July 28 – 2008

Caspari Center Media Review………….July 28, 2008

During the week covered by this review, we received 7 articles on the subjects of Messianic Judaism, anti-missionary activity, and Christian Zionism. Of these:

2 dealt with Messianic Jews
2 dealt with anti-missionary activity
1 dealt with Christian Zionism
2 were book reviews
The primary news in this – very sparse week – was the Ministry of Interior’s decision to permit the immigration of Messianic Jews under the citizenship law.
Messianic Jews
HaMahane HeHaredi, July 25; Mishpaha, July 24, 2008
Both papers reported the fall-out of the Ministry of Interior’s recent declaration, made in response to “ten missionaries” who appealed to the Supreme Court, that it would allow “Messianic Jews” to make aliyah in accordance with the citizenship law. Under the headline, “Tens of thousands of Messianic Jews from India are waiting to make aliyah to Eretz Israel on the authority of the Interior Ministry,” HaMahane heHaredi (July 25) noted that: “During these days, Yad L’Achim has received new practical echoes of that shameful decision. The first and most prominent is a report which appeared on the network ‘Shanghai Express.’ According to this report, ‘residents of a north-west Indian province, who declare their faith [in Jesus] and in the past were denied Israeli citizenship because they had ‘converted,’ may now submit an application for Israeli citizenship in the wake of the green light given by the Israeli government, following several years of struggle. The report states that ‘the United Council of Messianic Youth in India (the highest missionary body in the country), located in “New Lamboline” in Impal, declared in April 2008 that the Israeli Supreme Court had approved the bestowal of citizenship on Messianic Jews according to the Law of Return and thereby amended the previous law passed fifteen years earlier.’”
Anti-missionary Activities
HaModia, July 21; Shavuon, July 17, 2008
These two pieces reported MK Meir Porush’s approach to the Minister of Internal Security, Avi Dichter, questioning whether he truly believes that is no difference between “‘distributing shabbat candles to hospital patients and distributing missionary symbols? Is distributing shabbat candles a criminal offense?’” The reference is to Mane International’s visit to Schneider Children’s Hospital, where the group handed out stuffed toy lambs – “which symbolize ‘that man’ in Christianity” (see previous Reviews). Dichter’s response was that such distribution raised “no suspicion of the committing of any crime.”
Christian Zionism
Jerusalem Post, July 22, 2008
The fifth annual Jerusalem Summit Asia held recently in Jerusalem represents part of Israel’s ongoing attempt to enlist the support of Christian friends of Israel. According to the report in the Jerusalem Post (July 22), “Israeli politicians and academics reached out to a group of Asian evangelical religious and political leaders on Monday, in an increasingly more global Judeo-Christian alliance against radical Islam.” The members of the Summit, primarily from Asian countries, not only work to promote Israel in Asia, theologically and politically, but also see this as a way of stemming the Islamic anti-Christian tide: “‘The unifying center for all evangelicals is Jerusalem,’ said Dmitry Radyshevsky, executive director of the Jerusalem Summit. ‘Besides, they understand that radical Islam is an equal danger for Christians as it is for Jews.’” MK Benny Alon, head of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, added: “‘I would rather be politically incorrect and biblically correct.’”
Book Reviews
Jerusalem Post, July 25; Haaretz, July 25, 2008
Daniel Radosh, “a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn,” and currently staff writer for the satirical Spy magazine, has authored a book entitled Rapture Ready! (Simon and Schuster, 2008), reviewed in the Jerusalem Post (July 25) by David Brinn. In his “Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture” – the latter of which includes “a Christian-themed breath mint called Testamints” and “kids superhero Bibleman, the self-described ‘Batman for Jesus’ who spouts Scripture while pummeling the bad guys” –  Radosh “finds just the right balance between compassion and cynicism, amusement and respect, as he traverses America, finding himself in unlikely situations like the International Christian Retail Show in Denver, Colorado, and the Great Passion Play, an Arkansas attraction with anti-Semitic roots where Radosh goes undercover as an extra and finds himself playing a member of an angry mob demanding Jesus’s crucifixion.” Along the way, “Radosh recounts the history of modern Christian pop culture and places the blame – or credit – squarely on the shoulders of evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.” In addition to the “punch lines,” Radosh “provides some entertaining insights into the paradoxes presented by the attempts to integrate Christian culture into the larger, dominating American culture … Radosh’s final analysis after recounting visits in 18 locations in 13 states is that ‘American evangelicalism is a tremendously heterodox society that is not well represented by its shrillest component, the religious right.’ The American Christian movement, he writes, can be a force for moderation. ‘Although there are still many Christian products being manufactured by hacks with an agenda, the market is shifting to favor genuine artists … as that happens, it is shifting to favor tolerance and reflection.’” Brinn’s conclusion: “Opening his readers to a complex subculture with an abundance of unusual characters, Radosh’s traveling road show is riveting, side-splitting and thoughtful. Anyone who’s ever chuckled while flipping the channel away from one more TV evangelist would do well to pick up a copy and get ready to be shocked.”
Ivar Damish’s book, Memoirs of A Childhood by Piero della Francesca, has been translated into Hebrew from the French by Leah Dovev and published by the Kibbutz HaMeuchad Press (2008). Yitzhak Lior reviewed the translation in Haaretz (July 25), noting that “a book about one painting might sound boring, but this book on the fresco ‘Madonna del Parto’ by Piero della Francesca, is more fascinating than any course in the history of art.” One of Damish’s goals, according to Lior, appears to have been to reject Freud’s analysis of art and “to assert, cautiously, that in order to interpret Renaissance paintings one first has to understand Christian theology.”