Caspari Center Media Review – July 6, 2011
During the week covered by this review, we received 13 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Pope and the Vatican
This week’s review included a further article on Yad L’Achim’s collaboration with government agencies and Messianic outreach in Mevasaret Zion.
Zman Mevaseret, June 23; Ma’ariv, July 1, 3, 2011
Under the headline “Are the Messianics already here?” – accompanied by a picture captioned “The congregation’s premises in Dallas” – an article in Zman Mevaseret (June 23), a local Mevaseret Zion paper, reported that “We have recently been witness to claims made by various bodies that a group is operating in Mevaseret under the ostensibly innocent guise of social liaisons, and attempting – and even succeeding on occasion – to bring youth into contact with the Christian community which calls itself ‘Messianic Jewish’ … For those who do not know, the basic claim of this faith asserts that they are Jewish to all intents and purposes but from their perspective ‘Yeshu the Nazarene’ is the Messiah and the ‘New Testament’ constitutes its central source.” Describing a case in which the child of a Mevaseret family became close friends with neighbors who turned out to “belong to the congregation,” the paper talked to a person close to the events, “who opened our eyes to a fact which cannot leave many indifferent: ‘To our great astonishment, we discovered that this man attends a synagogue in the neighborhood of Rekhes Chalalim and even goes to the class given by the Rabbi. After some time, we put the inconsistencies together and exposed the identity and purposes of this person. The Rabbi summoned him for a conversation, in which we understood how determined this man is in his ways and beliefs. During that same conversation he was asked not to continue attending the synagogue.” One of the town’s Rabbis declared that people of all hues would work together with local council members and Yad L’Achim to “stop these people achieving their goals.” It also noted that reports that the group had infiltrated local educational institutions were being investigated.
Another eye-catching headline – “Via Dolorosa” (Ma’ariv, July 3) – headed a piece about the treatment Christian tourists receive at the hands of anti-missionary organizations. One of the cases reviewed is that of Tim and Elizabeth Hanson who, on a return visit to the country, having earlier spent some time volunteering at the Baptist Church in Jerusalem, were detained at the airport and interrogated by Interior Ministry officials who finally declared that they were being denied entry “‘because their personal file carried a note: Entry forbidden due to missionary activity.’ What the couple did not know at the time was the fact that the source of the note ‘suspicion of missionizing’ in their personal file at the Interior Ministry which prevented their entry into the Holy Land, was a report – never checked or confirmed by the Interior Ministry – submitted by ‘Mevaser Shalom’ – the same organization where they had previously volunteered distributing food to the needy. For some reason, the organization passed on this ‘burning’ report, according to which the two were engaged in missionary activity and should therefore be refused entry to the country.” The Hansons filed a suit against the Interior Ministry at the Jerusalem District Court through the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, the judge ruling that “the procedure adopted by the Interior Ministry in relying on reports, not to speak of informing, by Orthodox organizations against religious non-Jews coming to Israel was illegal, based on rumor, and a foreign consideration in determining whether people should be allowed into the country or not.” He further added that “‘The Interior Ministry’s “news” was based on rumors, hearsay, and unfounded conclusions, the connection between the plaintiffs and any missionary activity being completely unproven … The Interior Ministry did not even bother to check for itself what kind of “missionary activity” was attributed to the plaintiffs or whether or not it was legal.’ As noted, the judge accepted the suit, even instructing the Interior Ministry to pay for the couple’s pains, to the tune of 7,500 NIS. The Hansons are not alone. The Jerusalem Institute of Justice, which works hard on behalf of civil rights and freedom of religion, is very familiar with the ‘labels’ with which the Interior Ministry stigmatizes, in the Institute’s words, tourists and Christian clergy who come to Israel – which, in the majority of cases, derive from a ‘tip’ from such organizations as Yad L’Achim and Mevaser Shalom, who claim that ordinary tourists or respected Christian figures come to Israel for one purpose – to capture the hearts of Jews and bring them into Christianity. Currently, the Institute is dealing with 15 cases of tourists and clergy against the Interior Ministry after being denied entry to the country, according to them without just cause and based on misleading reports from Orthodox organizations trying to make it difficult for Christians to enter Israel.” One of the arguments made by Attorney Michael Decker is that the Interior Ministry’s policy directly contravenes the efforts being made by the Tourism Ministry to encourage Christian pilgrimage. The Institute also claims that, with a marked rise in the number of such tourists being detained at the airport, “this discrimination, based solely on information received from religious and Orthodox organizations, has led in the past to the delays and denial of entrance to many Christians, including public figures and top-ranking officials visiting Israel, among other reasons, in order to expand the scale of their contributions, their detention at Ben Gurion and denial of entrance badly hurting Israel’s foreign relations.” The Interior Ministry was quoted as responding in the following fashion: “‘Denial of entry, status, or visa is made solely on the basis of reasons grounded in the law or standard procedures. The Population and Immigration Registry possesses no policy or directives guiding its workers to “mark” people because of “missionary” or any other religious activity.’”
According to a report in Ma’ariv (July 1), “Religious and Orthodox MKs are in shock. Workers of the mission, may their souls be detested, have succeeded in penetrating their homes via packages containing the New Testament sent through the post with an accompanying nine-page letter calling on them to accept the teaching of Yeshu the Christian messiah in order to save their souls before the world is engulfed in the war of Gog and Magog and the Day of Judgment arrives. The package was sent by a mission worker called Andrew Lewis from Kiryat Shemoneh. In the letter, Lewis appeals to the MKs thus: ‘It is my honor to write you as influential leaders of our people. God has put this burden on my heart to take responsibility for delivering this important message to you.’ He reminds the MKs of the prophecy of Gog and Magog and their allies who will rise up against Israel, written 2,600 years ago, and clearly linked to us, in Israel, in the present day.’ He goes on to add: ‘Like Noah who escaped the flood, the goal of this letter is to explain how you, too, can escape from the coming destruction.’ The deliverance, he states, will come though adopting Christianity, the New Testament, and faith in Yeshu: ‘This is God’s promise to those who enter the New Covenant.’ To bolster his words, Lewis also cites verses of destruction from the Tanakh, and sometimes also words of deliverance from the New Testament, which he describes as a Jewish book written by Jews about a Jew who lived in Eretz Israel. The Christian missionary also knows that the war of Gog and Magog will erupt ‘in the very near future, given the fact that there are 196 nations in the world, 192 of which belong to the UN.’ One of the recipients of the letter was MK Zvulun Orlev (HaBeit haYehudi), who refused to take the warning to heart. ‘This is a despicable and deluded attempt to influence Knesset members. The sender should be informed that he has committed an abominable act which should be denounced,’ he said. ‘The missionaries must know that their activity is illegal and I have therefore submitted a complaint to the officer of the Knesset so that he can clarify the sender’s identity and bring him to judgment.’”
Index HaGalil, June 24; Index HaEmek ve-ha-Galil, June 24; Uvda, June 24 (x 2), 2011
One of the pieces in Uvda (June 24) reported on MK Lia Shemtov’s support for the aliyah of a group of American Christians who plan to convert to Judaism and establish kibbutz-style communities in Samaria (see Review of May 6, 2011).
The three other articles ran the same story of the dedication of a play park in Alei Giva’a funded by billionaire German Christian Heinz-Horst Deichmann, whose support of educational projects in Israel is well known.
Christians in Israel
Uvda, June 24; Haaretz, July 1, 2011
According to a report in Haaretz (July 1), “Last month, the High Court of Justice ruled on one of the most fraught and explosive real-estate petitions it has deliberated in the past decade. For seven years, the court discussed a suit by Helmut Georg Laemmle, an Australian descendant of the German Templers, demanding compensation of about NIS 1 million from the city of Tel Aviv for lands on which the two towers constituting the Weizmann Center were built … The plot was part of the property of the Templer colony Sarona, which for the past 60 years has been at the center of controversy in the international arena, in a clash between the municipality and the government (especially the defense establishment) and in the municipal real-estate playing field … In 2005, after the dedication of the center, Laemmle petitioned the court against the municipality on the grounds that the land had been expropriated from the Templers in 1943 for public use, whereas the main purpose of the center – even if it serves the public that works and frequents Ichilov – is commercial, and hence does not serve a real public purpose … The Tel Aviv municipality argued that the owners of the property had received full compensation for their assets under the 1962 reparations agreements with Germany. It also argued the suit was tainted by dishonest motives and did not reveal the essential fact that in the reparations agreement, the owners of the land had relinquished all rights to sue in connection with the land … The historical basis for the deliberations at the High Court of Justice was the expert opinion of historian Prof. Yossi Katz, who holds the chair for Jewish National Fund studies at Bar-Ilan University. Katz is author of the Hebrew-language book “Forgotten Assets,” which revealed deficiencies in the way the Israeli authorities dealt with the estates of Holocaust victims who had property in Israel … In his studies on the fate of Templer properties in Israel, Katz revealed a German diktat that forced the Israeli government to pay them full monetary compensation, their Nazi past notwithstanding. Upon Hitler’s rise to power, the messianic Templer community underwent a metamorphosis from serving God to the cult of the Reich. The British authorities related to them as a fifth column and the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine imposed a general boycott on them … After the Germans’ defeat, Moshe Sharett, head of the diplomatic department at the Jewish Agency, demanded of the British high commissioner that he deport the remaining Germans from the country and transfer their lands for the settlement of Holocaust survivors and Jewish soldiers who had served with the British Army ‘as compensation Germany owes the Jewish people.’ In January 1946, an Allied committee meeting in Paris decided that German property, including property outside Germany and property of private German citizens, would serve as reparations payments to the victorious countries … On June 13, the High Court of Justice rejected Laemmle’s petition and obligated him to pay NIS 40,000 in court costs to the Tel Aviv municipality … The bench ruled there are no circumstances justifying the revocation of the expropriation and the return of the lands to the petitioner, since the Weizmann Center continues to serve the purpose of the expropriation. Moreover, ruled the justices, in light of the laws on trading with an enemy country and international agreements Israel signed with Germany – there is no scope for granting the petition. ‘What is at the basis of the petition is money, money and money,’ says Katz. ‘Until now it isn’t clear to me when the initiative of the petition arose. Did the petitioner himself initiate it, or was it his attorneys who expected to find an oil field that would open the way to claims on all of Sarona and the other colonies?’”
Pope and the Vatican
Mishpacha, June 30, 2011
This report carried last week’s story of the Israeli ambassador’s “forgiveness” of Pope Pius XII.
Chaim Acherim, July 1, 2011
This lengthy feature was devoted to the “White Brotherhood” founded by Peter Deunov, a form of Gnostic mysticism.
Yated Ne’eman, June 28, 2011
This article reported the disappointment expressed by Jewish groups suing Olivia Zemor, Secretary of Europalestine, for calling for an Israeli boycott, over the fact that the French prosecutor had not imposed the punishment called for by the State but left it to the court to decide the fitting penalty.
Jerusalem Post, June 30; Haaretz, June 30, 2011
According to these two pieces, “Researchers from Bar-Ilan and Tel Aviv universities published a study this week confirming the authenticity of a recently obtained ancient ossuary with unique historical implications that was plundered by antiquities robbers. The 2,000-year-old ossuary, a stone chest used for secondary burial of bones, belonged to a daughter of the Caiaphas family of high priests. The front of the ossuary bears an Aramaic inscription from the time of the Second Temple saying ‘Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests of Ma’aziah from Beth Imri.’ The high priest Yehosef Bar Caiaphas is known for his involvement in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, but the prime importance of the inscription is the discovery that the Caiaphas family was related to the Ma’aziah priestly course, one of the 24 divisions of Kohens that took turns maintaining the schedule of offerings at the Temple in Jerusalem. This is the first reference to the Ma’aziah course in an epigraphic find from the Second Temple period, which was the last of the twenty-four priestly courses that served in the First Temple … Since the ossuary was not found in a controlled, archeological excavation, and due to its extraordinary historical significance, the authenticity of the artifact was tested by Dr. Boaz Zissu of the Department of the Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University and Prof. Yuval Goren of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at Tel Aviv University. The examinations determined that the ossuary and its inscription are genuine and ancient, and came from a burial cave in the area of the Valley of Elah, in the Shephela … The ending of the inscription ‘from Beth Imri’ can be interpreted to mean that Beth Imri is the name of a priestly family – the sons of Immer as described in Ezra 2:36-37 and Nehemiah 7:39-42, whose descendants include members of the Ma’aziah course. The second possibility is that it refers to the place of origin of the deceased or of her entire family, which may have been preserved in the name Beit Ummar, a village in the North Hebron Hills. In that village and in nearby Khirbet Kufin, remains of a Jewish settlement were identified from the Second Temple era and the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt” (Jerusalem Post, June 30).