During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the following subjects:
Christian Holidays (Christmas)
Makor Rishon, January 11, 2013
In this two-page article, Zofnat Nordman discusses the lawsuit filed by Yad L’Achim against Israel Army Radio for refusing to air one of its anti-missionary ads in 2010. The ad in question ran thus: “Soul! Don’t let your soul be deceived! Missionaries are operating throughout the country during the holiday season with the intention of causing you to convert. Don’t be tempted! Hold on to your Jewish identity with pride! For more information – Yad L’Achim.” Israel Army Radio refused to air the ad on the grounds that “Yad L’Achim’s activities and ideology are seen as controversial by the general public and the ad is offensive to a portion of the population.”
The lawyer representing Yad L’Achim responded by saying that “all through the exile Jews were forced – sometimes through torture – to convert to Christianity. Other Jews, including entire communities, forfeited their lives by refusing to convert. How can it not be permitted, in the State of Israel, to air an ad that warns against missionary activity?” A spokesperson for Yad L’Achim further explained to Nordman that “Christian mission is based on deceit. Its emissaries do not present themselves as Christian but as Messianic Jews, who represent a Judaism that believes in Jesus as the messiah. Those ‘Messianic Jews’ hide their connection to a sub-stream of Protestant Christianity. Some of the leaders of the Messianic congregations have been ordained, some are gentiles, and some are converted Jews.” Though their behavior is Jewish, “their theology is Christian.” When Yad L’Achim’s ad was rejected, they took their case to Israel’s Supreme Court.
Nordman explains that at the heart of this case is a clash of worldviews, “a clash of values that goes to the very core of what it means for Israel to be both a Jewish and democratic state. Those clashing values give substance to the main issue in this case – ‘a matter that is ideologically controversial.’” This is why Israel’s Supreme Court is not in a hurry to settle the case – because it means settling “questions of value that touch on Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic nation.”
Yediot Haifa, January 4, 2013
Shelly Yachimovich, leader of Israel’s Labor Party, visited the archbishop of the Greek Catholic church during the Christmas season, telling him that the Labor Party “is the only one that represents all religions – Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druze.” Regarding the recent spate of attacks against the Christian community, Yachimovich said: “I can promise that [the perpetrators] are a minority in Israeli society. We are talking about extreme and violent acts that we reject and completely disagree with . . . Our party advocates peace, equality, and social justice. . . We regularly vote against racist legislation and work in a very real way for social equality and the upholding of human life.”
The Jerusalem Post, January 8, 2013
The leader of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, which was founded in 1970 in reaction to Vatican II, said that the Jews are “the enemies of the Church” and that Vatican II “is their thing, not the Church’s.” The radical Catholic sect is not recognized by the Catholic church, although the Vatican launched talks with the group in 2009. The sect is better known for one of its bishops, Richard Williamson, “who has denied that the Nazis used gas chambers and [has] asserted that no more than 200,000 to 300,000 Jews were killed during World War II.”
Masa Aher, January 1, 2013 [X3]
Travel magazine Masa Aher focused its January issue on the carnival season which launches after Christmas and lasts until Easter. Of interest is a brief history of how Christianity changed the pagan festival tradition. “The Church was opposed to all the [pagan] festivals and tried to replace the pagan elements with Christian symbols.” Thus the festivals “were tied to the Christian calendar and were built around the life of Jesus – from the cycle of his birth until his crucifixion and his resurrection as messiah, which begins in the spring, during Passover.” This is why the carnivals are celebrated during the last days before lent.
Index HaGalil, December 28, 2012
A snippet detailing the current water level of the Sea of Galilee makes mention of the vast number of Christian pilgrims set to visit the lake during the Christmas season, since “according to the Christian faith, Jesus was baptized in the Sea of Galilee and even walked on its water.”
Yerushalayim Shelanu, December 31, 2012
This article reported on the recent archeological find in Jerusalem’s Kiryat HaYovel neighborhood of an agricultural farm dating back to the Hellenistic and Hasmonean periods (see second Media Review for December).
Christian Holidays (Christmas)
The Jerusalem Post, January 11, 2013
In the “Letters” section of the paper, J. J. Gross comments on the importance of Christmas to Jews, since “this holiday has evolved into a major orgy of over-the-top spending, with most of the billions wasted on gifts, greeting cards and decorations migrating into Jewish coffers . . . Hence, the impact of Christmas for Jews cannot be underestimated.”
A La Kfar, December 17, 2012
This article gives details of the various events taking place in churches around the country in the build-up to Christmas.