January 20 – 2009

Caspari Center Media Review – January 20, 2009

During the week covered by this review, we received 7 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, attitudes towards Christianity, anti-missionary activity, Christian tourism, and Christian-Jewish relations. Of these:

1 dealt with Messianic Jews
2 dealt with attitudes towards Christianity
1 dealt with anti-missionary activities
1 dealt with Christian tourism
2 dealt with Jewish-Christian relations

This week’s Review was a rather sparse collection of miscellenia.
Messianic Jews
Yom L’Yom, January 15, 2009

Yom L’Yom (January 15) carried the story of Yad HaShemonah’s “exploitation” of the war in Gaza (see previous Review).
Attitudes towards Christianity
Yediot Ahronot, January 19; Nekuda, January, 2009

Yediot Ahronot (January 19) noted the flourishing of six types of the flower known in English as the “star of Bethlehem,” so called because “in Christian tradition it is associated with the announcement of Yeshu’s birth.” Beginning from around this week until April, the flower blossoms in ruby forests on the Golan, the Carmel, and the Shomron (Samaria).
In a lengthy article in Nekuda (January, 2009) arguing for a “mirror image” between Israel and Amalek, Yehuda Etzion dealt with the Christian roots of Nazism: “The Nazi monster did not appear suddenly out of nothing. Its foundations grew out of fruitful German soil over the course of centuries.” Quoting Uriel Simon, Etzion charged that, “‘This process, which brought Nazism to a general anti-ecclesiastical attitude, and in diverse degrees also to a form of anti-Christianity – perhaps in paradoxical fashion – is linked to the history of Christianity itself. The collective guilt of Jews in the murder of God and the belief that an eternal curse hangs over the Jews … the church’s official policy as it was crystalized in the church councils … the advocacy of violence as it was preached by Martin Luther … the blood libels and other mythological images in which the wandering and persecuted Jew symbolized sin and abomination – all these created patterns of superstition, violence, irrationalism, cruelty, and the justification of the transformation of these attitudes into the language of organized and premeditated acts. These acts reaching their extreme, final form in the days of the Third Reich’” (from “Historical Processes Towards Totalitarianism”); or, in the words of Rivka Schecter, “‘The National-Socialist ideology continued the line of Luther. In contrast to him, however, they completely negated the Jewish foundation – the Bible. Only via a total rejection of the Jewish element within Christianity was it possible to also begin a total war against the Jews’” (from “Cosmic Enemy: German Spirituality Integrally Interwoven into the Garment of Sworn Barbarity”). Behind this phenomenon lurks the birth of Christiantity as a whole from Judaism, in Etzion’s view. In his opinion, Christianity emerged because Israel lost its own vision as a light to the nations by recognizing the legitimacy of the diaspora and failing to provide a spiritual center in the Land to which the Gentiles could come: “Despite the flourishing of eternal anger against Rome, the Jews in Eretz Israel were unable to rebel against the Empire and to refound the kingdom of Israel. Thus, ‘hindwardly’ as it were, Judaism gave birth to Shaul of Tarsus – i.e., Paul – who, by distorting the words of his ‘master’ [Rabbi] (whom he never met) and against Yeshua’s intention of only working within the people of Israel, without founding a new religion in any way – decided and succeeded in creating an upside-down ‘Jewish’-Christian religion and tradition as good news to the Gentiles. Our own failure lay in the fact that we could not find it in ourselves to be an example to the nations but neglected the real effort to found a whole kingdom in Zion, a kingdom which would form a centre of identification and attraction, an example and a teaching place for the Gentiles.” Just as Judaism gave birth to Christianity “hindwardly,” so Christianity gave birth to Nazism “hindwardly”; just as Christianity is the “bastard offspring” of Judaism, so Nazism is the bastard offspring of Christianity.
Anti-missionary Activity
HaModia, January 9; BeKehila, January 15, 2009

HaModia (January 9) carried the recently-publicised story of Yad L’Achim’s fight against Mormon proselytizing (see previous Reviews).

According to a report in BeKehila (January 15), Birthright Israel have initiated steps to prevent the participation of “missionary” Messianic Jews in their sponsored trips to Israel by asking potential candidates to sign a written statement declaring that they have no association with Messianic Judaism, do not work with missionary organizations, and are not Christians. In response to Calev Meyers’ objection to the “filtering process,” Yad L’Achim sent a personal letter to Birthright’s director in support of his organization’s policy. (For more information, see previous Reviews.)
Christian Tourism
Haaretz, January 13, 2009

The lowest-yet levels of the Sea of Galilee are threatening the collapse of a major source of Christian tourism (Haaretz, January 13). According to Reuven Ben-David, an owner of a sail-boat company on the lake, “‘Around half a million tourists, mainly pilgrims, sail on the tourist boats every year. On the boat, they feel like Yeshu on the Sea of Galilee. Over the last two years, the sailing experience on the Sea of Galilee has increased by 50-60%. Government agencies have to understand that we can’t lose this business.’”

Jewish-Christian Relations
Israeli Post, January 15; Haaretz, January 14, 2009

According to a report in Haaretz (January 14), “Italy’s rabbis said yesterday they were pulling out of the Italian Catholic Church’s annual celebration of Judaism, saying recent decisions by Pope Benedict XVI were negating 50 years of interfaith progress.” Added to Benedict XVI’s decision to restore an Easter prayer which calls for the conversion of the Jews, Italian Jewish leaders also cited “‘recent positions taken by the pope about dialogue, said to be useless because the superiority of the Christian faith is proven anyway’” to argue that “‘it’s evident that we’re heading toward the cancellation of the last 50 years of Church history.’” Vatican officials responded by claiming that “the history of Jewish-Catholic relations cannot just be ‘canceled.’”
Benedict XVI is still scheduled to visit Israel this year, however. In this regard, he was quoted in Israel Post (January 15) as stating to Efi Shtantzler, the director of the JNF, that “‘I, too, wish for peace.’” Shtantzler stressed to the Pope that he was making every effort to “‘help build bridges between the Jewish people and the Christian people via ecological and environmental issues without any distinction between faith or religion.’” He presented Benedict with a gift of an olive wood box decorated with the symbols of Israel and a Hebrew-English Bible with a silver relief of Jerusalem embossed on its cover.