December 17 – 2005

Caspari Center Media Review… December 2005 #3

During the period of time covered by this review, we received 102 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:


   9 dealt with Jewish-Christian Relations

   11 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes

   9 dealt with Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Christians

   6 dealt with Book/Film reviews

   3 dealt with Messianic Jews

   7 dealt with Tourism

   1 dealt with Christian Support of Israel

   5 Christians and the Holocaust


The remaining 51 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.


Messianic Jews

Yom L’Yom Dec. 1, 2005; Sha’a Tova Nov. 25, 2005; HaModia Dec. 9, 2005


The religious publications Yom L’Yom, (Dec.1) and Sha’a Tova (Nov. 25) both devote full-page coverage to an anonymous couple that was “rescued from the mission and then remarried according to the traditions of Moses and Israel.” The papers describe the ceremony as surrealistic because “veterans of the Messianic Jewish (movement) and Yad L’Achim were under one roof, not in confrontation but rather for a wedding.” The papers relate the story of a Jewish immigrant from Odessa who studied in a Yeshiva in Jerusalem. When he returned for a visit to his hometown he “discovered that his parents were prominent missionaries in the Messianic Jews sect.” According to the papers “the lengthy visit in that environment caused the man to desert his Jewish identity and he soon became an active member in the cult, later even marrying a (non-Jewish) Christian missionary.” The papers say that “not long after they immigrated to Israel the (spiritual) fight for their lives began.” The articles conclude that the couple “were subsequently married after she had willingly undergone conversion to Judaism” and now they are “engaged in hosting another couple of Messianic Jews at their house in an attempt to win them back to Judaism.”


HaModia (Dec. 9) claims “an article in ‘Mahapacha’ (Revolution), a magazine published by Messianic Jews, provides the background for a new phenomenon that Yad L’Achim is encountering.” According to the article, Mahapacha “calls upon its members who are in the army to exploit their army service, engage in soul hunting and convert Jews.” Yad L’Achim says, “Most of the missionaries are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, immigrants who have nebulous Jewish identity and who are active as Messianic Jews.” The article says “Yad L’Achim has had many complaints from soldiers” and as a result their chairman, Dov Lipshitz, has “written to the Army Chief of Staff to bring the matter to his attention.”


 Anti-Missionary Attitudes

HaAretz Dec. 1, 2005; HaModia Dec. 2, 11, 2005; Ma’ariv Dec. 6, 2005; Zman HaNegev Dec.9, 2005


Two articles in the religious daily HaModia (Dec. 2, 11) claim that Arad police are “taking sides with the ‘mission’ and threatening Jews who protest against them.” The articles claim “missionaries are active in the town and breaking the law” because “they are distributing missionary material, bribing people into conversion and also trying to convert minors.” The articles claim that the “missionaries prey on the weak and give them presents, under the guise of social help and mercy but they are really exploiting people with the intent to try and convert them.” The articles list “missionary activity” that has “taken place” including “trying to enlist help from abroad and asking people to send black dolls for children so they can also do their missionary work among the Ethiopian community.” A case is cited of a “Jewish woman, a mother of ten, who stood outside the mission’s distribution centre and warned people about the mission.” HaModia reports that a policeman “told her to move even though he had no right to do so.” The paper says, “because the missionaries are known to hit Jewish protestors, the Jewish woman had a video camera, but the camera was confiscated by the police and she was arrested.”


HaModia (Dec. 2) also runs a story with the headline “in a dramatic operation an Israeli woman is rescued from a missionary cult in Switzerland.” The full-page article tells of “an operation involving Yad L’Achim, the Swiss police, the head of the Zurich regional council and the Swiss branch of Yad’ L’Achim.” According to the article the young woman “was emotionally troubled and had been involved with the ‘Brit Yona’ cult in Nazareth, who have a branch in Switzerland.” The mother of the young woman who “under the direction of Yad L’Achim, called the Nazareth cult to obtain details of the whereabouts of her daughter in Switzerland.” The paper says that “following a conversation between mother and daughter it was clear that the daughter was longing to come home but was unable to do so because she was stuck in a foreign place, with no freedom to leave, working from morning until night.” The article describes “a delicate telephone operation between the authorities and Yad’ L’Achim which resulted in the return of the daughter to her home.” Upon her arrival in Israel HaModia says, “The young woman was greeted with a very warm and moving reception.”


Ma’ariv (Dec. 6) reports about the Israeli confectionary company Strauss-Elite who alongside the traditional Hanukkah candy, produced chocolate shaped Santa Claus boots and Santa sacks for the Christmas season. Ma’ariv says that as a result the ultra-Orthodox community were “weighing the possibility to demand that Strauss-Elite’s kosher certificate be disqualified.” A member of the Shas party is quoted “never has a confectionary company ever left such a bitter taste on the lips of the children of Israel.”


Zman HaNegev (Dec. 9) reports about a man who, when summoned to court, refused to attend because the “Christian date” instead of the Hebrew date was printed on the summons. Zman HaNegev says “the man claimed it was illegal because government institutions must carry the Hebrew date.” He “requested that the summons be sent with the Hebrew date” and appealed to the authorities, saying, “if you must put the ‘Christian’ date then at least put it after the Hebrew date.”


In an opinion piece in HaAretz (Dec. 1) the author, Lily Galily, suggests, “because Russian immigrants who have only a Jewish father are rejected as Jews by Halacha (Jewish religious law), then it is no surprise that they have opened churches in their homes in Ariel and Ashkelon.”


Israeli/Jewish Attitudes towards Christians

Yediot Ahronot Dec. 5, 8, 2005


The largest tabloid Yediot Ahronot (Dec. 5) covers the story of an Internet site in Russian that “offered the forgiveness of sins by clicking on the mouse button.” Yediot Ahronot reports that this “upset the Russian Orthodox Church” who later responded on the Internet by publishing an announcement that the “forgiveness of sins is only possible after conversing with an ordained priest.” Yediot Ahronot says “later it became apparent that it was junk mail.”


Yediot Ahronot (Dec. 8) also reports about the protestant German Katzwanger Church who published a “biblical” calendar using nude models. One picture includes “Eve” standing naked at the entrance to a church. A spokesman for the protestant group is quoted, “We wanted to bring old religious paintings to today’s people by translating them in a contemporary context.” A spokesman for the Catholic Church is also quoted, saying; “It is unacceptable that models would model naked in church. There is an appropriate way to approach the Scriptures and that way is not by removing your pants.”


The same edition of Yediot Ahronot (Dec. 8) also reports “the Pope changed his schedule to fit in with the World Cup soccer tournament. The paper notes “unlike his predecessor he is not a great football fan but he did it out of respect for the players and the fans.” The paper says that the Archbishop of Krakow “confirmed the fact that the Pope would now be in Poland in May and not in June in order to show respect to football fans.”


Christians and the Holocaust

HaAretz Dec. 1, 8, 2005; Ma’ariv Dec. 8, 11, 2005; HaModia Dec. 2005


Two papers, HaAretz (Dec. 8) and Ma’ariv (Dec. 8) write about Mel Gibson’s intentions to “film a mini-series based on the memoirs of a Holocaust survivor.” 80-year old Flore Van Bick is quoted “I don’t know Gibson and never saw the Passion of Christ because it was too traumatic.” She also says “I know he is a devout Catholic and the people who hid me in the war were Catholics too.” The director of the Institute for Holocaust Research in Pennsylvania responds, “Following the episode of Holocaust denial by his father, Gibson must first make a public statement that he condemns denial of the Holocaust, otherwise this series could be very worrying.”


The Holocaust also finds coverage in HaAretz English and Hebrew editions (Dec. 1) and HaModia (Dec. 2). At his weekly address in St Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI “spoke his strongest comments on the Holocaust since his election.” All three papers note that the Pope coined the Holocaust as “a project of death that will remain as an indelible stain on human history.”  He also is quoted as saying that “God, as the ultimate arbiter of human history, knows how to listen to the cries of the victims, even if they are sometimes bitter towards him.”


Ma’ariv (Dec. 11) reports about ten Holocaust survivors who appealed to Yad V’Shem to honour the late Archbishop of Ukraine, Andrei Sheptytsky as a Righteous Gentile. Ma’ariv reports, “Until now Yad V’Shem has not honoured Archbishop Andrei Sheptytsky because at the time the Orthodox Church supported Hitler.”  Ma’ariv notes “this is despite the fact that it is now known that he supported Hitler simply for nationalistic aspirations, hoping to achieve independence for the Ukraine.”



Jewish-Christian Relations

HaAretz Dec. 4, 2005; Jerusalem Post Dec. 4, 2005

Both the Jerusalem Post (Dec. 4) and the English edition of HaAretz (Dec. 4), report on the “fury of Jewish leaders” concerning the visit of US. Presbyterian leaders visit with Hezbollah. Regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, Lonnie Nasatir, says, “it is unconscionable that Presbyterian leaders would meet Hezbollah which our government (USA) designates as a foreign terrorist organisation.” Both papers recall that “in July the Presbyterian church voted to study the possibility of withdrawing its investment in companies that do business with Israel.”


Christian Tourism

Globes Dec. 6, 2005; Ma’ariv Dec. 5, 6, 7, 2005


The business daily Globes (Dec. 6) and the daily tabloid Ma’ariv (Dec. 5) report that the “EU wishes to discuss the liberalisation of the Israeli airline industry.” Minister of Tourism Abraham Hirchson is quoted as being “optimistic that an open skies policy will expand (Christian) tourism.” The building of an evangelical centre in the north is also cited as being  “crucial for the expansion of tourism.” Ma’ariv says, “With the establishment of the centre Christian tourism could possibly increase to 750,000 evangelical Christian visitors per year.”


In order to ease a crowded Ben Gurion airport, Ma’ariv reports, “the Israeli government is considering opening Megiddo airport to civilian charter flights to accommodate increasing Christian tourism” (Dec. 7).


According to a short article in Ma’ariv (Dec. 6) “a holiday village in the style of Thailand is likely to be built on the grounds of the Latrun monastery.” Latrun is noted to be “an autonomous church and therefore able to execute real estate deals.”


Book/Film Reviews

HaTzofeh Dec. 9; HaAretz Dec. 7


The Hebrew translation of Edward Larson’s book, “Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion” is reviewed in HaAretz (Dec. 7). Larson’s thesis according to HaAretz was to “make it clear that truth and the purity of science had very little to do with John Scopes who broke a law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in the schools in the1920’s.” HaAretz says, “Scopes knew very little about evolution so the conflict that the book caused was not a conflict between science and religion but rather a conflict between different denominations in Christianity, namely the modernists and the fundamentalists.”


Different Matters of Jewish or Christian Interest.

Ma’ariv Dec. 4, 2005; Jerusalem Post Dec. 4, 2005; HaModia Dec. 4; HaAretz Dec. 4, 2005


Four papers reported on the conversation that took place between Mahmoud Abbas, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, and Pope Benedict XVI. All four articles note “Abbas invited the Pope to the Holy Land” (Ma’ariv, Jerusalem Post, HaModia, HaAretz, Dec. 4). The Jerusalem Post notes “The Vatican under John Paul II consistently championed rights for the Palestinian people while at the same time greatly improving relations with Israel.”