August 29 – 2008

Caspari Center Media Review………….August 29, 2008

During the week covered by this review, we received 9 articles on the subjects of Messianic Judaism, anti-missionary activity, Christian Zionism, and Christians in Israel. Of these:

1 dealt with Messianic Jews
2 dealt with anti-missionary activity
3 dealt with Christians in Israel
2 dealt with Christian Zionism
1 dealt with Christians in the Holocaust

This week’s Review was a smorgasbord of different news items.
Messianic Jews
Yediot Ahronot, August 22, 2008
In a letter published in Yediot Ahronot (August 22) in response to its article on Ya’akov Damkani, Michael Itzkovitz took the side of Messianic Judaism, claiming that while some sects do exploit their members, “Messianic Jews are the opposite. They help Holocaust survivors, prostitutes, and the poor – which the State doesn’t do. Does the Center for Terror Victims help these people? I don’t think so. It is even more disgraceful to read that Orthodox families abandon their children simply because they begin to believe in Yeshu – and it is precisely Messianic Jews who accept them with open arms. So instead of hating Messianic Jews those haters should start accepting the ‘other’ without problems into their society.”
Anti-missionary Activity
Shavuon, August 22; HaModia, August 19, 2008
HaModia (August 19) carried the story of how a woman in economic straits had fallen victim to a sect it identified as “People of the Cult.”
A piece appeared in Shavuon (August 22) decrying the “taking over” of the traditional Jerusalem March during Sukkot by Christian groups. The report suggested that such participation serves as an indication of the “strength” these groups are gaining in Israel – and is therefore to be banned. It also claimed that it has been “verified” that many of the bystanders who cheered the marchers had been “supported financially” by these Christians.
Christians in Israel
Ma’ariv, August 21; Yediot Ahronot, August 21; Haaretz, August 20, 2008
Alonei Abba, in the lower Galilee, is located on the site of a Templar settlement. In the center of the moshav is a Templar church. One of the veteran residents, who now acts as a guide, recalled her childhood memories of the place: “‘As a child, I grew up thinking that every settlement in the country had a church at its center. The church lay at the heart of our childhood: we played in it, I celebrated my bat mitzvah in it, we ate the Passover Seder in it. It sounds strange, I know, but in those days it was very natural.’” Although the Templar church, built in 1916, is now in a state of disrepair, it is due to undergo renovations and be turned into a music center (Haaretz, August 20).
A legal battle has recently erupted between local Christians and a Jewish organization over the latter’s ostensible use of the Cenacle (the site of the Last Supper) on Mount Zion. A Catholic group called Tankredi, whose aim is to preserve Crusader sites and traditional Catholic values amongst the local Catholic community, is claiming that a Jewish organization devoted to the study of the family and family laws is using part of the Cenacle, “one of the most important Christian sites in Israel.” Tankredi is seeking the dissolution of the Jewish organization, which it charges is a front, disguising Jewish attempts to take control of premises in the Old City. It has further objected that the organization has begun structural work to prepare the way for the connection of the site to electric cables and sewage pipes without permission – activities which the Catholic organization claims to be putting the building at risk and constituting an illegal “conversion” of the premises into Jewish hands. Following complaints to the Police and the district archaeologist, the organization petitioned the Supreme Court, which has now issued a temporary restraining order preventing the Jewish organization from performing any further work – despite the fact that the Antiquities Authority has acknowledged that it gave post facto permission for the work to be carried out and affirmed that no damage has been caused.
In an interview with Nazareth Illit’s mayor, who has served in his official capacity in the city for 42 years, the outgoing incumbent stated that over the years Nazareth Illit has become a “refuge” for Christian Arabs from the region, whose conflict with Muslim Arabs is at times very fierce – and “‘greater than that between Jews and Muslims’” (Yediot Ahronot, August 21).
Christian Zionism
Yated Ne’eman, August 22; Jerusalem Post, August 21, 2008
In response to Ehud Olmert’s controversial claim that he has given approval for the immigration of the Bnei Menashe tribe in northern India, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews stated in the Jerusalem Post (August 21) that “he was assured by the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday that Olmert had in fact made the decision to bring the Bnei Menashe to Israel. ‘We’re treating this as a fait accompli,’ he said, noting that the IFCJ has taken out newspaper adverts for Thursday supporting the move and offering to contribute some $20-30 million over the next two years to facilitate the aliya.”
Yated Ne’eman (August 22) devoted a lengthy article to an “exposé” of Yechiel Eckstein and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, garnering most of its information – and many of its quotes – from Mina Fenton, a fervent anti-missionary campaigner. Among her claims was one that maintained that in one of his books Eckstein asserts that he became a member of Jews for Jesus!
Christians in the Holocaust
Haaretz, August 24, 2008
Anna Reisen Flescher, born in Rhinefelden in Switzerland in 1915, died this week as one of the Righteous of the Nations. Falscher’s mother died when she was three, her father when she was 14, and she was forced to leave school and start work as a salesperson in Geneva and then a housekeeper in London. In 1941, she moved to Rome to live with her twin sister, Carla. When Carla returned to Switzerland in 1942, Anna replaced her as the assistant to a successful psychoanalyst by the name of Dr. Yoachim (Chaim) Flescher. When the Nazis took over the city in 1943, Flescher went into hiding, with Anna supplying him with food. When she was nearly discovered, she came up with an even more daring plan: to hide him in his own house. Having secured Swiss protection over the premises, Yoachim slipped back into it on Christmas eve 1943 and hid there for six months. At the end of the war, he became a successful psychoanalyst in the States, where Anna subsequently joined him as his wife. After he died, Anna immigrated to Israel, where one of their daughters lives. When the latter asked her why she had chosen to stay in Rome rather than returning to the safety of Switzerland, she answered, “‘It was the right thing to do.’”