Yedi’ot Ha’Galil, April 11 1997, by S. Vada
Two children of a Messianic Jewish family in Nazareth have been the target of violent attacks by their peers. The brothers, students in a public high-school, have been called “Hitler,” “anti-Semites” and “missionaries,” and were recently beat up by a group of students from another school. Following the last attack the boys filed a complaint with the police, and their father has removed them from school. Educational authorities claim that the attack was not reported to them, and therefore they can’t do anything about the problem. They also say that if the brothers do not return to school, they will be reported to a truancy officer.
NEW IMMIGRANT EXPELLED FROM ELITE ARMY UNIT AFTER HIS CONVERSION IS DISCOVERED
Ma’ariv, April 8 1997, by Uri Binder
A soldier was expelled from his unit and his citizenship revoked after the Interior Ministry discovered that he had converted to Christianity. The 22 year old immigrant from the Ukraine was in an elite infantry unit, until, in his own words, he “told the truth,” which has resulted in his being transferred from unit to unit in the army until a final decision is made about his status.
The Interior Ministry responded by stating that the law of return does not allow converts immigrant status, but that they were making the humanitarian gesture of granting him temporary residence so he can stay in Israel with his family.
Editor’s note: The reporter who wrote this story said in a private telephone conversation that the man in question had converted before moving to Israel, a fact that would indeed make his immigrant status questionable.
JESUS AND CLINTON
Yedi’ot Aharonot, April 8 1997, by Nahum Barnea
(I translated the following excerpt because I think it typifies the average secular / liberal Israeli’s attitude toward “Fundamentalist” or “Evangelical” Christians.)
In the banquet room of a hotel in Washington, 900 Americans prayed for the arrival of Netanyahu. Senators and Congressmen from the Republican party’s religious right sat on the stage. American and Israeli flags formed the backdrop as Israel’s anthem “Ha’Tikvah” was sung, the transliterated lyrics held in trembling hands.
There are all kinds of fundamentalist organizations in the world. These “Bible-belt” Christians happen to love us. Their dream is the redemption of Israel in the whole land of Israel.
Afterwards, according to this dream, we’ll all become Christians. But that will be later, after the end of Bibi’s term, so it doesn’t matter.
The truth is, Israel doesn’t have more fervent friends than this bunch. When the smell of terror rises in Israel, Jews, even those who make their living by supporting Israel, cancel their visits. Only these continue to make pilgrimages to the Holy Land. They put their trust in Israel, and in Jesus.
They founded a new organization with some “wearers of black kippas” in the American Jewish right. This is the “National Committee of Jews and Christians for Israel.” According to the MC they have 40 million supporters in the US. “I’m 7000 miles from Jerusalem, but I feel at home here,” says Netanyahu, and so he does.
These Christians don’t need the Lubavitcher Rebbe. A synthetic messiah like our Bibi is sufficient for them. They received him like they receive their television-messiahs: with calls of “yeah, yeah!” applause and hand-shakes. Netanyahu, who avoided a meeting with Reform Jewish leaders for fear of harsh reactions to the new conversion law, encountered no problems with our Christian friends. Even at Likud party headquarters he doesn’t get such a reception – and there he has to share the stage.
“We came here with one goal,” said the MC, “to support you and the state of Israel. We support the right of Jews to settle anywhere.” (Applause from the audience)
She invited Cal Thomas, a popular columnist, to the microphone. He compared the Prime Minister to King David. “He needs the same moral clarity, the same ability to distinguish good from evil.”
The article continues with P.M. Netanyahu’s speech at this gathering, in which he proclaims Israel’s right to build at Har Homa and live without the threat of terror. There is also a synopsis of his talks with President Clinton. The writer ends with the observation that in his PR campaign, Netanyahu “had the greatest success with the Christians.”
INCENTIVES FOR CONVERSION
Letter to the Editor, Ha’Aretz, April 2 1997
Seemingly, the argument over conversions to Judaism shouldn’t have held any interest for secular Israelis. But there are two reasons for both religious and secular involvement. First of all, anyone whose ID card lists his or her nationality as “Jewish” is eligible for rights not given to those not registered as Jews. For instance, a recognized convert is eligible
to not only vote, but to be a candidate for government office. Anyone labeled as a Jew will also receive extra aid in his absorption into Israeli society, including housing benefits.
The second reason is no less important. As we know, the “anti-missionary law” forbids giving material incentives for conversion. This forces the various preachers to abstain from tempting those who are caught in their snares with material help, and so, by law, conversion is a matter of inner spiritual conviction in Israel.
But the whole fight over the authority to decide who will be listed as Jewish revolves around the extra rights given to those thus labeled. If conversion to Judaism didn’t carry material incentives, and all citizens of Israel had equal rights, the right to convert should have belonged solely to the religious, and not the secular. A fair solution would be to cancel the extra rights given to those labeled as Jews. This would give conversion the desired spiritual character.
But when conversion is linked with material incentives, as it currently is, we must ask how it is that politicians from all parties can suggest a law which is based on a blatant transgression of the existing “anti-missionary law.”
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION MUST NOT SPONSOR EVENTS ON THE SABBATH
Ha’Modia, April 29, 1997
Deputy Minister Rabbi Meir Porush complained to Minister of Education Zvulun Hammer about his ministry’s sponsorship of a concert series which took place on the Sabbath and holiday. He also protested the fact that some of the performances in the series were held in a “Messianic Jewish church,” calling this “adding a sin to a crime.”
The Jerusalem Post, April 4 1997, by Sue Fishkoff
The expectations of a massive influx of Christian tourists in the year 2000 form the backdrop for this article. It includes a description of Christian millennial beliefs (and some miscalculated Judgment Days), as well as information about some of the planned celebrations. Among these are Catholic pilgrimages, the “First World Congress on Forgiveness and Reconciliation,” and an “AD 2000 and Beyond” conference. Protestant church representatives in Israel are quoted as saying that “the date is secondary” to the fact that Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead here, and that the year 2000 is “not as important for us as for the Catholics.” The International Christian Embassy shares that attitude, saying that “we might organize an event, although we don’t feel the specific significance of the date.” They are, however, holding a conference this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress. That, they say, is a special date.
Yedi’ot Ha’Galil: Northern weekly, published in Upper Nazareth.
Ma’ariv: National daily, published in Tel-Aviv. Politically tends to the right, mostly objective towards believers (depends on the reporter).
Yedi’ot Aharonot: National daily published in Tel-Aviv. Attitude to believers depends on the reporter.
Ha’Aretz: National daily, published in Tel-Aviv, mostly objective towards believers.
Ha’Modia: Jerusalem religious daily. Very hostile to believers.
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.