March 8 – 2012

Caspari Center Media Review – March 8, 2012

During the week covered by this review, we received 12 articles on the following subjects:

Attitudes towards Christianity
Anti-missionary activities
Christian Zionism
Christians in Israel
Christian tourism

This week’s review was characterized by references to the Christian community in Israel.

Attitudes towards Christianity
Jerusalem Post, February 28, 2012
In the wake of Shmuley Boteach’s recent “much-publicized dispute with Canadian TV host Michael Coren,” the Rabbi put pen to paper again to explain his position: “I believe passionately in the new Jewish-Christian alliance and wrote ‘Kosher Jesus’ primarily to advance it. The book seeks to share the Jewishness of Jesus so that a theological bridge can exist between the two disparate faith-communities and I am proud of the global impact it is making on both Jews and Christians. But I do not believe in friendship at any cost. We need not seek the position of superiority vis-a-vis Christians that was humbly bestowed upon us by that most righteous of popes, John Paul II, when he referred to Jews as ‘our elder brothers’ in the faith of Abraham. But we must insist on a relationship of equality, brotherhood and mutual respect. We need not, we dare not, embrace Christian friendship toward Israel if it has any hint of condescension toward Jews and Judaism and, of course, from the vast majority of the world’s Christians – including the current Pope and outstanding friend of the Jewish people, Benedict XVI – it does not … Christian support for Israel should be based not on end-of-days theology or a desire to bring back Christ but on simple, unadulterated love for the Jewish people, just as we Jews must reciprocate with unadorned love for our Christian brothers and sisters who stand by the Jewish state through thick and thin … friends do not just respect one another in public, they do so in private as well. And it is time that our evangelical, Mormon and Catholic friends respect and learn from the faith that was not only practiced by their savior and redeemer, as I detail in ‘Kosher Jesus,’ but who said in Matthew 5:18 would be in force for all eternity. That religion, of course, was not Christianity but Judaism.”

Anti-missionary Activities
Haaretz, February 29, 2012
According to a report in Haaretz (February 29), “Police suspect that a group of ultra-Orthodox men brutally attacked a 70-year-old woman in her home in Jerusalem’s Nahlaot neighborhood on Monday, apparently believing her to be a Christian missionary. The victim spoke to Haaretz from Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Kerem, last night. She said that her attackers accused her of hosting secular, non-Jewish women in her home. The incident occurred on Monday evening around 9 P.M. A number of men in ultra-Orthodox garb forced their way into the woman’s apartment in the Haredi neighborhood. They tied the woman’s arms and then punched her on her body. The victim said the beating lasted half an hour, and that the intruders also vandalized her home before disappearing. She said the men stole her cell phone and computer. The woman, who lives alone, was left on the floor with a broken ankle, a shattered and bleeding hand, a swollen face and internal bleeding. The victim said that, just before the attackers started to pound her, they accused her of hosting secular women. She said that she holds such meetings to teach these women about Judaism. ‘I try to move them closer to Judaism,’ she explained yesterday. ‘The house looked as though there had been a pogrom in it,’ said Nahum Bernstein, a volunteer police worker who was one of the first on the scene. ‘It was shocking. We found an elderly woman tied on the floor, with bruises on her face, a fractured hand and a broken ankle.’ He said the woman was very confused, but managed to indicate that the attack had religious motivations. Jerusalem police searched the area after the incident. They are continuing their investigations.”

Christian Zionism
Zman Ma’alei, February 23, 2012
A group of Dutch Christian Zionists recently visited Ma’alei Adumim near Jerusalem as part of their ongoing support of the city.

Christians in Israel
Jerusalem Post, February 28, March 1; Israel HaYom, March 2, 2012
Under the headline, “This Bethlehem conference is no Purimshpiel,” the Jerusalem Post (March 1) noted the occurrence of the second Christ at the Checkpoint convention to be held this week and presented its understanding of the motives behind the conference: “This year on March 3, Bethlehem will play host to a gathering whose purpose also resonates with the Purim story. This time, the object is ostensibly not the annihilation of Jews, but rather of the Jewish state. CATC, however, is taking dead aim at Israel’s single largest and most reliable supporter: tens of millions of evangelical Christians who have stood with the Jewish state since day one. … CATC, which first met in 2010, attacks the two pillars of evangelical support. Some evangelicals – but definitely not all – find theological roots to stand by Israel. Past presenters at CATC have strenuously argued that Christian Zionism is a perversion of Christian belief. With the arrival of Jesus, Jews and their descendants lost all claim to Biblical covenants – replaced by the New Jews, or Christians. …The campaign of Christian Palestinianism first wooed the evangelical Left and Center with activists going church by church with an emotionally charged, visually driven narrative of suffering at the hands of brutal Israeli occupiers. Now CTAC hope to win over some important conservative backers of Israel who are attending this year’s Bethlehem conference. … Key presenters at the conference include Anglican Rev. Stephen Sizer, [who has] proclaimed, ‘The church in Palestine was telling me something very different, and what I learned was that Palestine needed to be liberated from the Jews!’ One Anglican cleric, Rev. Nick Howard has called on the Church of England to move against Sizer for online posting of anti-Semitic and Holocaust revisionist materials. Another speaker is Gary Burge, author of Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians, who sits on the board of directors of the Middle East Fellowship, The Holy Land Trust’s US partner. … Burge opined that ‘The people of Israel cannot claim to be planted as vines in the land; they cannot be rooted in the vineyard unless first they are grafted into Jesus. Branches that attempt living in the land, the vineyard, which refuse to be attached to Jesus will be cast out and burned.’ Also presenting is Porter Speakman, Jr., who produced the horridly biased and widely viewed film, With God on Our Side, that urges Christians not to assist the Israeli brutalizing of Palestinians through the support of Christian Zionism. … Haman would be pleased.”

A second article (Israel HaYom, March 2) further understood the conference’s aim as turning “the Palestinian into Jesus of Nazareth crucified by the Jews … The conference joins the ranks of huge efforts made … to beguile the vast evangelical Christian community which supports Israel. This effort is being conducted both via political and national means of the type known from the anti-Israel Left … and on attack against the 150-year-old theological tradition on which the pro-Jewish and pro-Zionist evangelical support is based.” It also noted that the conference also has the backing of the prestigious Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Post (February 28) noted that “Custodian of the Holy Land Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who is responsible for the care of Catholic holy sites in Israel, wrote to President Shimon Peres last week, calling on him to urge authorities to prevent vandalism and attacks on churches and Christian places of worship … He said the Christian community in Israel live ‘quietly and peacefully’ and have ignored provocations ‘throughout the years,’ but the recent incidents crossed red lines. In comments made to The Jerusalem Post, a spokesman for Interior Minister Eli Yishai said the minister views any harm inflicted on the different religious congregations in the country, ‘and certainly on the Christian community,’ very seriously. He added that Yishai will not allow such incidents to become routine and will act together with relevant ministry and government officials, as well as law enforcement authorities, ‘to eradicate the phenomenon and bring the criminals responsible to justice.’ Speaking to the Post on Monday, Bishop of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem William Shomali said the Christian community was extremely angry over the attacks. Shomali said that a long-term program teaching respect and religious coexistence needs to be implemented by the Israeli educational system, referring to other incidents of vandalism and frequent spitting attacks against Christian clergy, especially in Jerusalem. ‘The people who do these things are the enemies of the state,’ he said. ‘The eyes of the entire world are on Jerusalem, the city of three religions. Attacks on any place of worship, churches, synagogues or mosques, must all be condemned.’ Shomali also called on law enforcement authorities to vigorously pursue the investigation into the recent attacks. The AJC’s Rabbi David Rosen, interreligious affairs adviser to the Chief Rabbinate, said it is ‘vital that the State of Israel does all it can to give the Christian communities under its authority not only a sense of security in the present, but a sense of security for the future.’ ‘Aside from dealing with assaults on Christian property and defamation in general, there are many things the government should be doing to strengthen the Christian presence here,. he added.”

Christian Tourism
Eastern Mediterranean Tourism, February 2, 2012
This lengthy feature on tourist sites in Israel included references to the fact that “The Holyland Sailing Company has been operating wooden boats to take tourists on the Sea of Galilee sailings for 30 years – a few years after the first-century ‘Jesus Boat’ was discovered. ‘We started to work in 1992 with two wooden boats, ‘John’ and ‘Peter,’ named, like all of our vessels since then, after New Testament personages,’ says Joey Smadar … ‘We added gospel music backgrounds in many languages to our cruises about five years ago, as well as the choice of appropriate music for Catholic groups’ … Another new product is what Smadar terms ‘a small vessel,’ about the size of the ‘Jesus Boat,’ with room for about 10 passengers, which has been used primarily since its inauguration a few months ago, by pastors to meet up with their congregants at sea.” The article also referred its readers to Christian sites in the Old City, including the Armenian Quarter.

Jerusalem Post, March 2, 4, 2012
According to the Jerusalem Post (March 2), “A Republican candidate for US Congress from Illinois has denied that the Holocaust ever occurred, regional newspaper the Oaklawn Patch reported on Wednesday.’ As far as I’m concerned, the Holocaust is nothing more than an international extortion racket by the Jews,’ Arthur Jones, 64, was quoted by the Patch as saying. Jones, an insurance salesman from Lyons, Illinois, is a Republican candidate seeking to run against Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District.”

The same paper (March 5) also noted that “A letter to be read in all Mormon churches warns members to stop all unauthorized posthumous baptisms, including those of Holocaust survivors.”

Haaretz, February 28 (Hebrew and English editions), 2012
His discovery of a cave containing an etching of the prophet Jonah has added fuel to Simcha Jacobovici’s campaign to prove that “Jesus was buried in the nearby cave because the fish, and the image of Jonah and the whale, were both early Christian symbols … The second of Jacobovici’s dramatic finds is an inscription in Greek letters. It can be variously interpreted, but all refer in one way or another to resurrection, he says.”