Caspari Center Media Review – July 26, 2011
During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the following subjects:
Attitudes towards Christianity
Pope and the Vatican
Christians in the Holocaust
This week’s review included a report on the torching of a car belonging to a Messianic Jew in Eilat.
Jerusalem Post, July 21; Erev Erev, July 8, 2011
A wave of arson attacks in Eilat has targeted a Messianic Jew, whose car was recently torched along with a police motorcycle, a police investigation team suggesting that all four incidents were the work of a single person. “According to the woman, in the preceding fortnight her car was broken into twice, but money inside was not stolen. ‘Two weeks ago, my car was broken into and the thieves stole a “New Testament,”’ the car’s owner told Erev Erev. ‘They didn’t steal anything else, despite the fact that there was small change in the car. Two days later, it was broken into again – they took all the creams and sun oils inside and sprayed them all over the car. This was clearly an attempt to cause damage. I didn’t report either incident to the police – I thought it was someone taking his anger out because he had found a “New Testament” and that was the end of it. I didn’t want to cause any provocation – that’s not the way I work. We don’t come from a place of hatred or anger. I believe that we must love freely. If I find the person responsible, I’ll tell him that I forgive him. I’m not angry with him, and I pray that God will bless him. We agree with the religious [Jews] on many things: we’re against break-ins and abortion. We prefer people to be in synagogue than in pubs. I come from the congregation in Ariel. There, we had a Jewish terrorist called Ya’akov (Jack) Teitel who laid a bomb and caused a 14-year-old youth serious injuries. We’ve also had threats in Eilat recently. I hope that the police will be able to end this story quickly.’”
The Jerusalem Post (July 21) published several letters in response to the fact that the paper had printed an ad sponsored by Yad L’Achim. Steve Joseph from Liverpool wrote saying: “‘I was alarmed to see that The Jerusalem Post printed a large ad taken out by Yad L’Achim, the so-called protectors of Jews, against messianic Christian believers (July 15, Page 11). With the past record of such organizations (attacks and daily persecution), how did you see fit for such an advert to be placed in your newspaper? I am all for freedom of speech and the right to follow one’s chosen religion, but this should apply to all citizens of Israel, and not to a select band of self-appointed ‘protectors.’” Likewise, Peter Hagyo-Kovacs from Jerusalem stated: “‘The Yad L’Achim ad is hate-speech. In allowing it, The Jerusalem Post has started down a path that will inevitably lead to the open, legalized murder of individuals deemed targets of the organization. It bears far too similar a resemblance to Nazi propaganda of the 1930s.’”
Attitudes towards Christianity
Zman Ma’ala, July 14, 2011
In an article devoted to practices designed to ward off the evil eye in Judaism, Itzhak Aharon noted that Christianity was not exempt from the same phenomenon: “Christianity is also affected by this custom. The concept of ‘touch wood’ is known to the devout Christian who knocks on wood in commemoration of the cross on which Yeshu was crucified, which protects him against the evil eye.” He also comments that this idea has crept into Hebrew, the expression “holding one’s fingers” being a corruption of “cross fingers” – i.e., to make them into the figure of a cross, “the symbol of Christianity … It must be confessed that a Jew who accepts this tradition performs a spiritual act of a contradictory inner nature.”
Hed HaIr, July 13, 2011
Hed Ha’Ir (July 13) reported on MK Zvulon Orlev’s reaction to receiving a copy of the New Testament and an accompanying letter urging conversion to Christianity (see Review of July 6, 2011).
Israel HaYom, Jly 22; Jerusalem Post, July 21 2011
According to the Jerusalem Post (July 21), “The head of the self-described largest Christian pro-Israel lobby in America declared that the group would win ‘the fight for the soul of the Tea Party’ as thousands of its activists descended on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. David Brog, executive director of Christians United For Israel (CUFI), a 700,000- member-strong lobby with good ties with Republicans, offered reassurance that his organization would help steer the Tea Party toward the direction Israel desires. CUFI is comprised of evangelical Christians, and many Tea Party members hold similar religious convictions and conservative political views … A major focus of Wednesday’s lobbying was to be focused on urging conservative members of Congress not to allow the budget crisis to affect American aid to Israel. Other speakers at the pro-Israel summit advocated other means of spending cuts that would at once support the current Israeli government while undercutting Palestinian attempts to win international recognition of statehood at the United Nations in September … The production was replete with a uniformly smiling evangelical choir singing Israeli folk songs in nearly flawless Hebrew as thousands of attendees furiously waved American and Israeli flags. At one point, several hundred stood up and began to dance what appeared to be the hora as Israeli music played in the background.”
Israel HaYom (July 22) printed an article by Melanie Phillips comparing American and British support of Israel. The well-known British writer argued that while America is still a Christian country – and one of a very particular type, namely, evangelicals from a Puritan background who held “a deep belief in the literal meaning of the Tanakh, including the Old Testament” – Britain is still very much Anglican, at the expense of evangelicalism, and thus dominated by “much more ambivalent theological doctrines towards the Old Testament … and thus … virtually totally governed by secular and left-wing thinking, including fierce hostility towards Israel.” While Britain has been characterized by evangelicalism, the decline of this movement in the country has led directly to the decline of Christian Zionism therein and the prevalence of “replacement theology.” At the same time, evangelicals are themselves split between those who support Israel and those who do not. It is thus incumbent on the Jewish community, says Phillips, to extend a hand to the former to help them fight the “lies growing in force around them” – as the electoral voters whom Israel “simply cannot afford to lose.”
Haaretz, July 22, 2011
This piece reported on the reopening of Qasr-al-Yahud (see last week’s Review).
Pope and the Vatican
HaModia, July 8, 2011
According to this brief note, “Pope Benedict will meet Jews and Muslims on his visit to his German homeland in September, the Vatican said yesterday. A Vatican program for the September 22-25 trip showed the pope will meet members of the Jewish community on the first day and Muslims on the second. While meetings with the Jewish community are common on papal trips, the pope’s German meet will be heavily freighted because of the country’s and pope’s Nazi pasts.”
Christians in the Holocaust
Haaretz, July 24, 2011
This lengthy article featured the Protestant community in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon which, “Ever since the Louis XIV’s revocation in 1685 of the Edict of Nantes, which had imposed a century of religious tolerance,” has served as “a haven for the Huguenots, or French Protestants. Hunted by royal troops and hounded by Catholic inquisitors, the Huguenots nevertheless held fast to their faith. Their ministers led Sunday services in the craggy folds of the Cévennes, and their military leaders led a guerrilla war against the Bourbon battalions. As a result, even after the Revolution of 1789, which emancipated and enfranchised both them and French Jews, the Huguenots remained deeply marked by the so-called ‘years of the desert.’ A remarkable minister, André Trocmé, embodied the historical wisdom accrued over the centuries by the Protestants … In his moving account, ‘Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed,’ published by Harper & Row in 1979 and revised in 1994, Philip Hallie emphasizes that Trocmé and his fellow villagers were amateurs. There were no teachers, primers or even resistance pamphlets for them to consult. Establishing lines of communication with other clandestine groups, finding safe houses and creating aliases for the refugees, and forging papers and identity cards all demanded an extraordinary degree of planning and care. Yet, the practical and organizational aspects to the work of saving the lives of others always remained a work in progress. Equally significant, however, were the less practical elements of resistance. While the villagers groped toward developing an effective organization, they did not hesitate over the need to resist. Their clarity of vision resulted in part from the historical experience of the Huguenot community, but, no less important, it reflected an ethical stance that Trocmé had practiced his entire adult life. Resistance is, first and foremost, a way of seeing the world, one that makes manifest the moral imperative to acknowledge and respect the dignity of each and every fellow human being.’ As a result, by the time their fellow Frenchmen and women began to grasp Vichy’s brutal nature, the Chambonnais already knew what to do. This applied to something as seemingly simple as refusing to sign an oath of allegiance, or to something far greater – such as when the village youths delivered a letter to a visiting government minister, declaring they would never accept the regime’s actions against Jews. And, of course, it applied to saving the lives of the more than 3,000 Jewish adults and children by placing them with families, hiding them in the region or spiriting them out of the country.”
Israel HaYom, July 22; Haaretz, July 22, 2011
These two articles reported on the discovery of a “rare gold bell from the Second Temple period” in excavations under the Western Wall. Under the headline, “Greetings from the High Priest?,” Israel HaYom (July 22) asked the question, “Have we found a gold bell belonging to the High Priest in the Temple?,” quoting Professor Ronny Reich of Haifa University and Eli Shukron, the dig’s directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority: “‘The bell looked as if it was sewn on the garment worn by a man of high authority in Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period. The bell was exposed in the city’s main drainage channel of that period, between the layers of dirt that had been piled on the floor of the channel. This drainage channel was built and hewn west to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and drained the rainfall in the different parts of the city, through the City of David and the Shiloah Pool to the Kidron Valley.’” The probability that it belonged to the High Priest rests, among other things on Exodus, which recounts that the high priests hung such decorations on the fringes of their garments.