Caspari Center Media Review – February 3, 2011
During the week covered by this review, we received 17 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, attitudes towards Jesus, anti-missionary activities, Christian Zionism, Christian sites, anti-Semitism, and archaeology. Of these:
11 dealt with Messianic Jews
1 dealt with attitudes towards Jesus
1 dealt with anti-missionary activities
1 dealt with Christian Zionism
1 dealt with Christian sites
1 dealt with anti-Semitism
1 dealt with archaeology
This week’s Review contained articles about Kay Wilson, David Davies, and Ariel Kilmer.
Haaretz, January 27; Yediot Ahronot, January 27; Uvdah, January 14; Ma’ariv, January 27; Zman Haifa, January 28; Israel HaYom, January 27 (x 2); Jerusalem Post, January 24, 26 (x 2), 27, 2011
In the wake of the arrest of those responsible for killing Kristine Luken and assaulting Kay Wilson, the national papers covered the memorial service for Kristine and carried a lengthy interview with Kay. The Jerusalem Post (January 24) noted: “In a moving ceremony that reaffirmed American Kristine Luken’s deep love for Israel and God, 100 people gathered in Christ Church in the Old City in Jerusalem in a memorial service for the women who was murdered in a stabbing attack on Saturday night. “She went boldly where she believed God wanted her to go, and was not deterred in her dogged pursuit despite questioning and ridicule from others,” her family said in a letter that was read at the service. While we may never understand why she lost her life in this senseless tragedy, we must not lose sight of her example’ … Friends of Luken described how she had left a steady job with the Department of Education, where she had worked for 16 years, and sold all of her belongings to follow her dream of working for CMJ. Luken’s body is being flown home to the United States on Thursday night. Her family declined to release details of the funeral to the media. A memorial service will also be held in Nottingham, England, at the offices of CMJ UK, on January 12. Luken is survived by her twin sister, Kathleen, and her parents … Luken’s friend Raoul Garland noted that the tragedy is especially bitter to come at Christmas, a supposedly joyful season. ‘She lived simply, intensely, with purpose,” he said in a letter that was read at the service. I can imagine her, in her last breath, saying [like Jesus], “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” After all, Jesus knew what it was like to be stripped and abandoned, to be alone and bleeding on a Jerusalem hillside’ … Christ Church rector David Pileggi … said there has been an outpouring of support from people around the world, and he has received hundreds of emails offering prayers and even vacation homes in Switzerland and Hawaii where Wilson could recuperate with her dog, Peanut.”
In an interview with Haaretz (January 27), she said: “‘I remember it all very clearly – the smells, the flowers, the weather, and how the attackers looked, what they said and the last expression on Kristine’s face … I made a decision not to blur the memory, just as I told Kristine there, before she was killed. “Remember how they look so we can describe them to the police”’ … Wilson says: ‘I’m no hero. I disassociated because Kristine was weaker than me, because she didn’t know Hebrew, and it gave me the push to act.’”
According to the Jerusalem Post (January 27), “Investigators hailed Wilson as a hero on Wednesday after a media blackout on the investigation into the stabbings was lifted. To protect the integrity of the investigation, police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) had not corrected media reports that forced her to defend herself against allegations that she had murdered her friend. ‘I not only witnessed the barbaric and senseless murder of a close friend, and was almost murdered or kidnapped myself by terrorists, but have found myself in the first stages of this investigation to be the object of hurtful and unfounded speculation,’ she said. But on Wednesday, police said her detailed descriptions of the attacker led to a breakthrough that allowed them to breakup an independent terrorist ring responsible for at least one other murder, two attempted murders, rape, theft, and other violent acts.
Thirteen Palestinians from villages around Hebron were arrested, and four were indicted on Wednesday … As Wilson recounts the attack minute by minute, her voice stays stoic and calm. She wants the world to know what happened to her in the forest; she wants to share what has happened so she can begin the process of healing. ‘I don’t want this event to define me,’ she said … She struggled with her attacker, who had pulled out a very long, serrated knife, and managing to stab him in the thigh with her pen knife. It was this stab that later allowed forensics experts to collect DNA at the site and positively identify the attacker, the Shin Bet said.
The same paper (January 26) reported that “Four Palestinians from villages near Hebron were indicted on Wednesday in the murder of an American tourist last December in a forest near Beit Shemesh, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Jerusalem Police said. The suspects are central members of an independent terror cell in the West Bank responsible for two murders, two attempted murders and at least one rape – as well as other incidents of theft and violence dating back to the summer of 2009, according to the indictment. Thirteen men were arrested in connection with the cell following a month-long joint investigation by the Shin Bet, Border Police, special army units and police, it was announced on Wednesday. Police were aware of the terrorist cell operating in the area for the past six months, but were only able to arrest members after the attack in the Mata area on December 18, when American Kristine Luken was killed. Her hiking partner, Kay Wilson, was seriously wounded … Wilson’s testimony allowed the police to arrest the two main suspects – Ayad Fasafa and Kafah Animat – less than 48 hours after the attack, Jerusalem Police chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco said. The suspects were arrested on December 20 in a joint IDF-Shin Bet operation. They immediately confessed to committing the attack, and reenacted it in the field. During questioning, one of the suspects, Kafah Animat, confessed to the murder last February of Neta Shorek Blatt, a Zichron Ya’acov resident whose body was found in Beit Jamal on February 24. Police never concluded their investigation into the death of 56- year-old Blatt – suspecting her death was a suicide, which her family refused to believe … Four of the central suspects were indicted on Wednesday, and police are in the process of bringing indictments against the rest of the cell. In addition to the four main suspects, four men were arrested for financially supporting the cell. An additional five were arrested for their peripheral involvement … The group took a turn toward nationalistically motivated terrorism following the assassination of Hamas commander Muhammad al-Mahbouh in Dubai last January … Police said the ensuing attacks were not in retaliation for specific events, but they were certain the attacks were nationalistically motivated because all of the victims were Jewish, or perceived to be Jewish. The men were not believed to have been affiliated with an organized terrorist group … The Shin Bet said the suspects confessed to planning the murder of Luken just hours prior to the attack … ‘On a personal level, I’m relieved for myself, for Kristine’s family, and for the potential victims,’ Wilson told the Post on Wednesday. ‘Everyone’s saying I’m a hero, but I just switched off emotionally, and I don’t know that anyone else would have done anything differently.’”
A related story on the same day (Jerusalem Post, January 26) noted that “The suspects were arrested on December 21 in a joint IDF-Shin Bet operation and during their interrogation confessed to perpetrating the attack and reenacted it in the field. During their interrogation, one of the suspects, Kafah Animat, confessed to another murder last February of Neta Blatt, a teacher who was found dead near Beit Shemesh. The suspects also confessed to perpetrating additional stabbing and shooting attacks with the declared goal of murdering Jews.”
Ma’ariv (January 27) noted that the terror group responsible for the attack had “wandered around in the forests, murdered, raped, and shot at passers-by and soldiers but the resourcefulness of one woman put a stop to their fearful acts. Kay Wilson … managed with the last of her strength to gather up a cigarette butt thrown down by one of the murderers. This evidence, in conjunction with the knife carrying some drops of the assaulter’s blood, she passed on to the police and thus succeeded in bringing about a breakthrough in the case: one of the attackers had been arrested in the past in the country thereby making it possible to march his DNA with the findings. Under a sidebar entitled “The heroine of the case: ‘Justice has been done,’” the piece reported that “Wilson praised the police and Shabak for their prompt arrest of the members of the cell who murdered her friend Christine Logan [sic]. ‘I hope that this will be a form of redemption,’ she told Ma’ariv with emotion. ‘First of all, I want to thank the police, the security forces, and the army. The arrest of the members of the cell means a lot to me. I’m also glad, of course, that justice has been done with respect to Christine. The arrest has brought the affair back alive and thrown me back in time to the forest in a kind of flashback. I’m undergoing treatment at the trauma center at Hadassah Hospital and have a lot of support. People have surrounded me with love. Every day, the only thing I do is think back over the events and not a day goes by without my thinking of the dreadful things that happened.’”
According to Yediot Ahronot (January 27), Kay immediately phoned Kristine Loken’s family when the news of the arrest of the suspects was made public.
Under the headline ‘Heroine helps crack case,” Israel HaYom (January 27) quoted Kay as saying, “‘It’s a huge relief to know that they’ve caught the barbaric murderers, but it’ll take a long time before I can get back to myself.’” The security forces “yesterday defined Wilson as ‘a heroine,’ ‘articulate,’ and someone who ‘knows what she’s doing.’” According to the second article, “Only two days following the awful event, the security forces succeeded in laying hands on three suspects, including two suspected of murder who confessed to the crime.”
Another Messianic Jew in the news was Ariel Kilmer (Uvdah, January 14): “To judge by his appearance, you’d think he’s an Orthodox, maybe even Chareidi, Jew. He sports a large kippah and a full beard, and presents himself to the unsuspecting as Rabbi Ariel Kilmer. But a closer look at English-language missionary publications reveals that this ‘rabbi’ is actually a card-carrying missionary who preys on innocent Jews, working day and night to convince them to leave their faith. In recent years, Kilmer succeeded in making inroads at Kibbutz Merhavia, in the Jezreel Valley, whose roots date back 100 years. What is known as “the great courtyard,” the original compound of buildings from which settlement efforts were launched for the entire Jezreel Valley, became a beehive of missionary activity. ‘Over the past few months there have been seminars taking place, with local believers, on the subject of sanctification,’ writes a missionary who calls himself Ephraim. ‘Consequently, some have been healed of various diseases and emotional traumas. Their testimonies have gone out to family and friends, resulting in a seminar for non-believers that we have just embarked on. There are also several groups from overseas that are planning to come in the next few months to hold teaching seminars and tours. We are also hoping to host Messianic musicians for concerts in the “great courtyard”’… ‘Rabbi’ Kilmer is assisted in his efforts by none other than Reuven Rosenblum, a resident of Upper Nazareth who started frequenting the shul in Merhavia after the shuls in his hometown expelled him. Rosenblum is careful to maintain a strictly Chareidi appearance and prays three times a day, providing cover for his activities and helping him gain the confidence of a long list of innocent victims. In the past week, Merhavia residents were outraged to discover the full extent of the missionary activity taking place under their very noses. A scan of missionary literature revealed that Kilmer was a certified priest and that he and Rosenblum received fulsome praise for their missionary activities. As a result, the two have been banished from Merhavia.”
Zman Haifa (January 28) dedicated a lengthy article to David Davis (72), pastor of the Kehilat HaCarmel: “The first thing you need to know about David Davis: ‘Before I met the Messiah, I felt dirty and sinful. When Yeshua revealed himself to me, I burst out crying and fell on my knees and couldn’t get up again’ – this is the central fact that David Davis, the pastor of the Messianic Jewish Kehilat HaCarmel, endeavors to transmit in an interview with him.” This is more significant than the fact that he is good friends with Denzel Washington and acted on Broadway with Richard Gere, Goldie Hawn, and Anthony Hopkins. While much of the interview relates to his celebrity connections, its author, Shiran Goldstein, also notes that Davis’ New York roots “reveal a man who, before Yeshua revealed himself to him, went on the town a lot, knew lots of people, and traveled a long road before establishing his retreat in Ussifiya. ‘Yeshua covered me in light,’ he expresses himself eloquently. ‘He set me free from the heavy burden I’d carried on my back all those years and forgave me.’” According to the article, “Messianic Jews base their faith on references in the Tanakh to Yeshu as the Son of God. Some of them keep Jewish traditions, such as observing shabbat and kashrut, but these are certainly [not?] the preconditions for someone who wants to join the Messianic community and participate in its activities.” Most Orthodox Jews do not recognize Messianic Jews as Jewish – “no wonder, since many – including Davis himself – are Christians who never converted to Judaism.” “Not only the external appearance of the Davises arouses wonder; it’s also easy to see that miracles and signs weave a scarlet thread through the incredible story of their life. The way in which they met and their route from New York to Israel are entirely unconventional. Their choice to live in the neighborhood of Ramat HaTishbi on the Carmel, close by to where Elijah performed his miracle on the altar, is also linked to a miracle … ‘On the way to the airport to leave, suddenly the fire of God descended on the rental car and stopped me in my tracks. I felt as though God was burning me with the fire of His love.’” The interviewer stresses that it is important to realize that Davis was in the prime of his life when he came to Israel and that he gave up a successful career in order to do so: “Davis’ story is the classic tale of someone who had everything but felt as though he had nothing. The bohemian lifestyle of 6th Avenue emptied him out and he sought new meaning for his life.” Having come to faith in a community of Broadway actors, singers, and dancers, the “most important change in his life following the revelation he experience occurred in relation to his attitude towards Israel: ‘I read the Tanakh anew and saw the people of Israel in a completely different light from that which I’d been accustomed to seeing them in. I understood that God’s promise to gather the Jews from all the corners of the earth, which was written in the Bible two thousand years ago, was finally being realized in our own days by the return of the Jews to Jerusalem after the Six Day War and the huge aliyah from the Soviet Union at the beginning of the nineties.’” Davis’ own aliyah was prompted by his marriage to Karen, “‘a beautiful singer’” who was looking to come closer to God. Their decision to live in Haifa was motivated not only by David’s original theophanic experience but also because the couple sought a place where they could find Jewish-Arab coexistence. They founded Beit HaNitzachon – House of Victory – a place which until today serves as a shelter for the homeless, drug addicts, and alcoholics. In addition, they started a Bible study, attended by “Jews and Christians, Arabs, and immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Word of the meetings spread from mouth to ear and more and more people starting attending: ‘They asked me to become their pastor, and thus was born Kehilat HaCarmel,’ explains David. It is important for him to emphasize that: ‘I am not a priest or a rabbi, merely someone who helps people get to know the Bible without the obstacles of religion, race, or gender. In the studies we conduct, we show how it is possible to understand the events happening in the world around us through reading Scripture. Christians who attend our conferences abroad are amazed to discover how it’s possible to see the Jews in a completely different light when they read the Bible without introducing religious or anti-Semitic political contexts. It’s important for us to transmit to Christians what we understood at a relatively late age – that God promised the land of Israel to the Jews and that the events taking place in the Land demonstrate that God has fulfilled this promise.’” The latest activities in which the Davises engaged is a refuge for women in Ussifiya.
Attitudes towards Jesus
Jerusalem Post, January 28, 2011
Under the headline “How did Jesus become the Christian deity?,” this brief notice reported that “ESRA in Tel Aviv invites you to hear Edmund Jonah, author of ‘Yeshua,’ a book about Jesus from the Jewish viewpoint, who will talk about ‘Yeshua ben Yosef, the Jew Who Became the God of the Christians: How Did It Happen?’ – to be held at the Beit Ariela Public Library on February 13.
Merkaz HaInyanim, January 17, 2011
According to this report, the Ministry of Tourism are planning a “mass baptismal ceremony” at the Jordan baptismal site of Qasr el Yahud, during which “thousands of believers will come on pilgrimage … to hold a special celebratory ceremony of joint baptism.” Yad L’Achim are up in arms over the fact that this “missionary event” is being sponsored by a government office: “‘To our shame, the government of Israel is investing millions of shekels in the development of a Christian site. Were they to invest the money in deepening our Jewish roots it is doubtful whether the secular youth would have deteriorated to such a low level.’”
Makor Rishon, January 28, 2011
This lengthy article, entitled “The return to Zion redefines Christianity,” in the religious paper Makor Rishon is devoted to Henk Poot, presented as “a Dutch priest who is engaged in pro-Israel and anti-missionary propaganda” and “arousing a series of historiosophical insights” attesting to “the immense theological significance of the return to Zion.” According to its author, Yoav Sorek, Poot finds “the true spirit of Israel in the national-religious camp and the settlements in Judaea and Samaria … These are the people who are connected to the Bible … Poot goes from church to church – just like the Zionists of yore – in order to speak about the importance of the people of Israel, the righteousness of the State of Israel, about the need to support the country – and about the fact that the covenant between God and Israel is not dependent upon Yeshu’s mediation. ‘For me, a Gentile, Yeshu brings “salvation,”’ explains Poot, ‘but not for you, the Jews. You’re the chosen people in any case …’” As a Calvinist, Poot believes that “‘in contrast to Luther, for whom the New Testament is the light and the Old Testament the shadow, and obviously in contrast to the Catholics, we Calvinists believe that the New and Old Testaments are unified. Our starting point is that the covenant between Israel and the Creator of the world is an eternal covenant.’” Despite these beliefs, Poot asserts that he belongs to the same strain of Christian Zionism as most American and European “friends of Israel”: “The basis is the same: commitment to the Bible, an unmediated reading of it, and shaking free of replacement theology.”
Haaretz, January 30, 2011
This piece “follows in the footsteps” of the Quixotean path of Maoz Yinon (and David Landis), creators of the “Jesus trail,” noting that “three clear principles guided Yinon and Landis in constructing the trail: the link with Christian tradition, the possibility of hiking through beautiful landscape overlooking the Arbel, the Sea of Galilee, and the expanse of the Galilee, and the possibility of involving local communities.”
Haaretz, January 28, 2011
According to this report, “Four hundred rabbis published an open letter yesterday in the Wall Street Journal calling on Fox News to sanction host Glenn Beck for what they call inappropriate reference to the Holocaust … In the letter, the rabbis relate to a series of broadcasts made by Beck devoted to the activities of the billionaire philanthropist George Soros … Beck asserted that “‘George Soros used to go around with this anti-Semite and deliver papers to the Jews and confiscate their property and then ship them off [to the death camps]’ … The Rabbis wrote that ‘it is not proper to blame a fourteen-year-old Jewish boy who hid with a Christian family in Hungary under the Nazis of sending his fellow Jews to the death camps. It is also inappropriate to call the executives of a news channel ‘Nazis.’ Beck has made literally hundreds of on-air references to the Holocaust and Nazis when characterizing people with whom he disagrees, compares American leaders he does not like to Nazis, and has said putting the “common good” first leads to “death camps” … You diminish the memory and meaning of the Holocaust when you use it to discredit any individual or organization you disagree with … We demand that Glenn Beck be punished by Fox News for his unacceptable attacks against a Holocaust survivor and that Roger Ailes apologize for his insulting remark about the Rabbis.’”
Ma’ariv, January 26, 2011
An ancient drainage tunnel running the length of the Tyropoeon Valley has recently been cleared of dirt and refuse accumulated over the course of 2000 years, allowing body-height access for the first time since its discovery. The channel is located beneath the main paved and stepped road which traversed Jerusalem in those days, passing alongside the Western Wall in the north and down to the Siloam Pool in the southern portion of the City of David. Neither the road nor channel pass beneath the Temple Mount itself.