January 11- 2012

Caspari Center Media Review – January 11, 2012

During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the following subjects:

Messianic Jews
Attitudes towards Christianity
Christian Zionism
Christian tourism

This week’s review included reference to Messianic Jewish attempts to ensure the practice of democracy in Israel.

Messianic Jews

Kol HaGalil, December 31, 2011; HaShabbat BeNetanya, January 6; Yediot Ahronot, January 12; Jerusalem Post, January 15, 2012

According to the Jerusalem Post (January 15), “Social justice groups and Christian organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice over the weekend against a law granting synagogues exemption from municipal real-estate taxes (arnona). The petition, filed by Jerusalem-based law firm Yehuda Raveh & Co on behalf of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice and four other nonprofit groups, names as respondents Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, the Interior Ministry and the Knesset, and concerns an amendment to the municipal and property tax law passed by the Knesset in March 2010. The law, known as Amendment 17, exempts buildings or parts of buildings used for Torah study and religious culture from municipal taxes, where the main purpose of the building is a synagogue. The petitioners, who also include the King of Kings Puerto Rican Church in Tel Aviv and the Tivat Harahamim charity, a Haifa-based Messianic (Christian) community, argue that the law violates the equality of religious minorities in Israel, because it does not apply to places of worship used by non-Jews. According to the petition, the law violates Israel’s democratic character as well as human rights and social values by discriminating against citizens of other religions. ‘Even if buildings used for education and Torah studies should be exempted, it is not worth the undoubted harm to democratic values and constitutional rights,’ the petitioners claim. They ask the High Court to issue an interim injunction ordering the attorney-general to instruct local authorities to interpret the law as applying to all places of worship used by Israeli citizens, including non-Jews, or to order the Knesset to amend the law so that it specifically refers to other religions, in particular mosques and churches.”

On a similar theme, Yediot Ahronot (January 12) reported that, according to the Ministry of Interior, “Sarah and Tzachi” only possess a “fictitious marriage” – the reason being that “they were unable to remember such details as what they ate for breakfast … Sarah, who moved to Israel to live here with Tzachi, decided to apply for legal status on the basis of their marriage. It should be noted that the couple identify themselves as Messianic Jews and work for Jews for Yeshu … Fortunately for them, the [Jerusalem district] court overturned the [Ministry of Interior’s] decision and granted Sarah status. ‘It’s hard to escape the impression that the plaintiffs’ occupation, which was a thorn in the flesh of those who made the decision, contributed to the rejection of their application,’ wrote the judge.”

Andrew Lewis contributed a piece to Kol HaGalil (December 31) explaining the content of the leaflet “Important Information for Every Israeli Citizen” while Yediot Haifa (January 13) reported on its distribution in the city, quoting the response given by a “Messianic Jewish activist”: “‘Messianic Jews are not a missionary body but a body which acts on behalf of the community. We do not try to persuade or convert anyone. Our activity centers around giving assistance to the community and help to the needy, Bible studies, and social action. Although we publish books and seek to disseminate the tenets of our faith, we don’t force our faith on, or try to convince, anyone. Whoever wishes to come to our activities, listen to the Bible studies, and hear the tenets of our faith is welcome. Everyone who accepts the basics of our faith does so from internal motives, having experienced faith in Yeshu and the New Testament from within.’ Messianic Jews feel that the New Testament is a Jewish book written by Jews whose authors were accustomed to visiting the Temple regularly.” HaShabbat BeNetanya (January 6) noted the same campaign.

Attitudes towards Christianity 

Kol HaIr, January 13; Yediot Ahronot, January 16, 2012

A lengthy feature in Kal HaIr (January 13) concerning a secular Beit Midrash or institute for studying Jewish texts included the information that those attending are not averse to “tasting from Buddha or Yeshu” and that “Every week a Christian minister comes to teach the New Testament,” a participant noting that “‘We regard the New Testament as a formative text of modern Western civilization and it’s impossible to read modern poetry and understand modern art or philosophy if you aren’t familiar with the world of the New Testament and Christianity. Thus it’s important for us to recognize it as a fundamental text. The Christian guest teaches the weekly topic from the perspective of Western Christian culture and his classes are completely integrated into our weekly schedule. A variety of perspectives or the ability to cope with different worldviews is a priority for us. We don’t shut our eyes to other cultures but deal with them, ask hard questions, and learn to listen to and accept the other side.’”

A brief piece in Yediot Ahronot (January 16) recommended attendance at the annual baptism ceremony held at Qasr-al-Yehud near Jericho.

Christian Zionism

Jerusalem Post, January 16, 2012

According to this report, “Knesset members from across the political spectrum will honor two international Christian leaders for their commitment to Israel at a ceremony Tuesday night at Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel. The annual ‘Night to Honor Our Christian Allies’ is organized by the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus in conjunction with the World Jewish Congress. The 17-MK caucus aims to forge direct lines of communication between Knesset members and Christian leaders, organizations and political representatives in Israel and throughout the world. Bishop Daniel Williams, the founding presiding bishop of the Christian Communion International worldwide network of churches, will receive an award for his activities for Israel. The second award, given together with the Ministry for Tourism, will honor Juergen Buehler, the executive-director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, for his contribution to Israeli tourism. Williams has been given a diplomatic role as apostolic delegate to Jerusalem by the Christian Communion International, which he presided over until October. He also founded Go To Nations, which spreads the Christian faith and provides for humanitarian needs in 86 countries but does not do missionary work in Israel. Go To Nations has started more than 1,000 churches in the former Soviet Union since the Iron Curtain fell and was also involved in saving Soviet Jews … Caucus director Josh Reinstein said Williams’s commitment to Israel and the well-being of its people is ‘a shining example to Christian leaders around the world.’ Buehler, who took over as International Christian Embassy head six months ago, is being honored for expanding the Feast of Tabernacles, the largest and most popular annual tourist event in Israel. Caucus chairman MK Dudu Rotem will address guests on the importance of developing Judeo-Christian relations based on the two religions’ mutual values as will fellow caucus member and president of the Israeli branch of the World Jewish Congress, Kadima MK Shai Hermesh.”

Christian Tourism 

Olam HaTzilum, January 8, 2012

This piece was another review of the Gospel Trail.


Chadashot Shelanu – Yerushalayim, January 3; Chadashodati – Modi’in, January 3, 2011

These two articles reviewed the recent find of the “high priest’s seal” in Jerusalem’s Old City.