Caspari Center Media Review………….May 24, 2007
During the week covered by this review, we received 16 articles on the subjects of anti-missionary activity, Christian Zionism, and the Pope. Out of the total:
- 7 dealt with anti-missionary activity
- 2 dealt with Christian Zionism
- 4 dealt with the Pope and the Vatican
The remaining 3 articles dealt with various matters of Jewish and Christian interest.
The majority coverage of this week’s Review focused on anti-missionary activity – including one response to the Jews for Jesus Tel Aviv campaign. The two articles on Christian Zionism both dealt with more unusual aspects of the phenomenon, while out of several reports concerning the Pope, one dealt with Pius XII’s announced beatification.
Mishpaha, May 3; Yated Ne’eman, May 11, 13, 14; HaModia, May 11, 14; Israeli, May 14, 2007
The only report to have surfaced so far concerning the recent Jews for Jesus campaign in Tel Aviv was carried in the religious daily HaModia (May 11). The article identified the missionaries as members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect “as well as the sect of Messianic Jews” and asserted that they were “appearing in crowded places every morning, making every effort first of all to attract the attention of the soldiers guarding those places.” They were met, according to the report, by Yad L’Achim’s mobile patrols who “exploited every legitimate means at their disposal, out of stubborn devotion not to allow any contact between the missionaries and the crowds, until the last missionary leaves the place.” Having noted that this renewed activity came on the heels of a tract and propaganda campaign, the article concluded that: “Now it seems that we have no choice but to engage all our efforts and possible measures in passing the anti-missionary law as soon as possible in order to stop the mission and all its branches and sects once and for all.”
Three articles in Yated Ne’eman (May 11, 13, 14) all reported on Lev L’Achim’s fight against the “Christian lobby in the Knesset.” The anti-missionary organization’s ire was roused by a series of conferences intended to improve the status of women in the region, planned and sponsored by a group of so-called “missionary” organizations – including Bridges for Peace, The International Christian Embassy, and Woman to Woman. The reference to the Knesset derives from the fact that the events are co-sponsored by the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, a cross-parliamentary group which liaises between Israel and the Christian evangelical world, primarily in the United States. Lev L’Achim is outraged by the Caucus’ very existence, not to speak of its activities. “Such activity is unacceptable to the reasonable person, who asks himself: Why do the Christians need a lobby in the Knesset? What interests can the united members of Knesset serve for a Christian lobby? And most importantly of all, How can one possibly conceive of there being MKs working to help Christian organizations promote their work in Israel? … One doesn’t have to be a big expert to know what Christians are seeking in Israel.” Lev L’Achim opposes the principle of “Judaeo-Christian values” which the conferences espouse and is working to get the conferences cancelled. [For the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, see previous Reviews.]
Three letters were written to Israeli (May 14) in response to adverts placed in the paper offering copies of the New Testament. The authors were unanimous in their view that, while the paper may not be responsible for the content of adverts which it carries, it should refuse to print missionary propaganda. In the words of Uri Urbach, “Why do you permit such adverts? For the money? It’s inconceivable that you would print adverts calling for the murder of someone, God forbid, or even carry an ad for illegal enticement. Such an advert as this also calls for enticement to murder – the murder of the Jewish people.”
Mishpaha (May 3) reported on the deaf-blind conference to which Yad L’Achim was invited. (see previous Reviews).
Jerusalem Post, May 15; Makor Rishon, May 10, 2007
“Europe Day” was recently celebrated in Jerusalem, the ceremonies being jointly sponsored by the European Coalition for Israel, which includes the International Christian Embassy, Bridges for Peace, International Christian Friends of Israel, and Christian Friends of Israel (Makor Rishon, May 10).
Christian Zionism has adopted a further activity in its support of Israel – the training of Christians “to make the case for Israel” (Jerusalem Post, May 15). Christian students initiated the program, which is being inaugurated at California State University, Bakersfield, as part of their efforts to “defend Israel in the face of campus attacks.” “The training … is the first step toward establishing a college chapter of Christians United for Israel, a year-old organization based in San Antonio, Texas started by Evangelical Pastor John Hagee to rally Christians around support for Israel. The chapter will be the first of its kind. The hope is to establish similar ‘CUFI on Campus’ chapters on college campuses across the United States … Christians United for Israel will be partnering with organizations such as the David Project, a Boston-based pro-Israel group that works extensively with students at colleges and beyond, to help with their campus outreach.” The first course offered at Bakersfield will be “Understanding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”
The Pope and the Vatican
Yediot Ahronot, May 10; Haaretz, May 10, 11; Globes, May 14, 2007
Yediot Ahronot (May 10) reported this week that the Vatican has officially announced that Pope Pius XII is to be beatified – pending the current pope’s signature. The article was entitled “Controversial Holiness,” with the sub-title: “The pope who was silent in the face of the extermination of European Jewry during the Holocaust to become a saint.” In response to the news, Rome’s Chief Rabbi was quoted as saying: “We’re talking about a controversial figure who was silent during the Holocaust. His beatification will harm the dialogue between Jews and Christians. If there is new evidence about the pope’s activities during World War II, it should be presented before the world. To the best of my knowledge, there is no reason why the pope should be beatified.” The Vatican, on the other hand, claims “historical injustice” has been done to Pius XII: “He has waited forty years and has passed all the tests,” declared the Holy See.