Caspari Center Media Review – September 29, 2010
During the week covered by this review, we received 4 articles on the subject of attitudes to Christianity, Christian Zionism, and Christian sites.
This week’s Review includes a report on the various categories of “religiosity” in Israel.
Attitudes towards Christianity
Haaretz, 24 September; Ma’ariv LeNoar, 21 September, 2010
In an article looking at various forms of religion in Israel, Ma’ariv LeNoar (21 September) compared three religious affairs offices with the Trinity: “The Christian religion is based on the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (yes, we too don’t fully understand the idea; we haven’t finished the New Testament yet – don’t tell us the end!).”
In his weekly column, Anshel Pfeffer examined the Central Bureau of Statistics “religion survey” published annually before the Day of Atonement. Noting that this year two categories have been added – “traditional religious” and “traditional not so religious” – he goes on to comment that secular Israelis are demonstrating an increasing interest in religion. While the five categories of religiosity do not include “Messianic Jewish,” Pfeffer notes that the Ein Prat Academy program for post-army men and women, where “Most of the students are from secular backgrounds and have no interest in becoming religious, but they traveled to India and Central America after the army and came back wanting to understand a bit more about the place they came from,” the students “immerse themselves for 13 or 14 hours a day in the great texts of Judaism and the Western canon: the Bible, the Talmud, the Greek philosophers, Maimonides, Shakespeare, Spinoza, Freud, Kant, the early Zionist thinkers, Rabbi Kook, together with a smattering of New Testament and Koran and a whole lot of others.”
Jerusalem Post, 22 September, 2010
Under the headline “Spreading the good word,” this article featured Ulf Ekman, Swedish pastor and director of “Word of Life”: “The term ‘Christian-Zionism’ may have an unfamiliar or even dissonant timbre to some ears, but for Ekman it encompasses ‘the indebtedness and thankfulness’ Christians ought to have to the People of Israel. ‘Where does our faith come from? Where are the Jewish people in all this? Where did we get our Bible from?’ Ekman says. ‘It all goes back to the Jewish people. And Jesus in the Gospel of John says: ‘Salvation comes from the Jews.’ For some Christians, this is a shocking scripture,’ Ekman notes. ‘Which inspires us to help Christians understand the need of aliya, the right of Israel to exist today and the importance of combatting anti-Semitism’ … ‘We have a very basic statement,’ Ekman says of the Uppsala-based Evangelical-Charismatic group Word of Life (WOL), which he founded in 1983. ‘We say we want to bring Christians to Israel and Israel to Christians, furthering the understanding of why this nation is here, why it needs to be here, and then help Christians fight anti- Semitism, to better understand the roots of anti-Semitism, how it works and how it kicks in, and also to promote aliya’ among those from the Former Soviet Union … Also real to Ekman is the indebtedness he as a Christian owes to the Jews, through whom ‘the Lord gave revelation, scriptures, and our Messiah … There is a connection here that western culture has severed. There is also a connection that secularism has severed. We have a debt, we understand,’ he says of the respect he believes is due to the Jews. ‘This is not eschatological overload,’ Ekman insists. ‘This is just basic common sense.’ Which raises the question of how so many Christian churches lack that sound judgement. Ekman’s groups are composed of Protestants, who give the scriptures much importance, and which probably contributes to the pro- Israel sentiments of such denominations … The understanding of the need to ‘go back to the Jewish roots, grasp where our faith actually came from and what the Judeo-Christian heritage really is’ is more prevalent in newer Protestant circles, Ekman says. ‘Mainline Protestants also need to make such statements [against anti-Semitism],’ he argues … ‘Appreciation of the scriptures arouses love of the Jewish people; there’s no way we can appreciate scripture without having a great respect for the Jewish people. The historical line is very important. If you cut off the historical line… that’s a form of post-modernism that cuts itself off from the roots,’ he says. ‘The roots are very important, in the sense that we are coming from somewhere. And if we don’t understand where we’re coming from, we’ll have no idea where we’re headed.’ This clear sense of orientation needn’t lead Ekman to a collision with the interests of a Jewish Israel over the aforementioned differing takes. He seeks ‘a form of basic understanding – where can we agree. When it comes to the difference in understanding who the Messiah is – like Teddy Kollek once said, when he comes to Jerusalem, I’m going to ask him whether he’s been here before … But the main point,’ Ekman stresses, ‘is that Christian groups can be strong allies of Israel. What we need to find is the common denominator … places where we walk the same ground.’”
Israel HaYom, 22 September, 2010
According to this feature, on the ancient city of Shiloh, one of the best evidences for identification of the place with “the biblical Shiloh and the location of the Tabernacle” is the fact that four years ago, archaeological excavations unearthed a Greek mosaic inscription there reading: “Lord Yeshua the Messiah, have mercy on Shiloh and its inhabitants. Amen.” While Jewish/Israeli reactions were rather indifferent, “the discovery caused great excitement in the Christian world,” most of the site’s visitors today being in fact Christian pilgrims.