August 7 – 2007

Caspari Center Media Review………….August 7, 2007


During the week covered by this review, we received 18 articles on the subjects of missionary and anti-missionary activity, Christian Zionism, Christians in Israel, and the Pope and the Vatican. Of these:


5 dealt with missionary and anti-missionary activity

4 dealt with Christians in Israel

1 dealt with Christian Zionism

1 dealt with business

6 dealt with the Pope


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

This week’s Review focuses mainly on anti-missionary activity and various themes related to Christians in Israel.

Anti-Missionary Activity

HaModiah, August 1, pp. 2, 5; August 2; Mishpaha, July 27; Yom L’Yom, July 26, 2007

HaModia carried several anti-missionary articles this week. The first (August 1, p. 2), related to a mail-box campaign recently conducted by the “missionaries” in an Orthodox neighborhood of north Jerusalem which caused “shock and horror to thousands of residents.” Yad L’Achim claimed that “throughout the day Orthodox residents constantly phoned the offices in Jerusalem to complain about the distribution of the dangerous pamphlets within the Orthodox community.”



The second article (August 1, p. 5) related to an alleged assault by Eddie Beckford in Arad on an “innocent” Yad L’Achim worker. According to this report, Beckford, “the leader of the ‘Messianic Jews’ group in Arad” “last week hit with force one of Yad L’Achim’s workers, first in his stomach and afterwards began dragging him along the road. Passers-by and shop-owners at the location came to the aid of the injured man and released him from the clutches of the missionaries and called the police. The police arrived at the scene and began collecting eye-witness reports. The injured man was taken for medical treatment and the aggressive missionary was arrested and put under house arrest for three weeks in Beer Sheva.” The article noted that the local press gave the case a lot of attention, unambiguously denouncing the missionary’s actions and recalling his past history of violence. It then proceeded to give a list of previous occasions on which Eddie has been arrested. It further claimed that “another missionary” last week entered a soup kitchen run by an Orthodox group in Arad and struck a man on the head with a pole. This “missionary” was also arrested and at his trial was put under house arrest for a month and ordered not to go near the market where the soup kitchen is situated. Yad L’Achim was also cited as stating that “the difficulties in which the missionaries are finding themselves because of Yad L’Achim’s success in preventing their activities can’t be ignored.” The organization also objected to the fact that the police were imposing short periods of house arrest, such that the missionaries were soon free to resume their activities. “It is only a matter of time before the next incident occurs.” Paradoxically, in its efforts to take responsibility for the missionaries’ failure “to add more Jews to their services,” Yad L’Achim asserted that their work was “making the missionaries lose their grip and bringing them down to the abyss of brutal violence.” [Editor’s note: Having checked with the person named, no such assaults took place, no arrests were made, and Eddie Beckford is not under house arrest.]



The third article mentioned the events in Arad more indirectly, asking what logic lay behind the police policy of “arresting Orthodox protestors until the conclusion of the [investigative] procedure – while in Arad a violent missionary worker, a thug who injured and ran over a resident of Arad, is immediately released to go home.” MK HaRav Ya’akov Litzman of United Judaism raised the issue with Avi Dichter, Minister of Internal Defence, complaining of police discrimination “towards demonstrators from various sectors.” The Orthodox protestors against missionary activity in Arad, he argued, faced “violent provocations by the missionary workers who engaged in provocative hate activities designed to hurt the Orthodox protestors.”



The articles in HaMishpaha (July 26) and Yom L’Yom (July 26) both repeated the story of the “missionary appearance” on a military base (see last week’s Review).



Christians in Israel

Haaretz, July 30 (English and Hebrew editions; Ma’ariv, July 29; Tzafon-1, July 27, 2007 

The story featured last week concerning the “Nazareth Cross” continued this week in an article in Ma’ariv (July 29), which indicated that while the most natural opponents of the scheme to construct the world’s largest cross in Nazareth could have been expected to come from members of the city’s Muslim population, the fiercest critics were in fact members of the Christian community itself. Church leaders expressed their concern that the cross would “shadow the Church of the Annunciation and step on the sensitivities of other religions.” A claim was also raised that their objection was made in accordance with the Vatican’s opinion. “We, as church leaders, welcome every economic effort, especially in Nazareth, but only on condition that Christian symbols or the sensitivities of the faithful in other religions, whatever these are, will not be affected.”


In similar vein to the proposed cross project, four Christian villages in the vicinity of Nazareth – Fassuta, Mi’ilya, Jesh, and Ilabun – “recently decided to launch a new initiative aimed at attracting Christian pilgrims.” Unlike Nazareth, these villages are much less well known on the Christian map. Nonetheless, they are all seeking “to come up with a way to bring out the special and unique features of each destination.” Fassuta possesses a church – adorned with Vatican flags – named after the local saint Mar Elias, whom the villagers believe to protect them from harm, while the Apostle Paul’s parents are said to have lived in Jesh (Gush Chalav), on the north-eastern slopes of Mount Meron, and Mi’ilya, 20 kilometers north-east of Akko (Acre) “boasts the Frankish fortress of Castellum Regis, ‘the king’s castle’” (Haaretz, July 30). According to the Hebrew edition of the same date, one of Jesh’s Maronite priests stated that the village’s claim to fame was “not tradition. It’s history. And anyway, according to our understanding, there’s an eighty percent [chance] that Yeshu the Messiah passed through here from Tiberias to south Lebanon.”


Tzafon-1 (July 27), a local northern paper, carried the same story under the headline “Jesus Tours,” indicating that the four villages have combined forces to form a “Christian tourism cultural axis.” Commenting on the Maronite priest’s remark, the article also stated that “Future tourists will certainly not be able to check this [fact] for themselves, but only imagine how these places looked 2000 years ago.”



Christian Zionism

Jerusalem Post, August 2, 2007

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which has contributed significant funds raised by a Chicago-based evangelical organization for the renovation of private bomb shelters in northern Israel, has finally run out of patience with the government and announced that it will “begin work directly with local authorities and the IDF Home Front Command.” “‘We tried to achieve the goals with and through the government, but at a certain point – especially when the possibility of another war is there – you shift gears,’ Eckstein said. He estimated that the entire project could be completed within 60 to 75 days.”



The Pope and the Vatican

Haaretz, July 31 (English and Hebrew editions), 12; Jerusalem Post, July 27, 31, 2007

According to a report carried in the Jerusalem Post (July 31) and Haaretz (July 31), “Israel is urging Polish and Roman Catholic authorities to condemn a prominent priest over reported anti-Jewish comments, which its ambassador described Monday as the worst case of anti-Semitic speech in Poland in decades.” A tape is alleged to have the priest on record as “suggesting that Jews are greedy and Polish President Lech Kaczynski is subservient to Jewish lobbies.”



Globes, July 27, 2007

An Israeli businessman has created a high-tec firm solely to market a book chronicling the history of Israel which focuses largely on the role of Christian involvement in the country. Approached by one of the people who produced the “Israel at 50” book, Nimrod Almish saw the potential in a book describing Christian pilgrimage to Israel containing exclusive sources and pictures. Rather than sending it to a publisher, however, he decided to create a venture capital firm selling 1% shares to investors. The book will be marketed through large-scale organizations – churches, workplaces, bookshops, with a deal in the making with Amazon. It is designed to be a “best seller” – at the same time as a “historical document, an art creation, of religious value, and written in language that everyone can understand. It can be a reading book, a gift book, sold to workers’ committees, or serve as a fund-raising tool for churches. Some amazing research has been conducted here. We’ve discovered things we didn’t know – for example, that the Mongols also conquered Israel at one stage.” The decision to float the project through venture capital will allow the high-tec firm to garner further profits through the creation of posters, T-shirts, and greeting cards. The initiators have met with the Pope and say that the book has undergone proofreading “by all the Christian denominations, throughout the world, all of whom are interested in it.” It will appear in all the languages “relevant to Christianity.”