Caspari Center Media Review………….January 22, 2008
During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the subjects of anti-missionary activity, Christian Zionism, Christian sites, and archaeology. Of these:
5 dealt with anti-missionary activity
2 dealt with Christian Zionism
1 dealt with Christian sites
2 dealt with archaeology
1 dealt with the Vatican
This week’s Review is primarily constituted by anti-missionary material.
Ma’ariv, January 17; Mishpaha, January 10; Yom L’Yom, January 10; HaMahane Heharedi, January 10, 2008
HaMahane HeHaredi (January 10) ran the story of the Jew saved from the clutches of the missionaries by Orthodox propaganda, and Yom L’Yom (January 10, p. 5) ran the story of Yad L’Achim’s recent activity against the “missionaries” in Tel Aviv and Beersheva (see previous Reviews).
In its struggle against the establishment of a “missionary center” on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Yad L’Achim’s most recent action took the form of providing “religious and Orthodox MKs” with material “in order to enlist them in the fight against the mission.” According to a report in Yom L’Yom (January 10, p. 2), a prominent businessman in the north of the country brought the matter to the attention of the Minister of Tourism, meeting with him personally in order to stress its gravity.
Avi, who signed his letter to Mishpaha (January 10) “in sorrow and in hope of salvation,” responded to a previous article printed in the paper regarding missionary activity – but emphasized that his concern was less with the missionaries than with the need to “help the weak in order that they don’t get into such a situation [of being vulnerable to missionary activity].”
Ma’ariv (January 17) ran a short piece on Binyamin Kluger, one of Yad L’Achim’s veteran members in Jerusalem. As is well known, Kluger converted from Christianity. Having become a missionary, he ditched this profession on seeing how his colleagues treated Jews, telling them that, “‘Christianity is the true Judaism.’” His investigation of Islam led him to the conviction that that religion displayed even less respect towards Jews.” His final step was therefore to convert to Judaism.
Jerusalem Post, January 15; HaModia, January 15, 2008
HaModia (January 15) carried the story of the appointment of Christian representatives to the Jewish Agency’s administration (see previous Reviews).
In his column for the Jerusalem Post of January 15, entitled “Where the Christian Left is wrong,” Elwood McQuaid denounced its members for their negative attitude towards Israel following the recent political developments. “The American religious Left has felt compelled to issue a series of documents slanted toward the Arab and Palestinian points of view, urging the powers that be to muscle Israel to accede to demands that will place Israelis in a virtually untenable position regarding their future security.” The body of the article is devoted, however, not to an attack on the religious Left but to a defence of the religious Right and Christian Zionism: “First and foremost, on the matter of believing God’s biblical promises regarding Jewish rights to a homeland in Eretz Yisrael, we are guilty as charged … Second, the accusation that we are anti-Palestinian is completely without foundation. The Palestinians are caught in the middle of a conflict created and maintained by the manipulative mismanagement of their leaders who act on their own behalf, disregarding the needs of their people. The most unfortunate are the Palestinian Christian … With regard to the charge of meddling in politics, let it be said that Christian Zionism is not primarily a political action movement … That said, there is a point where politics and biblical, prophetic realities converge. This is not a matter of dictation but observation … For Israelis and the Jewish state, the issue is survival within secure, recognized borders. And for Palestinians, Christians, and others, it is the right to pursue productive and tranquil lives without fear of radical Islamist discrimination.”
Olam HaIsha, January 1, 2008
The women’s magazine Olam HaIsha (January 1) suggested that, “In honor of Yeshu the Nazarene’s birthday, accept a recommendation for a trip to the Mount of Beatitudes.” In preparation for the trip, it gave some background: “The Mount of Beatitudes is one of the most important places in Christianity. Here, Yeshu delivered the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ which contains the principles of Christianity, which begins with the word ‘Blessed’ – from which the Mount gets its name. Yeshu coined the metaphor of the ‘salt of the earth’ when in the sermon he turned to his believers [ma’minim]: ‘Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are the peace-seekers, you are the salt of the earth’ … It’s worthwhile to come prepared and to read beforehand about the importance of the place for Christianity.”
Jerusalem Post, January 17; Haaretz, January 17, 2008
At a recent conference convened to “evaluate ‘the Talpiot Tomb [of Jesus] in context,’” Ruth Gat accepted a lifetime achievement award on behalf of her late husband, Yosef Gat (Jerusalem Post, January 17). In her speech, she “unleashed an archeological earthquake” by “calmly” telling the gathered scholars that, “her husband knew he had found ‘the burial tomb of Jesus Christ,’ and that he had ‘serious concerns and fears’ over the consequences of his discovery.” Gat’s notes were written up sixteen years following his death – shortly following the excavation – by Amos Kloner, who disagreed with Gat’s opinion. “Kloner restated that position to the Post after Mrs. Gat spoke, and said the idea that Gat had believed he had found Jesus’s tomb was ‘absolutely not the case.’” The conference was attended by prominent scholars, including Shimon Gibson and Eric Meyers, who “indicated that they did not believe the tomb on East Talpiot’s Dov Gruner Street was linked to Jesus,” and Israel Knohl and James Tabor, who both indicated that “it was very possible that this was the tomb of Jesus.” James Charlesworth, the “highly respected chairman of the symposium,” sided with the former, but cautioned that, “‘We have to be open to the possibility that [the tomb] is related to the Jesus clan.’” Jacobovici, the filmmaker who brought the discovery to the world’s attention, said “‘he fell off the chair’” at Ruth Gat’s words, adding that he “felt vindicated by the conference and by the call by several speakers for further study at the tomb, as well as for more research at a neighboring tomb that might hold further information.” (The Haaretz article was an abridged report of the same story.)
Yediot Ahronot, January 14, 2008
More than a hundred years ago, the Pope gave permission to “Jews” to sell Christian souvenirs and artifacts in St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican is revoking the right. According to the one of the 120 peddlers, the “trade” began at the end of the nineteenth century, when “the popes decided that peddling was not a proper profession for Christians, and it was therefore decided that Jews should engage in it.’” A Vatican official was cited as stating: “‘This isn’t a question of discrimination against a religious background but against a commercial background. It is our intention to involve the Chief Rabbi in the affair.’” No details were given as to why the decision was taken at this time or on what specific grounds. It does appear, however, that it is to take effect immediately, putting many Jews – some of whom are third-generation peddlers – out of work.