Caspari Center Media Review………….October 16, 2007
During the week covered by this review, we received 9 articles on the subjects of missionary and anti-missionary activity, Christian Zionism, Christian sites, Christians in Israel, interfaith activity, and anti-Semitism. Of these:
3 dealt with missionary and anti-missionary activity
4 dealt with Christians in Israel
1 dealt with Christian Zionism
1 dealt with Christian tourism
This week’s Review was very sparse, but focused largely on missionary and anti-missionary activity together with various aspects of Christian life in Israel and the Middle East.
Yediot Tel Aviv, September 29; Hadash BeBeit Shemesh, October 7; HaModia, October 11, 2007
As part of their latest publicity campaign, Jews for Jesus recently took out a full-page advert in Yediot Tel Aviv, a local Tel Aviv paper (September 29). This signals a landmark, constituting one of the first occasions on which an Israeli paper has agreed to carry an advert sponsored by a Messianic organization. The top half of the page carried the large headline “Yeshua gave his life,” under which in smaller letters was written “We’re only giving a free book. On the other side of a picture of the book in question – entitled There’s Hope – was the message: “There’s Hope. A book on the subject of the end times in the light of Scripture and the New Testament. In honor of the feasts, ‘Jews for Jesus’ are happy to give you the gift of the book There’s Hope. The book surveys the biblical prophecies concerning the end times and discloses God’s plan to redeem the whole world through Messiah ben David. Already more than two thousand years ago [!], Yeshua fulfilled the biblical prophecies concerning the Messiah by giving his life as a sacrifice for the sins of every person, Jew and non-Jew, and rose from the dead in order to give eternal life to all who believe in him. Do you want to know more? Yeshua gave his life for you; the least we can do is give you a free book.” Readers were invited to order their copy of the book by phoning a Tel Aviv number or visiting the web site www.yshua.co.il.
Another “missionary” event took place in Tiberias over Sukkot. According to a report in HaModia (October 11), four hundred missionaries (two hundred especially brought over from the States!) distributing leaflets in a “fair” were met by “tens of Yad L’Achim workers” who made sure that they spoke to every youth with whom the “missionaries” had made contact. On two occasions over the three-day event Yad L’Achim called for police intervention, the first in relation to an alleged contact with a minor, the second when a missionary “lost control of himself in the face of [Yad L’Achim’s] successful counter-activity and propaganda. Several of the missionaries attacked one of the Yad L’Achim workers in an attempt to prevent his appeal to passers-by not to go near the dubious missionaries’ tent. On this occasion also the policemen detained the missionaries for questioning.” In one of the ironies of the event, Yad L’Achim took pains to talk to all the youths approached, many of whom allegedly gave their contact details to the organization’s workers. The latter also collected all the literature in the park in order that it might not fall into unsuspecting hands.
According to a report in the local Beit Shemesh paper, Hadash BeBeit Shemesh (October 7), the comics tract campaign has also reached that city. In similar fashion to other places, Yad L’Achim claim that their offices have been flooded with complaints from parents “in some of which cases the parents had been exposed to the tracts after these had already reached the hands of their children who inundated them with various and strange questions following their reading of the destructive and specious literature.” The organization also claims to have discovered the perpetrators of the campaign – “members of a messianic congregation calling itself ‘Kehilat Yerushalayim Beit Geula’ under the leadership of the infamous Messianic Jewish missionary, Menahem (Meno) Kalisher.” As in other cities, Yad L’Achim has instructed its lawyer to file a complaint with the police on behalf of “hundred of parents” against the “gross violation” of the anti-missionary laws (see previous Reviews). As we reported earlier, Kehilat Yerushalayim Beit Geula has confirmed to us that they are not responsible for distribution of the tract “Where is Rabbi Wachsman,” the same tract with which mail boxes in Beit Shemesh are being swamped.
Christians in Israel
Yediot Ahronot, October 5; Ma’ariv, October 8, 11; Makor Rishon, October 8, 2007
A lengthy article appeared in Yediot Ahronot (September 5) covering the long-running battle over the appointment of the “new” Greek Patriarch, Theophilus III (see previous Reviews). Israel has refused to approve Theophilus’ appointment because of alleged real estate misdealings. Following an appeal to the Supreme Court, Theophilus has now turned to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Not only is he fighting the State of Israel, however. According to the report, “the heads of churches from all over the world have recently hired a law firm specializing in international law, paid $50,000 on the bill, and provided the opinion of top-level theologians, together with photos and videos of what has been happening in the patriarchal backyard in Jerusalem.” The affair includes top government officials, estate agents, and lawyers, all of whom are accused of involvement in seeking to control church property for personal gain. As the article notes, “The Greek Orthodox church, which is the richest, strongest, and most important in the Land, numbers around 40,000 Israeli believers. But no less significantly: it owns real estate of thousands of dunams with a value of billions of dollars, including extensive properties in Jerusalem: the prestigious neighborhoods of Rehavia and Talbieh, Givat Ram [one of the campuses of the Hebrew University], in the Old City, and elsewhere. The Knesset building, the government offices, the residences of the Prime Minister and President are all built on church lands.” Greek Orthodox property also extends to Caesarea, Yaffo, Ramle, Lod, Nazareth, Akko, Beit Shemesh, Beit She’an, Capernaum, and Tiberias – “and this is only a partial list.”
The same affair also reached the news with respect to Theophilus’ agreement to revoke real estate sales to Jews in order to arrive at “peace” with Archbishop Atallah Hanna (Makor Rishon, October 8). The archbishop demanded that Theophilus cancel all such sales made by his predecessor as a precondition for reconciliation – as well as guaranteeing the rights of all Arab clerics in Judaea, Samaria, and Gaza, Jordan, and Israel, and adding Hanna to the council of bishops.
A disturbing piece in Ma’ariv (October 8) reviewed the situation of Christians throughout the Middle East. Having surveyed the recent murder of a Bible Society worker in Gaza; the increasing emigration of Christians throughout the Middle East, including from those areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahur, and the West Bank); the persecution of Christians in Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt (the largest Christian community in the region, the Copts – comprising six of the total ten million); the law in Saudia Arabia, America’s staunch ally in the region, which forbids the erection of churches and the harassment of Christians in the country; the reduction in Syria’s Christian population from ten to six percent; and the Vatican’s silence regarding all the above, the article concludes: “The Vatican also does not see fit to laud the only State in the region in which the reverse trend exists – the strengthening of the Christian minority, Israel. Yes, only in Israel has an increase in the number of Christians been registered, thanks to tens of thousands of believers, Christian families members of Jews, who have come here under the auspices of the Law of Return.”
Finally, a very brief notice appeared in Ma’ariv (October 11) reporting that one of Beitar’s football stars, a Brazilian by the name of Romollo, visited the Old City in Jerusalem with his wife last week, “and the fact that he is a Christian did not prevent him from concluding his trip by inserting a note in the Western Wall.”
Yediot Ahronot, October 5, 2007
An opinion piece in Yediot Ahronot (October 5) related to the story of Michael Weinstein covered in last week’s Review (Anti-Semitism). The article in question was not the one covered in the Review but related to Yechiel Eckstein – “another warm American Jew, even a Rabbi. Except that he loves evangelicals. Because they contribute [money]. And they also love Bibi [Netanyahu], and the Temple, and pray that the Messiah will quickly return in our days and turn all Jews into Christians, and will take us to Paradise. Only Jews who refuse to convert – they’ll be burned in the fire of hell. But this isn’t a reason to shy away from them. Indeed, they’ve contributed hundreds of millions of dollars. A hundred million good, green reasons to continue loving them, so Yechiel Eckstein explains.” It is evident that the author of the piece has little time either for Michael Weinstein or for Christian Zionists! So who’s left?
Ma’ariv, October 11, 2007
A German Jew who fled his homeland having beaten up a Nazi thug in 1934 ended up in the Galilee as a farmer and tour guide. Reuven ben Dori (Heinz Lauffer) established himself as the first cinema owner in the region, created the Galilee Tours Agency and the Camel Farm – and “the wooden boats of Yeshu on the Sea of Galilee.” The latter idea occurred to ben Dori following the discovery of the Jesus boat in 1986, when he began making similar boats for Christian pilgrims. His search for the prototype took him to a small village in Goshen, Egypt (!), where he found a family of boatmakers. “Each boat is sixteen meters long and five and a half meters wide, according to the model of the ancient boats which plied the Sea of Galilee.” The name of the company: Holy Land Sailing.