STRANGE HOW WE TREAT THEM -&-
GENTILE VOLUNTEERS NO LONGER SO WELCOME
The Jerusalem Post, Feb.14 1997
These companion articles appeared in a section devoted to Israelis’ attitudes to the “Strangers among us.” They focus on the hurdles encountered by Christians who want to stay here long-term and work or volunteer in various places. A number of personal stories are told about people who have given large parts of their lives to Israel, and still have encountered harassment by government agencies. Ministry workers have not been able to renew their visas, and people applying for residency are told that they have to be here five years first – but are not allowed to stay those five years as volunteers. An American Jewish official is quoted as saying that the Interior Ministry is “…issuing wholesale instructions not to renew visas… since the new administration, maybe because of the rising influence of the haredim and the right wing who don’t want the ‘goyim.’” Christian spokesmen are being more careful, saying that it’s probably just a lack of communication with new personnel, not a “plot” to get rid of believers. The bottom line, though was supplied by a lawyer from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, who asked if Israeli society is “strong enough and secure enough to be able to incorporate people from other cultures who all want to contribute to this country.” The jury’s still out on that question.
HAREDIM HARASS JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
Jerusalem Post, March 13 1997
The Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Lod has been targeted for violence by local Haredi orthodox Jews. Two weeks ago, worshippers leaving the building were stoned, with little intervention by the police, who “could not control the mob.” This last Saturday, while their meeting hall was empty, a mob of over 200 people ransacked the building, destroying everything from the chairs to the sound system. According to witnesses, the perpetrators sang and danced around a bonfire of Bibles and literature from the hall. Again, the police took no action, saying that it was impossible to identify specific individuals as being guilty of this crime.
YESHIVA STUDENT FINED FOR SPITTING AT THE SIGHT OF A CROSS
Ha’Aretz, Feb.21,27; Ma’ariv, Feb.21; HaTzofe, Feb.24 1997
A yeshiva student who spat on the ground when passing by a procession of priests carrying a cross was found guilty of interference in religious rites and fined 750 Shekels (around $220). The interesting thing is that according to Halacha, Jews are to spit (in a “non-obtrusive” manner) and recite “Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction” (Deut.7:26) when they see a cross or any other “idolatrous symbol.” The defendant is filing an appeal based on this belief and his right to freedom of expression.
The article in HaTzofe, in a commentary on Jewish aversion to anything Christian, also attributes April Fools Day to Mary’s becoming pregnant “supposedly” by the Holy Spirit, and nine months later the birth of the “false” Messiah.
NEWSPAPERS USED IN THIS EDITION:
The Jerusalem Post: National English language daily, published in Jerusalem. Tends to the religious right, but careful and relatively fair towards believers (has a large Christian readership). Friendly towards right-wing political Christianity.
Ha’Aretz: National daily, published in Tel-Aviv, mostly objective towards believers
Ma’ariv: National daily, published in Tel-Aviv. Politically tends to the right, mostly objective towards believers (depends on the reporter).
HaTzofe: Tel-Aviv religious/political daily. Hostile to believers.