I AM NOT A MISSIONARY
Itton Yerushalayim, Dec.12 1997
This is the story of David Bar-Meir, who at the age of 71 has found himself in a battle with the Yad L’Achim anti-missionary organization. Bar-Meir, an orthodox resident of Mea She’arim, has dared to go against the flow. His sin: belief that Jesus was a good Jew, and that His mission was to steer the gentiles away from idol worship to faith in the one true God. He also reads the New Testament.
Bar-Meir fills his days with good deeds, such as helping the sick and elderly, and until one year ago led a peaceful existence in his chosen orthodox world. Then Yad L’Achim started putting up posters, calling on residents of the neighborhood to rid themselves of the “missionary plague” in their midst. The synagogues he had attended for years suddenly had no room for Bar-Meir, and he was fired from his job. And finally, the neighboring girls’ school tried to have him evicted from his home, which was also the target of an attempted arson.
Bar-Meir has not been silent in the face of his tormentors. He demanded an explanation from Yad L’Achim, and answered each of their “missionary” posters with one of his own, calling for an end to hatred among Jews. He also filed a suit with the religious court against the principal of the school, accusing him of slander, threats, harassment and damaging his property. A counter suit by the family of the principal accuses Bar-Meir of distributing missionary and pornographic material to the students at the school, but when the judges searched his home they found nothing.
Bar-Meir does admit to past ties with the Messianic community – in fact, according to the article, he was one of the founders of Jerusalem’s Netiviyah congregation. But, in his own words, “they expelled me after I said over and over that they were distancing Jews from Judaism and confusing them by saying they didn’t have to keep the commandments, and were turning them into Christians. … But this made no difference to the orthodox community – they said I’m a missionary and a member of a cult.” In his opinion, “Jesus was good for Israel and all humanity.” But, “I also think that you can cancel all of Christianity with the New Testament. The Christian interpretation of the NT distorts it. The Christians distance people from Judaism instead of bringing them closer. … Using negative methods, they want to force humankind to convert to Christianity. Jesus had a mission which still hasn’t been completed, and we must fix what has been twisted. Christianity distorted things and hampered the completion of his mission. According to the scriptures, in the end all religions will be canceled out and everyone will admit that Judaism is true. Not everyone has to convert (to Judaism), but everyone will know that Judaism is the only religion. Jesus and his disciples were working towards this, but afterwards his words were distorted.”
Even so, and despite his age, the orthodox consider him a dangerous missionary. Bar-Meir believes the truth will prevail and continues helping others, fulfilling the commandment of love.
THE MISSION’S FREE REIGN
Yom L’Yom, Dec.25 1997, by S. Hadad
Following is a translation of the article:
We must not think that the Hasmonean war is a thing of the past. The war goes on today … daily and hourly there are Greeks trying to destroy all that is dear and holy to us, all that the Maccabees fought for. Today it is also a war of the few against the many. Lev L’Achim, Yad L’Achim … and many others are fighting today’s Hellenizers and trying to rescue the holy souls of our Israelite brothers who are lost and drowning in a sea of confusion.
The phenomenon is irrational and impossible to grasp with the human mind. What does Christianity want from innocent Jews living in Israel, the land they dreamed of for 2000 years? Why do they want them, of all people, to become Christians? Why don’t they try to convince Moslems to convert?
Whoever has seen their dedication, God have mercy, whoever has seen the mission’s methods, will understand that we haven’t reached the level of their activity in the war to bring all of Israel to repentance (read: orthodox Judaism, ed.). They work day and night, neighborhood to neighborhood and city to city. They use any method to convince our brethren of the truth of their way, even though any child in kindergarten knows that their way is all folly and nonsense.
Where in the world has a nation allowed members of another religion to come into its homeland and convince people to change their religion?
Imagine missionaries trying to work in Jordan or Syria. Imaging them even trying to get close to a Moslem village – what a tumult would ensue! And here in Israel, the people of eternity which have returned to their homeland allow a corrupt group to go from house to house and convince the inhabitants to convert!
It’s clear to the police, who don’t do anything, that every Jew who converts and does not believe in the religion of Moses will also not believe in the State of Israel and will not have a reason to stay here.
It should be clear to the Likud and Labor (political parties) and to all the government ministers and MK’s with Jewish sentiments, that every Jew who has been snared by the mission – even though he remains a Jew according to Halacha (Jewish law) – will, in the future, vote only for Meretz or Arab political parties because Israel will no longer speak to him, Israel was not promised to him.
Just as we won’t allow gentiles to immigrate, just as we oppose foreign workers because of the fear that they will stay in the country – so it should be clear that we will not allow conversion in Israel, and whoever wants to convert Jews will have to do so in Cyprus or overseas.
We must stop being afraid. We must stop apologizing. Each Jew is a world and all its fullness, each immigrant receives help … so that there will be another Jew in the Jewish homeland.
So how can we be silent in the face of a Jew becoming a Christian or a Moslem?
When we speak of the conversion (to Judaism) bill, we must include in the same breath a ban on conversion to a different religion in Israel.
INVESTIGATING THE MISSIONARIES
Hadashot Mishpaha Dec.18, 25; Yated Ne’eman Dec.19; HaModia Dec.21, 23 1997
Following numerous complaints by anti-missionary organizations that the police do not investigate suspected missionary activity, Israel’s Attorney General has admitted the existence of a twenty year old order not to investigate these cases without the permission of the AG’s office. This order was given because of the sensitivity of the issue and the difficulties involved in enforcing the anti-missionary laws.
In response to demands by orthodox MKs that the decision be reversed, and that the police be encouraged and given power to enforce the laws, AG Rubinstein ruled that investigations of this type still need to be authorized, but in order to expedite proceedings the authorization could be given by regional instead of state officials.
CANDY FROM CHRISTIANS ANGERS SOLDIERS
HaModia Dec.26; Yedi’ot Aharonot Dec.28 1997
A Christian organization has drawn fire for sending bags of Hanukah candy to Israeli soldiers stationed on the Golan Heights. According to Yedi’ot, the bags were handed to the guard at the entrance to an army base, who gave them to an officer to be distributed among the soldiers. Aside from candy, the bags contained a scripture from Isaiah calling for faith in God. HaModia, on the other hand, reports that the bags contained an evangelistic message and that the soldiers threw the candy away because it may not have been Kosher.
SANTA VISITS THE HOLY LAND
Jerusalem, Herzliya and Beersheba weeklies; Ma’ariv Dec.26 1997
These articles focus on the proliferation of Christmas festivities and items for sale in Israel’s cities. Several shops (even on Jerusalem’s Ben-Yehuda St.!) decorated their windows with trees, ornaments and Santa Claus figures, supposedly for the country’s foreign workers, but even Israelis are getting in on the fun of having a decorated tree and parties for Christmas. One can only pray that they will someday know the true reason for the season…
Arei HaMifratz Dec.12; Informatzia Dec.19 1997
A new book has been published in Hebrew by a history teacher. Yehuda Adler has chosen to write about Jesus the Jew, who was crucified as a rebel by the Romans. In Adler’s opinion, Jesus was a traditional, pious Jew, who never considered claiming to be the son of God or starting a new religion. Instead, he was a charismatic leader who wanted to free his people from the Roman occupation. Jesus’ miracles and healings are compared to the works of today’s faith-healers (of all religions) or explained as mere psychological phenomena. As usual, Paul is portrayed as the founder of Christianity: he preached monotheism to pagans, to whom stories about the birth and resurrection of a god seemed natural.
Adler says that he doesn’t want to offend either Jews or Christians, but to portray Jesus as an historical figure without the mysticism of religion. Though some disagree with his conclusions, the fact that such a book has been published in Hebrew is a step in the right direction.
NEWSPAPERS USED IN THIS EDITION:
Itton Yerushalayim: Jerusalem weekly.
Ma’ariv: National daily, published in Tel-Aviv. Politically tends to the right, mostly objective towards believers (depends on the reporter).
Yom L’Yom: Jerusalem religious/political weekly. Hostile to believers.
Mishpaha/Hadashot Mishpaha: Jerusalem religious weekly.
Yated Ne’eman: National religious/political daily published in Bnei Brak. Very hostile to believers.
Ha’Modia: Jerusalem religious daily. Very hostile to believers.
Yedi’ot Aharonot: National daily published in Tel-Aviv. Attitude to believers depends on the reporter.
Arei HaMifratz: Haifa area weekly
Informatzia: Haifa area weekly
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