October 21 – 2011

Caspari Center Media Review – October 21, 2011

During the week covered by this review, we received 7 articles on the following subjects:

Christian Zionism
Christian sites
Interfaith dialogue

This week’s review focuses on aspects of Christian Zionism, largely prompted by the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Christian Zionism

Jerusalem Post, October 16; Zman HaSharon, Kfar Saba, Ra’anana, Hod HaSharon, October 12; Zman Yerushalayim, October 12; Haaretz, October 14, 17, 2011

Haaretz (October 17) printed a photo of “Evangelical Christian pilgrims from Brazil raising their arms as they take part in a mass baptism ceremony in the waters of the Jordan River at Yardenit in northern Israel on Saturday. According to the gospels, Jesus was baptized in the water of the Jordan River by John the Baptist. More than 6,000 Evangelical pilgrims have arrived in Israel during Sukkot to show their support for their Jewish state.”

In similar vein, the same paper (October 14) noted that “The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem … which bills the week-long festivities as Israel’s largest annual tourist event and solidarity mission … last night opened its annual ‘Feast of Tabernacles’ Sukkot celebration with a gala event in the capital. Several high-ranking dignitaries will address the pilgrims, including Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, MK David Rotem, who chairs the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, and Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat … ‘Large delegations from some exciting new countries show this support is growing.’ Pilgrims this year hail from all major English-speaking countries but also from Brazil, China, Scandinavia and Thailand. Featured speakers include Angus Buchan, a South African farmer-turned evangelist and Pastor Werner Oder, the son of an Austrian Nazi war criminal who is today a Christian minister in England.”

The Jerusalem Post (October 16) reported that “The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has brought over more than 6,000 Christian pilgrims from over 80 countries and five continents – including Brazil, China, Finland, Gabon and the US, and will be in the country for six days of festivities and touring activities. In addition to the ICEJ pilgrimage, a separate mission of another 3,000 Christians were [sic] brought to Israel from a dozen countries by the Manmin Central Church of South Korea. The pilgrims gathered in Haifa on Saturday for a prayer rally where they prayed for peace and the safe return of Gilad Schalit. Also in attendance were 3,000 Messianic Jews from around Israel.”
In an interview with local boy MK Danny Danon, (Likud), Zman HaSharon, Kfar Saba, Rana’na, Hod HaSharon (October 12), the Deputy Knesset Chairman gave voice to his opinion about Christian Zionism. Responding to the question “There are quite a few objections that the interest of these people on the Right is missionary,” he stated that: “‘I’ve heard these objections. We’re talking about people who support Israel. And out of the thousands of Christians whom I’ve met, not one has ever tried to convert me. When they ask me about this subject, I tell them one thing: The moment the messiah comes, I’ll ask whether this is his first or second visit to Jerusalem. Up to that minute, we’ll work together.’ And when Danon says ‘work together’ he means propaganda activities and tours he conducts in Israel and the territories.”
Zman Yerushalayim (October 12) devoted a lengthy article to the “Telenovela” in which, “in the fight for the vote in the UN, Israel is seeking to develop ties [with Latin America countries who traditionally supported the country but more recently have adopted the ‘Palestinian narrative’] and is hanging her hopes on evangelical Christianity … Roughly speaking, we can say that the politicians, intellectuals, and journalists largely side with the Palestinians in the Middle East conflict whereas parts of the people, especially the religious and the Messianics [sic] side closely with Israel. This might not be the Israel the Zionist leaders dreamed about – and certainly isn’t that of the Chief Rabbis – but it’s still an Israel loved and admired, a State which must be protected on all watches, and in a time of need not merely to wave its flag but also to go out and demonstrate on its behalf.”
Christian Sites

Jerusalem Post – Metro, October 14, 2011

Under the headline “Rediscovering Nazareth,” Abigail Klein Leichman looked at how this city –  “The Galilee cradle of Christianity” – is becoming “a rising tourist destination for holy sites and ancient architecture as well as ecotourism, hiking and hands-on activities … The Nazareth city logo depicts Mary’s Well, where according to Christian tradition the young mother bathed her son Jesus and washed his clothes. This is a must-see on any Christian tourist’s itinerary, along with the Mary of Nazareth International Center opened in 2010, offering an audiovisual journey into the life of the Virgin Mary and the roots of Christianity. Complete with meeting rooms, prayer spaces, a cafeteria and gift shop, ‘Mary’s Center is an awesome place,’ Aburass tells ISRAEL21c. In December, the city is ablaze with lights and decorations, a warm setting for the annual liturgical music festival and Christmas marketplace … About two-thirds of the 3.45 million tourists in Israel last year were Christian, many of whom took advantage of NCTA guided tours of many of Nazareth’s 30 churches and monasteries. St. Gabriel Church of the Annunciation, near Mary’s Well above the underground spring that supplies it, is where the Greek Orthodox tradition maintains that the angel Gabriel revealed to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Roman Catholics situate this event elsewhere, and accordingly built the Basilica of the Annunciation above the grotto where they believe Joseph and Mary lived. The present edifice was constructed on the ruins of churches dating back to Byzantine (324-634 CE) and Crusader (1095-1291) times, some of which are still visible … Nazareth Sisters Convent offers subterranean tours of ancient tombs, columns and houses in addition to guest rooms for pilgrims. The Crusader-era Synagogue Church, next to the Greek Catholic Church in the middle of the old market, is where Jesus is believed to have prayed and preached when it was a Jewish house of worship. The Mount of the Precipice (officially Mount Kedumim), at the entrance to the city, has resonance for Christians as the assumed site where Nazareth’s citizens dragged Jesus to throw him to his death. You can still see the remains of a Byzantine convent later established there … Nazareth Village, opened several years ago, provides a taste of everyday life in Jesus’ times. Demonstrations of ancient agricultural and building methods, olive-pressing and cooking are led by ‘villagers’ in period costume, some of them ecotourists. At night, guides give tours by oil lamp, and at holiday times the site hosts special shows … New meets old on the hiking trails near Nazareth. Over the last four years, about 150 ecotourists from Israel and abroad have taken part in a six-week program … One of their other jobs is sprucing up the 40-mile Jesus Trail leading from Nazareth to Capernaum. (The newly opened Gospel Trail, which covers similar ground by foot, bike or car, is another growing draw for tourists.)”

Interfaith Dialogue

Yediot Haifa, October 12, 2011

This lengthy article looked at Haifa, a “prominently inter-faith city in which the three monotheistic faiths live together in peace, tranquility, and understanding. A mosque next to a church, next to a synagogue. On Sundays and Christian festivals, the churches are filled with city residents and foreign workers. On Fridays, the Muslim residents frequent their places of prayer.” The feature describes several of the churches – and mosques –which should be visited in the city.