December 21 – 2011

Caspari Center Media Review – December 21, 2011

During the week covered by this review, we received 30 articles on the following subjects:

Attitudes towards Christianity
Anti-missionary activities
Christian Zionism
Christians in Israel
Christian sites
Christian tourism
Jewish-Christian relations
Christians in the Holocaust

This week’s review focused on events related to Christmas.

Attitudes towards Christianity

HeEdah, December 16; Jerusalem Post, December 21, 23, 2011 

Due to the convergence of Hanukka and Christmas, several articles featured comparisons between the two festivals this week. Ray Hanania – a Palestinian Christian – in the Jerusalem Post (December 21) commented that “I don’t know how many times I’ve heard American Jews – not Israelis – eager to explain to others that Hanukka is a ‘minor and somewhat unimportant holiday.’ American friends, including one who immigrated to Israel, have told me they don’t celebrate Hanukka. ‘It’s not like Christmas,’ they say. I got the impression that they were right when I was in Israel one December. I didn’t see a lot of evidence of an out-of-control ‘Happy Hanukka’ industry suffocating shopping centers, retail stores and everyday Israelis, or street lights draped in banners. I often hear the same thing said by Muslims about Ramadan. It’s not ‘Happy Ramadan.’ It’s ‘Ramadan Mubarak.’ Ramadan is a religious period when Muslims fast during the day and eat at night – so much so that many Muslims I know put on weight during the important religious commemoration. In contrast, Christmas is more than just a religious holiday to Christians. It is a big deal, specifically because of the non-religious commercialization of the event. It’s a lifestyle that takes over the early winter months. You can’t walk through an American shopping mall without encountering abundant reminders of how Christmas has been commercialized: Santa Claus trying to sell deodorant, elves complaining about the lack of union representation or even the right to vote on TV commercials, or people dressing up $40,000 new cars in Christmas wrapping and red ribbons … I can sympathize with how some Israelis view the United States and its lifestyle as being a threat to their Jewish way of life. Yet, as a Palestinian constantly showered with criticism of Israel from my own community, hearing someone argue that American Jews are a bad influence on Israel struck me in an uncomfortable way … maybe Israelis are just super-sensitive about everything, more so than American Jews who live in an America inundated by the excessive commercialization of the Christmas holidays and where non-Christian holidays are sometimes pushed aside?”

Rabbi Raymond Apple remarked in the Jerusalem Post (December 23): “Some Christians have the idea that Hanukka is the Jewish version of Christmas. There are Jews who think that Christmas is the Christian version of Hanukka. Both are quite wrong, since the two festivals are unrelated and the fact that they occur about the same time is mere coincidence. Christmas is an exclusively Christian event and it probably gets the date wrong anyhow … There is so much Christmas in the December air in most parts of the world that one can understand why some Jewish families get caught up in the hype, but the trilogy of Santa Claus, Christmas carols and holly leaves is totally out of place for Jews. Judaism does not pay homage to Christ, and his supposed birthday is irrelevant for Jews. What about the idea of sharing each other’s festivals? Mutual respect does not justify glossing over our differences. Nor does it help to say disarmingly that Christmas is now a mostly secular celebration dedicated to the shops. If this is what the festival has become, the Christians should feel insulted, and Jews should not be part of the insult. Serious people on both sides argue that both festivals celebrate light … Christianity had an early doctrine of Jesus as ‘Light of the World’ and used the idea of the sun as an analogy, with some of the saints regarding Jesus as the new or true sun. Associating his birth with midwinter invited the symbolism of a new flash of light. It possibly also reflected the Roman celebration of the unconquered sun. There is no law against two religions having festivals of light at the same time of the year, but coincidence does not mean commonality. We are two different faiths. We celebrate for two different reasons. Still, what preserved Hanukka and made it popular must be its proximity to Christmas. In a Christian milieu, Hanukka was almost a cultural compensation for Jews.”

The Orthodox community is up in arms over the decision taken by the “Zionist government” to establish a Bible Museum which, “as a natural and official part of the project includes the Christian New Testament presented as equal in value … while the Holy Tanakh is presented as the ‘Old Testament’” (HaEdah, December 16).

Anti-missionary Activities

Zohar HaTzafon, December 15; HaShavua BeHolon, December 14, 2011

HaShavua BeHolon (December 14) carried the recent story of the prevention of a “mass baptism” of Jews to Christianity, while Zohar HaTzafon (December 15) printed the story of the distribution of flyers warning of Israel’s coming fate.

Christian Zionism

Jerusalem Post, December 20, 2011

Andrew Tucker, Executive Director of Christians for Israel International, contributed a piece to the Jerusalem Post (December 20): “Christians worldwide are gearing up to celebrate Christmas. Christmas trees are being erected, presents purchased and the turkeys prepared for the oven. Millions of church services will be held on December 25 to mark the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The tragedy is, most of us have no idea why. We have forgotten that Jesus was a Jew – He came to this world as a Jew, lived as a Jew, died as a Jew, and will (we believe) come back a Jew. Most Christians have no idea that today’s Jews are descendants of Jesus’ friends and brethren. In fact, we have forgotten (if we ever knew) that the very reason Jesus came was to fulfill God’s promises to Abraham – to bless the Jewish people, and though them to bless all nations. We have made Jesus into a sort of Disneyland figure, conveniently cut off from his Hebrew roots and the people he so loved, among whom he dwelled, and for whom he gave his life. As my friend Willem Glashouwer puts it – we Christians cut the root, and stole the fruit … There is something deeply wrong with Western Christianity today, and it has to do with Israel. It is no wonder the churches in the West are dying out. So long as the Church fails to recognize that its own identity – its genesis and its destiny – are bound up with the restoration of the Jewish people (yes, the literal Israel), we will continue to miss the mark, and we will fail to be relevant. This requires nothing less than a fundamental paradigm shift in the mentality of most Christian leaders …The Church in Europe bears a special responsibility in this regard. It was in Christian Europe that six million Jews were slaughtered. Hitler was able to cite Luther, and he did so without hesitation. Confronted by the harsh reality of the Holocaust, there was a measure of repentance and new insight in the mid-20th century, but the tide seems to have turned again. Sadly, Christians who love and support Israel are today a small force in Europe. That is not likely to change … All is not doom and gloom. A growing movement of Christians worldwide are coming to the realization that something has to change. Most of them are not in the West, but in the developing continents like Africa and Asia. Last month, for example, Christians for Israel organized a series of conferences in Uganda, South Sudan, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Ghana at which thousands of black Christians embraced the message that the Church has not replaced Israel … Many African pastors and Christian leaders – free of the historical and theological shackles that continue to bind their European counterparts – pledged to reject all forms of ‘replacement theology,’ and to embrace Israel as the apple of God’s eye. Similar groups are springing up all over the world. I believe there is a hidden army of Christians who are rediscovering their true identity as Gentiles grafted onto the Jewish olive tree. These Christians feel themselves more and more isolated, and uncomfortable in the traditional churches. And they are increasingly marginalized and misunderstood. Christians who dare to support the Jewish people and the restoration of Israel need to brace themselves for stormy weather. But we have no choice. It is up or under.”

Christian Sites

Matzav HaRuach, December 16; Jerusalem Post, 23, 26; Haaretz, December 23, 2011

Matzav HaRuach (December 16) noted that the Israelis have just woken up to the economic possibilities of Qasr al-Yehud, the baptismal site on the Jordan recently reopened to the public, while the Jerusalem Post (December 23) printed a lengthy report on the sewage clogging the river downstream of the “popular baptism site” at the Yardenit, “where about 600,000 Christians dunk their heads for baptism annually” and Julia Niemann in Haaretz (December 23) noted that “Historical sites of importance to different religions, lots of nature, spectacular panoramas and physical challenges – Such is the experience of trekking along the Jesus Trail in the Galilee.” In a lengthy look at the sites of Jaffa, Aviva Bar-Am retold the story of Peter’s vision in suggesting that visitors include St. Peter’s Church in their itinerary (Jerusalem Post, December 26).

Christian Tourism 

Yediot Ahronot, December 21; Jerusalem Post, December 21, 26, 2011

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post (December 21), “The Ministry of Tourism is increasingly courting Christian tourists, especially those from Latin America. Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov met with the leaders of the Iberoamerican Confraternity of Christian Communicators (COICOM), who were in Israel as part of a seven-day tour hosted by the ministry. Among the participating leaders of the organization were its president, Arnoland John Ems, as well as radio, television and internet broadcasters from the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Columbia and Guatemala. These included Jeter Stanley, a senior producer from the popular Evangelical channel in the United States, CBN News, and pastor Mynor Vargas, who has a radio show broadcasted on 922 channels across 23 different countries. Over the course of their trip, the group visited sites of special interest to members of the Christian faith, including Old Jaffa, Caesarea, Yardenit, the Galilee, Nazareth, the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. The journalists who are members of COICOM broadcast from more than 3,000 Evangelical radio stations and 1,500 television stations and write for more than 1,000 newspapers worldwide. The Christian community is an essential component of incoming tourism to Israel, accounting for some 70 percent of visitors to the country.”

The Jerusalem Post (December 26) also noted the fact that “This Holy Land battle focuses on tourists’ wallets: Israel, PA vie for dollars from Christian pilgrims to area”: “Parallel to the decades-old political conflict over the Holy Land, an economic battle is heating up between Israel and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority over the market for Christian tourism. At 1.1 million a year, the number of Christian pilgrims – those who describe their visit as chiefly spiritual in purpose – now surpasses Jewish tourism to Israel. Many of the top Christian sites are in the West Bank, and tourists have been returning in droves thanks to a recent lull in violence. Many Christian pilgrims belie the image of austere travelers sleeping in religious hostels. These visitors, mostly Catholics and Christian evangelicals, spend about $200 a day on hotels, restaurants and souvenirs, compared with an average of $140 for all tourists, according to Israeli figures … Israel is moving aggressively to bring more pilgrims to the cradle of Christianity, and the Palestinians are trying to increase their share of what the visitors spend. ‘We are putting a lot of emphasis on Christians,’ said Oren Drori, senior deputy director of Israel’s Tourism Ministry, which recently opened a ‘religious affairs desk’ to focus on the pilgrim niche. The ministry has launched Christian-themed websites and a YouTube channel where visitors share their spiritual experiences. The government also provides free trips for government officials and religious leaders from Latin America, Africa and Europe to help generate interest by word of mouth. Over the last two years, Israel has spent millions of dollars refurbishing Christian sites in Israel and trying to create new ones, such as the recently launched ‘Gospel Trail,’ which allows hikers, bikers and motorists to retrace what may have been Jesus’ path through the Galilee region … But Palestinians say that Israel has an overwhelming advantage because of its easy access to the West Bank and its control over security. Last year, Israel began allowing Israeli tour guides to lead groups in Bethlehem. Only a few Palestinian guides are allowed to work in Israel, and legislation is pending that would require all Jerusalem guides to be Israeli citizens.”

Four Austrian/Swiss pilgrims conducted a “modern crusade” by walking from Europe to Israel in a seven-month journey, averaging around 30 km. a day in order to bring a message of peace to the world (Yediot Ahronot, December 21).

Christians in Israel

Haaretz, December 23, 25; Israel HaYom, December 25; Jerusalem Post, December 20, 23 (x 3), 25 (x 2), 2011

In honor of Christmas, President Shimon Peres visited St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in Jaffa yesterday, “extending holiday greetings to Christian communities in Israel and abroad. ‘I hope that Christmas will bring with it tidings of peace in the Middle East and throughout the entire world,’ he said” (Jerusalem Post, December 23).

The IDF announced on Thursday that “it had eased travel and other restrictions on Palestinian Christians from the West Bank and Gaza for the holiday season, through January 20. Some 500 Christians from Gaza will be permitted to visit their families and participate in religious services in Israel and the West Bank, the IDF said. Christian Palestinians from the West Bank would also be allowed to visit Israel during the holidays. Some 400 Christian Palestinians may leave Israel for travel abroad via Ben-Gurion Airport, and 200 Christians from Arab countries may visit the West Bank” (Jerusalem Post, December 23).

In the spirit of the holidays, “the Jewish National Fund is distributing Christmas trees to churches, monasteries, convents, embassies and the general public this week in central and northern Israel … Private individuals can buy a tree for NIS 70” (Jerusalem Post, December 20).

“Thousands of Christians, tourists from abroad, and Israeli citizens gathered together yesterday in Bethlehem, the city of Yeshu’s birth, to celebrate Christmas eve. The celebrations began in the morning, when the tourists – who took advantage of the spring weather – toured the place and visited the holy sites. The central event, of course, was the Midnight Mass. The Ministry of Tourism announced yesterday that according to estimates, around 90,000 tourists will visit Israel over the holiday” (Israel HaYom, December 25).

The Jerusalem Post (December 25) and Haaretz (December 25) carried a story relating to Christmas pilgrims praying for peace in Bethlehem: “Thousands of foreign pilgrims and Palestinian Christians, some in Santa hats, gathered at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity on Saturday to pray for peace at the place where Jesus was born. Loudspeakers blared carols in Arabic and a Palestinian cleric in a festive purple robe pleaded for peace in the Holy Land and in the wider Middle East. ‘We ask the baby of Bethlehem to give us the peace we really need, peace in all the countries of the Middle East. We demand peace in the Holy Land,’ said Latin Patriarch Fuad al-Tuwal … Israeli and Palestinian officials said at least 50,000 visitors had arrived in the steep hillside town, and many were expected to attend midnight mass at the church in Manger Square, the place where Christians believe Christ was born … The number of foreign visitors to Bethlehem has risen steadily in the past few years, encouraged by a decline in the Israeli-Palestinian violence that often marred the occasion in the past … In Manger Square, tourists mingled with locals, many of whom wore red and white Santa caps as an Arabic rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” played over a sound system.”

The Mayor of Bethlehem says the town is “not seeing much of a boost to its coffers from tourism” despite the festivities. “In a bid to capture more tourist shekels, the city decided to open the holiday season early, in November, with several events ranging from carol singing to a Christmas market. Festivities will last until January 18th, when the Armenian Church celebrates its Christmas, the latest date among the different denominations. The majority of the pilgrims visiting Bethlehem are Polish, Russian and Italian” (Haaretz, December 23).

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post (December 25), “As every immigrant knows, the holidays are a difficult time to be far away from families. Israel’s foreign workers feel this particularly acutely around now, when many miss the holiday sparkle that accompanies Christmas in most countries. Outside of Jerusalem’s Old City, it’s easy to forget the holiday exists, since just a sliver of the capital’s population – around 2 percent – is Christian. But sometimes a taste of a traditional holiday dish in a foreign country is all it takes to be enveloped in warm memories and holiday cheer. David ‘Dudu’ Ohana, who owns the Mania supermarket in the Mahaneh Yehuda open-air market, is the Jerusalem Santa Claus of traditional food and spices, ensuring that at least mealtime can give the foreign workers a connection with homes across the world … ‘Every year, we do Christmas the same way it’s done around the world,’ said Ohana, who said he loves the idea of Christmas and likes the excuse to celebrate. The supermarket serves primarily Russians and foreign workers, and offers products such as caviar and pork, which are less common in local supermarkets. Mania is also where many of the large churches in Jerusalem place their orders for Christmas supplies, especially chocolates and gift baskets … Ohana, who is Jewish, has worked in Mahaneh Yehuda for 25 years, most of them as the owner of a fish store. But 10 years ago, he noticed there was nowhere for foreign workers to buy traditional foods from their countries. When he opened in 2003, the store was met with frequent, large protests by the ultra-Orthodox, who objected to its selling pork and other non-kosher foods. But he defended the store’s role in filling a gap for the foreign worker population in the capital, and estimated that more than 90% of his customers were not Jewish. ‘There are a lot of foreign workers who are here to take care of old people,” he said. “So it’s okay for them to be here to take care of our old people, but they can’t have their own food from their homes? That’s not fair.’”

The Jerusalem Post (December 23) examined how the “South Sudanese gear up for Christmas in the Holy Land”: “Simon Koang Gai would love to slaughter a cow for the traditional South Sudanese Christmas feast, but pulling off such a holiday treat would be far too expensive in Israel. ‘It cost very much money to buy a cow in Israel,’ Gai said. The 39-year-old South Sudan native owns the appropriately named “Holy Land” upholstery store on Chelnov Street in south Tel Aviv, where he refurbishes motorcycle seats and furniture and repairs satellite dishes. On Wednesday, he spoke excitedly about the upcoming Christmas celebrations his community was planning at their church in south Tel Aviv, in particular the late-night praying and dancing extravaganza that is Christmas Eve for South Sudanese. ‘We pray and dance all night, but it’s not dancing for us, it’s dancing for the lord,’ Gai said. The day after the all-night festival at the church on Levanda street in Tel Aviv and at the community’s church in Arad, those who can will make their way to Bethlehem on Sunday … Gai said the Christian population in the South Sudanese community in Israel – estimated to number around 3,000 – is mainly Evangelical with some Catholics, mostly in the community in the Negev city of Arad … A few blocks away, at a hair salon outside the new central bus station, Johannes Aforki, a 28-year-old Eritrean of Ethiopian extract chewed khat leaves and spoke of Christmas traditions in his Orthodox Christian homeland as the mild narcotic stimulant seeped into his veins. ‘There’s no work on Christmas, it’s a holiday. We go to church and pray, and you buy new clothes for Christmas and wear them.’”

Pope and the Vatican

Jerusalem Post, December 26, 2011

The Jerusalem Post (December 26) devoted an article to “Christmas message from pope: Bring Syria violence to end.”

Jewish-Christian Relations 

Haaretz, December 23, 2011

We include in this category a piece reporting Luden Centeno’s fight to make Aliyah: “A U.S.-born convert is taking the Interior Ministry to court for failing to grant him immigrant status because officials say they have proof he still believes in Jesus and is engaged in missionary activity. Several people dealing with conversions in Israel who have an intimate knowledge of the case also said they share the ministry’s suspicion. But the convert, Luden Centeno, denies the allegations and recently submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice against the ministry. A hearing is scheduled for May 14, 2012 … During a 2004 visit, he says he discovered his family is descended from Marranos – Jews forcibly converted to Christianity in medieval Spain – and decided to return to his roots. He approached several Israeli organizations dealing with conversions but says not one, including the state’s conversion authorities, helped him complete the procedure. Back in the United States, he studied Judaism with a Conservative rabbi and converted with him in March 2009. Not much later, Centeno applied for immigration status, but the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority rejected him, saying he was ‘engaged in Messianic activity’ during and after his conversion. They had found articles on his blog that showed he believed Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, officials said. Because of his belief he could not be considered Jewish and thus is ineligible to immigrate under the Law of Return, they argued. The ministry specifically quoted an article on Centeno’s blog entitled ‘Why Jews don’t celebrate Christmas.’ The article was since removed from the site, but Centeno, who now lives in Jerusalem, asserts he didn’t author it. Both Centeno and his Jewish-born wife have signed affidavits stating that he does not believe in Jesus or the New Testament and that he considers Messianic Jews to be Christians but sees himself as a Jew. However, knowledgeable sources familiar with Centeno’s case told Anglo File they have seen ‘hundreds’ of documents that clearly show he believes Jesus is the Messiah … Centeno is married to an Israeli woman through whom he could attain Israeli citizenship. But he insists the authorities accept him as a Jew. ‘I chose to go the hard way because many like me will discover that they are Converso Jews from Spain and I believe that when we win this case, this is going to swing open the doors to many,’ Centeno told Anglo File this week, using a term for forcibly converted Spanish Jews … According to Centeno’s lawyer, Michael Decker of the Yehuda Raveh law firm, the Interior Ministry has no reason to deny him immigrant status. While officials might have the right to ask Centeno whether he believed in Jesus, they cannot reject him based on the articles they found online. ‘My client was officially converted, and circumcised, and still has the support of the rabbis which converted him,’ Decker said. ‘The government does officially accept Conservative conversions. The simple question is whether our client is today a Jew, or a “member of another religion.” Our client declares that he is a Jew and that he believes in Judaism, and not in Christianity, or any form of Christianity … I did not yet find any evidence which would infer that our client believes in Christianity.’ Concerning Centeno’s alleged Christian belief, Decker referred to the affidavit Centeno and his wife signed attesting that they do not believe in Jesus. ‘Shouldn’t that be enough?’ he asked. ‘What other measures can a democratic system take?’ But Center-Maor, of the legal aid center for immigrants, said the Supreme Court ruled that the Law of Return only applies to converts as long their conversion was sincere and that the state ‘definitely’ has the right to try to determine a convert’s sincerity. Rabbi Seth Farber, whose Itim organization assists converts in dealing with Israeli authorities, said Centeno’s case points to a serious legal lacuna. ‘There is no legal threshold that determines when someone is a missionary and when not,’ he said. ‘Is a personal statement of the individual enough? Is it the behavior of the person, is it what the [religious] movement [under whose auspices the conversion was performed] determines? In this specific case, where the Conservative movement doesn’t stand behind the conversion – is this enough to disavow an individual of the capacity to make aliyah? What if the individual rabbi stands behind the conversion but the movement doesn’t? There is a serious problem that the court will have to address. I do not envy the court that will have to rule on this.’”

Christians in the Holocaust 

Jerusalem Post, December 20, 2011

“Yad Vashem on Wednesday will posthumously honor a Polish man who saved the lives of Jews during World War II by hiding them in his attic. The Holocaust Museum will bestow the title of righteous gentile upon Wojciech Wołoszczuk, a farmer who let Frances Schaff, nee Feiga Bader; her brother, his family and two other Jews secretly stay in his house to avoid persecution by the Nazis and their allies. Food was scant during the war and Schaff’s brother was shot dead while trying to forage food for his family outside the house. His wife and children survived the war but were murdered by Polish peasants in its immediate aftermath. Schaff, the sole survivor of her family, grew up in an orphanage in Israel. She later emigrated to the US. In 2009 Schaff submitted a request to honor Wołoszczuk, who died in 1963, after visiting Poland with her family. His daughter, Janina Wołoszczuk, will come from Poland to accept the medal and certificate of honor on his behalf.”


Israel HaYom, December 26; Haaretz, December 26; HaModia, December 26; Teva HaDvarim, December 14, 2011

According to a report in Teva HaDvarim (December 14), Israeli archaeologists have discovered in the City of David excavations what may be the oldest miniature Byzantine prayer box found to date. Approximately half the size of a matchbox – 2.2 centimeters by 1.6 centimeters, and a few millimeters high – its inside is decorated with delicate but partially erased drawings of Christian icons. “In the painting on the lower half of the box a bearded male figure can be discerned on a gold background, his face partially preserved. His general features can be made out – his dark hair and left eye and white robe with a pink stain on the right shoulder – very probably a tunic and scarlet strap. The painting on the inside of the cover has been preserved less well but from what is visible it is possible to reconstruct a smaller figure, probably female. Although her face has not been preserved, her hair outline can be discerned (or a head covering?), jaw, neck and part of her left shoulder … According to Yana Tchekhanovets [the dig’s supervisor], due to the fragmentary state of the paintings, any attempt to identify the conclusively figures is impossible – although some conjectures can be proposed. If it is accepted that the figures are male and female, the obvious assumption is that they represent Yeshu and Miriam [Mary]. However, in the six-seventh centuries – the date of the box – the number of Christian saints increased to include hundreds. It is thus possible that the figures represent two of these.”

Israel HaYom (December 26), Haaretz (December 26), and HaModia (December 26) reported the discovery of a rare Second Temple period cartouche (seal) – the first of its kind to be found – which attests to the activity in the Temple, being inscribed in Aramaic with the words “It is pure” together with a two-letter abbreviation for the name of God. The seal was discovered near Robinson’s Arch, archeologists saying the soil layer above the Herodian road where it was discovered dates to the first century BCE. “Archaeologist Eli Shukron of the Antiquities Authority, and Professor Ronny Reich of Haifa University, who oversaw the excavation, explained to reporters the significance of the coin. ‘This is the first time an object of this kind has been found. It is direct archaeological evidence of Jewish activity on the Temple Mount during the Second Temple era. Products being brought to the temple had to be stamped pure – which is what this seal was used for.”


Israel HaYom, December 26, 2011

Reviewing the film “Jesus” broadcast on the National Geographic Channel, Nir Wolff noted that “Yeshu no longer has the aura he used to have. At the same time, however, no one else gets their birthday celebrated in such spectacular fashion as that celebrated throughout the world as part of Christmas. ‘Yeshu is apparently the most famous man in history, but do we really know about him?,’ they asked at the National Geographic, and attempted to reveal to us the history of his life with the help of archaeologists and scientists. Sounds promising, no?” Wolff then asserts that the National Geographic documentaries generally fail to deliver any new information – and leave their viewers more confused than before they began watching: “For example, at the beginning of the program it’s claimed that an analysis of all the existing sources there are two indisputably factual details: Yeshu was born in Bethlehem and his mother was a virgin at the time of his birth. Now, try and understand a story in which the sole detail which is said to be certain and true is the virginity of someone who’s pregnant.”