Caspari Center Media Review – September 6, 2011
During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the following subjects:
This week’s national press coverage included an extended article on the Ortiz family and the “illegal outing” of the Messianic community in Mevaseret.
Yediot Ahronot, September 4; Jerusalem Post, September 2, 2011
The national paper Yediot Ahronot (September 4) devoted a full-length article to the Ortiz family in light of two developments in the case. On the day it was published, the court was due to hold a final discussion regarding Ya’akov Teitel, which will determine whether he is fit to stand trial. The second factor was the denial of National Insurance rights to Amiel under the terrorist law: “Every letter hurts Amiel, reminding him of that black day in his life. But nothing could have prepared him for the letter he recently received from the National Insurance Institute: ‘From the material brought to the attention of the board of approval this appears not to have been a terrorist incident.’ The explanation: Ami is Jewish. Israeli law recognizes Arab terror against Jews and vice versa. But when the law was formulated, its authors apparently did not think that a Jew does not harm other Jews and thus did not relate to this possibility in any way, thereby depriving Ami of numerous rights … Ami: ‘I don’t quite understand how there are people who won’t call us Jews – but when it comes to government assistance, suddenly they tell us that we aren’t eligible because we are Jewish’ … The NII gave the following response: ‘The NII pays benefits to the victims of terror on condition that they are recognized as such by the board of approval of the Ministry of Defense. Ami Ortiz is not recognized as such a victim because he was injured by a Jew and not as part of a nationalistic attack. Naturally, his severe injuries make him eligible, like every other citizen, to submit a request for assistance from the NII for rehabilitation and a disablement payment’ … The Ministry of Defense stated: ‘The Ministry is bound by the laws of the State. In light of the information we received from the authorized security agencies, it is not possible to define this as a terror incident as defined by law.’” The decision is made more painful by the fact that the family of one of Teitel’s Arab victims will receive money from the NII (although only for one year rather than all thirteen since the husband was murdered). “Recently, the Ortizes and Balbises marked a small victory over Teitel: the court determined that he must compensate them to the tune of four million dollars. At this point in time, this is merely a symbolic gesture, since Teitel has no money to pay the compensation. The decision does restrict him from received donations or writing a memoir and receiving royalties from it, however.”
According to a report in the Jerusalem Post (September 2), “In an apparent infringement on personal privacy legislation and in defiance of laws preventing incitement, an anonymous group has taken to distributing flyers ‘naming and shaming’ Messianic Jews (Christians) living in the Jerusalem-area town of Mevaseret Zion. The personal details of some 10 people, including photographs and home addresses, are displayed on the flyer, which was delivered to hundreds of households in the town of 30,000 residents. ‘This reminds me of actions taken by the Ku Klux Klan in the US,’ commented one of those listed on the flyer, a Jerusalem-based lawyer who made aliya in 1992. ‘It is anonymous persecution of others just because they do not agree with our beliefs.’ According to the lawyer, who asked not to be named, it is not clear who is behind the distribution of such material … ‘Israel encourages freedom of religion,’ he said, adding that most Mevaseret Zion residents have spoken out against the flyers and showed their support for the Messianic Jewish community … Arie Shaman, the head of Mevaseret Zion’s municipal, council told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that while he had not seen the flyer, he was aware of some families protesting the presence of Messianic Jews in the town … ‘We provide municipal services to all our residents regardless of their beliefs,’ said Shaman, claiming that the distribution of such a flyer breaks privacy laws. ‘If we find that to be true, then this could be a case for the police,” he said. “We will need to look into it.’ A police spokesman could not comment Thursday on whether an investigation would be opened.”
BeSheva – Mitchalef Yerushalayim, September 1; Zman HaSharon – Herzeliah Ramat HaSharon, September 2; Makor Rishon, September 2, 4; Jerusalem Post, September 4, 2011
As part of Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Courage” campaign, “Pastor John Hagee, one of America’s most prominent Christian leaders, has called on Washington to halt all aid to the Palestinian Authority in the event it seeks UN recognition of an independent Palestinian state … ‘The only way to achieve peace in the Middle East is through direct negotiations between the parties,’ he said, adding that, ‘by abandoning the negotiations and seeking a solution from the UN, the Palestinians are violating their obligations under Oslo and risking a return to violence … The only country in the Middle East where the Christian population is protected – and growing – is Israel,’ Hagee said. ‘If the PA cannot even respect the human rights of its own population, how will they ever be capable of real peace with Israel?’ Asked about the state of relations between Christians and Jews, he said he believes they ‘are evolving extremely well … Christians and Jews are finally focusing on what unites us instead of on what we’ve allowed to separate us. It is about time. Whereas suspicion was the rule ten years ago, I would say that it is the exception today’” (Jerusalem Post, September 4).
Boaz Ha’etni in BeSheva – Mitchalef Yerushalayim (September 1) noted that Beck is “continuing an important tradition of Christian supporters of Israel such as Wingate and Lord Balfour, whose attitude was a significant contributing factor in world support for the establishment of the State [of Israel] … Support of the Jews has always meant tribulation … The world has always been silent when the Jews were persecuted and slaughtered. Glenn Beck is renouncing this silence in and with a loud voice.”
The religious paper Makor Rishon (September 2, 4) devoted two articles to Christian Zionist warnings against the declaration of a Palestinian State. The first noted, headlined “The Zionist Congress in Basel, the Christian version,” noted that “Under the banner ‘United for Jerusalem,’ representatives of various Christian denominations convened in Basle, Switzerland, concerned over the possibility that a Palestinian State will be proclaimed this month. The many participants – as well as guests from Israel – were united in the view that a Palestinian State would be a disaster for Israel, Europe, and the whole Western world.” On the precise anniversary of the First Zionist Congress and in the exact same hall, “no less a Zionist Congress took place, this time, however, organized by a group of Christians who are not only friends of Israel but lovers of Israel in heart and spirit, being united in the inner conviction that the Christian world must support the people of Israel and their right to the Land in general and Jerusalem in particular … These Christians feel that if Islam manages to gain control of Jerusalem this will constitute a severe blow to Christianity, since Yeshu lived as a Jew, was born a Jew, worked in Jerusalem as a Jew, and was crucified as a Jew. The resumption of Jewish control of Jerusalem 44 years ago opened the city to Christian pilgrims and established the Jerusalem churches under an organized and orderly rule. The passing of East Jerusalem into Muslim hands would impose severe restrictions on the churches and the Christians in them.” Not only did prominent Israeli figures attend the Congress – MK Benny Alon, the Middle East specialist Prof. Moshe Sharon, Haim Silberstein, head of “Im Echkekaich” – but also “yours truly” – the author of the article, Mordechai Keidar, who provided the following commentary: “Here I must say that prior to the Congress, several of my friends appealed to me not to go to Basle in order not to bestow Jewish legitimacy on Christianity. I understand this attitude – and what lies behind it – very well: we are possessed by a fanatical fear of Christians, the direct consequence of being scattered throughout lands in which Christianity ruled. Classic Christian anti-Semitism, persecutions, burning Jews at the stake, forced conversion, death and destruction in the European Jewish communities during the crusades, the fear of assimilation, and, most terrible of all, the Holocaust – all these created, with a large degree of justification, an immense apprehension amongst Jews of coming too close to Christianity and Christians … Today, when the true danger facing the Jewish people comes not from the Christian world but from Islam, we do not have much ability to select our friends and supporters. So if there is a group of Christians who are willing to grant Israel moral, public, PR, political, and financial support, Israel is in no place to push away their extended hands. Some people say that their support derives solely from their belief that on the day when all Israel is settled in the Land their messiah will return from the dead and any collaboration with them simply strengthens this faith. To these I respond: It is no concern of mine what Christians believe. Even if they believe the earth is flat and not round, this makes not a jot of difference.”
The second reported on the recent visit of Laurie Cardoza-Moore, President of “Proclaiming Justice to the Nations,” to the country. Cardoza-Moore met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and told him that her organization had begun a “world campaign against UN recognition of a Palestinian State and in support of recognition of Israel as the State of the Jewish people.” According to the note, “the delegation also met with Noam Shalit, with whom they discussed ways in which the organization can help to achieve the release of his son Gilad.”
Danny Ayalon – who comes from Hod HaSharon – recently attended an event in Miami organized by the Jewish Federation and Christian friends of Israel. According to the Deputy Foreign Minister, “This was the first convention of its type. I spoke in front of 2000 people” (Zman HaSharon – Herzeliah, Ramat HaSharon, September 2; Zman HaSharon – Kfar Saba, Ra’anana, Hod HaSharon, September 2, 2011).
Yediot Bat Yam, September 2, 2011
A lengthy article in Yediot Bat Yam (September 2) examined “An act of Satan” in the city in which books of psalms and an Israeli flag were burnt and blood stains found in an abandoned building, suggesting to police the activity of a Satanic cult.
Haaretz, September 4, 5, 2011
Under the title “Rembrandt’s Jewish Jesus,” Menachem Wecker commented on a new exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art: “According to ‘Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus’ … Rembrandt intentionally relied on Jewish models to depict an unprecedented (and not without controversy) ‘ethnographically correct’ Jesus, as the Philadelphia museum’s website describes it … Rembrandt’s connection with the 17th century Dutch Jewish community is not unknown. Not only did he live in the Jewish quarter, but one of the painter’s patrons and friends was Manoel Dias Soeiro (Menasseh ben Israel). In his book, ‘Reframing Rembrandt: Jews and the Christian Image in Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam,’ Michael Zell, associate professor of art history at Boston University, has shown that Menasseh’s biblical interpretations influenced Rembrandt’s paintings, particularly the Hebrew inscription in ‘Belshazzar’s Feast.’ The Philadelphia exhibit, propelled by DeWitt’s essay, makes a compelling case for a Jewish model for Jesus, which departed from the ‘robust, muscular figure with larger-than-life proportions’ often depicted by Peter Paul Rubens and the ‘similarly muscular and idealized figure’ represented slightly earlier by Hendrick Goltzius of Haarlem. ‘It could be that Rembrandt, in developing a specifically Jewish Jesus, was consciously challenging not only traditional Byzantine iconography but also the classical ideals about divine physicality represented in the works of his immediate predecessors,’ DeWitt argues.” Taking issue with some of the claims made in the catalogue for deliberately Jewish elements, Wecker nonetheless concluded: “These faux pas do not nearly undermine the important thrust of the exhibit, but it’s essential – even when celebrating a neglected narrative like Rembrandt’s innovative interpretation of Jesus as a Jew – not to overstate the case. At its core, the exhibit presents a compelling case that Rembrandt consciously cast his model for specific cultural and religious reasons. Whether Rembrandt actually made that decision lies in the grave, so to speak, with the painter and his model.”
Haaretz (September 5) also reprinted Karen Rosenberg’s contribution to the New York Times entitled “Giving Jesus a new face”: “Some of the facts surrounding them may be hazy, but the heads of Christ in ‘Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus,’ at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, amount to a gutsy makeover of the most-depicted man in Western art. Jesus was, of course, Jewish. But few artists emphasized his ethnicity, or his humanity, as frankly and directly as Rembrandt did. Though smaller than a conventional blockbuster, this show is a powerful declaration of faith – not just Rembrandt’s faith in Jesus, but our own faith in the secular authority of Rembrandt’s hand. By changing the face of Christ, he redefined the grand religious narrative scene as a quiet, emphatically human moment … The show skirts the thornier issue of Rembrandt’s relationship to Jews in general. On that subject the catalog has more to offer, including a detailed chronology of Jewish life in Amsterdam and an essay by Blaise Ducos that links the city’s Sephardic population to the Dutch fascination with trade and the Orient … As the final galleries make clear, this new image of Jesus didn’t have much traction with Rembrandt’s students. A 1661 painting attributed to his studio, ‘Christ With a Staff,’ reverts to the blond and long-faced Byzantine type. But it almost doesn’t matter, because the subtext of Rembrandt’s Jesus paintings is that divinity is strictly personal. Two of the three heads listed in the inventory, it’s worth noting, were in his bedroom. Having found Christ close at hand, in the face of a Jewish neighbor, he kept him even closer.”