November 12 – 2009

Caspari Center Media Review – November 12, 2009

During the week covered by this review, we received 7 articles on the subject of Messianic Jews, anti-missionary activity, and Christians and the Holocaust. Of these:
5 dealt with Messianic Jews
1 dealt with anti-missionary activity
1 dealt with Christians and the Holocaust
This week’s Review continued to focus on Ya’akov Teitel’s arrest, with a variety of responses to his activities.
Messianic Jews
Yediot Ahronot, November 3, 6; Haaretz, November 5, 8 (Hebrew and English editions); Ma’ariv, November 6, 2009

Following Ya’akov Teitel’s arrest for – among other things – the bomb attack on the Ortiz family, Roni Shaked and Nisan Stroechler set out to visit the “home of the Messianic Jewish Ortiz family” – amongst the families who in “one moment had discovered that they were not the only victims … knowledge which perhaps has a sort of consolation to it” – together with an Arab family-member victim and his son. “It’s not a big deal – East Jerusalem Arabs traveling to a host in the settlements. The father and son – like the murdered [sibling] Samir – are taxi drivers, and over the years have taken many Jewish settlers to their homes … Leah Ortiz waves the direction to us from an open window. Her husband, David, is already waiting for them at the door. ‘Ahalan ve-salahan’ [‘Welcome,’ in Arabic], he blesses his guests in a New York accent. ‘Please, Abu-Da’ud, tifadlu.’ This partnership between them – which grew up involuntarily – immediately dissolves all the possible tension between the two families. Within minutes, they are already conversing as though they had known one another for years. Sorrow unites. On the bookshelf of the Ortizes’ lounge there are books with such titles as The Chosen People and The God of Israel and the Church, alongside dozens of tapes in English and Hebrew explaining the Messianic Jewish teaching. David, the leader of the congregation in Ariel, tells Akram and Hanni that on Monday morning he opened one of the newspapers and saw their picture, with the caption underneath, ‘Members of the family of the East Jerusalem Palestinian taxi driver.’ ‘I was really upset,’ he says. ‘They didn’t even write your names. At that moment, I decided that I had to meet your family.’ Akram smiles and stretches out on the leather sofa in the lounge. ‘Now I have a friend whose name is Abu Da’ud.’” Hanni returns the favor and asks what happened to the Ortiz family. “‘It was on Purim 2008,’ Ortiz reconstructs the events. ‘They sent us a Purim gift.’ The attempt to bomb the Ortiz family was far more sophisticated and planned … Teitel waited until David had left the apartment, concealed his face, and went up to third floor, where he left the package outside the door … ‘We are Messianic Jews, and the intent was to kill us all, but God was with us. We have an insurance policy with Him,’ David Ortiz tells his guests. Akram waves his hand and rolls his eyes. ‘Everything is from Allah,’ he says. Hanni, for his part, glances at Amiel and whispers to him, ‘I’m sorry about what happened to you. If they’d caught him after they murdered my brother’ – he turns to the parents – ‘your son would be healthy.’ Leah sits at the side in a chair and nods. The memory of that horrific moment still surrounds the house. Four of her six children, she says, couldn’t bear to see their brother in the hospital. Now, they’re traveling in Australia. ‘He had twelve surgeries, and he still has to have four more,’ she says. ‘But the most important thing is that his head is fine and didn’t suffer any trauma.’”
According to the article, David Ortiz served part of his reserve army duty guarding the settlement of Shilo, next to Shvut Rachel where Teitel lives. “‘I guarded his house,’ he smiles. Then he adds in English, in order not to embarrass his Palestinian guests, ‘You shouldn’t think that I don’t support the settlements’ … Ortiz is himself a settler, we commented. ‘Abu Da’ud is not an extremist, he’s a good person,’ he replies. ‘This Jewish terrorist didn’t act alone. It’s an organization, it’s an underground, it’s many Teitels … He had an accomplice when he tried to murder us, as well. I even told the Security Service people’ … The plots against them, because of their faith, have been continuous, they recount. But nobody thought that an explosive device would be used … Shortly before Purim 1994, Ortiz relates, he stopped on his way to Jerusalem and gave a lift to a young religious man with a thick beard. It was Baruch Goldstein, who only a few days later slaughtered 29 Palestinians in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. ‘On the way to Jerusalem we talked, but despite the fact he’s also from Brooklyn and the poor state of my Hebrew, he insisted on speaking only in Hebrew,’ he recalls. ‘I discovered that sitting next to me was a Jewish extremist fanatic who expressed Kahanist views. Several days later, I saw his picture in the paper.’ Ortiz also insists that he saw Teitel in Ariel. Perhaps in a line at the bank, perhaps at the health clinic, or in the supermarket. ‘We see people all day. I’m sure I’ve run into him somewhere,’ he says … Before they get up to share the light meal the Ortizes have prepared in honor of their Palestinian guests, they both glance through the paper, on whose front page Teitel’s picture is displayed. ‘We want to meet him,’ they agree. ‘To look him in the eye and ask him, Why?’ Amiel goes on looking at the picture. ‘Teitel wanted to bring the redemption,’ he says. ‘But for sure this won’t achieve it.’”
In a sidebar, the article notes that the Ortizes still have many issues with the way in which the investigation has been handled. Their lawyer reported that the family was aggressively interrogated by the police while Amiel was in hospital, as though they themselves were the suspects rather than the victims. ‘Our goal was to put pressure on the police to take the case seriously. The family decided to try and remain on the public agenda so that their case wouldn’t be buried in the police archives before it was resolved.’ The family was also forced to resort to the courts in order to receive the security camera tape back from the police, who claimed that returning it would constitute a serious security risk. Although the court ruled in the Ortizes favor, they were made to sign a declaration that they would not use the tape for any media purposes – only to discover that the police subsequently leaked it to the press. The Ortiz family are considering the possibility of bringing a complaint against the police, since the tape is their private property.
Lawyer Guy Maschiach wrote a letter to Yediot Ahronot (November 3) in which he stated that, “A common thread links Ya’akov Teitel’s abominable acts of terror against Palestinians, the Messianic Jewish community, and leftwing personages such as Prof. Sternhell – and that is ‘hatred of the other.’”
Ma’ariv (November 6) carried a long feature about the arrest and circumstances, without adding any further details relevant to us.
Haaretz (November 5, 8, Hebrew and English editions) carried the US State Department’s report on tolerance towards minority groups within Israel (see last week’s Review), noting that, “Interestingly, despite the harassment, the report notes that the number of Messianic Jews and Evangelical Christians as grown in recent years, through immigration and conversion.”
Anti-missionary Activity
Index HaEmek vahaGalili, October 23, 2009

In light of the recent JFJ publicity campaign in the north, this brief note stated: “‘I believe that in front of every Messianic Jew we need to bring Torah students who will pleasantly explain to them what Judaism is – its beauty and the light it disseminates to the individual and the community,’ says Moshe Maschiach, the chairman of the local council of Afula, who was shocked by the appearance of missionaries waving goodbye at the central junctions and carrying placards with the words ‘Yeshu’ and ‘the Savior.’ Maschiach told our reporter, ‘We’ve left the field open for the missionaries. We’re not missionaries – that’s not our method. Judaism is for the people and not for Yeshu. We need to disseminate the light of Judaism and increase Torah study and outreach. Only in this way can we remove the plague of Christianity.’”
Christians and the Holocaust
Haaretz, November 6, 2009

In an article published before the anniversary of Kristallnacht (November 8), Mordecai Paldiel, a former director of the Righteous Among the Nations Department at Yad Vashem, examined the darker side of three theologians who are normally associated with both anti-Nazism and anti-Semitism. Thus, he states that, “Bonhoeffer, who is often remembered as a staunch and courageous anti-Nazi, initially and half-heartedly excused the Nazi regime for its anti-Jewish measures. ‘Without a doubt the Jewish question is one of the historical problems which our state must deal with,’ he asserted … ‘and without a doubt the state is justified in adopting new methods here.’ The only instance in which the Church was, in his words, obligated to object would be if the state took steps to prohibit missionary work by the Church among Jews.” Martin Niemoeller also comes in for criticism: “Sadly, the record shows that Niemoeller did speak out about the Jews – though not in their defense. In a 1935 sermon, he spoke of the Jews as a people that ‘can neither live nor die, because it is under a curse which forbids it to do either.’ He also noted, in case his meaning is in doubt, that whatever the Jews take up ‘becomes poisoned, and all that they ever reap is contempt and hatred,’ because the world “notices the deception and avenges itself in its own way.” As for the future, he added, the Jewish people must continue to suffer for the crime of deicide, and indeed, ‘now it bears the curse.’” Finally, Karl Barth is also taken to task: “In the 1930s, he too charged the Jews with the death of Jesus – something they undertook not ‘in foolish over-haste’ or misunderstanding, but, he asserted, as a ‘deliberate’ act. Then, in 1942, from his base in Switzerland, in his theological work ‘Church Dogmatics,’ Barth castigated Judaism as a ‘synagogue of death,’ a ‘tragic, pitiable figure with covered eyes,’ a religion characterized by ‘conceited lying,’ and the ‘enemy of God.’ If the church needed the Jews, he felt, it was only as a negative symbol, for they are a mirror of man’s rebellion against God, against which Christians must continually struggle.” According to Paldiel, Catholic cleric Bernhard Lichtenberg was one of the few who truly opposed the Nazi policy, paying the price with his life. Paldiel concludes that, “Bonhoeffer, Niemoeller and Barth – all fierce opponents of Nazism – could not divorce themselves from a poisonous theological anti-Semitism, although they paradoxically condemned anti-Semitism as un-Christian. They joined the chorus of those who pilloried the Jews, even if it was for reasons the Nazis cared little about, such as because of the Jewish refusal to acknowledge the Christian messiah. Therefore, they too must bear responsibility for contributing to the climate that made possible the burning of synagogues during Kristallnacht.”