Caspari Center Media Review……………….. July #4, 2006
During the week covered by this review, we received 28 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Judaism, Christianity, missionaries, and anti-missionaries. Of these:
- 4 dealt with the Pope and the Vatican
- 2 dealt with the Gay Pride march due to be held in Jerusalem
- 3 dealt with anti-missionary activities
- 2 dealt with “Christian” missionary activities
- 4 dealt with Christian Zionism
- 2 dealt with issues relating to Jewish law
The remaining 11 articles dealt with various matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
The Pope and the Vatican
Jerusalem Post, July 19, 24; Haaretz, July 21; Yediot Haifa, July 21; Yated Ne’eman, July 23, 2006
The Israeli press’s interest in the Vatican’s and the Pope’s attitude towards Israel was reflected in two different areas. In the political arena, it was noted (Jerusalem Post, July 19) that the Pope had sent a representative to intervene in bringing about Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit’s release from captivity and that the Pope had reiterated a personal call for a cease-fire in the current Lebanese crisis (Jerusalem Post, July 24). The Pope’s shock at the rocket attacks on Haifa in a personal letter to the Chief Rabbi of Haifa was described in Yediot Haifa (July 21) as a “letter of identification” with the citizens of the city. The Vatican’s attitude towards homosexuality was included in an article in the English version of Haaretz (July 21), entitled “Pride of Place,” which noted in connection with the march due to take place in Jerusalem that, while the Catholic Church had declared 2000 to be a holy year and devoted each day in it to a different population, the Pope had explicitly excluded the gay/lesbian community from the list. This attitude was also reflected in a piece in the religious paper Yated Ne’eman (July 23), which reported that Orthodox Jewish objections to the march, based on the holiness of Jerusalem, corresponded to Christian and Muslim sensitivities in respect to both issues. [Ed. note: the march was cancelled for security reasons.]
BaKehila, June 22, June 29, 2006; HaTzopheh, July 24, 2006
During this week, the press noted several times Yad L’Achim’s protest against a Messianic channel broadcast on satellite TV (BaKehila, June 22). The anti-missionary organization claimed that the channel violated the law prohibiting the propaganda of missionary material in Israel and was especially dangerous because it targeted children. The satellite company claimed that the channel was purely educational.
In the on-going protest against the Messianic community in Arad, the Messianic community’s petition to the state to prohibit Yad L’Achim from protesting publicly was denied. In response to Yad L’Achim’s charges, the judge pronounced that the anti-missionary organization was permitted to “run after you, to gather together in front of you [the believers]. This is democracy in which framework they [Yad L’Achim] are operating by a legitimate method of persuasion.” While the judge acknowledged that he personally would have given a different decision, he claimed that his hands were tied legally (BaKehila, June 29).
HaTzopheh (July 24) reported that missionaries were exploiting the situation of the war in the north by training counselors to deal with the trauma undergone by serving soldiers.
BaKehila, May 31, June 6, 2006
At the same time, the “missionaries” were reported as taking steps of their own against Yad L’Achim. BaKehila (June 6) noted that The Messianic Times had included an article stating that the local Messianic community had made several complaints to the American Embassy on behalf of those of their members who were American citizens against the activities of Yad L’Achim. The same paper (BaKehila, May 31) noted that a Haifa judge had delayed his decision in a petition made by “missionaries” in the city against a convention center which had denied them use of their facilities once the convention center had learned through Yad L’Achim that they were “missionaries.” The judge gave as his reasons for asking for the legal delay as the affair constituting a “matter of national significance” and demanding the involvement of the government legal advisor.
Haaretz, July 20; Jerusalem Post, 20, 21, 24, 2006
Haaretz (July 20) noted that, due to insufficient funds from the government, “devout American Christians” were sending millions of shekels to feed those caught in the crisis in the north. Similarly, the Jerusalem Post of the same day carried an article on its front page entitled “Galilee Evangelical leader sends letter of solidarity to Olmert.” The open letter was sent by Dr. Hani Shenadeh, the pastor of an Arab Christian congregation, “assuring him that Arab Christians in the Galilee were praying for Israel’s leaders in this crisis. I am writing while my home and church building are being shaken by rockets, but we are not afraid, for we believe in the protecting hand of the Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
John Hagee’s regular column on “Christian Zionism” in the Jerusalem Post (July 24), which carried the title “Why Christians must support Israel,” emphasized that the present threats from Hamas and Hizbollah make it even more imperative for Christians to stand behind Israel now. In similar vein, a frontpage article in the Jerusalem Post (July 20) suggested that Israel’s current plight might awaken the Christian world’s involvement when it realized that “rockets are crashing down on Nazareth, where Jesus was born.”
A similar position is reflected in the Jerusalem Post’s (July 21) interview with David Brog, author of a book entitled Standing with Israel – Why Christians Support the Jewish State. Head of the Washington office of “Christians United for Israel,” the Jewish Brog declared that Jews had no reason to be afraid of Christian (evangelical) support: “There are two words I’d like to hear American Jews saying to their Christian friends, and these two words are ‘Thank you.’”
Shalosh Plus, June 29; Haaretz, July 21, 2006
Two cases involving Jewish civil law – one relating specifically to Messianic Jews in Israel and the other to Christianity in general – were reported. The first involved a decision in favor of a local Messianic believer and was reported under the heading “Man shall live by his faith” (Shalosh Plus, June 29). The person worked for the local municipality which, having discovered the person to be a believer, fired him, citing his work as a computer technician in schools as endangering the children to exposure to “missionary preaching.” The paper noted that the decision in favor of the worker constituted “an important case against one of the large municipalities.” Part of the significance of the victory lay in the fact that it created a precedent in favor of “people different from the ‘accepted’ norm.”
In the second case, Haaretz (July 21) reported a halakhic decision delivered in direct consequence of the current crisis, namely that “In the case of a true alarm, it is permissible to take refuge in a church.”