March 3 – 2010

Caspari Center Media Review – March 3, 2010

During the week covered by this review, we received 6 articles on the subjects of attitudes towards Christianity, anti-missionary activities, Christian Zionism, interfaith activities, and conversion. Of these:
2 dealt with attitudes towards Jesus and Christianity
1 dealt with anti-missionary activities
1 dealt with Christian Zionism
1 dealt with interfaith activities
1 dealt with conversion
This week’s Review reflects various attitudes towards Jesus and Christianity.

Attitudes towards Christianity
Haaretz, February 24; HaShavua BeAshdod, February 19, 2010

In a letter to Haaretz (February 24) relating to a recent remark by the chief scientist of the Education Ministry – that theories other than evolution are also worthy of study – Joseph Neumann, Prof. Emeritus of Biology and Philosophy at Tel Aviv University, wrote that the claim that “many people do not believe in evolution” is like saying that “(very) many people also think that 2010 years ago a Jew died and rose from the grave after a week [sic] and ascended into heaven. Dr. Avital’s stance is not new. He is a worthy ally of American evangelical groups, who believe in the literal exegesis of Genesis; many of these are ‘supporters’ of Israel, who expect the war of Gog and Magog, at the end of which Yeshu the Messiah will return and all the Jews will convert.”
The city of Ashdod has received a new sculpture, of the prophet Jonah, whose removal many people are already urging due to its resemblance to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro – or even that of Mary (HaShavua BeAshdod, February 19). “If Jonah the prophet had known that his special and artistic image would ‘gain the privilege’ of a statue resembling – God forbid – the statue of Yeshu of Nazareth, or his mother, the Holy Mary, he probably wouldn’t have been so hasty in exiting the whale’s stomach … According to an ancient Muslim tradition, the prophet Jonah’s grave is located on the ‘Hill of Jonah Ashdod,’ a hill south of Nachal Lachish overlooking the port of Ashdod … Every ordinary person who passes the sculpture will think that it is a statue of Yeshu of Nazareth and won’t have any idea that it’s an effort to recall the figure of Jonah the prophet.”
Anti-missionary Activities
Dati Dromi, February 25, 2010

This report carried last week’s story of the “missionary campaign” against Yad L’Achim.

Christian Zionism
Yated Ne’eman, February 26, 2010
A group of rabbis has issued a caution against the receipt of funds from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews “in the wake of the donation given by the IFCJ through the Jerusalem municipality to the city for welfare needs.” The pronouncement stressed the “grave prohibition against receiving any financial help from this organization, following a warning from R. Eliashiv that no one should benefit from monies from it in any way because this constitutes profanation of God’s name and the accoutrements of idolatry.”
Interfaith Activities
Haaretz, March 1, 2010
“Hundreds of spectators – Palestinians and Israelis alike – crowded opposite the small stage, where dozens of young female singers (with a few boys among them too) stood excitedly, representing three choirs: the Jasmine Choir of the Magnificat Conservatory, run by the monastery; the Sawa Choir (which means ‘together’ in Arabic) of Shfaram; and the Efroni Choir of Emek Hefer … The concert represented many years of collaboration between the Jasmine Choir and the Efroni Choir, conducted by Maya Shavit, and also celebrated the Sawa Choir, conducted by Rahib Hadad and Eva de Mayo, joining the partnership. The musical encounter was a friendly one, a ‘meeting of religions’ as described in the Augusta Victoria program, and was not funded by the State of Israel. Nevertheless, Palestinian organizations asked the organizers not to go ahead with it … After Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last winter, the demands intensified with many Palestinians agreeing to stop any expression of normalization with Israel until the end of the occupation. Though the Palestinian organizers, who support this approach, did not see the concert as a form of normalization but merely as a friendly meeting, they were asked to cancel it; when they refused, the church obeyed the call for a boycott and closed its doors to the choirs. And so it was that the young women found themselves standing right next to one another on the small stage of the monastery, waiting for the cue to open the concert with the Irish song ‘Blessing.’” According to Andre de Quadros, the person responsible for the event, “‘This choir is completely different from the traditional choir … because it is an agent that relays information and it develops the audience that is around it. Today, singers actually need to involve themselves in the performance, not set aside their emotions – and so, from a new choral repertoire, social change will emerge.’ The concert he conducted in Jerusalem illustrated the connection between choir and society that he is nurturing … ‘The music and the choir are a tool for social integration and building communities, and for change,’ he says … ‘a way to get together, a place where it’s possible to find refuge and safety.’”

Haaretz, February 26, 2010
This report was a lengthy feature on Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef from the West Bank, who converted to Christianity and has now published an autobiography detailing his activities on behalf of the Israeli security service, the Shin Bet: “After his release from prison in 1997, Yousef started to meet with Captain Loai, and says, ‘I had no plans to kill anyone or to be a spy, I was just curious.’ Already in their second meeting, he relates, the Shin Bet man managed to surprise him. Yousef: ‘He explained to me that if I wanted to work for the Shin Bet, I had to respect a few rules. “You must not befriend loose women or behave immorally,” he told me. “Do not sleep with women or behave like a wise guy – especially you, the son of a sheikh. You have to find work and get along.” One time, Captain Loai stopped the meeting and asked me if I had already recited the midday prayers. Surprised, I said I hadn’t. He then asked me to purify myself [by washing hands, face and feet] and pray, and then said we would continue. It was important for them that I would continue to be the person I was, for me not to change, to be serious. They wanted respectable people, who were respected in their society, not those with a poor reputation. I became even more curious and wanted to learn more about them. My handlers told me time and again, “You must respect your father and your mother and not do anything bad to anyone.” They did not yet ask for information about anything or anyone, and I became more and more serious in regard to them. My handlers, for their part, respected me and treated me very well and even helped me with my studies. I was stunned by their behavior. They did not want to take action against the Palestinians as such, only against the extremists. I looked at these people, whom in the past I had so much wanted to kill, and discovered that everything I knew about them was incorrect.’ It was also in this period that Yousef began to be drawn to Christianity and read the New Testament. ‘I remember encountering the sentence, “Love your enemies.” That made me think: These enemies of yours, the Shin Bet, the soldiers, are only trying to do their job. I thought to myself how Hamas would behave in a reverse situation: Would they show mercy to Jews? And I thought: “Who are you trying to kid? Hamas and Fatah would behave more humanely?” I couldn’t define who my enemy was anymore.” He dedicates his book “To my beloved father and my wounded family / To the victims of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict / To every human life my Lord has saved. My family, I am very proud of you; only my god can understand what you have been through. I realize that what I have done has caused another deep wound that might not heal in this life and that you may have to live with its shame forever – With love, Your son.”