September 3 – 2005

Caspari Center Media Review… September 2005 #1

During the period of time covered by this review, we received 62 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:


  15 dealt with Jewish-Christian Relations

   6 dealt with Messianic Jews

   8 dealt with Christian Support of Israel

   4 dealt with Anti-Missionary attitudes

   6 dealt with Tourism

   4 dealt with Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Christians

   1 dealt with Attitudes about Jesus


The remaining 18 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.


Messianic Jews

(Iton HaTzvi Arad Aug. 4, 11, 2005; Kol Bi Be’er Sheva Aug.11, 2005; HaModia Aug. 11, 2005; Sha’a Tova Parashat Dvarim 2005)


Iton HaTzvi Arad (Aug. 4, 2005) reports about the arson attack on the “Anshay HaMelech” chess club, belonging to the Messianic Jewish congregation in Arad. The paper says that the chess club was “very badly damaged” and that the “Tanachs” (Old Testaments) and “other Holy Scriptures” all went up in flames. The Messianic Jewish “leadership,” is quoted anonymously in detail in the article, the paper noting “they do not wish to not disclose their names,” because “they are fearful that their homes may also be burned down.” The report says that the “head of the Messianic Jewish congregation” claimed “the writing had been on the wall” and that it’s “only a miracle that no one was inside otherwise he would have been murdered.” The congregational leadership, also are reported to have said that they have “no doubt who did these things.” It is noted that the “threats of the religious Orthodox (Haredi) community” have become “more tangible daily.” The congregational leadership is also quoted as saying that “prior to the attack we had filed complaints with the police and made the media aware that one day it will lead to a disaster.” Arad police are reported to “now have opened an inquiry” although as yet there have been “no arrests.” There is a final paragraph in the article in which the “congregation” has approached the paper’s editorial board to make it’s grievances known. The congregation is reported as saying “there is a real threat on our lives” and also “we call upon the police to do all that they can so that our blood will not be spilled for nothing.” It goes on to say, “we get on with our business quietly and do not harass someone to believe (as we do).” The article ends by quoting the “congregation “ as saying that “we will not get desperate or give up” and “let no one delude himself into thinking that we will leave town,” because “this act (of arson) only strengthens our faith in Yeshua the Messiah who will bring justice to the light.”


Both Iton HaTzvi Arad (Aug. 11, 2005) and Kol Bi Be’er Sheva (11 Aug. 2005) report of a resident in Arad who “opposed activities of the Messianic Jews” and “took photos of the group in order to distribute them over town.” Kol Bi Be’er Sheva titles the article “Invasion of Privacy,” after the type of complaint that was filed at Arad police station. The man claims that his actions came under “his legal right to protest.” The Arad police are reported as saying that “protest is legitimate but needs to be executed in public places.” Iton HaTzvi Arad carries a lengthier article and says that the “wave of harassment and demonstrations” has returned. It also says, “the ‘people of the law’ are not in any hurry to disperse the protesters.”  Shmaya Tennenbaum, a “protestor” and member of the town council, says, “we are not against these people living in Arad, it is open to all people.” He also says “we are going to Holy War because, in our understanding, these people are not Jews but Christians…who want to convert Jews.” Mr. Tennenbaum also says, “we do not engage in violent protest” and “we work under the authority and in accordance with the law, every protest we conduct is with the coordination and permission of the police.” The article says that that the Messianic congregation in Arad is “furious” at the words of Shmaya Tennenbaum and has coined them “dangerous hypocrisy.” There is a long paragraph from the Messianic community where it appeals to the readership saying that their members are “not missionaries.” The question is asked, “Should a witch hunt like this ever be conducted because of a difference in faith?” Iton HaTzvi Arad allows the police to respond to criticism that “they handle with silk gloves.”  The police are quoted “every complaint filed at the police is dealt with in a professional manner; the citizen is not always aware that the case is being dealt with, but we promise it is handled with the utmost gravity.”


Sha’a Tova (parashat Dvarim 2005) and HaModia (Aug. 11, 2005) both report that “huge missionary activity” is being “carried out on Shabbat” at Kibbutz Carmia, next to Ashkelon. Yad L’Achim have “uncovered evidence” that the main hall of the kibbutz is being rented out to “Messianic Jews every Shabbat.” The report says that Rabbi Binyamin Kluger from Yad L’Achim approached the Kibbutz Secretary, Uri Sela, for “more details.” Although Rabbi Kluger “expected denial or avoidance” he was “greatly surprised” that the kibbutz secretary “did not deny anything, and wasn’t perturbed at all,” that the place was being rented out to Messianic Jews.” Uri Sela is reported as saying, “So what if they are missionaries? I don’t care, they rent the place from us and that is the end of the matter.” The article says that Uri Sela told Yad L’Achim that “they meet here once a week and read from the Holy Scriptures,” (a comment from the editorial is added, ’they read from their texts, the New Testament). The report says that Yad’ L’Achim is amazed at the “indifference displayed by Sela despite the intentions of these missionaries which is to bring about extinction of the Jewish people.” Rabbi Dov Lipshitz, the General Secretary of Yad L’Achim is reported as saying “the time has come to halt ‘the mission’ through legal channels.”


Anti Missionary Attitudes

(HaModia Aug. 10, 2005)


According to a very short article in HaModia (10 Aug. 2005) “hundreds of Tel Aviv residents demonstrated on Shabbat against the mission.” The article says “many people left synagogues in the area of Ramat HaHayal and protested against “a missionary group from Jaffa” who “organise for groups from Ramat HaHayal and Neve Sharet to come to their prayer centres.” The article concludes by saying that the protesters “demonstrated quietly” and “called upon Jews not to fall into the net” which “leads them to darkness without end.”


Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Christians

(The Jerusalem Report Aug. 18, 2005; HaAretz English & Hebrew Edition Aug 12, 2005)


The Jerusalem Post (Aug. 18, 2005) runs an article about the filming of “The Da Vinci Code” which is “dividing British churches.” The Post quotes Sister Mary Michael who says, “To any believer, what is happening, is blasphemy.” It also reports on the head of Lincoln’s Anglican Cathedral, the Very Rev. Alec Knight who “conceded that the film was heretical” yet The Post notes; “the cathedral accepted $180,000 in a pay off to allow filming.” It says that the book has “offended many Christians” because of its “central claim” that “Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had descendants.” The article reports, “Other Anglican institutions have been welcoming.”


Both the Hebrew and English editions of HaAretz (Aug. 12, 2005) run a feature about Michael Sabah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who “set off to comfort the families of the four people killed in Shfaram.” HaAretz says “some of his statements abroad sound like incitement.” Michael Sabah is questioned on various political issues and concludes that the “Christian (Arab) population” in the land “is part of the mysteries of God in the Holy Land.” He says, “The Church in Jesus’ time numbered no more than one hundred” and that “Christians (Arabs) should remain in the land to be as witnesses to Jesus’ life.”  The article notes that the “Christian population has increased due to immigration from the former Soviet Union” and that Jean-Baptiste Gurion was appointed as an aide to Sabah to deal with an “ever growing non-Arab Christian population.” Michael Sabah says that the appointment of the late Jean Baptiste, “a converted Jew” was “not divisive,” but rather was because “there are some ‘non-Palestinian Christians’ who tend to lean towards Israel.”



Christian Support of Israel

(Jerusalem Post Aug. 11, 14, 18, 2005)


Two letters to the editor appear in the Jerusalem Post (Aug. 14, 2005) expressing opposition concerning the disengagement from Gaza. One author describes himself as a “born–again Christian” who has a “great love for the Jewish people and Israel.” He reminds the readers, “the land was given to the Jewish people by God Himself.” Another writer says that “the next time enemies threaten to drive you into the sea” then “remind them of a gentleman named Moses, and tell them you’ve been to the sea before and lived to tell about it.”


Ron Cantrell of “Shalom, Shalom Jerusalem Ministries,” has a letter to the editor published in response to the American Protestants call to “destroy the wall” (Jerusalem Post Aug. 11, 2005). Mr. Cantrell states, “as a staunch Evangelical Christian Zionist I stand ashamed of the resolution put forth by this particular Christian body.” He also says that the conclusions of the resolution “borders on libel against the nation of Israel.”


In an article about the Gaza disengagement and criticism of the Sharon government, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach notes “America’s Evangelical Christians are Israel’s staunchest allies” (Jerusalem Post Aug. 18, 2005). Rabbi Shmuley describes them as people who “have tied America’s future with their own” and who “believe that the foremost foreign policy of the world’s foremost superpower should be to protect a small and vulnerable nation halfway across the world.” He asks rhetorically, “Can anyone ask for more stalwart allies than these?”



Jewish-Christian Relations

(Jerusalem Post Aug. 12, 14, 15, 2005; HaAretz Aug. 12, 15, 18, 2005; HaTzofeh Aug. 18, 2005; Yated Ne’eman July 29, 2005, Aug. 12, 2005)


The Jerusalem Post (Aug. 12, 14, 15, 2005) follows the development of “growing tensions” between Protestants and Jews over “Israeli policy towards the Palestinians.” Reformed Rabbi Eric Yoffie addressed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) asking them “not to minimise the impact of terror.” Although Rabbi Yoffie was noted as the “first Jew ever to address the ELCA” and “many delegates stood and applauded,” the article says (Aug. 15, 2005) that “the Lutherans avoided calling overtly for divestment” by approving a resolution called ‘advocate for peace with justice.’” The paper says that Jewish organisation officials note this to be “a camouflaged call to divest.”


Three papers report on the Pope saying prayers in a synagogue in Cologne and the appearance of Cantor Chaim Adler singing before Pope Benedict XVI (HaAretz Aug.12, 18, 2005; Yated Ne’eman July 29, 2005; HaTzofeh Aug. 18, 2005). HaAretz praises the Pope and says, “it took only four months in office before he embarked on such a decision.” Cantor Adler explains his programme and that he will be singing from the book of Genesis “because there were not any religions then, and man was made in the image of God.” Adler says that because he is requested to perform in a cantor’s headdress and robes “I really will look like the Pope.” He also says “the main thing is that the Pope will hear a few prayers, who knows…maybe he will come again.”