October 16 – 2008

Caspari Center Media Review – October 16, 2008

During the week covered by this review, we received 9 articles on the subjects of Messianic Judaism, Christian sites, and Jewish-Christian relations. Of these:

1 dealt with Messianic Judaism
4 dealt with Christian sites
4 dealt with Jewish-Christian relations
This week’s Review covered a recent Jews for Jesus publicity campaign.
Messianic Judaism
Jerusalem Post, October 6, 2008
According to Jerusalem Post (October 6), “A wave of irate protest silenced a Jews for Jesus radio campaign last week on a local radio station in the North. It took just a few hours for Kol Rega, which broadcasts to the Galilee and northern valleys, to cave in to pressure from listeners who phoned in to demand that the Jews for Jesus campaign be taken off the air … The slogan of the radio campaign is ‘Yeshu [a derogatory form of Jesus] equals Yeshua [accent on penultimate syllable] equals yeshua [accent on last syllable].’” The ad is intended to inform listeners that “Jesus is equivalent to redemption” and concludes with the question, “Confused? Call for more information.” Contacted for his response, Dan Sered, “head of Jews for Jesus in Israel,” said: “‘All we are trying to do is share our faith. We just want to provide Israelis with an opportunity to know that Jesus died for our sins and rose on the third day. Most Israelis have never gotten the chance to hear about Jesus … Jews who believe Jesus is the messiah are a minority in Israel, but so are the Orthodox. Why should they be allowed to prevent secular Israelis from hearing Jesus’s message of love and peace?’” The radio ad was part of a wider publicity campaign which included full-page ads in the daily national papers Ma’ariv and Israel HaYom, while JFJ members also distributed literature in Nahariyah, Kiryat Shmona, and the Haifa area. Response to the campaign took a more violent turn in Kiryat Shmona, where the air was removed from a car tire. According to the city’s Chief Rabbi, Tzfania Drori, “‘That is probably one of the mildest reactions imaginable in response to aggressive missionary activity pursued by these Jews for Yeshu. I believe we have a right to prevent these people from entering our town and promulgating New Testaments and missionary literature; it is tantamount to a woman performing a striptease in the middle of a public place.’” [Editor’s note: the explanation in square brackets is in the original text.] Christian Sites
Haaretz, October 7, 10 (Hebrew and English editions both), 2008

The lives of monks and tourists alike, as well as the church itself and other nearby structures, are in being put in danger by a dispute between the Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox churches over responsibility for the Deir-al-Sultan monastery on the roof of the Holy Sepulchre (Haaretz, October 7). While Ethiopian clergy inhabit the site, the Copts claim ownership of the property. The Israeli Interior Ministry’s offer to pay for the necessary renovations is going to waste because it is conditional upon an internal, church resolution of the matter. In a letter to the Interior Ministry, Archbishop Matthias recently stated: “‘This condition is completely unacceptable to us, since we do not recognize any right of the Coptic church in the area in question. It is inconceivable that the implementation of emergency repairs would be conditioned on the consent of the Coptic church. Indeed, there is disagreement between us and the Coptic church regarding the rights at the site in question, but that is precisely the reason we are turning to the Israeli authorities, as a neutral factor, to carry out the necessary repairs.’” In a second article, entitled “Saving Christianity from itself,” the same paper (October 10) suggested that, “Due to the risk to the lives of the monks and visitors and the danger to one of the world’s holiest sites, the government must not neglect the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It must exercise its authority to maintain public safety and repair the building, taking great care not to intervene or take a stand in the fundamental dispute between the churches.” The report indicated that at least two precedents exist for such intervention.

Jewish-Christian Relations
Makor Rishon, October 8; Israel HaYom, October 7; Haaretz, October 7; Jerusalem Post, October 8, 2008

Haaretz (October 7) carried a brief report of Haifa Chief Rabbi’s participation in the twelfth episcopal synod in which the Pope was present. She’ar Yashuv Cohen said in his speech that Jews “‘cannot forgive and forget’ that many Christian leaders were silent in the face of the destruction of the Jews in the Holocaust.”
Reporting on the same synod, the Jerusalem Post (October 8) stated that Cohen had also noted that “had he known of the mass for the Holocaust-era pope [celebrated during the synod], he would not have become the first Jew to speak to the top representative body of the Catholic Church.” This piece also reported that “radically opposed views of the pope’s actions during the Nazi era intensify as his beatification process progresses.” A Jewish symposium recently held in Rome “to present new, favorable evidence on Pius XII, was boycotted by the Jewish community and Catholic critics who considered the conference format biased.” Its organizer, Gary Krupp, stated that “he intended to nominate Pius XII for recognition by Yad Vashem as a ‘righteous among the nations’ – listing as partial evidence the Haitian visas issued under his personal orders from 1939-45 that saved 11,000 European Jews.” Disagreement also exists over whether or not Pius XII was responsible for attempting to stop the deportation of Roman Jews on October 16, 1943.” With regard to the beatification process, David Rosen of the AJC was quoted as saying, “‘If the Catholic Church wishes a respectful relationship with the Jewish people, sensitivity toward Jewish sensibilities is appropriate,’ meaning ‘suspension of any action [toward sainthood for Pius] as long as survivors of the Shoah are still with us.’”
The present pope inaugurated a world-wide, week-long “Bible Marathon” (reading from both covenants) last week in which Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, and public figures and celebrities were due to take part (Israel HaYom, October 7). A day later, however, Makor Rishon (October 8) reported that no Jewish representatives would in fact participate, indicating that Rome’s Chief Rabbi had declined to take part on the grounds that “in his opinion this is a Christian missionary event.” In his words, “the Bible isn’t the same for Jews and Christians. For us, the Bible is holy whereas the New Testament isn’t.” Muslim participants also ostensibly withdrew their participation.