March 31 – 2010

Caspari Center Media Review – March 31, 2010

During the week covered by this review, we received 10 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, anti-missionary activity, Christian Zionism, Christians in Israel, Christianity, and conversion. Of these:
3 dealt with Messianic Jews
1 dealt with anti-missionary activity
2 dealt with Christian Zionism
2 dealt with Christians in Israel
1 dealt with Christianity
1 dealt with conversion
This week’s Review continued to report on the ruling given in the case of “Pnina Pie.”

Messianic Jews
Zman haDarom, March 26; Yediot Ashdod, March 26; Makor Rishon, March 25, 2010

All three of these articles declared the “end” of the “Pnina Pie” affair in announcing Rabbinate’s “victory” over Pnina Conforty and the “Messianic Jewish sect” (see previous Reviews).
Anti-missionary Activities
Yated Ne’eman, March 16, 2010

In a lengthy article, R. Gil reviewed the work of Lev L’Achim, including its anti-missionary activity: “The rescue efforts of Lev L’Achim correspond to the behavior and sophisticated methods of the dangerous Christian organizations. The talented field workers are trained in changing identities and appearance and hold in their wardrobes items of clothing which can turn them instantly into a member of any profession, age, religion, or state to meet the needs and circumstances. ‘Disguise is the name of the game’ – explains a former beggar called S., one of the central figures in the organization and responsible for the rescue of dozens of youth (but not only) from Arab villages, monasteries, Messianic sects, and Christian organizations seeking to devour them night and day. Under the ground, silently, bubbling like boiling and threatening lava, the Messianic activity goes on relentlessly against depressed Jews and youth who feel isolated and frustrated enough to fall into their false net and purposes. They get to every possible place and the constant battle is to see who gets there first. The intrepid workers are always a step ahead in order to remove the veil from the smiles of the hypocrites and tell the new victims the true purpose behind the funds poured into their coffers, the envelope of warmth and love, and the unconditional help. Early exposure of the activists demands a lot of disguises. Sometimes, in the same operation the worker changes identity several times, and the disguises are so good that when he meets an acquaintance the latter can’t uncover the worker’s true identity. The costumes are necessary in order to create trust, to penetrate the dangerous sects, and to undermine them from within.” The article does not refrain from revealing the most common – and allegedly most successful disguise: “The slovenly, unkempt guy in jeans and faded T-shirt, who says he’s looking for faith, trying to find his way in the world, who’s open to anything, and so confused that he’s ready to try any sect offering new ideas, however weird they may be.”
Christian Zionism
Yediot Yerushalayim, March 26; Haaretz, March 26, 2010
Several prominent national-religious Rabbis are due to publicly announce their opposition to receiving funds from Christian Zionist sources next week. “In the knowledge that they were preparing for the convention, the Rabbis came out against the receipt of funds from evangelical organizations, writing that monies from Christians ‘are not an innocent gift but an attempt by the mission to steal souls’” (Yediot Yerushalayim, March 26).

According to a Japanese sect, the salvation of the world is due to commence from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (Haaretz, March 26). The “Church of the Holy Jesus” or the “Beit Shalom Church,” is a “Protestant church with about ten thousand members” which “sets at its center admiration for Israel and particularly – strange to say – the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Most of the church’s leaders speak fluent Hebrew. They pray daily for Israel’s peace and raise money on her behalf from amongst their members.” The focus on the university derives from the group’s belief that it is responsible for educating young Israelis who will become Israel’s future leaders – “not just of the State of Israel but of the whole world.”

Christians in Israel
Yediot haMifratz, March 26; Haaretz, March 28, 2010
According to a report in Haaretz (March 28), “dozens of Christian organizations and churches have signed a letter sent to the Old City police chief, protesting what they say is the police’s policy of preventing worshippers from reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on Easter, even though they permit tens of thousands of Jews to go to the Old City on Passover. The signatories say that for two years the police have prevented Christians from exercising their religious rights during Easter week. This includes strict controls on the number of people allowed to take part in prayers at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. According to their attorney, Mazen Qupty, the police set up roadblocks and issue special entry permits to select the people they want to reach the church. ‘Christians are denied their fundamental right to exercise their religion freely because of roadblocks in the Old City, the presence of police with machine guns, as well as rude and hostile attitudes from police and Army officers,’ the signatories said in their letter sent to the ministers of public security and religious services, as well as the police commissioner and attorney general. ‘The curfews and forced closures make these movements almost impossible. In sharp contrast, Israel allows Jews free access to their synagogues.’”

Similar problems were experienced by an American Christian tourist seeking to worship in a church in Haifa – who was seriously injured by a local resident (Yediot haMifratz, March 26). “While the church was full of worshippers, the accused suddenly and without reason assaulted one of the tourists, stabbing him in the chest with two kitchen knives in his possession and then throwing him to the ground and struggling with him before the worshippers managed to separate the two … The accused fled the scene and was only arrested two weeks ago. In his interrogation, he denied involvement, claiming that he had never visited the church.”

Haaretz, March 26, 2010

The Dutch Protestant church criticized Israel last month in a letter sent to Israel’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Harry Kney-Tal, “calling on Israel to halt expansion of West Bank settlements, revise the course of the separation fence and abandon the policy of demolishing Palestinian homes. In the letter, Peter Verhoeff, the president, and Arjan Plaisier, the secretary general, affirmed Israel’s right to exist and Protestant solidarity with the Jewish people but based their demands on the controversial ‘Kairos Palestine Document,’ entitled ‘A Moment of Truth.’ They stated that they understood the document ‘not as a negative call which turns against Israel, but as a call for justice and peace.’ Authored three months ago by Palestinian Christians, the document calls for an international boycott of Israel and refers to violent attacks on Israelis as ‘Palestinian legal resistance.’ The letter triggered one of the most serious crises in years in the relations between Dutch Jews and Protestants.”  Holland’s Central Jewish Board has threatened to sever ties with the church over its defense of the Kairos document. “In a phone interview with Anglo File, Plaisier of the Dutch Protestant Church said the letter to the ambassador did not constitute an endorsement of the Kairos document in its entirety, and that assumptions to the contrary were ‘false.’ He added the Jewish community’s analysis of the 12-page document was ‘one-sided’ …  Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Wiesenthal Center’s L.A. office said he sent his ‘strong letter’ to the church because its actions have global implications. ‘The Protestant Dutch church’s support for the Kairos document was done with approval from the World Council of Churches in Geneva and we are concerned about a possible domino effect,’ he said. Cooper added he was ‘aware that this was a sensitive issue’ for the Dutch Jewish community, but added that the Kairos document and support for it are ‘part of the same drive to delegitimize Israel within Christian denominations, which has already reached the U.S. and unless checked will end up affecting every Jewish community living in predominantly Christian societies.’”

Yediot Tel Aviv, March 26, 2010

This lengthy article featured a prominent Indian doctor who, with his family, converted to Judaism following the death of the Chabad emissaries in Mombai in 2008, with whom he was close friends. As part of his spiritual search, Dr. Aaron Abraham (formerly Behegirdas Fararas) studied the New Testament with some young Americans, whom he promptly discovered were merely looking to convert him, telling him that he should not read the “Old Testament” because he was going to become a Christian.