September 13 – 2010

Caspari Center Media Review – September 13, 2010

During the week covered by this review, we received 2 articles on the subject of Christian sites in Israel and Christian media.
This week’s Review contains a report on a wall threatening the Garden Tomb and a Bollywood film about Jesus in Jerusalem.
Christian Sites
Ma’ariv, September 12, 2010
According to this report, the Wakf – the Islamic trust most well-known for controlling and managing the Islamic edifices on the Temple Mount – is currently building a wall above the Garden Tomb, “an historic site important to Christianity” which is “threatening to undermine relations between the three faiths in the city.” The work is part of the maintenance and expansion of the Muslim cemetery located above the Garden Tomb. “Thus far, high wooden foundations of a height of two meters have been laid at the site, and the work is due to be completed by the addition of concrete on top of the wooden beams.” The managers of the Garden Tomb have protested, fearing that the wall might fall on tourists coming to visit the site. “‘They didn’t show us any plans or ask for our agreement regarding the building work,’ says Steve Bridge, the deputy manager. ‘More than a quarter of a million pilgrims visit the site, and a disaster may occur if something is not done properly. Three or four hundred worshippers stand right under the wall every day. Were it to fall while there are visitors here, there might well be a catastrophe the like of which we’ve never seen.’” The managers of the Garden Tomb are also worried that the incident might lead to “irreversible damage” to the tomb itself – which in turn would spark a serious crisis in Jewish-Muslim relations in Jerusalem and internationally. “‘It’s a scandal,’ added Bridge. ‘We’ve turned to them with a list of questions, and I hope that we will receive satisfactory answers.’” According to the municipality, the building was begun without permission and in contravention of the customary procedures. The Wakf have announced that they intend to sort out the problems with both the municipality and the Garden Tomb.

Christian Media
Jerusalem Post, 8 September, 2010
“Over the years, thousands of young – and some not so young – Israelis have made their way across Asia to spend time exploring the cultural, religious and geographic recesses of India. The cultural, artistic and culinary impact of those backpacking forays has left its imprint on Israel in musical and alternative therapy slots in New Age festivals, such as Shantipi and Beresheet, in colorful apparel to sold in clothing stores, and in the Indian restaurants that have sprung up around the country. This month, India will come to Israel – big time – when a large-scale film company sets up base here to make a $30 million movie about the life of Jesus. The cast will be headed by 39-year-old Bollywood star Pawan Kalyan, who is not Christian, with the rest of the acting crew comprising a slew of 10- to 14-year-olds … Filming will take place at a number of locations, both here and in the Palestinian Authority. These locations include Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho and in Galilee … For most people, in religious terms India is associated with Hinduism or Islam, so the choice of the theme for the first Indian film production to set foot in Israel is somewhat surprising. But not according to Kalyan, ‘There are millions of people in India who follow Christianity. Also, in India there is great religious tolerance and understanding of other religions’ … There may be an added circular twist to the Indian filming expedition to this part of the world. Since the mid-19th century there have been several unsubstantiated theories that Jesus spent some time in India. In the New Testament there is an undocumented gap in Jesus’s life, between the ages of 12 and 30. While many Christians believe he lived in Nazareth during those years, writers and religious figures such as Louis Jacolliot (in 1869), Nicolas Notovitch (in 1894), Levi H. Dowling (in 1908), and German author Holger Kersten (in 1981), in his book Jesus Lived in India, argued that Jesus traveled to Kashmir as a young man. Robert Beckford’s 2007 documentary The Hidden Story of Jesus looks into the possibility that Jesus may have studied the secrets of Buddhism in his youth. While realizing that such theories may add some spice to the forthcoming Indian-Middle Eastern movie synergy, Kalyan says he does not take the idea too seriously … Meanwhile, Israeli producer Sharon Schaveet of Biblical Productions is looking for some positive professional and economic fallout from the filming. ‘They will probably rent all sorts of equipment when they get here. We have top-quality filmmaking equipment here,’ she says. “I’m sure there will be all kinds of professionals taken on board during the work – like local producers, interpreters, assistant cameramen. This is a major production.’ The film will be in English and three Indian languages and is due to be released worldwide in the latter half of 2011.”