January 7 – 2009

Caspari Center Media Review – January 7, 2009

During the week covered by this review, we received 4 articles on the subjects of attitudes towards Jesus and Christianity, anti-missionary activity, and Christian Zionism. Of these:

2 dealt with attitudes towards Jesus and Christianity
1 dealt with anti-missionary activities
1 dealt with Christian Zionism
This week’s sparse Review primarily reflected the outbreak of the war in Gaza.
Attitudes towards Jesus and Christianity
Yediot Ahronot, January 2; Israel HaYom, January 5, 2009

In the wake of the IDF attack against Hamas activity in the Gaza Strip and the firing of rockets over southern Israel, Yair Lapid raised the question – one which “no one is interested in relating to” – “What is God’s role?” (Yediot Ahronot, January 2). His answer was that, “despite all Hamas’ proven failures, it has at least succeeded in doing one thing – it has turned the present conflict into a war between our God and their God”: “On the tactical level, our God is winning in the meantime, because he has Appache helicopters. On the strategic level, the Jewish God isn’t supposed to intervene in the sort of neighborhood dispute which is presently being conducted in Gaza. He’s not a participant; He’s the judge … The fact that you believe in Me, He says to the chosen people, bestows a special role on you. But that does not mean – even for a second – that I only belong to you. I belong to everyone, and everyone belongs to Me … The God of radical Islam threatens to kill everyone who does not accept his principles. The Christian God is accustomed to being deeply offended by the fact that the saints still haven’t been baptized. Only our God looks on all humanity with a gaze full of mercy. Muslims, Christians, or Hottentots, He says to us, they are all My children, and I care for them all. The Tanakah repeatedly reiterates that we are not alone in the world. ‘The alien who resides among you shall be to you as the citizen among you,’ says Leviticus, ‘and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The fact that we are Jews does not give us the right to ignore the fact that innocent people are being killed. In effect, it should bother us more than any other people.” Having argued that “it’s easier to identify with our own personal pain” than with that of others, and to pass over the deaths of Palestinian lightly, Lapid inquired whether “God’s job” is not in fact precisely “To signal to us what our moral duty is even when we’re angry? To make us look beyond our personal pain? To remind us that the sanctity of life and the dignity of man – two concepts which we Jews brought to the world – do not disappaear at a time when we are taking the most necessary steps to protect the borders and security of our State?” Yair’s wrath is primarily directed towards the Jewish religious leaders – or more accurately, the present dearth of “significant” ones: “Our religious leaders have betrayed their task. In the name of God, they have become the most militant factor in our midst. Time and again, they place God in competition: who is more just, who is stronger, who promises a quicker deliverance.” Their task, he argued, should in fact be to make us “better people, rather than to issue permits of approval for the worst amongst us.” His conclusion: “We didn’t destroy Gaza; Hamas did. In its stupidity and its blind violence, by the fact that it lay its dubious God on the front line. But we won’t be victorious over them if we become like them. Dead children are dead children. And Jews have always been concerned about dead children.”
Dror Idar addressed the mass demonstrations the West against the war, contending that Western society is reaping the fruit of its own anti-Semitic heritage (Israel HaYom, January 5): “Our charge is in relation to the world, primarily the Christian world. Over the course of thousands of years, the Christian world has placed at its head a God who was in effect a crucified Jew. Day after day, year after year, Europe has become accustomed to seeing the Jews of their locale precisely in the image of their God: crucified, despised, forever cursed. This was the image determined in and by the Western consciousness. Even if Europe has undergone a process of secularization, their Christian religious traditions and myths have become deeply integrated into their cultural blood system. Up until 100-2000 years ago, the Jews ‘helped’ determine this image by their degraded political and social position and their disocciation from full civil life. But Zionism was not just the wish for a safe haven for Jews from their persecutors. It was primarily a return to history of the living-dead Jewish people. The Jew descended from the cross and sought to become the master of his own fate – in other words, to return to the land of his fathers and, above all, to defend himself. In this respect, the Holocaust represented the last attempt to prevent the Jews from returning to independent and autonomous social and political life. What happens to a myth which rebels against its hereditary task and seeks to change the storyline? What occurs in the European consciousness when the Jewish state is reestablished in Eretz Israel and thus shatters the myth on which it [Europe] has grown up? The collapse of the intellectual and emotional system alike. The demonstrations against the war in Gaza are a concrete reflection of the distortion of consciousness within the nations of the world. From their perspective, what is happening now in Gaza is a reconstruction of the fundamental trauma which they experienced, according to which Yeshu got down from the cross and returned to what he had always been: A Galilean Jew who observed the Torah, who rebelled against the religious establishment of his day and never dreamed of becoming the God of Europe. This is a problematic situation for those who have not changed the narrative of their religious history. In the US, for example, tens of millions of Christian evangelicals have altered their attitude towards the Jewish people and the State of Israel as part of the tenets of their Christian faith. This is the reason for their unreserved support of Israel. But in the maajority of the Christian world, nothing has changed. Now as then, a Jew carrying a weapon in order to defend himself represents a mythological catastrophe which must be fought against, even at the price of the destruction of Europe itself.”
Missionary and Anti-missionary Activity
Kol HaIr–BneiBrak, December 24, 2008

Kol HaIr–Bnei Brak (December 24) carried last week’s story of Yad L’Achim’s campaign against Mormon proselytizing.
Christian Zionism
Haaretz, January 4, 2009

Under the headline “Charity under fire,” Haaretz (January 4) reported on the sums being distributed by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews to Israelis in the south of the country hit by the rocket attacks: “The head of an inter-faith philanthropic group tours the south, where rockets only intensify requests for funding. Rubik Danilovich walks quickly toward his guest and embraces her. This is how the new mayor of Be’er Sheva carries himself, even amid the preparations for Hamas rocket barrages. The guest is Dvora Ganani, the director general of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. She nonchalantly hands Danilovich a check for NIS 421,000, a gift from American Christians intended for needy Israelis. The money is earmarked for home appliances, medicine, hearing aides, eyeglasses, dental care, transportation for the sick, and more. This is just the first payment for 2009; the city is expected to receive a total of almost NIS 900,000. Ganani has vowed that if the city needs more money due to the latest crisis, it will receive it.”