April 5 – 2011

Caspari Center Media Review – April 5, 2011

During the week covered by this review, we received 9 articles on the subjects of attitudes towards Jesus and Christianity, Christian Zionism, Christian tourism, Jewish-Christian relations, and archaeology. Of these:

3 dealt with attitudes towards Jesus and Christianity

1 dealt with anti-missionary activities

1 dealt with Christian Zionism

1 dealt with Christians in Israel

1 dealt with Christian tourism

1 dealt with Jewish-Christian relations

1 dealt with archaeology


This week’s Review carried a further report about Mary Gardner,  killed in the recent terrorist bombing in Jerusalem.

Attitudes towards Jesus and Christianity 

Avodah, March 25; Jerusalem Post, March 29, April 3, 2011

Shmuely Boteach addressed the question of “Can love exist without hate” in his column in the Jerusalem Post (March 29) this week: “Early Christians like the apostle Paul are said to have rejected the ‘vengeful’ God of the Old Testament. In his place, the church fathers gave us the man Jesus, who they said was synonymous with love. Hate no longer had any place, including the hatred of evil. So whereas the God of Israel says explicitly in Malachi: ‘I love Jacob but I hate Esau’ – presumably because the former represents those who struggle for peace, while the latter has become a symbol for those who ‘live by the sword’ … I believe this is what Jesus meant. He never said to love God’s enemies, but your enemies. I’d say God’s enemies are the “religious” police in Saudi Arabia who allowed young girls to burn alive in their high school rather than run from the inferno without a face covering. Your ‘enemy’ is the guy who got promoted over you at work. Likewise, by advising that we turn the other cheek, I don’t think Jesus meant that if Osama bin Laden blows up New York, we should let him destroy Los Angeles as well. Rather, I believe he meant that if you’re told that someone has said something unpleasant about you, you should ‘give him the benefit of the doubt’ and transcend the provocation. Any other understanding would make a mockery of one of the greatest moral teachers of all time.”

In response, Jacob Chinitz wrote (Jerusalem Post, April 3): “Even if turning the other cheek is means to be taken literally, the idea of love existing without hate or vengeance is contradicted by the New Testament, which says that those who do not accept Jesus will go on to eternal suffering in hell. Is this love or hate? Unconditional love, which Boteach and the Torah seem to reject, is also rejected by the New Testament if it says sinners are to be punished with eternal torment.”

A piece in Avodah (March 25) reported that “The PA leaders are representing Yeshu as a Palestinian who preached Islam and thereby denying not only Jewish history but also the basis for the legitimacy of Christianity.” Various quotes are then cited in order to demonstrate the claims being made, including that Jesus was a Palestinian, Muslim prophet and the exemplar of Palestinian suffering. The article concludes with the comment: “It should be noted that the PS assumes that only a handful of Palestinians actually know the Tanakh and the New Testament, since according to both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, Yeshu was a Jew, the word ‘Palestine’ is not mentioned [in the NT], and the Hebrew place names (which still exist today), as well as the concept of ‘Eretz Israel’ [the Land of Israel] appear in the Tanakh.”

Anti-missionary Activities

Inyan Acher, March 25, 2011

Mattityahu Ben Eliahu of the Beit Avraham Yeshiva in Hatzor Glilit in the Galilee reported this week that “On Friday 22.93.11 nice-looking people were wandering around Hatzor Glilit preaching. These people distributed Tanakhim to passers-by, but these also included the books of the New Testament. I call on all the residents who took one of these books, including the Tanakh, to thrown them into the trash, it also being permissible to burn them, because they belong to Christians and not to Jews.”

Christian Zionism

Jerusalem Post, March 31, 2011

Under the title “Missionaries to the church,” Michael Freund turned his attention in his regular column in the Jerusalem Post (March 31) to Christian Zionists: “Recently, I was invited to speak to the Christians for Israel organization during an international leadership forum it convened in Jerusalem … it was almost like being at a UN session, with one crucial difference: These people had come together to bless Israel, not to condemn it. Founded in 1979 in Holland by Karel van Oordt and Pee Koelewijn, Christians for Israel has blossomed into an organization whose reach extends to more than 20 countries. Its newspaper, Israel and Christians Today, is published in English, German and Dutch, and has more than 200,000 subscribers. Edited by Henk Kamsteeg and Pim van der Hoff, it provides news, analysis and commentary to an international audience hungry to learn more about the Jewish state. The group has produced a wealth of materials, such as books, DVDs, study guides and even a website – www.whyisrael.org – with the aim of bringing ‘biblical understanding to the church and among the nations concerning God’s purposes for Israel’ … I know what some of you might be thinking: It is very nice that these Christians proclaim their love for Israel, but surely they have some ulterior motive. They must be putting on a lot of smiles so we Jews will lower our defenses, and then they will try to convert us. Put your skepticism and cynicism aside: These guys are the ‘real deal.’ Their motivation is sincere, inspired by conviction and guided by faith. They have no agenda other than to support Israel … As Tucker explains it: ‘As Christians for Israel, our primary goal is to try to shake the church from its slumber, to wake up our fellow Christians to what God is doing’ … In effect, they are on the front lines in a theological battle raging among Christians over what is referred to as Replacement Theology, or supersessionism, which basically asserts that the church has replaced Israel in the unfolding of the divine plan. Supporters of Replacement Theology make the spurious claim that the church is the ‘new Israel,’ and that the Jewish people have been basically tossed aside by God. As a Jew, it is hard for me to comprehend how anyone who reads the Bible could believe such a thing. After all, in the book of Malachi (3:6), God says, ‘For I am the Lord, I have not changed.’ And in Isaiah (46:11), He declares, ‘What I have said, I will bring about; what I have planned, I will do.’ And there is no more compelling proof of this than the modern-day return of the Jewish people to their land … Even if they face an uphill battle, Christians for Israel is not shying away from its special mandate – spreading a pro-Israel message from the heart of Europe to villages in sub-Saharan Africa … And to that we can all say amen.”

Christians in Israel

Jerusalem Post, March 31, 2011

The Jerusalem Post (March 31) carried a further tribute to Mary Gardner, killed in the latest terror bombing in Jerusalem: “[Mary] Gardner, 55, who was killed in last week’s bomb attack near the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, had spoken publicly of her work before arriving in Israel in January to spend half a year studying biblical Hebrew and geography. ‘I still do not think of myself as a missionary. I feel just an ordinary Christian with the same sort of struggles that anyone else has,’ she said, in a recording of one her public speeches about her life in Africa as a Bible translator. ‘God has given me the privilege of being someone he has used to give 200,000 people a translation of the New Testament, though not by myself, of course,’ said Gardner. ‘God can use anyone. There are so many different ways of serving Him,’ said the soft-spoken, sandy haired woman. ‘He took my interest in Africa and my interest in languages and my desire to serve Him and He put into my heart a longing that other people should have the same access to the scriptures and to the Bible that I enjoyed,’ she said. In the week since her death, her friends in Jerusalem and England have grappled to understand the random death of someone who had devoted her life to God’s work. This Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland, Rev. David McCarthy hopes to inspire young adults to serve God by speaking to them of Gardner’s life and work … The day of the bombing, McCarthy said, he had received an e-mail from another friend, who had a friend who had narrowly missed being at the scene of the attack. McCarthy had been thinking of this close call on Thursday the he received a call from the Wycliffe Bible Translators informing him of Gardner’s death. Her death, he said, ‘was quite a blow. She was very well known and loved here,’ he told The Jerusalem Post by phone on Wednesday … She once told an audience that she had left teaching for translation after God had put into her heart ‘a longing that other people should have the same access to the scriptures and to the Bible that I enjoyed. It was His word that had led me to Him and it was through His word that so often He had continued to speak to me,’ she said. McCarthy said that he now wants to use her life to inspire others to serve God as she did … In Mevasseret Zion, other participants in the small (eight-student) program has also grappled with her death. On Wednesday, a week after the blast, they went to the spot where Gardner died to lay a wreath in her memory. Halvor Ronning, who runs the school with his wife, Miriam, said that students have spent the last week speaking of her life and work. The program is also looking to start a scholarship fund in her memory. Miriam said that the program, which has been in running since 1995 is like a family because they have come to Israel for the same purpose. Each semester there are only 6 to 12 students, Halvor said …  ‘Our feeling is that she protected others because she was the closet [to the bomb],’ said Miriam … Her parents released a statement to the media upon her death which said, ‘We are all devastated by the sudden loss of our daughter in this tragic and unexpected way. Mary was a very special person and we thought the world of her. She was devoted to her work and was well liked wherever she went. Her loss in this way has been deeply upsetting for us all.’ Her body is still in Israel, but is to be flown out of the country in the next few days.”

Christian Tourism

Jerusalem Post, April 1, 2011

This report carried the story of St. Therese of Lisieux’s “pilgrimage” of peace and reconciliation through the Holy Land (see last week’s Review).

Jewish-Christian Relations

Jerusalem Post, April 1, 2011

“A senior Vatican delegation reaffirmed the ‘chosen’ status of the Jews on Thursday, at the end of an annual meeting with representatives of the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem. The Bilateral Commission of the delegations of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews concluded the three-day meeting Thursday, the theme of which was the challenges of faith and religious leadership in secular society. The Catholic delegation, led by Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejìa, took the opportunity to reiterate the historic teaching of the Second Vatican Council’s declaration Nostra Aetate (No. 4) regarding the Divine Covenant with the Jewish People that ‘the Jews still remain most dear to God because of their Fathers, for He does not repent of the gifts He makes, nor of the calls He issues (cf. Romans 11:28- 29),’ the commission’s joint statement said … Father Federico Lombardi [… said that,] ‘If one wants a summary of the synod’s position, attention must currently be paid to the “Message,” which is the only written text approved by the synod in the last few days,” he said shortly afterward. Heading the Jewish delegation at Thursday’s meeting – the 10th such meeting between the sides – was Haifa Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, a member of the Chief Rabbinical Council. He was joined by Kiryat Ono Chief Rabbi Rasson Arussi, Savion Chief Rabbi David Brodman, Chief Rabbinate Director-General Oded Wiener and Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s international director of interreligious affairs, who is a member of the commission in his capacity as the rabbinate’s honorary adviser on interfaith relations. ‘Many people thought that the words of Bustros [at the] end of the Synod reflected the church’s official voice,’ Rosen told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. ‘The Catholic delegation here made that special statement to reassure the Jewish side and placate any suspicions that may have remained.’”


Jerusalem Post, April 3, 2011

According to this report, “Jordanian authorities are demanding that Israel return what they describe as ancient artifacts that could rival the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, saying they were smuggled out of the country and are now in the possession of a Beduin farmer in the Galilee. The artifacts in question are a group of around 70 metal books, or codices, each with between five and 15 leaves about the size of a credit card and bound by rings made of lead … Material evidence of early Christian communities in the Holy Land is virtually nonexistent. The codices contain messages in Hebrew and ancient Greek, all written in as-yet undeciphered code … David Elkington, a British expert on religious archeology, told the BBC the books could be ‘the major discovery of Christian history.’ Elkington and colleagues announced the find last week and said they hoped to have the books moved to a Jordanian museum … Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported that carbon dating showed a piece of leather found with the books to be just under 2,000 years old, placing it in the same time period in which Jesus is believed to have lived. An examination of the metal slabs showed them to be very old as well, the Telegraph reported. Philip Davies, an Old Testament expert at Sheffield University, told the BBC the books contained images of Jerusalem that were distinctive of early Christian tradition. ‘As soon as I saw that, I was dumbstruck. That struck me as so obviously a Christian image,’ Davies said. “There is a cross in the foreground, and behind it is what has to be the tomb [of Jesus], a small building with an opening, and behind that the walls of the city. There are walls depicted on other pages of these books, too, and they almost certainly refer to Jerusalem … Authorities in Amman believe a Jordanian Beduin found the codices in northern Jordan at some point between 2005 and 2007, and later gave them to another Beduin to smuggle into Israel … Israeli archeological sources have dismissed the importance of the find, noting that Saeda had appeared ‘every few years’ trying to sell the codices, which they characterized as forgeries. But Jordanian authorities have attributed far greater significance to the artifacts.’”