Caspari Center Media Review………….August 14, 2007
During the week covered by this review, we received 27 articles on the subjects of Messianic Judaism, missionary and anti-missionary activity, Jewish-Catholic relations, anti-Semitism, Christian Zionism, film, and archaeology. Of these:
2 dealt with Messianic Judaism
4 dealt with missionary and anti-missionary activity
5 dealt with Jewish-Christian relations
4 dealt with anti-Semitism
1 dealt with Christian Zionism
4 dealt with film
1 dealt with archaeology
The remaining 6 articles dealt with various matters of Jewish and Christian interest.
This week’s Review includes a letter written by the pastor of the congregation in Arad in response to the alleged events of violence in the city. This is supplemented by reports of anti-missionary appeals to the government regarding the “unlawful” missionary invasion of military bases. The media also marks the death of Cardinal Lustiger and the thirty-day memorial of Marcel Dubois’ death – as well as the broadcasting of the “Jesus Camp” film.
HaTzvi, July 26, August 2; Jerusalem Post, August 9, 2007
Yakim Figueras, the pastor of the Arad congregation, wrote a letter to HaTzvi (August 2) distancing the Messianic community from all acts of violence. “I want to express unambiguously my disgust at any act of violence which may perhaps have been committed by Messianic Jews in Arad. We reject violence, we oppose it in all its forms, denunciate it, and preach against it. Yeshua teaches us the contrary – to pray for those who persecute us and to seek their welfare.” He went on to explain that the harassment the congregation has experienced – which he detailed – has provoked some of the community to acts from which they would normally refrain. He himself ignored several suggestions – including one from a police officer – to retaliate with force. The police themselves, as also the mayor, he stated, were claiming that they could do little to stop the provocations. He concluded by saying: “By the way, according to my understanding, the second case of violence noted in the article [published in the paper on July 26] relating to a ‘missionary’ was not carried out by any missionary whatsoever but by an elderly atheist, who regularly plays at chess club mentioned. I write in my name and in the name of the Messianic congregation ‘Chasdei Yeshua’ which meets in a house on Gilad St. We share the same faith as those who run the chess club and we are their brothers – but we have no connection to or part in what happened there.”
The second article (Jerusalem Post, August 9) mentioned Messianic Jews in passing, being a report on the “Christian theme park” “The Holy Land Experience” in Orlando, Florida. The “living Biblical museum,” as its owners like to call it, aims at recreating the Jerusalem of biblical times, including a reenactment of Jesus’ crucifixion. The site not only contains a scriptorium reportedly holding the largest collection of rare Bible and artifacts outside the Vatican but also shops selling ‘souvenirs’ – “Bibles and other Christian items, including a genealogical map linking Adam to Jesus, handbags, necklaces and T-shirts. The shops also sell yarmulkes and menorahs, targeted at Messianic Jews, who believe in Jesus as the Messiah.”
HaTzvi, July 26; HaTzofeh, August 10; HaModiah, August 9, pp. 2, 8, 2007
As noted above, HaTzvi (July 26) ran a report on the alleged events in Arad covered in last week’s Review. While the two articles were fundamentally identical, this one did not mention anyone by name.
Following the incursion of the “Obey the Lord Today” group onto a military base (see previous Reviews) – a “severe security failure” – MK Meir Porush has brought a question to the Minister of Defence, asking whether it is legal for missionaries to enter military bases (HaZofeh, August 10; HaModia, August 2, p. 2). “Is not the entrance of missionaries to any military base a violation of the law? Does their entrance by deceptive means not prove apparently that terrorists or other hostile forces can enter military bases and camps? Does the Minister of Defence intend to investigate the incident and take measures?” While the report in HaZofeh indicated that Porush had warned that the missionaries were planning similar events on other bases, it also indicated that the paper had obtained information that such events had already taken place – “but the missionaries had not succeeded in entering the bases and held their performances outside, so that they did not require a permit.”
A second feature in the same paper (August 9, p. 9) reported Yad L’Achim’s discovery of a new “missionary center” in the heart of Tel Aviv, masquerading as a soup kitchen. Not only are the needy people who attend provided with fresh sandwiches, but when they leave they are given free literature describing the life of “that man.” According to the piece, Yad L’Achim claim that the soup kitchen constitutes “a clear violation of Israeli law, which forbids any kind of missionary activity in exchange for benefits.” The organization asserts that the soup kitchen is run by “Calvary Chapel Institute” in cooperation with the “Messianic Jews.” About three hundred people receive hot meals in their houses weekly from the organization, which also offers a range of social services, including clothing and medical treatment. As per their usual mode of operation, Yad L’Achim contacted the owner of the building from whom the soup kitchen is renting the premises. Having been informed of the deception being practiced on him, the latter is now taking legal steps to try to cancel the three-year lease signed with the organization. A picture of the building appeared at the top of the article, with the caption: “May the public know and be warned.”
Haaretz, August 3; Ma’ariv, August 7; Makor Rishon, August 7; Yediot Ahronot, August 7; Jerusalem Post, August 7; Metro Israel, August 6, 2007
The deaths of two outstanding Catholic figures are marked in this week’s press. The first article (Haaretz, August 3) appeared on the thirty-day memorial for Marcel Dubois, a prominent Dominican who lived in Israel most of his life and contributed greatly to Israeli society (see previous Reviews).
The media also noted the death of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, who died this past week of cancer at age 80. The Cardinal, who served as Archbishop of Paris until a few years ago and was mentioned as a possible successor to his close friend and mentor, Pope John Paul II, was born Aaron Lustiger in France in 1947. His mother, Gisele, perished in Auschwitz, Aaron being saved by being sent away with his sister. He became a Catholic in 1940, at the age of 14, yet always considered himself to be Jewish: “For me it was never for an instance of denying my Jewish identity. On the contrary’ … ‘Christianity is the fruit of Judaism’” (Jerusalem Post, August 7). When he was invited – controversially – to address the World Jewish Congress, Lustiger spoke to reporters “and declared as always: ‘I consider myself both Christian and Jewish’” (Makor Rishon, August 7). Lustiger maintained and nurtured ties with the French Jewish community, which considered him their supporter. The respect and esteem with which he was held in Jewish circles was evident in the number of articles which noted his death, as in the way in they reported it, focusing on his Jewish background: “Influential French religious leader Cardinal Lustiger, who left Judaism for Catholicism, dies at 80” (Jerusalem Post); “The well-known French Jewish apostate dies at age 80” (Ma’ariv); “The Jewish Archbishop of Paris dies” (Makor Rishon); “The Catholic experiment/experience of the Jews” (Yediot Ahronot); “The Jew who became an Archbishop dies” (Metro Israel).
Yediot Ahronot, August 8; Jerusalem Post, August 7, 8; Ma’ariv, August 6, 2007
This week’s press continues to comment on the anti-Semitic remarks of a Polish priest, the Jerusalem Post (August 7) remarking that “the continuing anti-Semitic rhetoric of Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, founder of Poland’s Catholic, nationalist Radio Maryja, and the Polish government’s refusal to come out publicly against the rhetoric, has angered senior Israeli government officials.” Likewise, the press noted Pope Benedict’s meeting with Rydzyk. “Photos showing the pope at his summer residence with the Rev. Tadeusz Rydzyk, along with two other Polish priests, were published in Polish newspapers Tuesday. The Vatican has not commented on the meeting. But a Vatican official confirmed yesterday that the three were brought to the pope, along with other pilgrims, after the pope’s weekly blessing Sunday at Castel Gondolfo, his summer home” (Jerusalem Post, August 8). Yediot Ahronot (August 8) stated in its headline: “Pope gives blessing to anti-Semitic priest.”
Another (Italian) Catholic priest has also recently made anti-Semitic remarks (Ma’ariv, August 6). Adding insult to injury, Don Gelmino, who is being investigated on charges of sexual molestation of youths, countered the accusations by saying that they were “a Jewish conspiracy.” “They thought about what happened in America, the exploitation made there of the affair of pedophile priests. The whole church doesn’t have to pay the price. There’s a world conspiracy of the lobby, how can it be described? A radical Jewish lobby that is fighting the American church with the intention of weakening all of it.”
Sihat HaIr, July 20, 2007
According to a report in Sihat HaIr (July 20), a local Beit She’an paper, an American Christian organization by the name of the “House of David” has adopted the town and intends to contribute funds towards its development. In stating its purposes, the Christian Zionist group asserted: “The ‘House of David’ organization is engaging in extensive activity in Beit She’an in order to help the Mayor, Jackie Levi, realize his goal … God helped us find the best Mayor and the best city. We were very impressed by you, Mr. Mayor, already several years ago when we first visited here. We haven’t come to give you a vision but to help you fulfil yours.” The article defined Christian Zionists as “people who love Israel and believe that Christianity directs them to love Israel and to help Jews in the Land.” “House of David” runs a television program broadcast across the States, which focuses exclusively on Israel and “how to help the citizens of the State.”
Pnai Plus, August 2; Haaretz, August 6; Globes, August 7; Yediot Ahronot, August 7, 2007
The broadcasting of the documentary film “Jesus Camp” on YES Docu this past week garnered much attention from the local media. (See previous Reviews for the film.) The children’s religious “conservatism” was interpreted in many cases as akin to Islamic terrorism, fundamentalism being considered the same in whatever religious tradition it occurs. The reviewers were generally shocked by the “Christian jihad against American democracy and the whole world” being conducted by millions of evangelicals. “Either you’re with them or you’re against them. In one of the scenes, a mother forces her child to swear allegiance to the flag. They have three: The first is the American flag, the second is the flag of the church, and the third is the flag of Israel. It warms the heart, no?” (Yediot Ahronot, August 7).
Shishi BeGolan, August 3, 2007
This season’s excavations have come to an end at Bethesda with new findings related to the Iron Age gate of the city as well as the plaza in front of it. According to Dr. Rami Arav, the excavation’s director, “In the area next to the gate, we found parts of the main street that led into the city from the gate. On this paved road, from the ninth century b.c.e. we plan to lead visitors to the site from the gate.”