Caspari Center Media Review – March 1, 2012
During the week covered by this review, we received 16 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
This week’s review included a lengthy “exposé” of the recent “missionary outreach.”
Israel HaYom, February 24, 2012
This article on the Negev referred to Simcha Perlmutter’s settlement at Tamar.
Uvda, February 10; Ma Nishma, February 3; BeSheva, February 16, 2012
According to a brief note in Uvda (February 10), MK Leah Shemtov has been invited to Greece as a guest of the evangelical Christian community. BeSheva (February 16) and Ma Nishma (February 3) reported that the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is making sure that the 4,800 elderly in the south of the country will keep warm this winter.
Christians in Israel
Jerusalem Post, February 21; Haaretz, February 21 (x 2), 23 (x 23), 27 (x 2); Yediot Ahronot, February 21, 2012
Haaretz (February 23) reported that “The case of an Armenian Orthodox priest, who allegedly punched an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva student who had spat at him, was heard in Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday after the state appealed an earlier court decision to drop charges against the priest. Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Dov Pollock justified the dismissal of the charges in October as being in the interest of justice after being told that priests and other senior church officials in Jerusalem had been spat upon regularly, generally by ultra-Orthodox Jews. However, the state prosecutor’s office, which filed the appeal, argues that allowing the priest’s action to go unpunished would encourage other citizens to respond in a similar manner. The prosecutors have also said the yeshiva student had spit because he was suffering from a medical condition and the act was not directed at Johannes Martasian, who at the time of the incident, was a student priest. The spitting phenomenon has been of particular concern to members of the Armenian Orthodox church because of the proximity of the Armenian Quarter to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and the regular contact between the two groups. The priest has since left the country, but the prosecutors are seeking to reinstate the case on the chance that he will return. The lawyer for the church told the court on Wednesday that he was unable to contact Martasian. Police have been largely unsuccessful in apprehending those doing the spitting. In quashing the indictment in October, the judge noted that Martasian had been subject to the phenomenon for years and that the authorities had not addressed the problem. Under the circumstances, it would be unfair to charge him for responding, Judge Pollack wrote in his opinion.”
The Christian community came under further attack this week with more graffiti being painted on the Baptist Church in Jerusalem: “The attack on the Narkis Street Baptist Congregation marks the latest in a series of price tag attacks that have targeted Muslim, Christian and leftist institutions in the capital over the last two months. But police believe most of the vandalism is not the work of an organized group; rather, they say, the spray-painted slogans are largely copycat actions carried out by lone individuals … In both church attacks, the vandals spray-painted slogans denouncing Christianity, Jesus and Mary, such as ‘Jesus is dead,’ ‘Death to Christianity’ and ‘Mary was a prostitute.’ They also included the by-now customary ‘price tag’ slogan … ‘It’s intolerably easy,’ one senior Jerusalem police officer said. ‘Any child can take a spray can and spray it, and people know it will be broadcast. Not every case is really nationalistic.’ But to victims, the motive is irrelevant. Jerusalem’s Christian community increasingly feels under assault, and that is especially true for Christians living in Jewish neighborhoods. Priests in the Old City, especially Armenian priests who must often transit the Jewish Quarter, say they are spat on almost daily. ‘It’s almost impossible to pass through Jaffa Gate without this happening,’ said a senior priest at one Jerusalem church. The spitting has become so prevalent that some priests have simply stopped going to certain parts of the Old City. The Baptist church has been attacked twice before: It was torched in 1982 and again in 2007. ‘We mainly feel sad’ about the attacks, said the church’s pastor, Charles Kopp. ‘It hurts us that anyone could even think we deserve such treatment. They don’t know us, but they apparently oppose anyone who doesn’t identity with them. I wish them well; I have no desire for revenge.’ Baptist priests don’t normally walk around in priestly garb, but Kopp said he would be afraid to walk through the Old City if he did. Jacob Avrahami, the mayor’s advisor on the Christian community, visited the Baptist church on Monday to condemn the attacks. ‘They feel besieged; you can see it on them,’ he said. Dr. Gadi Gevaryahu, whose Banish the Darkness organization works to combat racism, said his big fear is that ‘one day, they’ll attack a mosque or a church with people inside and there will be a terrible conflagration here’” (Haaretz, February 21). According to the Jerusalem Post (February 21), “Vandals scrawled ‘Death to Christians,’ ‘We will crucify you’ and ‘Jesus son of Mary the whore’ on the exterior of the building. Three cars, some of which did not belong to the church, were spray painted and had their tires slashed … Police arrested a 19-year-old man suspected of the vandalism at the Arab-Jewish school, but have no leads for the attacks against the Baptist Church or the Valley of the Cross. Jerusalem spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby said police are investigating the possibility of a connection between the vandalization of the two churches … ‘One of the things they spray painted on the wall was “Price tag” and we feel that we’ve been willing to pay a price for 100 years supporting Israel,” [Chad Knight, an administrator at the church] said. ‘We still love and support Israel and the Jewish people, we’re just extremely hurt and disturbed.’ Knight added that Israelis responded with a ‘tremendous outpouring of apologies,’ including strangers who brought bouquets of flowers after seeing the graffiti” (cf. Yediot Ahronot, February 21).
Haaretz (February 27, Hebrew and English editions) also noted that “A senior official in the Catholic Church has called on President Shimon Peres to use the power of his office to apprehend those responsible for a number of incidents in the past few weeks in which Christian sites in Jerusalem were vandalized. Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custodian of the Holy Land and head of the Franciscan Order in Israel, was responding to incidents that included painting slogans on the Narkis Street Baptist Congregation, on a Christian cemetery on Mount Zion and on the Greek Orthodox monastery in the Valley of the Cross … Pizzaballa, who is thought to be close to Pope Benedict XVI, wrote to Peres despite the fact that the targeted sites were not associated with the Catholic Church. ‘These actions,’ Pizzaballa wrote, ‘which as far as I know haven’t led to any arrests, are but one painful example in a series of similar actions being carried out recently without hardly any hindrance. As you know, it is not my practice to write letters such as this. The various Christian communities live quietly and peacefully in Israel, with respect, appreciation and good relations with Jews and Moslems … Unfortunately, throughout the years we have learned to ignore provocations and continue our daily life. Still, it seems that this time red lines have been crossed and we cannot remain silent. These shocking slogans sprayed on Christian sites of prayer, especially in Jerusalem, hurt the feelings of all the Christians in Israel, regardless of their creed, as well as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visiting Jerusalem and the holy land, and millions more worldwide.’ ‘I would be grateful,’ he continued, ‘if you would use all your power and influence with the authorities so that this dangerous pattern of action will be eradicated and these actions stopped, before they become an habitual part of Christian life in Israel.’”
Haaretz, February 26; Jerusalem Post, February 21, 2012
Haaretz (February 26) printed a lengthy article on the request recently made by academics that the UN war crimes archive be opened up in the belief that it “could shine new light on [the] Holocaust and bring modern-day war criminals to account … Locked inside UN headquarters is a huge but largely unknown archive documenting 10,000 cases against accused World War II criminals. Leading British and American researchers are campaigning to make the files – hundreds of thousands of pages in 400 boxes – public for the first time in 60 years, arguing that they are not only historically valuable but also might unearth legal precedents that could help bring some of today’s war criminals to justice … The archive belonged to the United Nations War Crimes Commission, a body established in October 1943 by 17 allied nations to issue lists of alleged war criminals – ultimately involving approximately 37,000 individuals – examine the charges against them and try to assure their arrest and trial. The war crimes commission was shut down in 1948, and the following year, the UN Secretariat drew up rules making the files available only to governments on a confidential basis. In 1987, limited access was granted only to researchers and historians … [Dan] Plesch, director of the Center for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, stumbled on the archive while researching the beginnings of the United Nations for his book, ‘America, Hitler and the UN’ … Plesch said records indicate that alongside the Nuremberg trials, where prominent Nazis faced justice, the UN commission endorsed war crimes trials for some 10,000 individuals. It is known that 2,000 trials took place in 15 countries including the United States, he said. Copies of some of the documents also exist in other archives around the world, but Plesch said the UN’s collection ‘is the only central repository for the records of the trials from these 15 tribunals.’ ‘The case law of all of these has been forgotten,’ he said. ‘The Nuremberg trials only constituted one percent of the post-World War II prosecutions,’ he added. ‘A first look at the UN War Crimes Commission archive of the other 99 percent shows a gold mine of precedent and practice that can help hold modern-day war criminals to account. It must be made open without delay.’ Plesch and two other researchers have asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to ‘take the necessary steps to ensure full public access to all the records’ of the commission. ‘Opening the archives will have significant public benefits,’ they said in a letter to Ban. ‘It will help the UN in its work by providing new information for Holocaust scholars and new information for states, intergovernmental organizations and the legal and academic communities concerned with international criminal law’ … When he was Israel’s UN ambassador, Benjamin Netanyahu appealed in 1986 for the archive to be opened to historians and the public. Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center said in 1987 that public access to the archive ‘would generate a significant amount of new information regarding the Holocaust.’ After three months of intensive consultations with the 17 governments, the UN loosened the rules in November 1987 to allow access to researchers and historians if they get authorization from their government and the UN secretary-general … Concerns about putting every name in the archive into public view could remain an obstacle to opening it. Plesch said some countries could also be sensitive about documents that could indicate their reluctance to pursue war crimes trials. While the archive is not a secret, few researchers know about it.”
According to the Jerusalem Post (February 21), “Christian and Jewish organizations called on the German issuers of the Media Control prize to disqualify the anti-Israel Palestinian Lutheran pastor who is set to receive it … Bethlehem-based pastor Mitri Raheb is slated to receive the humanitarian prize on Thursday in the southwestern German city of Baden-Baden [See pervious reviews]. Karlheinz Kögel, the founder of the prize, wrote in an email to The Jerusalem Post on Friday that a ‘deep conflict has unfolded and we do not want to boost it.’ His group has ‘received hundreds of protest emails,’ he added … Daniel S. Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith International’s executive vice president, told the Post that ‘We have appealed to organizing leader Karlheinz Kögel to withdraw any tribute to Raheb. And if the committee doesn’t withdraw the prize, we are urging former German president Roman Herzog to not participate in the event,’ Mariaschin added. A spokeswoman for Herzog told the Post last week that he will not issue a statement before the prize ceremony and plans to attend, adding that he will honor all recipients of the prize. The German Coordinating Council of Societies for Christian and Jewish Cooperation slammed Herzog’s decision to praise Raheb. Reinhold Robbe, head of the German-Israeli Friendship Society, also objected last week to the decision to honor Raheb. ‘He is not a promoter of peace,’ Robbe said. Raheb responded to the accusations last week in an interview with the daily Frankfurter Rundschau, titled ‘Media prize for enemy of the Jews or promoter of peace?’ ‘Those are, of course, defamatory statements. These people toss terms around without being able to prove anything. They do not want to objectively discuss things. Most of the accusations are not coming from Jews, but rather from Christian Zionists. They do not want a Palestinian to receive a prize in Germany,’ Raheb said. “
Yated Ne’eman, February 16, 2012
A lengthy article looked at the road taken by “Tamar,” born into a Christian family in Mexico, to a Jewish wedding.
Haaretz, February 24, 2012
In a lengthy article, Haaretz (February 24) examined the ways in which the Wakf is “systematically destroying all evidence of Jewish history” on the Temple Mount.