Ha’Aretz, Yedi’ot Aharonot, July 15 1998
THE TRAMPLING OF DEMOCRACY
“…Those who laid you waste depart from you.” (Isaiah 49:17)
On May 20th 1998 MK Raphael Pinchasi proposed a law according to which anyone who preaches his faith in public, with the intent of convincing others that he is right, is liable to be sentenced to 3 years imprisonment or a 50,000 NIS ($14,000) fine. The bill passed a preliminary reading and went to the Law Committee to be prepared for a Knesset vote.
This law would take all the residents of Israel back to the dark middle-ages. This bill would trample freedom of speech and religion, and stamp out Israel’s democratic character.
We fear … the possibility of religious censorship in Israel. If peaceful citizens are thrown in jail tomorrow, only because they believe that Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel, let no one say “we didn’t know….”
We call on PM Netanyahu and those MK’s whose conscience is troubled, to act against Haredi orthodox blackmail and vote against the bill for religious censorship.
Enough religious coercion!
Enough undermining of Israel’s democratic foundation!
Enough trying to turn the state into a Haredi plaything!
Israel is a free state, and must stay this way.
We call on the public and whoever values pure religious faith to join the public battle for democracy, which is vital to a Jewish and democratic Israel.
…And the Backlash
Israel Radio, July 17 1998, by Yosef Lapid
After a summary of the MAC advertisement quoted above, Mr. Lapid went on to say:
“PM Bibi Netanyahu promised his Christian supporters in the USA that Pinchasi’s bill would not be approved by the Knesset, but it still worries the Messianic congregations, which engage in missionary activity in Israel.
According to the ad … if tomorrow citizens are imprisoned only because they believe that Yehoshua [sic] is the Messiah of Israel, let no one say “we didn’t know.” The phrase “we didn’t know,” which was used by the Germans after the Holocaust, is a hint that this is Nazi legislation.
The ad calls on us to defend democracy, and I refuse. I support MK Pinchasi’s anti-democratic bill. In my opinion all religion is superstition, but 2000 years of persecution have bought us the right to be left alone in our own country. If they hadn’t murdered us and forced us to convert to Christianity, our people would today number 200 million souls. All anti-Semitism has its source in Christianity, all our problems are because of that rabbi that Christians see as the Messiah. It’s fine and dandy for them, they can worship him, pray to him and believe that he’s God, but not in our schools. We have immunity here which we bought with our blood.
As for the claim that it’s anti-democratic, every society puts limits on individual freedom. Even the most liberal governments have laws against racial incitement. In my eyes preaching Christianity is a type of racism. A Christian missionary who tells a Jew that he isn’t good enough, that his religion isn’t the right religion, is just like a racist who says that a Negro isn’t good enough because he has the wrong skin color. I am sensitive about my right to be a Jew, just as a Negro is sensitive about his right to be black.
No one is forbidding the Messianic congregations to believe in Yeshu, the bill only prohibits preaching to us so that we’ll believe that Yeshu is the Messiah. As a democrat and a liberal I say to the missionaries, “Go to hell.”
(Ouch – ed.)
15 YEAR OLD SAVED FROM THE MISSION’S CLAWS
HaModia, July 24 1998
A 15 year old boy who was caught in the net of the missionary “Messianic Jews” was rescued by Yad L’Achim activists. The operation took place when the anti-missionaries found out that the boy was going to the Dugit Gallery in Tel-Aviv, after the missionaries had convinced him to convert by promising to find him a job. The activists worked quickly and within a few hours the boy was extracted from the jaws of the mission, to the relief of his anxious parents.
According to Yad L’Achim, groups of foreign missionaries are handing out tracts in the evening hours. Many young people are being drawn by musical performances at Dizengoff Circle, from whence they are invited to “Dugit” which has become a missionary stronghold and a center for preaching and conversion.
Yom L’Yom, July 16 1998
The missionaries’ hutzpah has crossed all the lines – for a number of weeks they have been having amplified performances on Shabbat at their institutions on Jerusalem’s Prophets St., spilling out into their courtyards and disturbing their Haredi neighbors. They also invite passers-by to join the festivities, which are designed to convert people.
Yedi’ot Aharonot, Jerusalem Post, July 31 1998
Oswald Rufiesen, known as Brother Daniel, died on July 30th. He made legal history in Israel by demanding Israeli citizenship based on the law of return, even though he had converted to Catholicism during WW2. (According to Yedi’ot, he was “forced to convert” – ed.) The high court rejected his plea, but he was later granted citizenship by the Interior Ministry, though on his ID card his nationality was listed as “unknown.”
Ha’Aretz: National daily, published in Tel-Aviv, mostly objective towards believers.
Yedi’ot Aharonot: National daily published in Tel-Aviv. Attitude to believers depends on the reporter.
Ha’Modia: Jerusalem religious daily. Very hostile to believers.
Yom L’Yom: Jerusalem religious/political weekly. 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.