Thursday 31 March 2011

Who's afraid of the Messianic Jews?

Most Israelis tend be indifferent at best toward Messianic Jews, but the attitude and behaviour of the Orthodox Jewish community has resulted in “secular” Israelis coming to the defence of Jewish followers of Jesus.

Over the last few years, the Israeli media has on several occasion portrayed Messianic Israelis in a positive light.

On Wednesday evening, Israel Channel One’s Second Look aired a programme which contrasted Messianic Jews to the anti-missionary group Yad L’Achim, which has dedicated itself to harassing and driving Jews who believe in Jesus out of Israel.

In the opening segment of Second Look, the presenter noted that Yad L’Achim likened Messianic Jews to Hitler. A young Jewish organist who is not a believer in Yeshua told the programme that the only place she could practice her music was a monastery Jerusalem.

She recounted how her parents had received an anonymous written warning from Jewish “anti-missionaries” who told them that their daughter was being “preyed upon” by Christians.

The girl continued to accept the hospitality of the monastery but began receiving anonymous phone calls, and was sure she was being followed and watched. “I felt like I was in a suspense movie,” she said. “I was constantly looking over my shoulder.”

The girl said that neither the priest nor his staff had ever pressurised her to accept Jesus but Yad L’Achim had advised Israel’s Ministry of the Interior to revoke the residency visa of the priest overseeing the facility. Yad L’Achim director Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifschitz told Channel One that if the “missionaries” were not stopped, there would soon be no Jews left in Israel.

The report interviewed several Messianic Jews, including Avner and Rachel Boski who, the presenter said, “believe that the Messiah has already been here, and that his name is Yeshua. They believe there is no problem believing in him and remaining Jews.”

Avner Boski explained, “When we were immigrating, and we came through the Ministry of the Interior, everything was going fine. Then, one day, we were told that there is a problem, that information had come from Yad L’Achim – she said this three times.”

Yad L’Achim views believers in Yeshua as “soul snatchers” who want to turn Jews into “Christians”, thus spiritually destroying the Jewish people.

A promo video, produced by Yad L’Achim, teaches that there are two current efforts to destroy the Jews: the physical, and the spiritual. Messianic Jews are the spiritual killers.

Boski noted that Yad L’Achim has now gone far beyond just targeting those believers in Yeshua who openly evangelise: “Just believing in Yeshua makes us dangerous enough in their eyes.”

However, anyone who drives a car in Israel can testify to how often Israelis are approached by proselytizing Orthodox Jews at stop lights throughout the country.

A number of other Messianic Israelis were interviewed and given a chance to tell their stories, including Pnina Conforti whose popular bakery has been repeatedly targeted by Yad L’Achim.

Following the interviews, the presenter debated with two Israeli lawmakers: Michael Ben-Ari of the religious National Union party, and Nitzan Horovitz of the secular Meretz Party.

Horovitz and the presenter were clearly agitated by the Ben-Ari’s defence of Yad L’Achim’s actions and his insistence that believers in Yeshua pose a threat to the Jewish state by simple virtue of their faith.

“I receive far more complaints about missionary activity by Orthodox Jewish organisations!” Horovitz exclaimed.

The second half of the report was interspersed with clips of Yad L’Achim and its supporters holding hostile and heated rallies, while Messianic Jews were shown praying calmly for Israel at their places of worship.

The message was clear: Messianic Jews are not a threat to Israel or the spirit of the Jewish nation. But Yad L’Achim just might be.

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