October 21 – 2005

Caspari Center Media Review… October 2005 # 4


During the period of time covered by this review, we received 34 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:


   9 dealt with Jewish-Christian Relations

   1 dealt with Messianic Jews

   1 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes

   1 dealt with Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Jesus

   7 dealt with Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Christians

   4 dealt with Christian Support of Israel

   1 dealt was a Book Review


The remaining 10 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.


Messianic Jews

HaModia Oct. 10, 2005


HaModia reports about the preparation of a “convention” organised by Yad L’Achim for the High Holy Days. The purpose of the convention is described as being for “prayer, crying out (to God) and awakening.” According to the report it was decided to hold the convention in Bat Yam because of the “extensive missionary activity that has increased in the town over the last year” and which “reached a new record when missionaries held a concert in the Bat Yam cultural centre.” It is noted that the man who organised the concert is “the notorious Michael Zin” who is “someone very well known to Yad L’Achim.” The article says, “Among other things Zin baptises innocent Jews in the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River, including many immigrants and other struggling Israelis.” The chairman of Yad L’Achim, Dov Lipshitz says “we cannot pretend to carry on as normal when ‘the mission’ blatantly and with much nerve, organises events such as these in the very heart of Israeli cities such as Bat Yam.”



Christian Support of Israel

Yediot Ahronot Sep. 10, 2005; HaAretz English & Hebrew editions Oct 10, 2005


Both Yediot Ahronot and HaAretz English and Hebrew editions report on the expected arrival of 5,000 Christians to Jerusalem in a “traditional show of support for Israel during the Feast of Tabernacles” (Yediot Ahronot, HaAretz Oct. 10). HaAretz notes, “5,000 Christians converging on Jerusalem, will give a welcome boost to tourism.” The report says that the “gathering is sponsored by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ).” Malcolm Hedding is quoted “since the ICEJ was founded 25 years ago, part of the work is to revive the Biblical tradition of ‘going up to Jerusalem’ (for Succoth).” All three papers note that the Christian pilgrims taking part in the feast are “expected to spend some $15m during the celebrations.”


In a letter to the editor appearing in the Jerusalem Post (Oct. 12) the author encourages the Israeli readership that “Jesus will save you if you would accept Him as the Messiah.” He also says that he is “a Christian of Arab-American Lebanese descent” who is “pro-Israel and supports Israel’s right to exist.”


Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Jesus

Yediot Ahronot Oct. 10, 2005


In an article about places to go in the north of Israel, the author recommends various sites around the Sea of Galilee, “for example, a tour in the footsteps of Christian pilgrims who visit the areas where ‘Yeshu’ did His miracles.” The baptismal place “Yardenit” is cited as “where they go down to the river in white robes and are baptised in the holy water” because “this is where the Lord bathed.” Kibbutz Ginnosar, which exhibits the Jesus Boat, is mentioned as the place where “Yeshu spent most of His time 2000 years ago.” The Church of the Bread and Tabgha are described as “two places that according to the Christian faith Yeshu fed 5000 hungry believers with five loaves and two fishes.”


Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Christians

Ma’ariv Oct. 6, 2005; Jerusalem Post Oct. 2, 2005; HaAretz Oct. 2, 2005; Yediot Ahronot Oct. 12, 2005


Two papers report on the late German bishop, Clemens August von Galen `”taking a step to sainthood” (Jerusalem Post, HaAretz Oct. 2). The bishop is described as “courageous” and “one who spoke out against the Nazi regime.” It is also noted that during the Second World War, Von Galen “helped a Protestant pastor to hide a Jewish boy.”


A feature in Yediot Ahronot (Oct. 12) covers the story of Dr. Derek Overfield, a Welsh Baptist pastor who recently discovered that he is Jewish. Dr. Derek Overfield, the “illegitimate son of Esther Cohen” is described as “a priest but a Jew” and someone who “gorges over Gefilte fish yet believes in Yeshu.” In a lengthy interview Dr. Overfield says that “when the news got out that I was Jewish, no one in the church caused any problems.” He also says that before he discovered he was Jewish he “felt a real urge to learn Hebrew” and describes himself as always having been “attracted to the Torah.” Dr. Overfield says he has no problems celebrating the Jewish festivals and says, “As a Christian I believe in ‘Yeshu’ but am happy that I have a brother who goes to synagogue.” When asked if he ever contemplates where he would be today if his Jewish mother had not given him up for adoption, he answers, “I would have probably been a rabbi.”


Ma’ariv (Oct. 6) runs an article on the attitudes of the leadership of the Catholic Church in Britain concerning the credibility of the Scriptures. In a document prepared by British Catholic bishops that is to be submitted to the Vatican, the bishops “request to bring to the attention of 5 million (British) Catholics that it is impossible to expect absolute accuracy concerning some facts in the Bible,” and “although the Scriptures are the words of God they have nevertheless been written down by man.” The literal interpretation of the creation account is one of the issues that the British bishops would like to be reviewed because of the “contradictory versions appearing in the early chapters of Genesis.” The author says that the bishops also refer to Matthew 27:25. The verse is quoted “His blood shall be on us and our children.” The report says that the bishops will cite this verse in order to show “dramatic exaggeration” of texts that lead to tragic consequences.”  Concerning the book of Revelation, the bishops say that “one cannot relate to symbolic language in a literal way, we cannot expect to know from this book details about the end times, who will be saved and when the end will come.”


Jewish Christian relations

Yediot Ahronot Oct. 2, 2005; HaAretz Oct. 2, 9, 14, 2005


Both the Hebrew and English editions of HaAretz report on the invitation of President Katsav for a state visit with the pope (Oct. 2). It is cited as being “a historical visit” because “it will be the first time the Vatican hosts an Israeli president.” HaAretz says that President Katsav and Pope Benedict XVI will discuss ways of “expanding cooperation on state affairs between the Vatican and Israel and deepening the dialogue between Judaism and Catholicism.”


HaAretz reports “plans are underway to develop an evangelical Christian centre (in the north of Israel) a mini-Israel of sorts and a biblical theme park” (Oct. 2). The article says, “Initially Israel will lease 500 dunams” because the “idea is to provide Christian believers with a sense that ‘Jesus lived there.’” The article also says, “Some do not feel that the Lake Kinneret area should be designated for evangelicals alone.” A Biblical theme park has also been suggested because it “would not deter Jews.” According to Uri Dagul, the head of Israel Youth Hostel Association, the centre “is for all Christians but evangelicals will run the project.” He says “evangelicals are interested in Israel unlike the Catholics, because evangelicals perceived Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War as divine intervention and subsequently there was a steady flow of evangelical pilgrims to Israel.” According to the report the chairman of Yad L’Achim, Dov Lipshitz, has met with tourism minister Avraham Hirchson “arguing that his bitter experience with evangelicals leaves no doubt regarding their missionary activity.” The Ministry of Tourism is quoted in response; “Israeli children will not sit down there to learn about Jesus.”


According to Yediot Ahronot (Oct. 2) the Jewish community is “furious that a ‘converted’ Jew will host the ceremony marking 40 years since The Second Vatican Council in which the collective responsibility of the death of ‘Yeshu’ was removed.” The article says that Jewish leaders in Italy regard the choice of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustige as a “slap in the face.” It is reported that many rabbis have decided to boycott the ceremony although Rabbi David Rosen from the Anti-Defamation League has announced that he will participate. The author of the article comments “it is reasonable to assume that other rabbis will also ‘accept the slap in the face’ and attend the ceremony.”


A column in HaAretz (Oct. 14) says, “Some Protestant churches are backing away from divestment in Israel.” The article comments that the Israeli disengagement from Gaza “may have helped cool what looked like a growing trend” and that “both the US Presbyterian and Episcopal Church rejected divestment in favour of corporate engagement.” Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre says, “Investment in positive things will benefit Jews and Palestinians in general.”