November 23 – 2010

Caspari Center Media Review – November 23, 2010

During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the subjects of attitudes towards Christianity, anti-missionary activity, Christian Zionism, Christians in Israel, Christian tourism, interfaith dialogue, and Jewish-Christian relations. Of these:
1 dealt with attitudes towards Christianity
1 dealt with anti-missionary activity
1 dealt with Christian Zionism
1 dealt with Christians in Israel
1 dealt with Christian tourism
2 dealt with Jewish-Christian relations
1 dealt with interfaith dialogue
This week’s Review contained a miscellanea of articles.
Attitudes towards Christianity
Haaretz, November 19, 2010
In an opinion piece entitled “The father, the son and the Falashmura” – looking at the latest decision to bring the last of the Falashmura to Israel, Benny Ziffer took aim at the players involved: “Here is the list of dramatis personae in the parody that aired during the Sunday cabinet meeting, which was entitled “You Have Brought the Last of the Falashmura to the Land.” It starts with Interior Minister Eli Yishai, playing the Jewish Mother Teresa … since he is a modest man who does not like to put himself forward as a doer of good deeds, he left the role to the second actor on the list. That is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the role of God, who heard the outcry of the Falashmura children. As God, he does whatever he feels like doing, which in this case was bringing them all to the promised land … The third actor in the parody played the jester: Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom … In the context of this historic moment, airplanes will bring from Ethiopia 8,000 more anonymous people whom somebody systematically brainwashed and persuaded they are ‘of the seed of Israel.’ They will come here, some will commit suicide, some will die of diseases they brought with them and those who are left will sweep streets. At the end of the historic moment, then, the powers that be will thrust a broom at them. In the best case they will thrust it into their hands. The man with the broom will discover that Judaism, which his ancestors supposedly left generations ago, is nothing like what he thought it was. It is completely identical to the Christianity his family supposedly joined, and which he has now supposedly left. Christians believe in a Father, a Son and a Holy Spirit, no?”
Anti-missionary Activity
Mishpacha, November 18, 2010

According to this report, “For a long time, the mission has set itself to work amongst the youth and young people during feasts and festivals held across the country. In the framework of these events, the youth spend a number of days outside the bosom of their families and are easy prey for intensive missionary preaching … In light of information received by the anti-missionary department of Yad L’Achim regarding the arrival of missionaries from abroad to
reinforce the missionary presence at these festivals, the department has prepared cautionary broadcasts with the aim of transmitting them – at full price – on the national radio stations in order to warn the youth of the missionary danger lurking in wait for them at the festivals. The broadcasts will also appeal to the youth to preserve their Jewish identity. To their huge astonishment, Yad L’Achim’s request from the radio stations ‘Kol Israel’ [part of the Israel Broadcasting Corporation] and ‘Galei Tzahal’ [Army Radio] encountered a solid wall of resistance. The office of ‘Kol Israel’ delivered an oral reply in which they it that it would not air the organization’s cautionary broadcast … ‘Galei Tzahal’ declared in a written letter that ‘We cannot air this broadcast, which harms the religious feelings of some part or another of the population.’” Yad L’Achim immediately protested the responses with the relevant stations for “what he called ‘groundless and unfounded rationales,’” concluding with the declaration that, if the broadcasts were not aired, Yad L’Achim would appeal to the High Court of Justice in order to get a ruling that they must be broadcast forthwith. As could be expected, the organization understood the stations’ refusal in terms of the mission’s receiving backing and legitimacy from state institutions – proving, yet again, in its eyes, the urgent necessity of introducing an anti-missionary law.
Christian Zionism
Makor Rishon, November 19, 2010
This lengthy article, entitled “Biblicists versus anarchists,” looked at the “HaYovel” community of Christian Zionists covered in a recent Review.
Christians in Israel
Haaretz, November 18, 2010
According to this report, “Architects like to say that original architectural solutions are born of budgetary limitations and planning constraints. The new wing of the Christian Orthodox school in the old city of Ramle, which was dedicated a few weeks ago, proves the adage. The wing was built without any assistance from the authorities and is situated on a tiny plot – and nevertheless, it manages to create a commendable educational environment and be a positive influence on its surroundings … After the exodus of the Arab population in 1948, the city was almost completely abandoned and afterward settled by new immigrants and Arabs of Muslim descent. In the 1950s, many members of the Christian Orthodox Church managed to return to their homes; today the community numbers some 3,000 people. While the old city itself awaits an equitable and necessary development and preservation plan, the community took the initiative and set up independent educational and cultural institutions. About 19 years ago, they also opened a school. The new structure was built adjacent to the existing school and should alleviate some of their crowding issues. It is a completely private institution that receives no funding from the official institutions in Israel. The money to build it was collected via a door to door campaign by the community’s leaders; each family contributed what it could, even if it was just a few shekels … The community leaders were not at first enthusiastic about the contemporary design of the building, but over time came around to its charms. At the top of the two main staircases, large crosses were installed in an effort to strengthen the ethno-religious nature of the Christian Orthodox community and to showcase its identity. The crosses are inset in the slanted concrete walls and ‘filled’ with glass. This architectural detail was originally developed in 1989 by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando for the Church of the Light in Osaka, Japan. Since then, there have been a series of imitations installed across the world. During the daytime, the sun creates the shadow of a cross on the steps and at night they are illuminated … The greater density creates a closer, community feeling and allows for encounters among students from all age ranges. The school building manages to serve the Christian Orthodox community throughout the day. After the children and the teachers end the school day, numerous community activities take place there as well as extra-curricular sports and there are plans to also offer computer classes there. In the evenings, the yard is used for social events, such as weddings and engagement parties – ‘to bring in a few more liras,’ members of the association explain. This is a fine example of the positive influence that a school can have on a community, a role that most schools in the Jewish community unfortunately do not manage to fill yet … The organization’s leaders say the school has had a very positive influence on the surroundings – be it in the decline of the crime rate or the creation of a new educational and cultural center that helps empower the community. In neglected and deprived urban areas such as the old city of Ramle, this is doubly important.”
Christian Tourism
Eastern Mediterranean Tourism, November 16, 2010
This brief note commented on the opening of the “Jesus Trail program.”
Jewish-Christian Relations
Jerusalem Post, November 16 (x 2), 2010
The first of these reports, originally printed in a Los Angeles paper, indicates that “The Lord’s Prayer, widely considered to undergird the foundation of Christianity, ‘is utterly, totally, fully Jewish – there’s nothing in it that is particularly Christian,’ a theological expert said. John Dominic Crossan, a former Catholic priest and now professor at DePaul University, articulates this thesis in the latest of his 26 books, ‘The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord’s Prayer,’ released last week by HarperOne. Crossan is one of the foremost theological interpreters of the historical Jesus. The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer are, ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven,’ and the first two words are key to Crossan’s reinterpretation. In traditional Christian thinking, the prayer is seen as establishing a relationship between the individual petitioner and God, but Crossan takes a different view in his book and in recent media interviews. Within the context of Judaism in the 1st century CE, the term ‘Father,’ or ‘Abba’ in Aramaic, would connote a householder who must provide equally for all members of his family, according to Crossan. In that sense, God is ‘The Big Householder in the Sky’ who exercises ‘distributive justice’ and who would be appalled by the huge discrepancy between rich and poor, Crossan argues. That concept ‘reflects the radical vision of justice that is the core of Israel’s biblical tradition,’ Crossan writes. ‘The Lord’s Prayer comes from the heart of Judaism to the lips of Christianity.’”
The second article, also reprinted from a foreign paper, noted that “Writing in the Vatican’s official newspaper, the head of Italy’s Jewish community criticized Vatican policy but called for strengthened Catholic-Jewish ties. Renzo Gattegna, president of the umbrella Union of Italian Jewish Communities wrote in an Op-Ed published Wednesday that as a step toward ‘continuing with the initiatives dedicated to reciprocal understanding and friendship,’ it would be ‘useful, necessary and certainly appreciated’ for the Vatican to openly and forcefully renounce ‘any manifestation of intent aimed at the conversion of the Jews’ … Gattegna’s article, a rarity from a Jewish leader in the official Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano, was highlighted on the front page. It was framed as the latest response to a recent miniseries on state-run Italian television that portrayed controversial World War II Pope Pius XII as working hard to save Jewish lives … Gattegna said the sainthood process was purely an internal Vatican process in which the Jews did not want to intervene, but he criticized the television series as ‘hagiographic’ and ‘full of inaccuracies.’ He also renewed calls for scholars to be allowed to complete in-depth research in the Vatican archives on Pius’ reign in order to clarify the facts.”
Interfaith Activities
Hed Beit Shemesh, November 12, 2010
The “Jerusalem Center for Ethics” this week hosted its second annual “Inter-religious Ethics and Tolerance Symposium.” “The idea for the conference, and its funding, came from Mr. Aleksander Gudzowaty, a Polish Christian, who also donated the Tolerance Monument and Park in Jerusalem’s Armon HaNatziv neighborhood in order to promote interfaith dialogue. The purpose of the symposium was to discuss new interfaith ethical issues through the participation of members from all the religions.”