (July 22, 2005) reports that a business man who considered moving his shop to the “Kastra” shopping precinct in Haifa, “consulted with Rabbis, mystics, Christian priests, Imams and other religious leaders” and “reached the conclusion” that a “slump in sales is due to negative energy created by the serpent statue on top of the “Kastra” building.” David Yedid met with “many religious leaders” in order to “arrive at a second opinion.” Among them, he turned to “Father Jack” a “Christian priest from Haifa.” The article says that Father Jack showed him pictures of Mary crushing the head of the serpent, from which he “understood that Mary triumphed over the serpent,” unlike Eve who “was tempted by the serpent and gave in.” In light of his discoveries David Yedid says that he has decided not to proceed and open his shop in the precinct.