May 7 – 2012

Caspari Center Media Review – May 7, 2012

During the week covered by this review, we received 9 articles on the following subjects:

Anti-missionary activities
Pope and Vatican
Interfaith activities

This week’s review focused on anti-missionary activities and various matters relating to archaeology.

Anti-missionary Activities

Yediot Haifa, May 4; BeKehila, May 3, 2012

Yad L’Achim was up in arms this week over the latest “missionary campaign” in the north: “This is the third consecutive year in which the wicked missionary campaign under the aegis of the Christian-missionary sect ‘Messianic Jews’ has been conducted over the summer. The campaign, which breaks forth from time to time, and is supposed to continue until 2013, opened this week, and to our great misfortune for the first time ever has captured space in leading newspapers – which have given in to the money of the mission and conspicuously printed on a whole page a missionary ad open for everyone to read. At the same time, many members of the mission were active throughout Haifa and the lower Galilee in an audacious attempt to bring ‘that man’ – God forbid – to thousands of residents in the north … Groups of missionaries stood at the main junctions wearing clothes sporting a clear missionary message and holding posters carrying their false good news, according to which the individual salvation of every person will come from ‘that man’ (may his mouth be silenced), and calling on the masses of passersby to call a number to find out more … Yad L’Achim stated: ‘In light of the drastic escalation in missionary activity across the country Yad L’Achim is again issuing the call: this is the time to demand from any one with influence that they insist on an amendment of the missionary law that will put an end to the wicked and unrestrained activity of the missionaries, who know no boundaries and whose deeds will bring unmitigated disaster upon us” (BeKehila, May 3).

Similarly, Yediot Haifa (May 4) reported that “Independence Day was also celebrated by the missionaries: blue and white flyers were distributed to thousands of holidaymakers in the center of the Carmel. This was propaganda material, according to which Yeshu is the Jewish messiah and in which it was explained that Yeshu is in fact Yeshua who came to save the people of Israel. The chairman of the local religious council, R. Avi Witzman: It’s all misleading and false. This activity constitutes the continuation of the missionary activity over Passover. R. Arieh Blitental demands the prohibition of missionary activity in the city.”

Pope and Vatican

Haaretz, May 4 (Hebrew and English editions , 2012

According to this report, “An electricity pylon erected in front of the Church of All Nations in East Jerusalem is sparking tensions between Israel and the Vatican. The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land submitted on Wednesday an administrative appeal against the Jerusalem municipality and the Israel Electric Corp, claiming that the municipality approved the action illegally. Six weeks ago Franciscan monks discovered a huge, unsightly pylon in front of the impressive church overlooking the Garden of Gethsemane. The two electric lines leading from the pylon were labeled ‘Ir David’ and ‘Ma’aleh Zeitim,’ the two large Jewish settlements in the area. The pylon was erected as part of a separate electricity infrastructure meant to serve East Jerusalem settlers, who demanded to be connected to the Israel Electric Corporation instead of the Palestinian East Jerusalem Electricity Company … ‘The huge pylon obstructs the view of the Old City from the prayer garden of the church used by pilgrims,’ reads the petition. ‘One of the significant reasons for the popularity of the church is the unique view of the Temple Mount and the Old City, and the pylon utterly destroys this uniqueness.’ ‘This is one of the most important and sacred sites of the Christian world,’ says Farid Jubran, the legal advisor of the Franciscan Custody. ‘The Custody opposes this opportunistic move, which was carried out without permits and in contradiction of the law. Erecting the pylon is a callous violation of the treaties signed by Israel, while ignoring the sanctity of the site to billions of people worldwide,’ Jubran added … A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality reacted: ‘The Israel Electric Corp. determines the need to erect electricity pylons or other structures. The municipality does not interfere in its considerations. The permits were granted according to law.’ A spokesperson for the Israel Electric Corp said: ‘The pylon was erected after all permits were granted, and therefore the petition is superfluous.’”

Interfaith Activities

Jerusalem Post, May 3, 2012

Sam Sokol reported on an interfaith conference recently held in Kiev: “I am in the Ukrainian capital city of Kiev to cover a fascinating conference, the Kyiv Interfaith Forum. The forum – comprising representatives of various strains of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism who hail from everywhere from Jordan to Azerbaijan – is especially of interest to me due to its novel setting … The fact that this country, with its history of anti-Semitism and its fervent Christian Orthodoxy, which is not the most historically Jew-friendly of faiths, is hosting an event of this nature is the real reason why the forum deserved coverage. Among the topics discussed by the participants is the role of religion in contemporary secular democracies and the interplay between the largely secular media and, at least in Ukraine, an increasingly religious populace … Speaking with local rabbinic leaders as well as lay leaders and representatives of the local Jewish community, an image emerges of a nation that is, while still latently somewhat anti-Semitic, largely struggling successfully to combat religious intolerance on a leadership level. Member of Parliament Oleksandr Feldman, the founder of the forum, is a kippa-wearing Orthodox Jew. Well-connected with the senior leadership of both his nation and the State of Israel, Feldman has already organized one previous conference and worked tirelessly to deepen the Ukraine’s ties with Israel. Upon opening the conference, Feldman notes that ‘respecting other people does not require that they share a common religion.’ As someone who ‘picked up faith when he was already mature,’ like many who grew up under Communism, he came to believe that ‘freedom depends on struggling for the rights of others.’ Picking up on a theme that will be reiterated by speaker after speaker throughout the three-day conference, Feldman notes that every community has extremists who must not be allowed to hijack the dialogue between groups … The presence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which local Chabad rabbi Jonathan Markovitch tells The Jerusalem Post has created significant and meaningful ties with local Jews, at least on a leadership level, is heartening. Ukraine, Markovitch noted wryly, has become to young Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jews what Thailand is to the country’s secular youth: a place to go to find oneself. From organized tours of the country’s many rabbinic graves and surviving old synagogues to the annual pilgrimage of hundreds of thousands of Jews to the grave of Rabbi Nahman of Breslov on Rosh Hashana, Ukraine has become a major Jewish vacation destination … After reciting kaddish quietly [at Babi Yar], I leave, thinking how ironic it is that of all places to be assigned to cover an inter-religious dialogue about tolerance and mutual respect, it should be in this blood-soaked land whose crimes are permanently engraved in the collective memory of all Jewry.”


HaModia, May 2; Israel HaYom, May 2; HaIr Ratzui uMatzui, May 4; Etnachta, May 3, 2112

HaModia (May7 2) and Israel HaYom (May 2) both covered the discovery of the “closest edifice to the First Temple ever found and within it a Hebrew seal carrying the name ‘Matanyahu.’” The seal is a personal one dating from the end of the First Temple period and was discovered on the floor of the ancient building. Made from a semi-precious stone, it is engraved with the name of its owner“Lematanyahu Ben Ho…” i.e., “Belonging to Matanyahu Ben Ho … Unfortunately, the remainder of the inscription has been erased. “According to Eli Shukron, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, ‘the name Matanyahu, like the name Netanyahu, means giving to God. These names are mentioned several times in the Bible. They are typical of the names in the Kingdom of Judah in latter part of the First Temple period – from the end of the eighth century BCE until the destruction of the Temple in 586 BCE. To find a seal from the First Temple period at the foot of the Temple Mount walls is rare and very exciting. This is a tangible greeting of sorts from a man named Matanyahu who lived here more than 2,700 years ago. We also found pottery sherds characteristic of the period on the floor in the ancient building beneath the base of the drainage channel, as well as stone collapse and evidence of a fire.’”

HaIr Ratzui u-Matzui (May 4) printed the recent story of Megiddo prison’s future transformation into a tourist site due to the discovery of “the remains of the world’s most ancient Christian church.”

According to Arieh Bornstein (Etnachta, May 3), the current desperate shortage of “biblical archaeological scholars who come a faith-based background is leading to a falling into the hands of unaccepted scholars who are causing damage to matters linked to faith – such as Immanuel Velikowsky.”