MAC AD: MOCKING DEMOCRACY
Ha’Aretz, August 3, 1998
We believe that Isaiah 53; Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah 9: 5,6; and Psalm 22 Show that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of Israel!
If the bill proposed by Knesset member Rafael Pinchasi of Shas passes and becomes law, we could be indicted and sentenced to three years in prison for making this statement.
We call on the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and all other conscientious Knesset members to act against religious blackmail and vote against this proposal, which is blatant religious censorship.
THE CROSS IS APPROPRIATE FOR AUSCHWITZ
Ha’Aretz, August 18, 1998, By H. Segal
The legacy of the Catholic Church gave birth to the hatred of Judaism, anti-Semitism and Nazism.
The Jewish instinct produces a sign of relief upon hearing that the Polish government has found a legal solution that will allow for the razing of the field of crosses recently erected in Auschwitz. The sight of these crosses next to the pits awakened distress in Israel and abroad, therefore it is easy to understand the desire for their quick removal. This is true even if the reason they were planted was to commemorate the death of a priest that was killed in the same camp.
But on second thought, the removal of these crosses may not be historically correct. The Christian cross is worthy of a respectful place in any exhibit on the Nazi extermination machine, especially in Auschwitz. The cross is inseparable from the motivation for murder and the atmosphere that allowed it. The horrible hatred against those that crucified the “Messiah,” that blossomed at its feet through untold years, permeated the complex furnace that the Nazis built in Auschwitz and other death camps.
Adolph Hitler did not exterminate the Jews for theological reasons, but there is no doubt that his sick hatred toward them resulted from the legacy of the Catholic Church, the main source of worldwide anti-Semitism.
The cross, and not necessarily the swastika, is fitting as a graphic symbol of the holocaust, because the holocaust was, in essence, a modern crusade. Less than a year ago we saw how hard it was for the Pope to apologize or to condemn his predecessor, who didn’t say a word against the murder of Jews right under his window. And only a few days ago Switzerland, the country who supplies manpower for the Vatican Guard, admitted to stealing the funds of victims and to financial and moral complicity with the Nazi murderers. Even good Christians, like the British and Americans who fought the Nazis, didn’t bother to oppose Hitler’s attempts to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth.
In short: The Christian cross is appropriate for Auschwitz, and Auschwitz is a suitable place for the cross. Its presence should bother us not there but here, in Jerusalem, which is preening herself for the celebration of 2000 years since the birth of the crucified one. Even he himself would be turning in his grave in astonishment, if he could see the sincere efforts of the State of Israel to organize a mass tourist celebration in his honor.
FOUR JEWS BAPTIZED INTO CHRISTIANITY AT THE KINNERET
Ha’Modia, August 26, 1998
Yad L’Achim: “Baptism is the tip of the iceberg in the destructive quest by the ‘desecrators of the covenant.’ As long as there is no law prohibiting missionary activity we can expect a long and difficult battle with the mission organizations.”
Leaders of the Yad L’Achim department which fights missions reported this week that in the north of the country, in the middle of this past Shabbat, four Jews were baptized into Christianity by a group of missionaries from the “Messianic Jews.”
The baptism occurred in the noon hours of the Shabbat, at the place where the Kinneret meets the Jordan River, between Capernaum and Korazim. It was conducted by the well known missionary Ya’akov Damkani, from Yaffo, who stops at nothing in order to trap innocent Jews in the mission’s net.
Ha’Modia’s reporter also said that five non-Jews were part of the ceremony. The Jews that were baptized came from central Israel, among them an older couple, a 25 year old man, and another woman. These four Jews were caught into the missionary network by “Messianic Jews” during the past year, following a series of lectures about Christianity held in Tel Aviv. The method they use to missionize is the distribution of missionary books, journals and articles that are clearly anti-Semitic in content, and that slander religious and Orthodox Jews unceasingly.
Information about the baptism arrived at Yad L’Achim on Friday, however due to the holiness of the Shabbat and the late hour we were unable to act. It must be noted that Ha’Modia has photographs of the chilling incident that were taken by a gentile.
SITTING FOR HOURS, WAITING FOR THE MESSIAH TO COME
Rosh Echad, August 16, 1998, By S. Shahak
They believe that Jesus is the Messiah, but insist that they are still Jews in all senses of the word. They do not believe in premarital sex, they don’t watch television, don’t go to parties, and are sure that their culture is preferable to that of the country’s youth. Members of the Jesus Cult talk about their lives in the community, the way they are treated in school, and about their hope that someday they will be accepted as they are.
Not long ago I was walking along the Bat Yam promenade, when suddenly I saw a young man handing out leaflets and trying to convince people that Jesus is the Messiah. In the end he turned to me and introduced himself as “Eidan,” 17 years old, and asked if he could tell me about the Jesus cult and why I should join it. “Jesus helps everyone find their destiny,” he said, and I immediately knew that my destiny was to interview him, so I invited him to a nearby cafe. Only after much persuasion was he willing to come, and then only after I promised to keep his last name anonymous.
If you want people to listen to you, why are you unwilling to be exposed, and why are you walking around with a hat and sunglasses?
“Because I am a divided man. On the one hand, I want to spread my faith; on the other hand, I want to be like everybody else. If my friends saw me here I would die. They would never accept me. They stay away from any new faith, anything different from Judaism. I am afraid they will realize the truth about me and that is the reason I only walk around in cities that are far from my home.”
And you really think you can convince people to believe in Jesus?
“It is very difficult to convince people to listen. Most just glance and continue, or they think I’m crazy or I’m trying to make them religious.”
We’re not talking about a passing fad. The first congregations of the Jesus cult in Israel began about 15 years ago and today they are found throughout the country, about 60 congregations of Jesus believers which include approximately 25,000 followers. Most of the members are Jewish (membership in the cult does not depend on conversion). There are many youths, most of whom became believers in their parents’ footsteps.
Avi Mizrahi is the leader of the “Adonai Ro’i” congregation in Tel-Aviv. He explains to us “that faith in Jesus is not a religion. We are Jews, but we believe that true Judaism is Messianic Judaism and not the one that is currently recognized. Jesus was Jewish and he is the Messiah of all of Israel. We do not call him Yeshu, because that is the Christian name given him. We believe in God, in Jesus as Messiah who guards all religions and nations. We do not go to the synagogue, we read the Tanach and the New Testament (the part of scripture added by the Christians that comes in addition to the Tanach). We celebrate all the feasts of Israel, but some of our customs are different. For example, the shank bone on the Passover plate symbolizes Jesus the Messiah on the cross. We are conservative and try to keep a high level of morality. We believe in the holiness of life and family, and therefore are against abortion, for example. We don’t believe the youth need to go to discos to look for surface enjoyment. They get enough enjoyment at our congregation. However, each member lives out the principles in his own way. There are extremists who don’t even have a television and then there are those who are more open.”
How do you add more members to your group?
“Sometimes we advertise in the paper, but most of our members heard of us from other members. Sometimes we send elders and youths to hand out leaflets and tell people about Jesus and our congregation, however it is important for me to emphasize that we are not missionaries.”
Are you allowed to act in freedom?
“They are sent out to public places that are not too busy, and we prefer places without a lot of religious Jews. For example, we don’t like to walk around the pedestrian mall in Jerusalem because we are harassed. Personally I have even gotten threats, mostly from Yad L’Achim, who have threatened to burn my store in Tel-Aviv and have vowed to fight us all the way.”
Is that the reason you are not willing to be photographed for the newspaper?
“We are willing to be exposed as a congregation, but our members do not like to be exposed personally because they fear persecution.”
“It comes from the heart,” says Daniel (not his real name), age 15. “Jesus makes us feel which people to choose to share our life with.” Daniel, who is a member of a congregation in central Israel, refused to give his name for fear that if he were exposed he might get in some kind of trouble. He has been a member since he was born and so has Hagit (not her real name), 16½ years old, also from the center of the country. Both are children of Americans and are not sorry about the choice their parents made for them. “The congregation is like a big family, I feel the most safe and wonderful there,” says Hagit. “I would not want to know anything else.” During the whole interview Daniel and Hagit keep repeating and emphasizing that they are very afraid of being exposed. “We are afraid of the reactions of our friends in the congregation,” Hagit says. “They will kill us if they know that we were interviewed for a magazine. For them regular magazines with models and rock stars are a serious sin. My family is especially conservative. I am not allowed to even look at a boy. Once I was caught reading a youth magazine and I was grounded for a week. I am willing to be interviewed only because I want people to know of our existence and so they won’t think we’re a Satanic cult or something like that.”
In your class do your friends know you are in a cult?
“I told only a few close friends… and since then their attitude towards me has changed. Therefore, only a few individuals know. My real friends are all members of the congregation. Others crucify us just like they did to Jesus.”
Are there youths that are part of the congregation without the knowledge of their parents?
Daniel: “Very few. There are some who came from boarding schools, or their parents are abroad or have died but most of the youth are there because their parents are members. These are happy families. We call them ‘Jesus’ chosen ones’.”
So are you Jesus’ chosen?
Daniel and Hagit: “That’s exactly what we are.”
Why Jesus, why not Mohammed for example?
Hagit: “Because Jesus is the son of God and he is the Messiah. It is written clearly in the New Testament. Jesus will be the one to save the Jewish nation and bring them to salvation.”
When will the redemption come?
“When all the people are pure and ready, physically and spiritually.”
What does it mean to be pure?
“To stop committing trivial sins like lying, cheating, petting. To be pure, to do important things and to obey your parents.”
Sounds very conservative!
“We are conservative. We are against premarital sex and abortions, which are really cold blooded murder. We don’t use contraceptives after marriage because they prevent pregnancy, which is the Lord’s will. But regardless of the conservatism I will remain a believer forever and I will only marry a believer.”
Daniel: “Sometimes the harshness and the prohibitions are a bit exaggerated. We are a little less conservative. I even went to a few parties and danced.”
Do you go out to places unrelated to your congregation?
Hagit: “Mostly to birthday parties and movies. My parents do not let me see movies that have any nudity so mostly I see Walt Disney and dumb comedies. On the radio we can only listen to the news, but I don’t want to listen to anything else.”
Daniel: “It sounds like a very boring life but it isn’t. We read books that we feel give us something, not like the illiterate youth of today.”
The Jesus cult has a whole industry of books about Jesus and autobiographical stories of those who endured difficulties and almost lost their lives, until their faith in Jesus saved them. The cult even has its own magazine called ‘Kivun,’ where they report on the major activities in different congregations. However, their most successful area is musical cassettes. There are thousands of cassettes, especially geared to youth, which include praise songs and songs that speak of the greatness of Jesus, which are sold in stores managed by members of the cult. There are also lecture tapes that guide the believer in his faith and life. “Remain pure” is clearly their most important message.
Other than reading and listening to cassettes, what else do you do?
Hagit: “I sing sometimes in the congregation’s youth choir, mostly psalms and songs that speak of Jesus as our savior.”
Daniel: “I was active in the congregation’s youth meetings for a while. During our meetings we would eat, sing and talk about Jesus. Sometimes we had campfires, and our leaders would throw a CD to the person who shouted the most original prayer to Jesus. It really made me ecstatic. We also rubbed mud all over our bodies as a symbol of our identification with the earth that Jesus and God gave us. It was nice but after a little while I left. I have all kinds of sports hobbies and I don’t have time now for the youth movement.”
Have you ever been part of a regular youth movement, like the Scouts for example?
“I never dared to go to Scouts. Apparently there are less inhibitions there. In our meetings if anyone dared to mention sex, drugs or rock and roll he would be considered a pervert.”
What do you think about people who believe differently from you?
Hagit: “I believe that my faith is the only true one among the existing religions, but I do not judge others. I accept people that believe in other things, even atheists, and those who don’t believe in anything.”
Daniel: “I have friends outside the congregation that are considered impure according to our standards, but I still accept them as they are. I have never lectured them even though it really bothers me a lot.”
According to your faith what will happen to those who do not believe?
Hagit: “They will go hell, and will pay for their crimes and sins. That is why it is important that they repent of their ways, so they will not need to suffer in the future.”
In your opinion, is there a chance the religious Jews will ever accept you?
Daniel: “I don’t believe it’s possible. For them we are like Gentiles, or even worse. I had a religious friend who found out about my membership in the cult. Since then he does not talk to me and when he sees me he spits at the ground and curses.”
Do you believe that some day you will be able to talk about your faith without shame or fear?
Hagit: “Israeli society is supposedly liberal, but in reality there is very little openness toward new faiths. Youths are not able to accept things that are different than what they know. I hope that one day we will be accepted and will be able to feel completely at peace with ourselves. On that day I will be willing to climb a high mountain and shout out who I really am.”
SIDEBAR: THE JESUS CULT ISN’T ALONE
Many and varied cults and religious groups are active in Israel. Some are based on eastern religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism, and some, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Jesus Cult and the Messianic Jews are based on Judaism, but include additional ideas and beliefs from other religions, mostly Christianity.
“In Israel there are around 50 Messianic Jewish congregations, that believe that Jesus is the Messiah,” says Eitan Kashtan, a teacher in the Messianic congregation in Rishon L’Zion. “There are a lot of young people in the congregations, but most of them come with their parents. It would be unfair and illegal for us to accept kids under 18 without the consent of their parents.”
What is the main idea in your faith?
“We believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and until he returns we must fulfill what is written in the Old and New Testaments. We try to keep a high moral standard – not lying, not breaking the law, helping our neighbor. It is forbidden to have premarital sex, we oppose abortion, and people should marry in the faith.”
It sounds a lot like the Jesus cult.
“I have no idea what the Jesus cult is, and in any case we’re not a cult, we’re a faith.”
Do you have special traditions?
“We have two traditions which aren’t found amongst Jews: taking bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus, and baptism. We drive on Shabbat and don’t keep Kosher, because it doesn’t appear in the New Testament.”
So you’re actually Christians.
“No, we’re Jews.”
Ha’Aretz: National daily, published in Tel-Aviv, mostly objective towards believers.
Ha’Modia: Jerusalem religious daily. Very hostile to believers.
Rosh Ehad: Youth magazine.