Caspari Center Media Review………….September 5, 2007
During the week covered by this review, we received 22 articles on the subjects of Messianic Judaism, missionary and anti-missionary activity, Christian sites, Israel, and anti-Semitism. Of these:
3 dealt with Messianic Judaism
2 dealt with missionary and anti-missionary activity
1 dealt with Christian sites
1 dealt with Israel
1 dealt with anti-Semitism
The remaining 14 articles dealt with various matters of Jewish and Christian interest.
This week’s Review features “Messianic Judaism” as perceived by various Jewish representatives.
Jerusalem Post, August 24, 29; Yediot Afula, August 24, 2007
An article reporting the repeated vandalization of the Conservative synagogue in Arad in the Jerusalem Post (August 29) concluded with two references to Messianic Judaism. A police spokesperson was quoted as saying, “We have no suspects so far. We hope it is not part of the tensions that exist between the haredim here and the Messianic Jews,” following which a Gur Hasid was cited as denying any knowledge of the events. “‘The real danger here is the Messianic Jews,’ he said.”
A letter published in the same paper (August 24) by Sergio Minerbi related to Cardinal Lustiger’s “Jewish-Christian” identity. Minerbi argued that since Lustiger “could not express himself on matters of doctrine without a prior ‘imprimatur’ from the highest ranks of the church,” “this is a new stance of the Catholic Church itself.” Minerbi attempted to substantiate this claim by reference to Father Daniel, a well-known Hebrew Catholic who was denied citizenship because of his faith. He too, apparently, “acted upon the authorization, if not instigation, of the ecclesiastical authorities.” Minerbi concluded: “Lustiger’s position expressed the ideas of the Church. By stating that his ‘Judaism fulfilled itself in Christianity,’ he was inviting all Jews to convert to Christianity. Along the same lines, he stated that the Jews had the mission to bring the light to all other people, a mission they could realize through Christianity. Like an amoeba, the Church embraces its prey with love, and then eats it from within. We Jews can definitely do without such treatment.”
The caption under a picture of a youngsters published in Yediot Afula veHaAmakim (August 24) read: “40 young girls and boys from the ‘Jewish Christian’ [notzrim yehudim] organization were hosted this week at the WIZO youth village in Nir HaEmek under the framework of a project encouraging dialog between Jews, Arabs, and Germans.”
HaModia, August 27; HaTzvi, August 23, 2007
HaTzvi printed an additional response this week to Yakim Figueras’ letter (see previous Reviews). The author asserted that he was inclined to accept Yakim’s claim that Messianic Jews are fundamentally non-violent: “I have no doubt that the missionary cult in the city has no intention of being caught up in violence. It’s clear that their basic tendency is to operate according to the principles of peace, civility, and smiling. The vast majority of the city’s residents are not familiar with the angry and violent face of the missionaries. They are known to most of the city’s residents precisely as cheerful and really pleasant people, full of courtesy and friendliness.” This, of course, is not the positive thing which one might expect, however. Peaceful and amiable people are far more dangerous than angry violent ones, whose true motives are clear and unambiguous.
A piece in HaModia (August 27) ran under the headline “Con men and missionaries are disguising themselves under false names or as marketing and survey researchers.” It related to a recent religious ruling that unsolicited telephone calls constitute a particular danger to children, arguing that the purpose of “burglars and missionaries and the such like” was to find out when houses would be unoccupied and thus present an opportunity for breaking-in.
Yediot Yerushalayim, August 24, 2007
A lengthy article in the local Jerusalem paper took a long hard look at the city’s cleanliness – or lack thereof, especially with respect to its holy sites. It remarked that the Via Dolorosa, visited by “thousands of tourists” as the “crowning climax of every Christian pilgrimage,” in fact greeted them with “piles of rubbish and overflowing trash bins.” Visitors to the German Church of the Redeemer “pass on their way in piles of rubbish and refuse which has not been collected for several days,” while the cenacle (the “Upper Room”) is an “uncultivated site, dimly lit and no one bothers to change the burnt out bulbs. Visitors to the site are met on their entrance and exit with piles of rubbish and construction filth.” The Russian Compound, just outside the old city, which contains the Holy Trinity Church, is similarly “a filthy site covered with piles of rubbish. Broken vodka bottles litter the ground. The area is neglected and it appears that people from the sanitation department have not visited for some time.” Tourists beware!
Haaretz, August 26, 2007
On a – somewhat – happier note, an article in the national paper reported that an American company has begun selling land near Yokneam in the north of the country to “Jews and Christians,” particularly in the States. The firm, the “Israel Land Development Corporation,” is aware that members of both religions are eager to have a concrete share in the Holy Land and has therefore begun selling plots at an affordable price. Purchasers receive a certificate of ownership of the land. The project is marketed as a good wedding, baptism, or bar mitzvah gift. According to a Ben-Gurion University professor, “the project employs ‘modern technology to exploit the most primitive of emotions. People are always inventing new schemes and without doubt we’re talking here of a strange ploy. It’s a very creative initiative, but it borders on fraud.’”
HaModia, August 30, 2007
Researchers for the general prosecution in Poland have rejected claims made by various bodies this week that Tadeusz Rydzyk’s Catholic radio station Radio Maryja is legally liable. Having taken a preliminary look at the evidence, the researchers concluded that “the priest has not violated the law.” The article also reported, however, that a group of Polish Catholic bishops have called for Rydzyk’s dismissal from the station.