February 23 – 2012

Caspari Center Media Review – February 23, 2012

During the week covered by this review, we received 13 articles on the following subjects:

Messianic Jews
Anti-missionary activities
Christians in Israel
Jewish-Christian relations

This week’s review included a lengthy “exposé” of the recent “missionary outreach.”

Messianic Jews

Yediot Eilat, February 17, 2012

In a lengthy article featuring Mansoor Eskar, a young Druze student who is devoting himself to taking care of Sudanese refugees in Eilat, this piece noted that he established contact with the Messianic congregation in the city following their volunteer work. He says that “the openness, understanding, and acceptance of the Eilat Messianic community was one of the factors which drew him to connect with them. ‘I met educated people, lovers of God and man,’ he says. ‘People who help others every day. There’s no racism, no discrimination on ethnic, sexual, or religious grounds. I found complete acceptance there and the values of the love of mankind.’ Eskar says that early on the members of the community understood that they couldn’t help all the refugee children from southern Sudan and decided to focus on a group of twenty children … ‘The children came to the Shelter and we helped them learn Hebrew, English, computers. We taught them civil values and national service. These are great kids, they’ve volunteered to help the elderly in the city …”

Anti-missionary Activities

HaMevaser, February 17, 2012

This lengthy article “exposed” the recent missionary campaign, conducted on the streets and through mail-box distribution – complete with photos of “missionaries” caught in the act.

Christians in Israel

Teva HaDvarim, February 12; Haaretz, February 15, 17, 20, 2012 

The first of these pieces was yet another lengthy coverage of the Feast of the Epiphany at Qasr al-Yehud.

Haaretz (February 15) noted that “Noon-Jewish prison wardens will be docked only half a vacation day for taking off on their holiday eves, in a policy change granting them terms equal to those of their Jewish peers.”

The same paper (Feburary 17) reported that the police have “arrested a 19-year-old Jewish man from Jerusalem on Wednesday who is suspected of sexually harassing a number of teenagers and spray-painting ‘Death to Arabs’ at a Arab-Jewish bilingual school two weeks ago … The suspect told police he did it after the Beitar Jerusalem [football team] lost 0-3 to the Israeli-Arab team Bnei Sakhnin.”

Finally, it also conveyed the information (February 20) that “An organization seeking to establish a Christian cemetery in Be’er Sheva has met with opposition from the municipality, which says sufficient burial plots for Christians already exist in the city. The organization, Zikaron, has been seeking to establish a Christian burial site in the town since 2001. The facility would serve in large measure as a final resting place for Christians from the former Soviet Union, many of whom immigrated to Israel with Jewish relatives. Among the issues in contention, however, is how many Christian residents the city has. Zikaron claims there are at least 20,000. The city points to an estimate from 2008 that puts the number at 1,300. According to the Interior Ministry, there are about 60,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union living in Be’er Sheva. Many are listed with the ministry as “without religion.” These include immigrants with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers who are not considered Jewish under Orthodox Jewish religious law, but many may not seek Christian burial.

In 2001, the city’s mayor at the time, Yaakov Turner, agreed to allocate land for a Christian cemetery. He said after he left office that the decision was reversed, but that he still supported its establishment.

The existing Christian cemetery in the town is full, said Gahsi Azrieli, a member of Zikaron. He said Christians were currently buried in an alternative cemetery that was established for Jews who did not want to be buried according to traditional Jewish law, halakha. Last year, Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi issued a letter supporting separate burial facilities for Christians rather than simply having them buried in an alternative secular cemetery.”

Jewish-Christian Relations

Jerusalem Report, February 19; Haaretz, February 16; Yediot Ahronot, February 16, 2012

Haaretz (February 16) and Yediot Ahronot (February 16) both noted that the Mormon community has apologized for posthumously baptizing Simon Wiesenthal’s parents.

According to the Jerusalem Post (February 19), “The Presbyterian Church USA moved a step closer to divesting from three multinational companies that do business in Israel and the West Bank. The executive committee of the 2.4 million member church voted Friday to pass a resolution endorsing a recommendation of divestment from Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard. The action followed a report released Sept. 9 by the church’s committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment that recommended divestment of companies it believes supports the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The executive committee is now expected to put forth a divestment resolution which will be voted on in June at the church’s biennial General Assembly in Pittsburgh. The resolution represents another swing for an issue that has been contentious within the church for years … Jewish groups and Presbyterian leaders opposed to the resolution have argued that the action will have negative effects on both Israeli-Palestinian and Presbyterian-Jewish relations. ‘We are profoundly disappointed by the General Assembly Mission Council’s decision to recommend this report,’ said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. ‘Neither peace nor the long friendship between our two communities is served by this action. It is tragic that national Presbyterian leaders are making the delegitimization of Israel a public witness of their church. Once again, we turn to our friends who will gather in the church’s General Assembly this summer to find a path towards peace rather than dissension. The proposed resolution drives a wedge between our two communities, frustrates interfaith cooperation and undermines our joint efforts to pursue social justice.’”


Haaretz, February 14, 15, 19; Maqkor Rishon, February 17, 2012

According to an article in Haaretz (February 15), “In one of the rounds of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the idea came up of dividing the Temple Mount vertically: The Palestinians would get everything aboveground and Israel everything below. Archaeologist and Jerusalem scholar Shimon Gibson says the next time the subject comes up, the parties should discuss it in Christ Church near Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate, rather than in Oslo or Washington. That’s because since Sunday, Christ Church has been displaying a model of the contentious sacred mount. The work has returned home after nearly a century and a half in Switzerland. The model was made 140 years ago by the architect and archaeologist Conrad Schick, whose work in Jerusalem was supported by the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews. Its details reveal that its creator had access to places where no Western scholar of his day was allowed. ‘Every time they dug a hole in the Temple Mount, he ran there to examine it,’ said Prof. Haim Goren of Tel Hai Academic College, an expert on Schick’s work. Schick, who made the model in an orphanage’s woodworking workshop where he taught, crafted it for display at the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair. It’s four meters long and three meters wide. Like many of Schick’s models, this one had dozens of parts that could be dismantled to show inner, underground areas. ‘It’s not only beautiful, it’s also an important research tool, because it was built by a man who visited every pit and understood the topography in a way we can’t fathom,’ Gibson said. After the Vienna exhibition, Schick tried unsuccessfully to sell his creation. It eventually found its way to the St. Chrischona mission near Basel, Switzerland, where it remained for 138 years. Recently, Christ Church, which belongs to the same association that supported Schick, decided to buy the model. ‘The model is a piece of history and it was made by our organization,’ Christ Church Deacon Aaron Eime said. ‘We think it’s very important to the city’s history to return it to the place where it belongs.’”

A second piece in the same paper (February 14) noted that on the same day that the extensive new plans for a tourist center in the City of David were approved, the area was visited by vandals.

A further article (February 19) reviewed some of the archaeological finds in Jerusalem which, rather than being from the Second Temple period shed light on its history as Aelia Capitolina, established by Hadrian between 130-140 CE, “the findings relating to the Roman city founded following the destruction of the Temple revealing it as a central brick in the Jerusalem of today.” Thus the ruler roads in the Old City constitute a major feature of modern Jerusalem and the findings reinforcing the view that the Temple Mount served as a ritual center even after the destruction.

Makor Rishon (February 17) somewhat bizarrely referred to the recent golden bell found in the drainage channel in Jerusalem’s Old City as “Retro – Second Temple fashion.”