Caspari Center Media Review……………….. August 21, 2006
During the week covered by this review, we received 32 articles on the subjects of Christians in Israel, anti-missionaries, the Pope and the Vatican, Jewish-Christian relations, biographies, religious rights and freedom. Of these:
- 1 was an interview with a Jewish believer
- 7 dealt with the Pope and the Vatican
- 3 dealt with religious rights and freedom
- 5 dealt with the Gay Pride march
- 2 dealt with missionary activities
- 1 dealt with Christians in Israel
- 2 dealt with Jewish-Christian relations
- 3 dealt with Christian Zionism
- 1 dealt with Hitler and the Holocaust
- 1 was an opinion piece
- 1 dealt with Madonna
The remaining 5 articles dealt with various matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
This week also the media demonstrated less interest in the war in the north, although several articles indirectly reflected the situation on the citizens of Israel. The other subject of attention, particularly in the religious press, continued to be the Gay Pride march, while the Pope and the Vatican also remained relevant to the Israeli media, in relation not only to that but also to several other aspects of Israeli society.
Due to lack of important information, this article will be dealt with in the next media review.
HaModia, August 11; (Kol HaNegev, August 11); Yom L’Yom, August 11, 2006
During the school holidays, children’s summer camps are regularly held across the country. During a visit to the Kotel (the Western Wall), the religious paper Yom L’Yom (August 11) reported, a group of children were accosted by “soul hunters” with the offer of a New Testament and $100: “All this for the purpose of catching as easy prey needy families and children in fiscal straits and cause them to convert to Christianity for financial gain.”
In the same article, the paper reported that the Scientologist community in Israel (it is unclear whether these were among the missionaries cited in the first half of the feature) had put forward claims that “1500 (!) official and state schools whose curriculum was determined by the Ministry of Education, had adopted numerous tenets of the Scientologists.” These principles had been advocated by an organization designed to promote “growth and security in the Middle East,” which persuaded the Ministry of Education that the values “reduced violence” and “increased discipline.” At the same time, a committee set up to investigate the influence of cult groups on the Israeli education system was, according to the paper, “under intense pressure from the Scientology sect who were interested in the administration of educational values which contradicted Judaism.”
Also in connection with schools, the religious paper HaModia reported that the Rishon L’Tzion municipality had allocated use of a school building to a “missionary organization whose leaders were members of a ‘Messianic Jewish congregation’” (August 11). [Ed. note: it is not clear to which city or which congregation the article is referring.] The organization in question is named the “Valley Gate” and is dedicated to supplying aid to the needy. Yad L’Achim’s response to their discovery of this fact led them to pressure the municipality to evict the organization – which was, in their eyes, merely a cover for missionary activity – from state property and to check its true identity. Yad L’Achim also influenced the municipality to turn to the large companies in the city who are helping to fund the organization with a request that they cease from doing so immediately.
Of great interest by way of its absence in an article entitled “Is Arad being taken over by the Ultra-Orthodox?” on the city of Arad in Kol HaNegev (August 11), was the lack of any mention of the local Messianic community, whose harassment by precisely this group has been so protracted and recently upheld in law.
Yediot Haifa, August 11 (pp. 10, 29); All the Emeq and the Galilee, 4 August, 2006
Having suffered heavily from the effects of the war in the north, Haifa residents are making their responses known in print. Twice in the same edition of the local paper, Yediot Haifa (August 11), the opinion was expressed that war is indiscriminate: “The katyushas did not distinguish between Jew and Arab, between Christian and Muslim … as though they knew that in Haifa there is no distinction between blood and blood” (p. 10).
The second article stated the issue even more directly in its headline: “We are all Israelis”: “Jews, Muslims, Druse, Bahai, we are all Israelis.” Unfortunately, the reality on the ground meant that the different religious groups still remained in conflict over educational issues, such as the study of the Quran or the New Testament: “In a State like ours … it is impossible to study the Tanakh, the Quran, and the New Testament, to learn about all the [different] festivals, and to celebrate all the [different] holidays [together]” (p. 29).
The same reaction was articulated in a letter to All the Emeq and the Galilee (4 August), also entitled “We are all Israelis,” which the writer addressed to the Mayor of Nazareth: “I think that your task as Mayor is to bring the Arab and Jewish communities closer together and not the opposite. I take the view that in order to be a good Israeli citizen you don’t have to be Jewish – there are Christians, Muslims, Druse, and Cherkesim, who feel themselves to be citizens of Israel in every way.” Here, too, the situation in the north was a source of appeal: “In conclusion, Sir, as you have seen in recent days, the enemy does not distinguish between Jews, Christians, or Muslims. The time has come when we should all unite forces as Israelis and support the government in these hard times.”
Christians in Israel
Kol Ha’Ir, August 11, 2006
Statistics may be boring to many, but a survey conducted by Dr. Maya Hoshen relating to the history of the population of the historic Old City of Jerusalem, revealed that in 2004 the residents within the main part of the walls numbered 131,400 – “out of whom 16,200 were Jewish (12%), 115,200 Arabs (88%). 93% of the Arab population was Muslim, the rest Christian” (Kol Ha’Ir, August 11). In other words, of the Arab population of the Old City, only 7% were Christians.
The Pope and the Vatican
Mishpaha, July 6 (pp. 2, 14); HaModia, August 9; Sha’ah Tovah, July 7; Yom L’Yom, July 27; Makor Rishon, August 8, 2006
Most typical of the relationship to the Vatican during this period was the Jewish recognition of the Pope’s concurrence with Orthodox Jewish views on (against) homosexuality. As the remainder of the articles demonstrates (in continuation of previous reviews), Jewish correspondence with the Pope on the issue was quite extensive.
While the Pope became a “calling card” for Jewish Orthodoxy with respect to the scheduled Gay Pride march [see previous reviews], Jewish ambivalence towards the Pope is still highly visible. As Sha’ah Tova (July 7) noted, in response to a letter from Rabbi Amar to the Pope, “With respect, Sir, the march is an abomination, but so also is the Pope who represents the murder of millions of Jews – he too is ‘a bit’ of an abomination.”
In confirmation of this claim, HaModia reported (August 9) that while the Argentinian government sought to prevent the election of an anti-Semitic bishop, Antonio Bastio – who defined the Jews as unethical businessmen with low morals … they will engage in any profession, the main object being to make money” and supported right-wing anti-Semitic groups – the Pope, in whose hands the appointment lay, refused the Argentine request.
In another demonstration of the pragmatic usage to which the Vatican may be put, an internal Jewish dispute was conducted using the argument that one of the parties was using the premises of a former church building (Mishpaha, July 6, p. 14). The claim put forward was not only the impropriety of a Jewish religious institution meeting in such a place but also that it “offended Christian sensitivities and was likely to cause a deterioration of relations with the Vatican and the Christian world.”
Yediot Aharonot, August 9, 2006
At the same time as the Vatican’s archives are due to be opened for the Holocaust period, other published material from the same time is also being discovered. In a report written by its Berlin correspondent, Yediot Aharonot (August 9) reported that the German paper Bild recently published material printed during the war and demonstrating that “in May 1939 [Hitler] set up a group of Protestant theologians loyal to the Reich [as an] ‘institution for the purification of Christianity from Judaism.’” One of the institution’s publications was named “The Book of German Faith” and contained a revision of the Ten Commandments (with the addition of another two) in line with “Nazi ethics”: “Honor God and rely on him absolutely; keep silent before God; do not practice any hypocrisy; sanctify your body and your life; sanctify the good and honor; sanctify the truth and loyalty; honor your father and mother – help your children and be an example to them; guard the purity of blood and the sanctity of marriage; gain much knowledge; always be ready to help and to forgive; honor the Fuehrer and the Lord [ha-adon]; serve the people cheerfully in work and sacrifice – this is what God wishes from us.”
Another book was a Nazi prayer book, out of which were carefully removed all Hebrew words (such as “Halleluyah”), while “Jerusalem” was referred to as “Eternity – the city of divine light.” Naturally, Yeshua himself was also divested of all his Jewish character. In fact, according to this publication, his family originated from the Caucus mountains and he was therefore completely Aryan.