May 4 – 2007

Caspari Center Media Review………….May 4, 2007


During the week covered by this review, we received 17 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, anti-missionary activity, Christians in Israel, the Pope and the Vatican, Christian Zionism, and a biography. Out of the total:


  • 1 dealt with Messianic Jews
  • 3 dealt with anti-missionary activity
  • 2 dealt with Christians in Israel
  • 2 dealt with Christian Zionism
  • 6 dealt with the Pope and the Vatican
  • 1 dealt was a biography


The remaining 2 articles dealt with various matters of Jewish and Christian interest.

While the Pope and Vatican received the most coverage in this week’s Review, it was also important for its references to Messianic Jews and Christians in Israel.


Messianic Jews

Iton Modi’in, April 13, 2007

Although not strictly a piece on Messianic Jews, this brief note – a piece on a new television series featuring “prominent female figures in the Bible” – is included because it identifies the advisor, Dr. Jeffrey Sieff, as “a Messianic Jew and Christian theologian.”

Anti-missionary Activity

HaModia, April 19, 23; HaShavua Biryushalayim, March 15, 2007

Coverage of this week’s anti-missionary activity (or the activity itself) was fairly muted. The first article (HaModia, April 23) was only indirectly related to the subject, being an obituary of a prominent Rabbi involved in the anti-missionary campaign. The second, also in HaModia (April 19), spoke in glowing terms of Yad L’Achim’s success in thwarting a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ conference. The report is instructive in indicating the measures Yad L’Achim which adopts to achieve its goals. Having discovered that the conference was scheduled to take place, the organization’s first step was to approach the owners of the hall to pressure them to back out of the rental agreement. While this is normal practice, they were stymied in this case by the fact that the hall had been transferred to an Arab contractor. Not ones to give in easily, Yad L’Achim met with the original (Jewish) owner who, once he had heard their side of the story, immediately phoned the contractor and was able to persuade him to back out of the contract. The latter’s objections over the loss of income were overcome by Yad L’Achim’s offer to pay all the expenses incurred by the cancellation of the agreement. The third article (HaShavua Biryushalayim, March 15) was a repeat of earlier articles in the wake of the Haifa district court ruling.


Christians in Israel

Yediot Haifa, April 13; Kol HaZman, April 20, 2007

Security surrounding Elias Chacour, the Archbishop of Haifa, Akko, and the Galilee, was recently heightened in the wake of a drive-by shooting attack on his house (Yediot Haifa, April 13). Chacour himself was out of the country at the time of the attack, in which a bullet penetrated the upper story and a neighboring house. According to the report, the event has greatly disturbed the “archbishop’s followers.” In the words of a city council member, “Shooting at the house of a religious figure and especially a high-ranking official sets off a red light for us and for cultured society, and this is true not only with respect to Christians.” While an investigation has been promised, one police source was very low-key in tone: “In my opinion, the event has been blown out of its true proportions. I don’t believe that someone meant to hurt Archbishop Chacour.” Others were far more concerned: “If Pope John Paul II was shot at, what – the shooter didn’t meant to hurt the pope? The police can’t take chances in this case and must investigate the shooting until they find the person who dared to do such a thing and call him to account.”

The situation of Christians in Jerusalem was also the subject of a feature article in Kol HaZman (April 20). In the wake of the erection of the security fence, it has been well noted that thousands of Palestinians with Israeli ID cards are streaming into Jerusalem in order to continue residing within the State. The influx has meant that Jerusalem’s Old City, including the Christian Quarter, has been inundated with new Muslim residents whose relatives in the city have been turning their shops and offices into residential dwellings. The Christians in the Old City have become very worried by the phenomenon – not merely on the level of living conditions but also because of the potential conflict. According to the report, however, “they are keeping their complaints to themselves. ‘We are very afraid of their [Muslim] reactions,’ said one of the residents of the quarter after having made sure that neither his name nor any other personal details would appear. ‘It’s a dangerous situation. Anyone who complains or says something to them receives threats. We’re scared.’ He falls silent and gestures with his hand towards his throat in a cutting movement. ‘We’re afraid of them.’” The most worrisome part of the affair appears to be the change in atmosphere: “The entry of Muslim residents, they fear, is likely to herald the end of the sense of openness which characterizes the neighborhood. ‘In the streets of our quarter girls go about in modern clothing and feel secure. Our lives are more open,’ explains another resident. ‘The Muslims feel that we are more liberated. People come to buy alcohol in our shops and drink here, and we’ve already had cases of violence and quarrels’ … The problem, they say, is the unwillingness and fear of complaining and to open an official Christian campaign against the Muslims.”


Christian Zionism

Jerusalem Post, April 17; Emtza Hadera, April 20, 2007

While the Jerusalem Post article (April 17), entitled “Evangelical leader urges Vatican to open archives,” might have been included under the category of the Pope and the Vatican, it has been inserted here to demonstrate an aspect of Christian Zionism not normally encountered. In the wake of the Vatican ambassador’s refusal to participate in the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony at Yad Vashem (see previous Review), Malcolm Hedding, executive director of the International Christian Embassy, “a Jerusalem-based evangelical organization,” was quoted as having stated: “The papal nuncio’s blurring of a historical debate with the respect and memory of Holocaust martyrs [sic] was deeply irresponsible and disrespectful to the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.” Yad Vashem itself was also quick to point out regarding the ambassador’s objection to its description of Vatican activities during the Holocaust. “‘If the papal nuncio wants to protest then he must prove his case and show us otherwise by opening the Vatican archives,’ he [Hedding] added.”

Christian Zionist funds were recently given to restore an Ethiopian synagogue in Hadera, including the renovation of the building and the acquisition of three Torah scrolls (Emtza Hadera, April 20). The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, founded and directed by Yechiel Ekstein, which made the donation, aims “to build a bridge between the evangelical Christian community in the States and Jews in Israel. Since the opening of its Jerusalem office seven years ago, over 450 million shekels have been invested in hundreds of projects related to aliyah, absorption, welfare, and security.”


The Pope and the Vatican

Zman Hadera, April 20; Yediot Ahronot, April 17, pp. 5, 6; Jerusalem Post, April 19; HaZofeh, April 18; HaDaf HaYarok, April 19, 2007

In a lengthy article on the occasion of the Pope’s eightieth birthday and his second anniversary as pope, Yediot Ahronot (April 17) gave an overview of the man and his life, concluding with a review of the present pontiff’s relation to Jews, Judaism, and Israel: “Despite his conservatism in theological matters, Benedict determinedly continues his openness and dialog with Judaism – which he sees as Christianity’s elder sister … On various occasions the pope has emphasized his full commitment to Israel’s right of existence. At the same time, top Vatican officials have made it clear that Benedict will not include the Holy Land in any of his upcoming visits. By the way, one of his last trips as Cardinal Ratzinger in Jerusalem in the ’90s left him with a very unpleasant memory. While he was making his way from the church in which he was staying to the Holy Sepulcher, the wallet of the future pope was stolen by a pickpocket. Now, as he marks his eightieth birthday, this is a good opportunity to invite him for an official visit in order to change the impression he may have received of Israeli hospitality.”

Another papal meeting is noted in HaDaf HaYarok (April 19), according to which report one Valvele has been invited to a personal interview with the pontiff on June 27 this year. Valvele met John Paul II in the north on his visit to Israel in 2000 and is now looking forward to speaking with Benedict XVI about “the arrival of pilgrims and Christians to the Holy Land,” intending to “prepare homework and to talk with people who know the Vatican before his visit.”

Finally, in relation to Benedict’s latest book, the presence of a small mistake – the misidentification of Prof. John Meir as a Jesuit – was picked up by HaZofeh (April 18) as proof that the pope is not in fact infallible. “But the evidence isn’t invincible: Benedict began writing the book before his elevation to the papacy and in the book’s preface writes that his description of Yeshu is his personal opinion and not official Catholic doctrine.” According to the article, “Catholic dogma states that the pope cannot err when he proclaims doctrines which relate to faith and morals and if so, this doesn’t apply to this book. At the same time, the discovery of a mistake in the work of a pope known as a pedant has turned out to be an irresistible temptation.”



Iton Tel Aviv, April 13, 2007

In a piece on Primo Levi, Aharon Appelfeld (an important Israeli author), endeavoring to comprehend how Levi had preserved his “humanism” even in Auschwitz, related to Levi’s understanding of the Holocaust: “When Primo Levi tries to understand the depth of the Holocaust, he is in need of Dante’s Inferno, in effect a mythological Christian holocaust. This isn’t exactly a natural Jewish context for the Holocaust, which is rather Job, Lamentations, the expulsion from Spain, or the destruction of the Temple. But when Levi looks at the Holocaust he seeks frameworks and consolations from Dante. It’s paradoxical. We know what the Church has done to the Jews. We know that at the bottom of the murderers’ consciousness lay, among other things, Yeshu’s murder.”