April 30 – 2006

During the period of time covered by this review, we received 152 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:


8 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes

13 dealt with Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Christians

16 dealt with Jewish-Christian Relations 

14 dealt with Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Jesus

3 were Book/Film/Exhibition reviews

4 dealt with Tourism

5 dealt with Christian Support of Israel

3 dealt with Messianic Jews

9 dealt with Christians and the Holocaust



The remaining 77 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.



Anti-Missionary Attitudes

HaModia Apr. 5, 2006; Mishpacha Mar. 23, 2006;


The religious journal HaModia reports “the Israeli Youth Hostel Association expelled missionaries who were trying to mingle among guests in hostels” (Apr. 5). The paper says, “following a tip-off from Yad L’Achim, spies were planted in a hostel in Jerusalem… suspicions were confirmed and the missionaries were expelled from the place.” Uri Dagul, who heads up the Israeli Youth Hostel Association and Rabbi Avraham Daniel Stern, who oversees kosher matters in the IYHA, are quoted; “it could be that some of the groups who arrive from abroad are missionaries who try to convert Jews to Christianity – May the Merciful One save us.”


Mishpacha (Mar. 23) has a two-page feature about a man named Aharon who with his proselyte wife came to live in Israel. The article relates how “one day she decided to leave him taking their three children with her, with the intent of baptising them into Christianity.” The article reports about “Aharon’s struggles with the mission,” in his attempts to get custody of his children. According to the article “the mission fought as only it knows how to do, and succeeded.” The author claims, “the mission has unlimited time and finances and has the most ruthless lawyers.” 



Messianic Jews

Kol HaNegev Mar. 31, 2006; HaModia Apr. 12, 2006; HaTzvi Arad Mar. 23, 2006


Parts of various speeches given at a “protest meeting” against the Messianic Jews in Arad are cited in an article in Kol HaNegev (Mar. 31). Rabbi Yehuda Deri, chief rabbi of Be’er Sheva who is described as “waging the war against missionary elements” is quoted “we are fighting against every mission uprising and are pulling the rug out from under their feet.” The former mayor of Arad, Betzalel Tabib says, “…it is crucial to bring missionary activity to a halt, the authorities must deal with it and citizens must not take the law into their own hands.” The current mayor of Arad Dr. Motti Bril is also quoted “…The Messianic Jews in Arad are in everyway citizens of this town, and in every way they are Israelis. They simply have a different religious faith. We need to find a way to co-exist.”


The mayor of Arad is also the subject of an article in HaModia (Apr. 12). The report claims that Dr. Bril “refused to cancel a trip for immigrants to a typical missionary concert in Latrun monastery on a Shabbat.” According to the article the head of Yad L’Achim, Rabbi Dov Lipshitz wrote to the council but the reporter says “most of the response from the mayor (to the head of Yad L’Achim) is unprintable.” Dr. Bril is cited; “Who are you to decide what is G-d’s will?” HaModia states, “he adds salt to the wounds by insisting ‘I am going too and maybe you should even go and listen to different types of music yourself.’” Dr. Bril allegedly also writes “I live in a secular country, I am myself secular and am proud of my job which endeavours to preserve a multi-cultural Israeli society.” HaModia comments, “’multi-cultural’ is destructive activity which has one goal; to convert Jews to Christianity.” In his letter Rabbi Lipshitz reportedly “raised the subject of Messianic Jews,” the author expresses “bewilderment at how it has escaped the mayor’s notice that they are missionaries.” 


In a letter to the editor in HaTzvi Arad (Mar. 23) Dekel Sapir responds to a letter published in the previous edition by Yakim Figares, the pastor of the Messianic fellowship in Arad. He debates Yakim’s statement “if as a result of all the persecution something good comes from this, then it is wonderful” and asks “why does Figares need something good to come from the Jewish people?” Sapir contends, “Judaism, unlike any other religion, does not try to convert people of another religion.” He concludes that “the something good” to come out of the persecution is “very clear; none other than conversion to Christianity.”



Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Christians

HaAretz Apr. 4, 17, 23, 2006; Globes Apr. 6, 2006; Israeli Apr. 10, 2006; Jerusalem Post Apr. 16, 17, 2006


Several publications devote coverage to the Easter celebrations that occurred throughout the Christian world HaAretz Apr. 4, 17, 23, Globes Apr. 6, Israeli Apr. 10, Jerusalem Post Apr. 16, 17). There are several photographs with much attention being given to the ceremonies in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Jerusalem Post notes “The Easter services underlined one of Christianity’s doctrinal differences; Roman Catholics believe Jesus Christ was buried in the Holy Sepulchre, while many Protestant denominations believe He was buried in the Garden Tomb.”  



Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Jesus

Israeli Apr. 5, 2006; Ma’ariv Apr. 6, 7, 2006; Yediot Ahronot Apr. 6, 7, 11, 16, 2006; HaAretz Apr. 7, 10, 14, 2006; HaTzofeh Apr. 14, 2006; Israeli Apr. 5, 2006


Ma’ariv (Apr. 6, 7) HaAretz (Apr. 7, 10, 14, 21) and Yediot Ahronot  (Apr. 6, 7, 11, 16) all extensively cover the National Geographic documentary “The Gospel According to Judas.” An editorial in the HaAretz (Apr. 4) observes the broad coverage in the Israeli press commenting, “The expectation about the programme was fed by a public relations mechanism on behalf of National Geographic… ensuring that all the Israeli press reported on the exciting discovery.” Author Benny Ziffer calls this approach “infantile, melodramatic, kitschy and racist” and remarks “If the Church shunned the gospel in its day, maybe there was justification for this.” The author considers such a documentary to be dangerous because “it is a mix of scientific hypothesis and New Testament stories… as there is not a scrap of evidence that the Apostles really existed.”


Other articles focus on the “implication for Jewish-Christian relations” with the discovery of the gospel. An article by David Gibson of the Jerusalem Post (Apr. 10) engages in the hypothesis of “reduced anti-Semitism if Judas would not have been blamed as being the bad guy.” Gibson observes “some scholars suspect that if Judas, as the great traitor hadn’t existed, Christians would have probably invented someone like him to legitimise the messy process of their religious separation from Judaism.”


The tabloids Ma’ariv and Yediot Ahronot (Apr. 7) run articles with large headings saying “we did not betray (Jesus).” The religious Zionist journal HaTzofeh (Apr. 14) also takes a similar slant with its headline “so…we didn’t murder Yeshu after all.” It claims, “Although the gospel of Judas refutes Christian theories that say our forefathers handed over Yeshu the Christian, nothing much has changed from the point of view of the Christian church.” Yediot Ahronot and Ma’ariv also have opinion pieces in the same edition commenting on the “Pope’s insistence not to vindicate Judas.” Parts of Pope Benedict’s Easter address are cited; “Judas Iscariot was avaricious. Money was more important to him than Yeshu or God. Judas wanted power and not love. He was a hypocrite and a liar. He lost his sense of truth and therefore betrayed Yeshu.” 


Three articles in the secular press (Ma’ariv, Yediot Ahronot, HaAretz Apr. 6) report that Miami- based Israeli Professor Doron Nof has “cracked the code of how Yeshu walked on the water.” Doron Nof, professor of oceanography says, “Rare atmospheric and water conditions could have caused ice to form on the freshwater Sea of Galilee. Doron Nof is quoted “the research points to a scientific rather than miraculous explanation.”



Jewish/Christian Relations

Israeli Apr. 3, 2006; HaAretz Apr. 3, 2006; Jerusalem Post Apr. 2, 3, 7, 9, 21, 2006; HaModia Apr. 7, 2006; HaTzofeh Apr. 7, 2006; Yediot Ahronot Apr. 3, 7, 2006


Several journals mark the first anniversary of the death of the late Pope John Paul II (Israeli, HaAretz, Jerusalem Post Apr. 3). A column by James Martin of the Jerusalem Post states that John Paul was “not just holy but also human.” Martin says “he should enjoy a speedy canonization… he wasn’t a perfect Pope but he was a saint.” In a tribute in HaAretz the author quotes the current Pope as saying “no Pope has ever been able to relate to all kinds of people from so many varied backgrounds,” and “he gave us many precious words and deeds.”  


Two articles in the Jerusalem Post (Apr. 21, 9) report on “supporters of the divestment who are challenging the Church of England’s Ethical Advisory Group (EIAG) after it’s decision to reject the church’s call to divest from companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in the territories.” Reverend Steven Sizer, of Virginia Water, Surrey, UK who “heads up the initiative” is quoted “at best the Church of England is condoning these abuses and at worse is complicit (in them).”  Opposition to such measures is noted as coming from Anglicans for Israel and “Reverend Jacob Prasch” who is “director of Moriel, an organisation active in campaigning for the human rights and religious liberties of Christians in Arab countries.” In an opinion column (Apr. 9) Columnist Gerald Steinberg says “both Christians and Muslims see themselves as replacement religions” and says, “replacement theology was explicitly invoked by the leaders of the Anglican Church’s recent anti-divestment vote.”


The meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and MK Shimon Peres was covered in five papers (Jerusalem Post, HaModia, HaTzofeh, Yediot Ahronot, Ma’ariv Apr. 7).  All papers report on the fact that “the Pope is considering visiting Israel in the first part of 2007.”



Christians and the Holocaust

HaAretz Apr. 7, 9, 26, 27, 2006; Ma’ariv Apr. 6, 2006; Israeli Apr. 9, 2006; Jerusalem Post Apr. 10, 2006


The Holocaust is the subject of several articles in HaAretz Apr. 7, 9, 26, 27 Ma’ariv Apr. 6, Israeli Apr. 9 and the Jerusalem Post Apr. 10. An article in both language editions of HaAretz (Apr. 27) comments on “statements made by a senior Vatican official” in which he “condemned the silence of the Holy See during the Holocaust as ‘unprecedented.’” Custodian of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, said at a conference at Tel Aviv University, that “church leaders did not adopt a courageous stand in the evangelical spirit in the face of the Nazi regime.” HaAretz quotes Rabbi David Rosen, the international director of inter-religious affairs at the American Jewish Committee “such a statement is rare from a clergyman of Italian origin like Pizzaballa.” He also says “such an attitude is that of a man who is aware of Jewish and Israeli sensitivities.”


Four papers HaAretz (Apr. 9), Jerusalem Post (Apr. 10), Ma’ariv (Apr. 6) and Israeli (Apr. 9) all report on the imminent visit of Pope Benedict to Auschwitz. HaAretz recalls “In his first month in office Benedict pledged to work toward Catholic-Jewish reconciliation.”  



Book/Film/Exhibition Reviews

HaAretz Apr. 20, 2006; Hayim Hadashim April 2006


HaTzdukim VeHalachatam – The Sadducees and Their Law; Dr. Ayal Regev, Yad Ben Tzvi Publishers.

A review in HaAretz (Apr. 20) evaluates a new publication in Hebrew HaTzdukim VeHalachatam (The Sadducees and Their Law) by Dr. Ayal Regev of Bar Ilan University. According to the review the book opens with a “weirdo called Yeshu” who was “brought by the High Priest Caiaphas before the Sanhedrin, which in turn handed him to the Romans.” This “ultimately played a part in his crucifixion.” “Against such a backdrop,” Dr. Regev writes his book. His thesis contends that “Yeshu was not killed for His Messianic claims” because “these particular sources are very late.” Instead Dr. Regev says, “Yeshu was killed because he undermined the importance of the Temple, he clashed with the money changers, but most of all he prophesied about the destruction of the Temple.” HaAretz says that Dr. Regev “examines in depth” the ways of the Sadducees. He notes, “the Romans captured the Temple on a Shabbat and 12,000 Sadducees were killed because they refused to fight and desecrate the Sabbath.” 


“Al Ahava – About Love” – Israel Museum Jerusalem. This exhibition is reviewed in Hayim Hadashim (April) and focuses on “artists throughout history who have attempted to depict love.” Subject matter includes Venus, and Jonathon and David. Hayim Hadashim says “The exhibition also examines different kinds of love, starting with a mystical love that is felt from man towards his god, as in the case of Mary Magdalene who moved interchangeably between faith and passion towards Yeshu.”


Different Matters of Jewish or Christian Interest

HaAretz Apr. 4, 9, 21, 23, 16, 27, 2006; Yediot Ahronot Apr. 9, 23, 2006; Globes Apr. 10, 2006; Ma’ariv Apr.9, 2006; Jerusalem Post Apr. 4, 2006; Israeli Apr. 3, 2006


Seven articles appeared in various papers about “The DaVinci Code” author Dan Brown and his publishing house that were cleared of copyright infringement in a British court (HaAretz Apr. 9, 23, 27, Yediot Ahronot Apr. 9, 23. Globes Apr. 10). All articles note that the plot of the book “offers conjectures that Yeshu married Mary Magdalene” and “the couple’s descendants are still flourishing today, guarded by a secret sect called the Priory of Sion.” HaAretz (Apr. 4) comments, “the best selling Christian book is not “The DaVinci Code,” but rather the Christian guide, “The Purpose Driven Life.”” 


Jewish columnist Larry Yudelson who describes himself as “religious” contends “Darwin is no problem for Jews” (Jerusalem Post Apr. 6). Yudelson writes in response to columnist David Klinghoffer who asserts, “If it can not be proven that the origin of life is a scientific impossibility then Judaism cannot be believed.” Yudelson cites Rav Kook who saw “no need to disprove evolution” and also refers to Maimonides. He says, “The Church would have done well to follow the path of Maimonides” who “opposed his contemporaries who preached the eternity of the world simply because ‘the theory had not been proved’ while allowing that if it were to be proved it (evolution) would not contradict the core Jewish beliefs.” He concludes that the “real challenge” Jews face is “not to destroy what Darwin built but to build what Rav Kook envisaged.”


Two secular papers run short articles about praying for the sick (Israeli Apr. 3, HaAretz Apr. 16). Israeli reports about the “latest research” which “discovered that people who knew that they were being prayed for often recovered slower than those who didn’t know.” The research took place in the USA and “enlisted Catholics and Protestants from three monasteries.” They in turn received the names of candidates for prayer. Dean Mark, who headed up the study, is quoted “the experiment was not conducted to prove or disprove the existence of God.” An article in HaAretz (Apr. 16) pursues a similar theme and examines the part played by Jewish spiritual “aides” who engage in aiding the sick by “providing spiritual support and prayer.” One such aide, who “wears a kippa” says, “Although I am unable to conduct ceremonies for non-Jews who are sick, I can at least open up the New Testament for them and network between the patients family and chaplains.” 


The curator of the memorial site of Maidanek Concentration Camp has “retracted his initial agreement for allowing the performance of a rock concert ‘Yeshu Superstar’ to take place on the site” HaAretz Apr. 21). HaAretz says that the performance “follows the last eight days of Yeshu’s life” and that the director of the musical “compares the death of the Holocaust victims with the death of Yeshu” coming to the conclusion that “both were results of intolerance.”