Caspari Media Review – January 26, 2015
The Media Review is an English-language synopsis of articles that were originally published in the Israeli press. The articles, most of which were written in Hebrew, focus on Messianic Jews and Christianity. This synoptic translation is a Caspari Center exclusive. The Media Review reports what was said in the press irrespective of its accuracy, and the information does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Caspari Center. On occasion the editor includes explanatory matter in brackets, preceeded by the words [Editor’s note:].
January 26, 2015 Media Review
During the week covered by this review, we received 9 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Makor Rishon, January 23, 2015
The rise of Islam in Europe has caused a rise in the power of the far-right parties, who often call for limiting immigration as well as warning against Islamization and wishing to extract their countries from the European Union. However, Jewish communities are wondering if these far-right parties will succeed in re-establishing security, or if they are in fact anti-Semitic.
Dr. Ofer Koenig of the Israeli Institute for Democracy warns against too much cooperation with far-right elements, which are still a relatively weak component of the European political scene; these parties are “trying to fill the vacuum left by the far-left parties” when the latter ceased their support of Israel, and in fact have never ceased to be anti-Semitic. Matan Asher of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs warns against cooperation with far-left elements as well, “due to their connection with radical Islam.” Schneor Zalman Odz of the conservative United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) states emphatically that there is no trace of anti-Semitism in his party, “otherwise I would not be there.” He agrees with UKIP’s call for immigration limitation and bureaucratic transparency, as well as requiring immigrants to “commit to democratic values and elements”; this, to Odz’s mind, will “decrease inter-community tension.”
Christians in Israel
Index HaEmek VeHaGalil–Nazareth Ilit, January 2, 2015
On December 31, 2014, “a group of bullies” stoned the house of a Christian soldier in Nazareth. Father Gabriel Naddaf, head of the Israeli Christians’ Recruitment Forum, stated, “This is not Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany, this is the reality in the State of Israel in the year 2014, when soldiers are attacked for having chosen to identify themselves with the State of Israel, and this voluntarily.” The soldier’s family is being represented by Adv. Shadi Hassan and by Adv. Eyal Paltek, who has offered free legal advice for any soldier finding himself persecuted for his service.
Index HaEmek VeHaGalil–Nazareth Ilit, January 2, 2015
The new bureau of the Israeli Christians’ Recruitment Forum has recently opened in Nazareth Ilit. Father Gabriel Naddaf opened the ceremony with a prayer, and spoke to those present concerning “the connection between Jews and Christians in Israel.”
Yediot HaNegev, January 16, 2015
Father Pyotr Zalasko was born in Poland to a Catholic family. After being ordained he functioned as a priest in Poland for one year, and was then sent to Rome. Five years ago he was sent to Jerusalem, where he studied at the Hebrew University and the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, and as of October 2014 Zalasko has been functioning as the priest for the Hebrew-speaking Catholic community in Beer-Sheva. The congregation members’ backgrounds are extremely varied, says Zalasko, ranging from Israelis to French Christians to refugees to foreign workers.
Zalasko is dedicated to peace, and considers violence to be a sin. “I am here in order to give Catholics in Israel a chance to pray,” he stated, rejecting the accusation of being a missionary. Peace is first made with one’s friends, one’s neighbors, one’s city; Zalasko has become particular friends with one of the rabbis in Beer-Sheva. The two occasionally attend football matches, and celebrated this past Hanukkah together. “The people here are warm, and I feel part of the city,” says Zalasko.
Gefen, January 9, 2015
This article is one of a number detailing how an imaging department has been added to the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, complete with a Philips Ingenia MRI machine. This is the only permanent machine between Tel-Aviv and Haifa, and was bought with the assistance of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), who donated NIS 1.6 million to the project. Other assistance came from the Ministry of Health and from the hospital’s own research fund. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, head of the IFCJ, said, “This contribution towards the MRI machine, the sixth such contribution given by the fellowship to hospitals in Israel, was made possible thanks to thousands of contributions from Christian lovers of Israel, who by their contributions wish to strengthen the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”
The existence of this new department is expected to greatly improve medical service to the region’s residents.
Yediot Kiryat Shmona, January 16, 2015
On January 7, the Magen David Adom (MDA) center in Kiryat Shmona was dedicated after a year of renovations. The center now offers around-the-clock emergency medical care. The renovations were made possible thanks to Christian Friends of MDA in Britain.
Haaretz, January 23, 2015
The baptismal site known as Kasr al-Yahud is known in Jewish tradition as having been the place where the children of Israel crossed the Jordan, as well as where Elijah was taken up to heaven. Christian tradition venerates the site as the location of Jesus’ baptism, where a dove descended upon him out of heaven.
However, the article notes a variety of opinions stated by those present regarding the sanctity of the site and the water, as well as the reasons for being baptized there. It also notes that three Palestinians were detained before being able to stage a protest against the Greek Orthodox patriarch, Theophilos; the three belong to a group demanding the patriarch’s removal and much more foundational support for the Palestinian Authority from the Greek Orthodox Church.
Globes, January 23, 2015
The four species of fish native to the Sea of Galilee, including the Galilee tilapia known as “Saint Peter’s Fish” are in danger, warn scientists studying the location. The danger is from a virus hitherto unknown to science, ultimately deadly, and apparently originating from a contamination of the Ministry of Agriculture fishponds at Kibbutz Ginossar.
An international expert on fish diseases called the issue “an ecological disaster” that could deal a death blow to pilgrimage tourism. The Ministry of Agriculture has stated in response that according to their current data there does not appear to be a problem with fish mortality in the lake, nor a “drastic change as a result of a specific disease, nor a problem for public health.” The ministry is continuing to study the virus, “in order to make the correct decisions as necessary.”
Haaretz, January 21, 2015
The Kishleh prison in the Tower of David Museum, recently opened to the public, is notable for revealing not only British Mandate–era remains, but Ottoman, Crusader, Muslim, Byzantine, Roman, Herodian, Hasmonean, and Judean remains as well. However, the place is now drawing Christian attention, as one tradition identifies the spot as the Praetorium, where Jesus appeared before Pilate. This is in controversy to the older view, which locates the Praetorium as adjacent to the Lions’ Gate, where the Via Dolorosa begins.
Beneath the Ottoman structure, Crusader-era pools were found that yielded red pigment, apparently used in dying hides (this matches the description by Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Jerusalem between 1169 and 1172, and located Jewish dyers of hides on the spot). Beneath the pools are massive Herodian-era support columns and sewage channels; archaeologists have concluded that these columns and channels are built on the ruins of a Hasmonean wall, itself built on the ruins of a First Temple–era wall.
The Herodian wall is notable, as these massive supports were what enabled Herod to build his palace. One supposition among archaeologists is that the Roman prefects – Pilate included – took the palace for their own use. If this is accurate, this would mean that the traditional location of Jesus’ trial at the fortress of Antonia is mistaken. Additionally, it is known that the current route of the Via Dolorosa dates to the Middle Ages, and that earlier routes passed by the palace.
Correction: In the January 21, 2015, review of the Eretz Binyamin (December 31, 2014) article, the archaeologist’s name should be Dr. Bryant (not Brian) Wood. We apologize for this error, which was due to a mistaken transliteration of Dr. Wood’s name in the Hebrew article reviewed.
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VIDEO: KKCJ Worship Service January 25, 2015
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Parashat Beshalach – Exodus 13:17 – 17:16
Exodus 13:17 – 17:16
Exodus 16: Midrash Ecclesiastes (1, 1) relates how R. Berechiah said in the name of R. Yitschak, who lived before the year 300 AD:
“Just as there was a First Savior so there will be a Last. Just as it is said of the First Savior (Exodus 4.20) that ‘He took his wife and sons and put them on a donkey,’ so it is said of the Last Savior that ‘He is lowly and riding on a donkey’ (Zechariah 9.9). As the First Savior provided manna (Exodus 16), as it is written, ‘Behold I will pour out bread from heaven upon you,’ so will the Last Savior, as it is written (Psalms 72.16), ‘Let corn abound throughout the land.’ Just as the First Savior opened a fountain, so the Last Savior will provide water, as it is written (Joel 3.18), ‘A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house.’”
All four gospels record Jesus’ miracles of the feeding of the multitudes. Just before his death Jesus chided the disciples on the way to Caesarea Philippi for their concern about what they would eat on the journey:
“Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand… or the seven loaves for the four thousand?” (Matthew 16.9-10)
And Jesus spoke of himself as the Bread of Life:
“I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world… I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6.32-35)
Exodus 17.8-16: “Then came Amalek and fought with Israel at Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose for us men, and go out, fight with Amalek; tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.’ So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.’ And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord is my banner, saying, ‘A hand upon the banner of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.’”
Amalek, trying to prevent the Israelites from getting to the promised land, symbolizes Satan resisting believers, after they have been saved. Moses’ hands are described (vs 12) as “emunah,” literally “faith.” When his hands were up, Israel won; when he dropped them, the enemy won. So it is also with our faith: when it is low we are susceptible to the attacks of Satan; when our faith is up, Satan cannot defeat us.
Note that Moses’ hands were holding a rod (vs 9). This rod symbolizes the cross. See John 3.14-15: “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” That story is told in Numbers 21.8-9, where God tells Moses to make a “nes,” the same word that is used in the Exodus 17 event (vs 15): “Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord is my banner (nes), saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord.”
By further comparing Exodus 17 and Numbers 21, we find an amazing thing. In Numbers 21 Moses lifts up the rod (nes); in Exodus 17.15 Moses declares that “the Lord is my nes.” This effectively means that God himself is on the nes. (We may compare the statement of Paul in Acts 20.28: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with his own blood.”)
In verse 12 Moses sits on a rock. This too points to Jesus, who is the rock of our salvation, the cornerstone, the foundation of the church.
Similarly, in verse 16 Moses sees a hand lifted “on the throne of the Lord.” This hints at the atonement to come. Jesus is at the right hand of God, he is God’s right hand. He is the one who came to defeat Satan. See Psalms 20.6-7; Isaiah 52.10; and Acts 7.56; Romans 8.34, where Jesus is at God’s right hand.
Haftarah: Judges 4:4 – 5:31
“Rabbi Berechyah says in the name of Rabbi Samuel, ‘Even though things were created perfect, they were ruined by the sin of the first man, and they will not be restored until Ben Peretz (the Messiah) comes, as it is said (Ruth 4.18), complete. The restoration will happen because of six things, and they are the radiance of his life, his stature, the fruit of the land and the fruit of the tree, the radiant light of the shield, as it is said (Jdg 5.31), “those who love him are like the sun when it rises in its power.”’” (Genesis Rabbah 12.6)
All material copyright © 2015, unless stated otherwise for specific material
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This year 2014-2015 represents a significant turning point, and as noted by many a “Shemita” year in the Jewish calendar. This week marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in southwest Poland, near Krakow. An estimated 1.1 million Jews between 1942 and 1945 were murdered by the Nazis there (including several of my grandfather’s family). On January 27, the Soviets entered Auschwitz and freed the 7,000 remaining prisoners, all starving and freezing.
Not only was Auschwitz liberated but World War II as a whole came to an end, including the fighting in the Middle East and in the Pacific Rim. This is the end of an important 70-year period for Japan and the surrounding countries there as well.
Seventy years is described in the Scriptures as a period to fulfill historic prophecies and punishments (Jeremiah 25:11, Daniel 9:24). The 70-year period is related to the concept of “visiting the sins of the parents” (Exodus 20:5) and a 70 year life-span (Psalm 90:10). Seventy years more or less completes the cycle of one generation giving birth to the next, and the first generation passing away. Today the last witnesses of the WWII period are dying off. The current generation has little emotional connection to what happened then.
Since the end of WWII there has been a certain transfer of the “vision” to exterminate the Jews from the Nazis to what has become radical Islam today. This year, 2014-2015 has seen the declaration of ISIS, an Islamic State. This is a major development in the Islamic world view. All the terrorist groups, from Hamas to Hezbollah to Al Qaeda, were looking forward to the renewal of a Caliphate (world-wide Islamic empire), but did not see themselves as that empire. ISIS is declaring that the Caliphate nation has begun.
Europe and the United Nations seem to have little understanding of the danger at hand. At this time, 70 years after the Holocaust, it is only the nation of Israel that speaks clearly of the threat of Islamic Jihad in our generation, and only representatives from Israel who quote from the Bible in the General Assembly of the UN.
During the same period, we have seen major developments in the Body of Christ. The largest number of believing Christians is to be found in Asia today, not in the West. The rise of the Church of Asia is a paradigm shift of dimensions not seen in almost 2,000 years. In addition the Messianic remnant in the restored nation of Israel is slowly and surely developing and maturing. This spiritual restoration of Israel is also a paradigm shift of prophetic importance not seen since the first century.
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New Trends of Research on Palestinian Christian Identity in Israel
This week began as scholars, practitioners, and researchers gathered together at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for a two-day conference on Palestinian Christian Identity in Israel: New Trends of Research.
This conference explored what is happening in Palestinian Christian identity in light of living among Palestinian Muslim and Jewish Israeli majorities. You will be able to watch a few lectures from this conference soon.
There is no doubt that several lectures stand out during the two-day event. One highlight for me was seeing the new generation of female and male scholars studying Palestinian Christian identity from different angles. In the past, the topic was primarily studied by international scholars and within a historical, theological, or political framework. We now see a new approach from the social science perspective that also deals with the complexity of the Christian identity. This is the first time Palestinian Christian identity has been addressed on an academic level and that in itself is a great achievement.
It is very clear that Palestinian Christian identity has become a very distinct identity but there are a number of segments or layers that this identity is comprised of, and each one of these layers is inter-woven together forming a distinct Palestinian Christian’s Identity.
Professor Sammy Smooha of Haifa University presented several major findings on voting patterns. Today, Palestinian Christian voting patterns in Israel resemble that of Palestinian Muslims. His assessment showed that they are affected by two major factors: one, their leadership will not break away from the majority – the Muslim leadership; and two, from the other side, Israel defines itself as a State of the Jews. While Israel wants Palestinian Christians to be further assimilated into the State, the character of the State of Israel as an ethnic-religious Jewish state prevents assimilation of Palestinian Christians into a majority Jewish society.
Other scholars indicated the tendency for Palestinian Christians in Israel to separate themselves from both majority communities. One reason has been the increase in national religious parties of both Muslims and Jews in recent years, which is drastically different than what we saw in the early 1990s. Palestinian Christians have also perceived that Israeli Jews are not adhering to western values, and with an increase in religious identification, it has become more difficult to integrate into Israeli Jewish society.
We were honored to have His Beatitude Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem share with us his vision for Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land. His words were received with much sensitivity by all parties as he shared his heart and the challenges the Palestinian Christian community in Israel faces. Jewish and Palestinian scholars were grateful to discuss and engage with him, and it helped many, especially the Jewish scholars, overcome many misperceptions they had of the Palestinian Christian community.
We have also found that in the work of reconciliation and bridging communities, people change their perceptions based on the quality of their interaction and not only the frequency of their interaction.
The conference was sponsored by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, the Swiss Center for Conflict Research, Musalaha Ministry of Reconciliation, and the Center for the Study of Christianity and organized by Professor Gabriel Horenczyk, Dr. Merav Mack, and Professor Salim J. Munayer.
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Musalaha is a non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. They advocate and facilitate reconciliation encounters among Palestinian and Israeli believers based on the life and teaching of Jesus.