December 24 – 2005

Caspari Center Media Review… December 2005 #4

During the period of time covered by this review, we received 98 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:


   8 dealt with Jewish-Christian Relations 

   5 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes

   10 dealt with Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Christians

   7 dealt with Book/Film reviews

   1 dealt with Messianic Jews

   8 dealt with Tourism

   1 dealt with Christian Support of Israel

   7 dealt with Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Jesus

   3 dealt with Archaeology


The remaining 48 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.


Messianic Jews

HaModia Dec. 16, 2005


HaModia (Dec. 16) contains an article responding to a report about the conflict in the city of Arad appearing in the Messianic Jewish magazine “Kivun.” The Kivun account of the conflict between the Orthodox Jewish Hasidic Gur sect and the Messianic Jews in Arad is described as “unsurprisingly subjective” and Kivun itself is described as a “missionary mouthpiece” (journal) written for a “missionary readership.”



Anti-Missionary Attitudes

BaKehila Dec. 1, 2005; Jerusalem Post Dec. 18, 2005; Globes Dec. 16, 2005


The Ministry of Education “transferred non-Jewish children from religious/state schools to state schools” says the religious journal BaKehila (Dec. 1) in response to “the publication of the fact that ‘Christian’ children were bringing non-kosher food into schools which caused complaints from (religious) parents.”  The article says, “The Ministry of Education tried to ‘explain’ that they were not ‘Christian’ children but simply ‘non-Jews.’”


Two papers devote full-page articles to the “growing sense of discomfort” in the Jewish community in the USA regarding the Christmas season and its accompanying celebrations. In an opinion piece in The Jerusalem Post (Dec. 18), the author Matthew Berger reports on “the sound of angry Christians railing against the marginalisation of Christmas” in the USA. Berger offers the opinion  “evangelical leaders believe that the religious significance of Christmas is being ignored” and notes that “although Jewish leaders fear that stressing Christmas’ religious significance could highlight Jews’ minority status” nevertheless he “does not believe that the evangelical leaders cast the Jewish community as scrooge.” Yoav Karni (Globes Dec. 16) writes, “It could be said of the Jewish community that most of the time they feel so at home that it is as if they belong to a small Protestant church” but “around the Christmas season there is cause for concern.”  Karni quotes Abraham Foxman, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League “we are facing a growing Christian Right who intend to convert all aspects of the USA from government offices right up until Sponge Bob” (children’s movie character). Karni also writes about the “Christian motifs” in the movie “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” based on the book by C.S Lewis. Karni says “although I read it as a child I never knew that Aslan symbolised ‘Yeshu’ the Christian and the children in the story symbolised ‘Yeshu’s’ disciples.” He concludes by saying “that while he is doubtful that Jewish children in America will undergo mass baptism following the success of the movie, nevertheless even the most inclusive and tolerant of Jews will whisper ‘it’s good that Christmas is over.’”


Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Christians

Ha’Ir – Tel Aviv Dec. 2, 2005; Ma’ariv Dec. 2, 16, 2005; Globes Dec. 16; Yediot Ahronot Dec. 16

HaTzofeh Dec. 18; HaAretz Dec. 14


In a small piece of trivia in the weekend Ha’Ir (Dec. 2), titled “Those who wrecked the week…” the Vatican is given “thumbs down” for forbidding homosexuals to enter the priesthood. The article says, “This is despite the fact that those deciding who is suitable, they themselves, prefer to wear Kelvin Klein underpants.” 


In a three-page feature on France’s “most popular Catholic priest” Ma’ariv (Dec. 2) notes that Father Pierre, “has shocked the French public by admitting that he broke the vow of celibacy.” Ma’ariv notes that in his recently published book “My God…Why?”  Father Pierre “thinks it plausible that ‘Yeshu’ the Christian could have been married to Mary Magdalene.” Author Or Heller says, “This is a concept which strongly negates the position of the Catholic Church and for this very reason book The Da Vinci Code was denounced.”


In an interview with Christian oil entrepreneur Shay Stevens, Globes (Dec. 16) “attempts to discover why anyone would dig for oil in Israel.” The article firstly focuses on Shay’s father, Ernest Stevens, who “heard a sermon saying God can deliver you from drink and gambling if you receive ‘Yeshu’ as Messiah.” Not long after this, according to Globes, he started digging for oil in Israel. Shay describes himself and his father as “Christian Zionists.” When asked about the “vast amounts of money poured into the project for very little revenue” Shay says “God told me there is oil here and I am very fulfilled to get up every morning and carry on doing what God has told me to do.” 


Both the largest tabloid Yediot Ahronot and Ma’ariv (Dec. 16) cover a story about a Christian man who donated a kidney to an Israeli Jewish woman. Yediot Ahronot says, “Martin Fila of Australia belongs to a Christian cult, whose members believe, among other things, in donating organs to help people.” Ma’ariv says, “Martin belongs to a Christian organization whose objective is to bring light and joy to the world.” Both papers report that after the success of the operation Martin says, “with this small action I have improved the world.”


In an opinion piece in the religious HaTzofeh (Dec. 18) author Ehud Kamatz criticizes the political left and coins them “bishops” because “like the bishops of Christianity, with their dubious rights and use of spiritual power they damage those who do not want to go along with their Christian example and do all that they can in order to maintain the status quo.” 


A business article in HaAretz (Dec. 14) reports on the rise in sales of Christian products and Christian interest in the USA. It is noted, “even Christian recipe books are now available in Wallmart and not just in Christian bookshops.” The article notes that there is “a rise in popularity of Christian themes in Hollywood and a rising popularity of Christian radio.” The author offers the opinion “the reason for a rise in Christian things is simple; it is a very lucrative market.”



Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Jesus

BaMahaneh Dec. 2, 2005; Ma’ariv Dec. 20, 2005; Eretz V’Teva Nov. 1, 2005; Hayim Aherim Dec.1, 2005; Time Out Dec. 24, 2005  


In a feature  article in BaMahaneh (Dec. 12) about places to see in the north of Israel, the author writes about Kursi, the location of the miracle of the expulsion of demons by Jesus into a herd of pigs. The author says that the place is “holy to Christians” and that “the legend is told in the New Testament, and deals with…surprise surprise…Yeshu.’” BaMahaneh says “people turned to the Father of Christianity and asked him to expel the demons… which he did just a little too successfully because the pigs all jumped into the sea.” It concludes by saying that “should your luck be in, then you may be able to hear an account of the story from a ‘guest pilgrim’ who works there, and remind him that ‘Yeshu’ is one of ours.”


An exposition on “loving your enemy as yourself” is the subject of an article in Hayim Aherim (Dec.1), a magazine that coins itself as “the alternative Israeli journal.” The article says that the concept of “loving your neighbour was a concept at the heart of early Judaic and Christian commentators.” The author says that “’Yeshua’s’ sermon in Matthew” is as an example.


Eretz V’Teva (Nov. 1) has a feature about Nazareth. When viewing the Old City from Saint Margaret, the author says, “from here one can see that the place where ‘Yeshu’ grew up is indeed tiny.” He also says “the church located in the heart of Nazareth’s market, is the synagogue where ‘Yeshu’ preached to the people of the town” and “so infuriated them that they tried to throw Him over a high mountain.”


In an interview with Meir Menachem Bernes from the religious Jewish sect Chabad, (Ma’ariv Dec. 20) Bernes is pictured holding a picture of the late Chabad leader Rabbi Shneerson with the title “This is god above and even more.” In order to refute claims that he is part of a cult, Bernes says, “The Rambam even claimed that ‘Yeshu’ the Christian came in order to pave the way for King David (the return of the Messiah).”


In a letter to the editor (Time Out Nov. 24) the author writes to express his “sorrow at the “insensitivity” of the front-cover of Time Out which had the title “Skazzi, the unstoppable sex machine.” The writer says that “next to this title was carelessly juxtaposed an image of the ‘Crucified One.’” He says, “Making the cover stand out does not justify ignoring the feelings of the Arab Christian population in Jaffa.” 



Jewish-Christian Relations

Tourist Guide Nov. 17, 2005; Yediot Ahronot Dec. 16, 2005


Tourist Guide (Nov. 17) reports on the visit of the Church of Scotland’s Rev. David Lacey’s to Israel. The paper says “according to the British hierarchy “the Heads of the Scottish and English Church are even higher than Tony Blair.” The article says “the Church of Scotland has much influence throughout the world and is an inclusive church.” Rev Lacey is quoted “many communities in the Middle East are suffering and the Church of Scotland is remembering them all in prayer.” 


“The Archbishop of Athens equated Israel with hell” says Yediot Ahronot (Dec. 16). In a speech in Greece, Archbishop Christodoulos encouraged church leaders to focus on religious affairs otherwise “we are headed for Israel, or hell in other words.” Yediot Ahronot says that in another Greek journal it was worded “we will yet arrive in Israel, or in other words, arrive in the hands of satan.” It also notes that “in less than a month Greece will have a day commemorating the Holocaust.”


Book/Film Reviews

Yediot Ahronot Dec. 15; Hayim Aherim Dec. 1, 2005;


The Hebrew translation of Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize winner, Gilead, (Keter Publishing) is reviewed in Yediot Ahronot (Dec. 15). It is critiqued and named as a novel that “succeeds in weaving its way through the Christian faith and deals with difficult characters whose religion runs in their blood.” It also says that “in the story ‘Yeshu’ was revealed to Rev. John Ames in a dream and it was this vision that inspired him to fight against slavery.”


“Towards a Locked Garden (“El Gan Na’ol” Hebrew, Nirit Shalev Klipa – Kinneret Publishing) is a “guide book about convents and monasteries in Israel” (Hayim Aherim Dec. 1). The author notes that while many Christian pilgrims follow in the footsteps of ‘Yeshua’ and visit the places holy to Christianity, most Israeli tourists never go near these places.” The reason for this, according to the article is “on one hand, Christendom’s absolute disqualification (of Yeshua) and on the other, the abolition of the character of Yeshua by traditional Judaism.” Hayim Aherim also says “after 2000 years the Jews still insist in trying to root out the image of ‘Yeshua’ from this land…the Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) in their hatred and resentment even give Him the nickname ‘Yeshu’ which is an abbreviation for ‘may His name and memory be blotted out.’” The author offers his opinion that “Yeshua is an integral part of this land, as is Christianity.” He says “among the Israeli public is much ignorance concerning the New Testament and most have never even read it… people do not know the foundations of the Christian faith and only know it as a religion that has persecuted Jews.”


Rabbi King and Messiah – The Scandal of Indifference and the Threat of the Faith of Israel” David Berger (HaRav Melech HaMashiach – Sh’aruriyat HaAdishut Ve-HaEyum Al Emonat Israel). The religious weekly Makor Rishon (Nov. 25) calls this book “a rare and almost extinct genre.” According to the review the author was inspired when he saw a picture on a billboard in the USA of the late Chabad Rabbi, Moses Shneerson with the words “Right idea, wrong man.”  The author is described as a “professor who specializes in Christian-Jewish polemics” and who has written a book “against the Christian missionaries.” The review says, “The clash against Christianity is a major theme of the book” and “author Berger finds a way to answer Christians.” The review says, “The notion of the Christian faith and their dead Messiah, in some ways parallels the Messiahship of the late Rabbi Shneerson. This in itself presents a very tangible danger to the Jewish faith.”



The Jerusalem Report Dec. 26, 2005; HaAretz Dec. 16, 2005


In two articles about the recent discovery of an ancient church in Megiddo jail, both HaAretz (Dec. 16) and The Jerusalem Report  (Dec. 26) offer the opinions of various archaeologists on the discovery of the church. Hebrew University archaeologist Yoram Tsafrir says “in those times Christianity ‘embraced everyone’, especially women.” He also says, “By the 2nd century there was a definite distinction between Jews and Christians, the most obvious was whether the men were circumcised.” Yoram Tepper from the Israel Antiquities Authority says, “It is very unlikely that those who built this Megiddo House of Worship were Judeo-Christians.”



Israeli security forces undergo “Workshop on Manners”

Ma’ariv Dec. 16, 2005


In preparation for an expected 80,000 Christian tourists to Bethlehem for the Christmas celebrations the Israeli security forces at the Bethlehem check point will “undergo a course in manners” (Ma’ariv Dec. 16). This was “decided by the Ministry of Tourism.”


Different Matters of Jewish or Christian Interest

Ma’ariv Dec. 15


According to Ma’ariv (Dec. 15) in a joint operation involving the Jewish National Fund and the Foreign Office it was “announced that Christmas trees would be given as presents to diplomats working in Israel.”