Caspari Center Media Review………….September 4, 2006
During the week covered by this review, we received 18 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, the Pope and the Vatican, Christianity, Christian Zionism, missionary and anti-missionary activities, and Christians in Israel. Of these:
- 3 dealt with Jehovah Witnesses
- 1 dealt with archaeology
- 1 dealt with confession
- 2 dealt with the Vatican
- 1 dealt with Christian Zionism
- 2 dealt with Christians in Israel
- 1 dealt with anti-missionary activity
- 2 dealt with missionary activity abroad
- 2 dealt with Christianity
- 1 dealt with Mel Gibson
- 1 was a book review
The remaining 2 articles dealt were repeats from the previous review.
HaModia, August 25, 27; BaKehila, August 24, 2006
The public “baptism to Christianity” of eleven immigrants from the former Soviet Union at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds raised a furor in the religious press. The reasons for the turmoil were several – and of some interest. Both papers reported that Yad L’Achim attempted to dissuade the Exhibition Grounds’ manager to cancel the event on the grounds of their success in so preventing “missionary” events taking place in other public convention sites in the country. The manager insisted that he would not do so, maintaining that the Grounds stood on an entirely different legal standing than the other locations. His argument touched on the anti-missionary charge that “11 Jews were baptized into Christianity while profaning the Shabbat (Sabbath) in public.” The implication of Yad L’Achim’s claim, it appears, was that not the conversion alone was their concern but also that it profaned Shabbat. The objection to the latter aspect seems to constitute a separate argument: conversion – “Jews going out to annihilation [Christianity]” –a title of one of the articles – is far more serious than the profaning of Shabbat. Yad L’Achim therefore seems to have raised this as an argument against the use of Jewish premises for such an act. The Exhibition Grounds’ manager’s response to this assertion was to point out that “The Ultra-Orthodox do not use the Exhibition Grounds for events in any case, precisely because we are open on Shabbat.” Reacting to Yad L’Achim’s threat of power and privilege, the manager simply referred the decision-making authority to the municipality.
The author of the article in HaModia raised questions which Yad L’Achim usually leaves to others to ask. “But more than the fact that no voices were raised over the missionaries’ gall and freedom to do as they wish in the Land, the scandal takes on an even more serious dimension in the fact that no one stopped to ask why or how Jews reached such a low level as this; how it happened that eleven Jews – and they aren’t the first – reached such a false conclusion to change their faith; to exchange wells of living water for broken and empty cisterns. What did these Jews go through? Did any faithful guardian of Israel offer them spiritual help in their time of need? Was there a listening ear to the cry of their heart?”
Christianity (and Judaism)
Jerusalem Post, August 22, 27; Haaretz, August 22, 2006
Three very different stories relating to Christian issues appeared in the Post during the same week. The second article reported on a familiar theme, that the United Church of Canada has dropped “an overt program of divestment in Israel in favor of ‘a pro-peace investment strategy for the Middle East’ that aims for ‘a just peace in Palestine and Israel.’”
The first article struck a very different note. In its “Comments and Features” section, the Post included an article taken from the Hartford Courant entitled “Voices rise in unison, returning tradition to the church” – a survey of the Gregorian chant being brought back into use by a group of nuns in the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem – Connecticut.
The third article, in Haaretz (August 22), took a fascinating look at “confessional” sites on the internet. Taking its cue from the fact that, while the (Catholic) Church has declared confession on the internet invalid – as are all sacraments – sites dedicated to just such activity are manifold. One such – I4giveu.com – an international site established by an Israeli – offers surfers the choice of deciding whether to forgive or not, and categorizes the most “common” sins: stupidity, sex, love, lies, adultery. As the author of the article notes, “Although obsessive preoccupation with sin is to a large degree foreign to Israeli mentality, the fervor of confession hasn’t skipped the Israeli net … What do Israeli surfers confess? Like everyone else, chiefly about extramarital sex and other forms of infidelity.” At the same time, some sites are devoted to more specific topics – such as mourning and bereavement. One site, slicha.com, [forgiveness] was opened last Yom Kippur [the Day of Atonement] and offers “forgiveness to G-d” and going to the Wailing Wall.
Haaretz, August 23, 2006
According to Haaretz (August 23), the Jerusalem court has revoked the sentence of Raphael Brown, responsible for the reconstruction of ancient artifacts at the Israel Museum. Brown was accused with four others of creating fake artifacts, amongst them the alleged sarcophagus of James, Yeshua’s brother.
Christians in Israel
Jerusalem Post, August 23; Ma’ariv, August 23, 2006
A 10-page article in Ma’ariv (August 23) investigated an incident in which a property deal between the State of Israel and the Greek Orthodox Church went sour. The State sought to purchase real estate belonging to the Church in the heart of Jerusalem, paid out 20 million dollars – and still has no property in hand. The Greek Orthodox Church, on the other hand, claims that it has no 20 million in its bank account. The money, it seems, has disappeared; it is not clear who is sitting in jail; and the only “winner” in the case appears to be the defense lawyer, who walked away with 2.2 million of the State’s money in his pocket, his commission for three months’ work.
In its “Comments and Features” section on August 23, the Jerusalem Post inserted an opinion piece written by Munib Younan, Bishop and Head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Entitled “It is time to fast, and it’s time to talk,” Younan, penning his thoughts from Jerusalem, focuses on justice: “This war judges the international community: in its lowering of the standard of justice, human rights and dignity; in affirming violence as the path to resolving differences; in creating the conditions which have pushed the Arab Christian community to the brink. The international community is accountable to justice for all people, nothing less … As a Lutheran Bishop my plea is for all Christians to commit themselves to prayer and fasting to seek God’s empowerment in addressing the call to repent and seek justice. This includes urging Christians to go beyond their excellent relief and emergency work to secure the future for a just peace. As a Palestinian mindful of the value of all human life I call on all people of conscience and faith to join in this spiritual act of prayerful fasting so that we can change our hearts and minds and act for an enduring peace …”
The Vatican and the Pope
Yediot Aharonot, August 24; Yediot Mekomi, August 25, 2006
Israelis can at times feel sorry for the Pope. In an article entitled “The Vatican’s bad boy,” Yediot Aharonot (August 24) reported on Bishop Emmanuel Milingo’s colorful African career, which has made him the black sheep of the Church. Although the Vatican, which the writer of the article describes as being “helpless,” has long been enraged by the Bishop’s espousal of miracle workings, rhythmic CDs, and dismissal of celibacy, and has announced that he will never be welcome within the Church, Milingo himself is currently parading around Washington with his wife, meeting with married clergy, and preparing a new album which is also alleged to explain his magical methods.
BaKehila, August 24, 2006
A second book by the author A.B. Yeshai has appeared under the title “Crossroads/Crucifixion.” The book mixes the tales of different worlds and events which, when the reader gradually discovers their convergence, enable him/her to understand the double meaning of the title – and thence the “new world” to which the author is pointing. “Intrigues taking place in one of the programming houses in Israel. A tragic drama which takes place during the war of Shalom haGalil (peace for Galilee), intended to give the residents of the north some respite from the voices of war; the trial of an American yeshiva student accused of the murder of an on duty policeman; the exposure of the thousands of secrets regarding the administration of the Catholic Church and its attempt to conceal them from its adherents and the rest of the world; the working methods of the Christian mission which endeavors to capture souls in Israel, and the stubborn resistance to it by Jews who are concerned for their erring brethren. All these elements and more combine to create a human manuscript which touches the heart.” More than this description, however, the reviewer unfortunately does not reveal the dual meaning of the title.