August 30 – 2011

Caspari Center Media Review – August 30, 2011

During the week covered by this review, we received 18 articles on the following subjects:

Christian Zionism
Christian sites

This week’s review focused on Glenn Beck’s current visit to Israel.

Messianic Jews

Yediot Haifa, August 26, 2011

According to this report, “The Yeshuist rock bank ‘The Seeds’ is interested in visiting Haifa and the north next summer in order to take part in festivals and events in the region. A month ago, ‘Yediot Haifa’ found out that ‘hippy’ Christian missionaries are showing up at events and rock festivals and distributing discs of ‘The Seeds’ free to anyone who asks .. The missionaries told ‘Yediot Haifa’ that they are former drug addicts who had almost killed themselves but through their faith in Yeshu had succeeded in freeing themselves from the drugs and turning over a new leaf. For thirty years, they have belonged to a group of ‘hippies’ who discovered Yeshu and Christianity and have been working, among things, to disseminate Yeshu’s teaching.” While they also work rehabilitating other addicts, the integration of Yeshu into this “blessed work” “turns them into missionaries. Many young people receive the discs, which include heavy rock songs, without knowing that the texts are songs of praise to Yeshu and Christianity.”

Christian Zionism

Yediot Ahronot, August 25; Makor Rishon, August 24, 26; Jerusalem Post, August 23, 25; Haaretz, August 23 (x 2), 24, 25 (x 2), 26 (x 2); Tel Aviv TIME OUT, August 25; Israel HaYom, August 28, 2011

Most of these articles – which include several editorials – related in some shape or form to Glenn Beck’s current visit to Israel, Akiva Novick in Yediot Ahronot (August 25) likening his rallies to the coming of the Messiah and Tel Aviv TIME OUT (August 25) headlining its coverage of the first rally in Caesarea, in which it gave some of Beck’s background, “Living in La La land.” [Editor’s note: this is a reference to a docu-reality show which follows six famous Israeli artists who attempt to break into the international music business in LA.]

Dror Eidar in Israel HaYom (August 28) entitled his piece “You should listen to Glenn Beck,” maintaining that the born-again Mormon speaks the truth and is a true supporter of Israel. Those who attack him are “ignoramuses who can’t distinguish between different Christian denominations … This is true also with regard to the religious populace whose hackles rise every time they hear the name Yeshu. In truth, a Jew called Yeshu existed in history who kept the commandments and believed in the cardinal tenets of Jewish faith and never in his life converted.”

Under the headline “Voight compares Palestinian terrorists to Nazis,” Gil Hoffman in the Jerusalem Post (August 23) noted that “Oscar-winning American actor Jon Voight slammed the Palestinian terrorism facing Israel Monday night at a Jerusalem event about the Holocaust organized by broadcaster Glenn Beck. Voight, who is not Jewish, praised Israel and the Jewish people in his speech. He made reference to suicide bombings and to the March 11 slayings of the Fogel family in Itamar … ‘We are facing a new holocaust, and people of all faiths must demand that the truth be heard. The Palestinian radicals have only one prayer on their lips: To remove every Jew from Israel’ … Speakers at the event noted the significance of holding a Holocaust-themed evening at the former Jerusalem train station after world armies did not bomb the tracks to Auschwitz in World War II.”

Anshel Pfeffer in Haaretz (August 26) asked “Why waste energy on Glenn Beck?” and answered: “Try as I did, I just couldn’t manage to get worked up about the Glenn Beck festival in the Holy Land. For all the hype surrounding his visit and the extravaganza by the Temple Mount, he is simply another televangelist ramping up the Armageddon rhetoric and cashing in on the 21st-century version of crusade-via-multimedia. Not the first of his ilk to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and certainly not the last. Indeed, how could he keep away? Israel is a dreamland for that particular brand of populism, with every kind of biblical, mythological and present-day political symbolism necessary to complete the perfect spectacle. Add into the mix a high-profile meeting with the prime minister, a mixture of Christian and Jewish admirers and a healthy degree of controversy, and you’ll see why Jerusalem is a permanent fixture on the born-again itinerary. And yet, as I cast around for a subject for this week’s column, I can’t help noticing how the local media and blogosphere have all dedicated major space to the man and his attention-grabbing efforts. I read that opposing groups of protesters, from left and right, clashed outside his ‘Restoring Courage’ rally on Wednesday evening. If this was just another drowsy August with little happening, perhaps I could understand a certain degree of passing interest, but in a month in which Israel is being buffeted by renewed warfare on the southern border, social turmoil at home and the disintegration of Arab regimes all around us, surely we all have more pressing matters to deal with. I was especially intrigued by a placard held up by one of the Peace Now protesters calling upon Beck to go back home – ‘we have enough extremists of our own,’ it said. How true, and therefore why waste time on Mr. Beck, who is the Americans’ problem, not ours. I think the underlying concern of those Israelis who ventured out of their air-conditioned shelters, both those seeking to protest and to support Beck, was not the man’s message, or whatever effect, negligible at the most, he may have on the situation here, but how his presence here makes Israel look from the outside … The left is afraid that the hero’s welcome afforded to Beck by the local political establishment will deliver yet another blow to Israel’s international image and its relationship with America … The far-right have taken Beck to their hearts, despite an inner revulsion at his Christian agenda, because they believe that somewhere out there are hidden millions of goyim who will understand and support us, if only someone shows them the way. There is something touching, and also rather pathetic about this yearning for a bit of love.”

David Sheen (Haaretz, August 26) commented that, “Israeli advocates of Glenn Beck say support for the controversial right-wing pundit who visited Israel this week doesn’t carry with it the baggage of all the man’s views. Many Israelis find something to like in what the U.S. commentator calls his steadfast support for Israel … As an evangelical Christian Zionist who is openly disdainful of everything from U.S. President Barack Obama to Muslim activism and socialism, Beck cuts a polarizing figure. Before and during his tour here, he was condemned by many for his views, including by far-right politician Moshe Feiglin and left-wing activists from Peace Now, who demonstrated outside his rally in Jerusalem on Wednesday. While most of the audience at his rallies in Caesarea and Jerusalem were visiting Christian Americans, there were pockets of Anglo-Israelis who also came out in support.”

Rachel Tabachnick (Haaretz, August 23, Hebrew and English editions) stated that, “Beck has used his media platforms to promote secular anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and evangelical end-times prophets. What these two groups have in common is an obsession with Jews and the belief that Jews control and manipulate the lives and destiny of non-Jews … Beck’s embrace by Israeli leaders is further indication to Americans that support for Israel is becoming linked to an extreme political agenda in the United States. This threatens to alienate Jews and Christians, Democrats and Republicans. Ironically, this alienation of Israel is seen by Christian Zionists as fulfilling end-times prophecy, which, they claim, requires a second Jewish holocaust before Jesus returns. Surviving Jews must accept Jesus before a 1000-year Christian utopia, ruled from Jerusalem, can begin. Beck’s cultivation of Israeli leaders follows, step by step, the instructions Christian Zionists have used to gain access to Jewish communities and leaders. One of the most popular of these manuals is the 2001 book, ‘Your People Shall Be My People,’ by Don Finto. Finto’s network of evangelists is encouraging churches around the world to ‘bless Israel’ by supporting Messianic Jewish ministries and proselytizing Jews. His book has been promoted internationally, including by directors of [John] Hagee’s CUFI. Finto’s book provides instructions to: 1) avoid overt proselytizing, 2) vocally repent of the Holocaust, 3) tell Jews that Christian Zionist support is modeled after the biblical story of Ruth with no strings attached, and 4) emphasize that Christian Zionists are Israel’s only friends in an increasingly hostile world. Simultaneously these evangelists help to foment hostility toward Jews by teaching a narrative in which Jews hold power over the future of Gentiles

Oz Rosenberg (Haaretz, August 24) drew attention to the fact that “The combination of Israeli nationalism and Christian subject matter has led to a surprising alliance against Beck. His critics include Israelis who normally oppose each other, including religious figures and political personalities from both ends of the spectrum. ‘We all have the same reasons for opposing Glenn Beck,’ said Etai Mizrav of Peace Now. ‘This is a person who seems to support Israel, but he is a fanatic. I don’t know how the right wing intends to protest, but if they want to join us they are welcome,’ he told Haaretz. Supporters of Peace Now wrote a letter to the cantorial star Dudu Fisher urging him to cancel his performance at Beck’s rally Wednesday night. ‘The area near the Western Wall is no place for a political event. We call on you not to lend your rare voice to such an unclean event’ … Beck’s opponents in Israel also include radical Likud member Moshe Feiglin, who has on more than one occasion said Beck is leading ‘a modern-day crusade.’ Rabbi Dov Lior, chief rabbi of Hebron; Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, leader of the Lithuanian stream of ultra-Orthodoxy; and Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger also oppose Beck … Former Jerusalem City Councilwoman Mina Fenton, another Beck opponent, said, ‘Anything good said about Israel is good for all of us. But my sensitivity and that of others like me leads me to ask what the motives are that lead to such sympathies … The event is a clearly Christian event. Glenn Beck says so himself. And now he is giving the Southern Wall [Archaeological Park] Christian significance? That is unacceptable to Jews.’ The Jerusalem Municipality is supporting Beck by allowing him use of Safra Square in front of City Hall, so that people who were unable to get a ticket to see Beck in person at the Southern Wall Archaeological Park will be able to watch him live on a giant screen

The Haaretz editorial on August 25 included the following statements: “In recent years the extreme Israeli right has developed an alliance with the heads of the evangelical movement, who define themselves as Christian Zionists. National religious rabbis and politicians connect with these preachers, including those who spread the belief in the need for another Holocaust of the Jews in order to ensure the resurrection of Jesus. These rabbis and politicians accept donations from these preachers. It is mystifying that people from Israel’s ruling party, Likud, foremost among them Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon and World Likud Chairman Danny Danon, have joined the circle of Beck’s fans. So has Atzmaut MK Einat Wilf … It was just a few weeks ago that the government denied dozens of peace activists entry into Israel; they wanted to demonstrate nonviolently their support for the Palestinians’ struggle for independence. At the time, it was claimed that this was a ‘provocation.’ The ‘support event’ in Jerusalem was no less provocative.”

The Jerusalem Post (August 25) printed a contribution from Michael D. Evans, “a New York Times bestselling author [who] has served for decades as a key liaison between millions of evangelical Christians and Israel.” Likening Beck to Jeremiah, Evans asserted that “The liberal-leftist media in Israel has stooped to a new low in demonizing Glenn Beck before his ‘Restoring Courage’ rallies … Israelis may not be too familiar with Beck, but they should know that a Gallup poll last year found that more Americans admired him than admired the pope. The same poll found Beck more admired than Billy Graham, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. Beck did come in a close second behind Nelson Mandela … No Christian has ever risked more of his reputation and resources, or put his life on the line to the degree that Glenn Beck has for Israel. How dumb can the liberal-Left media be? Beck is seen and heard on more than 2,000 TV and radio stations and via 16 satellites … As a speaker at two “Restoring Courage” events, I had something to say from the evangelical point of view. But it was a Jewish speaker, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat, who simply and eloquently described Beck as ‘a deeply patriotic American, a true friend of Israel.’ He expressed what I would like to think are the true feelings of Israelis. ‘We are not alone,’ Riskin said. ‘We are profoundly grateful for your courage to love us and stand with us.’”

Amnon Lord (Makor Rishon, August 24) noted that people of the ilk of Glenn Beck do not fall into the category of those who love Israel but hate the Jews but are true supporters of both the Land and the people because they believe in the Bible.

The religious paper Makor Rishon (August 26) noted the visit of the “pope” of the global black church, Enoch Abobwe, accompanied by dozens of representatives for African countries and European parliamentarians, to Samaria, during which he emphasized that the Jews are God’s chosen people and that Nigeria was committed to supporting Israel.

Christians and the Holocaust

Haaretz, August 23, 2011

According to this report, “Protestant church officials in Austria and Germany lobbied the West German government to help Adolf Eichmann after his 1960 arrest, Der Spiegel reported yesterday. According to the German paper, church leader Wilhelm Mensing-Braun – the Superintendent of the Protestant Church for Upper Austria – described Eichmann as ‘fundamentally decent,’ ‘kind-hearted,’ and characterized by ‘great helpfulness,’ in a letter to the foreign affairs department of the Evangelical Church in Germany. The letter was sent right before Eichmann was to go on trial in Jerusalem for his part in the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust. According to the Spiegel report, Eichmann’s family had enlisted Mensing-Braun – who was based in the Austrian city of Linz where Eichmann was born – because they hoped the church leader might help get Eichmann tried by an international court rather than an Israeli one. Bishop Hermann Kunst, the representative of the Evangelical Church at the West German government, sent the letter to the West German foreign ministry with the note that the assessment was ‘at least interesting,’ Der Spiegel reported. That means that not only an Austrian church official, but a German one as well, effectively lobbied on behalf of Eichmann, the paper said.”


Kfar Chabad, August 12, 2011

This piece related to the archaeological findings discovered on the eve of Tisha B’Av (see July 26 Review).

Book Review

Haaretz, August 25, 2011

Under the headline “Blessed is he who believes,” Maya Sela reviewed Eduardo Mendoza’s book El asombroso viaje de Pomponio Flato, recently translated into Hebrew, whose protagonist, a Roman searching for the fountain of youth, travels through the Empire drinking all kinds of waters and getting famously sick in the stomach before finally arriving in Nazareth. There, he is approached by the young Jesus who asks for his help in uncovering the true assassin of a rich man killed in the city, a crime his father, Jose, is accused of – and whose execution is scheduled to take place once he finishes crafting the cross. In response to his surprise that, in contrast to the remainder of his works, this novel is not being published in Germany, Sela suggested that “they don’t want to get involved with the Jews again” – and, Mendoza having noted that the book has been a success in Italy, wondered whether that meant the pope had not been upset by it.