February 9 -2011

Caspari Center Media Review – February 9, 2011

During the week covered by this review, we received 12 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, attitudes towards Christianity, anti-missionary activity, interfaith activity, and archaeology. Of these:

1 dealt with Messianic Jews

1 dealt with attitudes towards Christianity

5 dealt with anti-missionary activities

1 dealt with interfaith activity

3 dealt with archaeology

1 was a book review


This week’s Review focused on the problems faced by people linked in some form with Christianity seeking to make aliyah.

Messianic Jews

Haaretz, January 26, 2011

According to this report (January 26), the detention of three of the suspects arrested on suspicion of murdering Kristine Luken and assaulting Kay Wilson has been extended by three weeks. Earlier the same day, indictments were issued against four of the suspects. At a hearing held at the courtroom, presiding judge Amnon Cohen noted that the extension was granted in order to allow the lawyers to familiarize themselves with the investigation. Also present at the hearing was Michael Decker of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, representing Kristine Luken’s parents. “In an interview with ynet he said that the family was unaware of the fact that an investigation was being conducted. ‘As far as I am aware, Luken was murdered by a terrorist cell, the family was unaware of any investigation, and the police did not involve them in their activities.’ Decker stated that, ‘The family wanted the police to include them in their activity, but the police refused and even refused to give them the analysis report.’ He further noted that the family had welcomed the indictment and wished to receive additional information concerning what had happened to their beloved Kristine. ‘The family don’t know if Kristine suffered while she was being killed. They are currently in the States and at this point have no plans to come to Israel.’”

Attitudes towards Christianity

Zman Modi’in, February 4, 2011

This article carried the story of the renaming of a quarter in Tel Aviv after the New Testament Tabitha (see previous Reviews). “The Russian Orthodox community believes that Simon the Tanner’s daughter was the person to whom the miracle occurred.”

Anti-missionary Activities

Haaretz, February 3 (x 3), 6; Yediot Tel Aviv, February 4, 2011

According to three reports published in Haaretz (February 3; Hebrew and English editions), “The Interior Ministry and the Jewish Agency rejected a request from singer Barbra Streisand’s cousin to come and live in Israel. Dale Streisand, 57, was reportedly refused new immigrant status on the grounds that his Facebook profile indicated he had been involved in Christian missionary activity in the past … In November, he was told his application was under consideration but that there was a problem because he had married a citizen of the Philippines. He was then told that there was not any problem with his wife, but that his application had been rejected because he believes that Jesus is the messiah. Evidence of this, they told him, was found on his Facebook profile in the form of a link to a Christian missionary website. Streisand said the Jewish Agency wrote him in an e-mail telling him it respected his right to hold any religious belief he chooses, but that his request would have to be relayed to the Interior Ministry … His previous Facebook page, he claims, was taken out of context. He explained to Haaretz that one of his friends had sent him a link titled ‘Click if you love Jesus,’ and that there were a few other things from his past that were found, but they had no connection to who he is today … Streisand also told Haaretz that he is a newly Orthodox Jew, is studying Torah and that he wants to live in Israel and raise his children here … earlier this week Dale Streisand said he received a laconic letter from the Jewish Agency saying the Interior Ministry had concluded that he is not entitled to immigrate to Israel … The Jewish Agency released a statement saying the Interior Ministry determines individuals’ right to immigrate according to the Law of Return. ‘The Jewish Agency, which assists the Interior Ministry in examining the right to immigrate, referred Mr. Streisand to a meeting with representatives of the Interior Ministry, who were not persuaded that he bears the right to immigrate,’ the agency said. ‘It was never claimed that Mr. Streisand is not a Jew by birth. Obviously, an individual’s relationship with Christians does not revoke his right to immigrate.’ The Interior Ministry issued the following response: ‘The Jewish Agency has been authorized by the Interior Ministry to approve immigration requests for those who claim they have the right to immigrate and can prove it. Only in cases where the Jewish Agency encounters issues that it cannot solve on its own, are the documents and the agency’s recommendation transferred to the Population and Immigration Authority. We then make the decision based on that information.’ The ministry added that the right to immigrate is determined by Israel’s Law of Return.”

Haaretz (February 6) further reported that Meretz MK Ilan Gillayon had appealed to Interior Minister Eli Ishai to rescind the decision to refuse Streisand’s request. “Members of the Reform Movement were not surprised by Streisand’s story. ‘Use of the Internet to check people seeking to make aliyah has become more and more widespread,’ said lawyer Nicky Maor, Director of the Center for Assistance to Reform Immigrants. “There’s no doubt that the attitude has become stricter, stemming from fear of exploitation of the Law of Return by missionaries, especially from the States.’”

In the reverse direction, a lecture by Yad L’Achim at a State-religious high school gathering concerning the dangers of Jewish-Arab intermarriage was recently cancelled by the Ministry of Education (Yediot Tel Aviv, February 4). “This is a private organization which is not funded by the State and operates on the basis of contributions alone.”

Interfaith Activities

Haaretz, February 2, 2011

According to this report, 200 Jewish, Christian, and Muslim representatives from America, Europe, Africa, and Arab countries visited Auschwitz last week organized by the French organization Aladdin, devoted to finding a common language between the three monotheistic religions and fighting Holocaust deniers. Also participating were Gerhard Schroeder, former German Chancellor, Israel Meir Low, former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Turkish diplomats, the President of Al-Quds University, the Iraqi president’s personal representative, and special envoys from the President of Senegal and the King of Morocco.


Haaretz, January 3; Israel HaYom, February 3; Jerusalem Post, February 2, 2011

According to these three reports, “A large and beautiful mosaic floor and a church were uncovered in excavations carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority at Hirbet Madras [Horvat Midras] in the Judean coastal plain. Various scholars who visited the site during the
excavation proposed identifying the place as the residence and tomb of the
prophet Zechariah. In recent months an archaeological excavation was conducted at Hirbet Madras in the wake of an antiquities theft during which robbers attempted to breach
and plunder an ancient underground complex. Hirbet Madras is known as the site of a large, important Jewish community from the Second Temple period until its destruction during the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE.” (Jerusalem Post, February 3). “Tunnels were uncovered under the church, located in Adullam Park, containing coins, stone tools, lamps and clay vessels from the first and second century CE. … Scholars believe the church was built at the end of the fifth century and abandoned following the Muslim conquest in the seventh century … Most of the church floor was covered with a complex mosaic, much of which has been well preserved, whose stones measure between seven and eight millimeters. ‘This is one of the most beautiful mosaics discovered in Israel in recent years,’ [Amir] Ganor [of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s anti-theft unit] says. The designs include geometric patterns, plants and animals, including a spotted leopard, a fox, a bear, a peacock, a lion devouring an ibex, a bull and fish. At its last stage, the church was constructed as a basilica, with a large entrance hall paved with stone slabs that led inward to the main hall, in which stood eight marble columns with ornate capitals imported from Asia Minor. An empty underground tomb was also discovered at the site, which some scholars, among them archaeologists Dr. Uzi Dahari and Prof. Yoram Tzafrir, believe was venerated in the Byzantine period as the tomb of Zechariah the prophet, based on an inscription on the Madaba Map. The latter was a map of the Holy Land that was part of the mosaic floor of a sixth-century church in Jordan. It contains many names of sites and has been proven accurate in many cases … If the tomb is that of Zechariah, according to Ganor, it could explain the grand exterior of the church, featuring carved crosses and other designs, which was unusual among Byzantine churches elsewhere in the country. However, the outer grandeur could also have resulted from competition between the archbishop of the city at nearby Beit Guvrin, and the archbishop of Jerusalem … Ganor says one of the dig’s big surprises was that the church was built atop an earlier building from the Roman period, beneath which were underground tunnels, typical of the first and second centuries CE. ‘At the moment we think that in its first phase, the building was a large public building from the Roman period. This may have been a community building or some sort of worship structure,’ he says.”

Book Review

Ma’ariv, February 2, 2011

Kobi Nir’s latest book, Black Past, Pink Future, analyzes the film “Walking on Water” made by Gal Uchovsky and Eitan Fox. “‘Walking on Water,’ as everyone who’s seen the movie knows, makes intelligent use of the early Christian context. Beginning with the baptism in the Jordan, through the savior’s walking on the waters of the Sea of Galilee, and up to the act of piety, the Pieta, which is so closely associated with the crucifixion.”