July 6 – 2009

Caspari Center Media Review – July 6, 2009

During the week covered by this review, we covered 9 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, anti-missionary activity, the Christian media, and Vatican and the Pope.

6 dealt with Messianic Jews
1 dealt with anti-missionary activity
1 dealt with Christian media
1 dealt with the Vatican and the Pope
This week’s Review continued to focus on Messianic Jews.
Messianic Jews
Jerusalem Post, July 3; HaModia, July 2; Mishpacha, July 2; Yediot Ashdod, July 3; Haaretz, June 26; BeKehila, July 2, 2009

BeKehila (July 2), Mishpacha (July 2), HaModia (July 2), and Yediot Ashdod (July 3) all ran last week’s story of the court case brought by “Pnina Pie” to regain the bakery’s kashrut license.

Larry Derfner contributed a lengthy article to the Up Front section of the Jerusalem Post (July 3) under the title “‘Watch out, missionaries’!,” in which he looked at the problems the community in Arad have experienced over the past years: “The word ‘nigger’ features prominently in the videos taken by Eddie Beckford and his wife Lura, a Messianic Christian couple living in the desert town of Arad. The videos, going back to 2005, show anywhere from a handful to a mob of local Gur Hassidim harassing them and other Messianics in town. Eddie Beckford, 61, is a black American, hence the racial slur … The term ‘bastard’ is also popular with the Gur Hassidim seen in the videos, but it’s usually in reference to Jesus. ‘They took some bastard and they believe he rose from the grave,’ says one haredi filmed last year taunting the Messianics who were giving away second-hand clothes outside the chess club. ‘Where is your bastard?’ the man demands, laughing quietly … Members of the Arad congregation, which numbers about 50, say they’ve had their tires slashed dozens of times. They’ve been surrounded, threatened and cursed by Gur Hassidim in the market, on the streets or in their homes for about five years. In all this time they can only recall one arrest of a suspect, and he was released immediately. I tried three times, in person and by phone, to speak to Yuval Paz, Arad’s police chief, and he was never available, nor did he call me back. ‘All their claims are false,’ insists a haredi man passing by Yeshivat Lev Sameah near the entrance to Arad’s Halamish neighborhood, where the 2,000 or so local Gur Hassidim live. The man, who wouldn’t give his name and who was the only hassid I approached who agreed to talk with me even off-the-record, said he took part in some of the protests against the Messianics. ‘We all did,’ he said, pointing to the Halamish quarter. He said he wasn’t against Christians, just against missionaries who proselytize Jews, insisting that this was against the law. (In fact, it isn’t. Israeli law only forbids proselytizing minors or ‘bribing’ potential converts with money or material favors.) ‘This is not their land, this is the land of the Jews,’ he said. ‘All these missionaries have to be removed’ … Israel’s messianic Jewish congregations, which are heavily mixed with born Christians like the Beckfords, have been hounded by the haredim in numerous cities over the years. But no congregation has gotten it worse than the one in Arad. In nearby Beersheba, the main local Messianic group also receives much more than its share of trouble from local haredim … The Messianics baptize those who ‘come to Jesus,’ but they have scant attraction for mainstream Israeli Jews … On the wall opposite the chess club are faded posters put up by Yad L’Achim, the haredi anti-missionary organization that’s instrumental in the campaigns in Arad and elsewhere. ‘The missionary Edwin Beckford under house arrest,’ reads the headline above a copy of the court order. Underneath, it reads: ‘Citizens of Arad: The missionaries are out to ambush you! Don’t give them a stronghold in Arad.’ Underneath that, the warning, “Watch out, missionaries!” is repeated four times … A Jewish shopkeeper in the market says: ‘Everything that happened to him, his troubles with the law, are a result of the provocations by the haredim. They were very, very aggressive. The haredim came every Monday, when the produce stands are open and a lot of people come to shop. They’d come by the dozens every week, and on holidays there’d be hundreds of them, blowing a shofar. They called him and his wife terrible names. They’d call him “nigger”; they’d call her “whore.” Really, no normal person could listen to that all the time and do nothing. Eddie’s a good man, peaceful; he has his own ideology, but he doesn’t bother anybody. Just finally he couldn’t take it anymore, and so maybe he hit one of them.’ The shopkeeper says he called police several times against the marauders, ‘but as soon as the police showed up, they would run away, and that was it.’ Since Beckford was placed under house arrest and no longer comes to the chess club, the haredi assaults have stopped, he adds. ‘It’s quiet here now.’ The shopkeeper insisted on anonymity, saying, ‘I don’t want to take any chances with the haredim around here’ … In one of the Beckfords’ videos, a Gur hassid is seen berating one of the Messianic women handing out free clothes when the hassid is told that the woman was born Jewish. Speaking to the camera in accented English, he offers Jesus a sarcastic word of thanks. ‘All the rotten Jews he took out of us, we should thank him. Take all the rotten Jews. Take all the stinking Jews that no one wants,’ he says. Pointing to the woman he’s targeted, he goes on: ‘She has a black child. All the blacks, he’ll take them all.’ Waving his hand dismissively, the hassid mutters, ‘Sick people.’ A Messianic woman is heard telling him, ‘God made black children.’ He continues: ‘We needed that stupid Jesus, that bastard of Jews, to take out all the sick Jews and all the sick Christians out of us.’ In the end he says something about ‘six million Jews.’ It’s hard to make out the context. Overall, though, the picture is clear enough.”

According to a brief note in Haaretz (June 26), “Anyone who has recently stumbled across the sticker ‘How loves Dudu?” will find it difficult to guess that the internet site to which it directs you (www.yeshua.co.il) belongs to the Jews for Jesus organization. The choice of Dudu Topaz [one of Israel’s leading comedians, recently arrested for harassment, whose full name is David] – whose figure stars in a comic on the site – to promote the sales of the Christian savior was made, according to Ze’ev Nebo, a member of the organization, ‘in order to attract those interested and to explain in simple terms why we believe that Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel, the son of David. The moment we see a link between a contemporary cultural figure and our message, we like to use it. We did the same with the movie Narnia. In this case, all of us are Dudu; he’s the starting point from which to begin talking about human nature and sin.’ So who does love Dudu? ‘God loves Dudu just as He loves everyone else.’”
Anti-missionary Activity
Uvda, June 26, 2009

According to Yad L’Achim and the “Jewish-American news website Israel Insider,” Ann Ayalon, wife of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, is a “convert who is actively engaged in preaching Christianity.” As the report indicates, Ayalon was born into a Christian family and “defines herself as someone who has been ‘born again to the faith of Yeshu.’ According to the website, Ayalon is using her status as wife of a top Israeli leader in order to disseminate faith in Yeshu. In an interview with a Christian preaching channel, Ayalon states that she works to bring about closer relations between the Jewish and Christian communities … Danny Ayalon absolutely denied the claim, stating that it was libelous … In response to Yad L’Achim’s claim, Ann Ayalon said that she works to better relations between the Jewish and Christian communities and that she chooses to call ‘good news’ the fact that 80% of the Yeshu communities are in the Galilee.” Yad L’Achim has turned to the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and additional executive office holders to warn them of the gravity of the circumstances: “‘It’s easy to imagine the destructive influence that publication of such a serious fact will have on the missionaries. The very fact that the wife of a man who serves in such a high position is a missionary unashamed of her acts is liable to increase their motivation and legitimacy and have disastrous consequences.”
Christian Media
Ma’ariv, June 25, 2009

“Two years after it was dropped due to public pressure, the cable company HOT has restored the evangelical Christian channel Daystar to its broadcasts. The company’s decision was approved last week by the Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting, and the channel has already managed to begin rebroadcasting. The channel first went on the air in Israel in May 2006 on cable and satellite. Preaching Christianity, it is run by evangelical Christians in the US who are part of a large group of Christian Zionists which contributes millions of dollars annually to the State.”
Vatican and the Pope
Jerusalem Post, June 17, 2009

In an apparent response to a letter of appeal from Yad L’Achim, “The Vatican says it has ‘taken action’ to track down Jewish children who were hidden by the Church and Catholic families during the Holocaust and later disappeared. In a letter sent on June 6 to Yad L’Achim, a haredi anti-missionary organization, Archbishop Antonio Franco, the apostolic nuncio in the Holy Land, wrote, ‘The matter of the fate of the Jewish families during World War II is a very delicate and very complex one.’ ‘I know that there has been action taken by the Holy See, but at this moment I cannot be accurate in my information. I assure you that I will try to provide more precise information and see if an appeal that the one you propose could be made.’ Yad L’Achim said that the letter marked the first time the Church had publicly acknowledged the issue.”