During the week covered by this review, we received 7 articles on the following subjects:
Messianic Jews (Organizations)
Jewish-Christian Relations/Political Issues
Messianic Jews (Organizations)
Haaretz, October 19, 2012
This two-page article focused on the difficulties of trying to organize a gay/lesbian wedding ceremony in Israel, citing the recent lawsuit filed against Yad HaShmona, the Messianic events hall that refused to host the wedding of a lesbian couple. Yad HaShmona lost the case (see third Media Review for September), but only because they were open about their reason for turning down the couple’s request. Quoting Irit Rosenblum, a gay-rights lawyer, Haaretz explains that there are many private wedding halls that turn down gay couples, but they are able to get away with it since they don’t have to state their reasons for declining reservation requests.
Makor Rishon, October 14, 2012
Under the “Opinions” section of the paper, Makor Rishon published a scathing critique of Christian Zionists and their motives for standing by Israel. Mina Fenton writes that the existence of Christian Zionism is a threat to Jewish identity because it tries to blur the lines between Judaism and Christianity. She reminds her readers that the core belief of Christian Zionism revolves around the second “resurrection” of Jesus. Focusing in on a YouTube video released by Christians United For Israel (CUFI), she describes how the director, John Hagee, while visiting the Wailing Wall, said: “You see the Dome of the Rock? There is no doubt about it – that is where the Temple of the Lord Jesus Christ will be when he reigns over Jerusalem for 1000 years.” Fenton explains that Evangelicals believe that they must spread their faith throughout the world (which is the meaning of “to evangelize” – to make Christian).
Today’s Evangelical Christians have found ways to adapt themselves to the 21st century and the reality of the Jewish State of Israel, so that they now believe that “only Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land will allow Christians to act freely, to establish themselves, and to promote their own Christian interests while strengthening their position and status in Israel.” For Jesus to come again, the Holy Land must be in the hands of the Jewish people. Fenton writes that the birth of the nation of Israel severely shocked the Christian world, which realized that “2000 years of pogroms and the Holocaust did not wipe out the Jewish people. They survived, and not by converting.” Christians therefore changed their theology to accommodate this new reality so that Jewish existence is now justified only insofar as the new Jewish state will accept the Christian messiah. “But how will these Christians penetrate [the nation of Israel]?” asks Fenton. “Through money. The power of money will enable them to grow strong and break into every aspect of our lives,” which is why millions of dollars are being poured into Israel by an abundance of Christian organizations. So, when all is said and done, Fenton wonders if the Evangelicals “are for us or for themselves?”
The Jerusalem Post, October 12, 2012
This article focuses on Republican Representative Trent Franks (from the US Congress) whose Evangelical background plays a significant role in his support for Israel, political and otherwise. Franks is known for co-sponsoring a Bill known as the “Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2011,” which, if passed, “will require the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem . . . and would require the US to recognize Jerusalem as ‘the undivided capital of the State of Israel.’”
Franks explains that his support for Israel goes all the way back to his childhood, when he was “taught to pray for the peace of Jerusalem” as part of his Evangelical upbringing. “My support for Israel transcends any political preferences,” he says. Franks also makes it very clear that Christian support for Israel “doesn’t stem from a desire to convert the Jews.” Rather, it stems from “a deeply held personal and spiritual conviction that Israel is a people chosen by God for a special purpose on this earth and all they ask for . . . is to be secure.”
Political Issues/Jewish-Christian Relations
Yisrael HaYom, October 17, 2012
Izi Liebler criticizes the recent letter sent to the US Congress by fifteen leaders representing the Lutheran, Methodist, UCC churches and the National Council of Churches asking it to reevaluate its military aid to Israel and to investigate possible violations on Israel’s part of the US Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act (see second Media Review for October, under the heading “Political Issues”). Liebler writes that the letter exposes the double standards of Christians in their approach to Israel, “and this under the guise of supposed allegiance and righteous hypocrisy.” He asks how these leaders can have the gall to do such a thing, “in spite of the role their churches played in demonizing, persecuting, and murdering Jews for over 2000 years.” Focusing on the Lutheran leaders signed on the letter, Liebler says that they were probably aided by the writings of Martin Luther, their founder, who, “after failing to convert the Jews, called on his followers to murder all the ‘poisonous worms and disgusting vermin,’ and to torch their synagogues and schools.” Apparently, says Liebler, Luther’s modern-day followers have turned their anti-Semitic acts from targeting individual Jews to targeting the State of Israel instead.
Liebler goes on to criticize the Christian leaders signed on the letter for the way they are compromising their fellow Christians throughout the Middle East who are suffering under the rule of Islam, which does not allow for any freedom of religion. “These ‘Christians,’” he writes, “have the chuzpa to call on Congress to limit its military support of Israel, the only democracy and the only country in the area that allows for religious freedom – a nation where one can find Christians on all levels of society.” Liebler concludes his article by saying that Israel and the Jewish people, in the wake of the Holocaust, need not humiliate themselves any longer by working together with Christian “platforms” that treat the Jewish State in much the same way “their forefathers treated the Jews in the Middle Ages.”
HaIr Kan Darom, October 12, 2012, Yisrael HaYom, October 17, 2012
Two articles reported on the distribution this week of armored backpacks to Israeli school children in Ashkelon – a gift from the Christian organization The Shield of David (see last Media Review for September).
HaOniversita, October 10, 2012
Tel Aviv University offered a new program this summer that focused on Christianity and Judaism’s shared perspective on historical sites of significance in the Holy Land. The program, called “Jewish-Christian Encounters in the First Century AD,” was attended mostly by Christian students from the United States, Singapore, the Czech Republic, Holland, and the UK. The content of the course included an introduction to basic Rabbinic texts and their relationship to early Christian writings.