February 15 – 2010

Caspari Center Media Review – February 15, 2010

During the week covered by this review, we received 6 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews and anti-missionary activities. Of these:
1 dealt with Messianic Jews
5 dealt with anti-missionary activities
This week’s Review focuses upon Ya’akov Teitel’s confession of ties with Yad L’Achim and the latter’s response to “mission” work in Tel Aviv.

Messianic Jews
Haaretz, February 10, 2010

According to this report in Haaretz (February 10), “Suspected Jewish terrorist Yaakov (Jack) Teitel told his interrogators he was an active member of anti-missionary group Yad L’achim for five years … Teitel admitted he was connected to the organization during an interrogation several weeks after his arrest. The interrogator, a Shin Bet officer with the Petah Tikva police, asked Teitel what he had been doing the night a bomb was placed outside Sternhell’s home. Teitel said he had been pacing at home, unable to sleep, because of the cold weather. When the interrogator asked Teitel how his wife would react when he would come home after spending the night out, Teitel said she didn’t mind because she knew he was working with Yad L’achim, ‘rescuing’ Jewish women from their Arab partners. Teitel said he had worked with the organization for five years, and took part in five ‘rescue operations’ a year. He said the operations were fast and effective, and always took place when the couples were not home. He refused to say who organized the operations.”
While it is unclear why Teitel should now claim involvement with the anti-missionary organization, which “has gained notoriety in recent years for its actions against Messianic Jews, whom it perceives as a ‘sect’ seeking to convert Jews to Christianity,” having first insisted that he worked alone, Yad L’Achim’s renunciation of him is perhaps more understandable: “A month and a half before Teitel’s arrest, Haaretz spoke to Yad L’achim chairman Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifshitz, as part of a comprehensive feature on his group in the weekend supplement last October. In the interview, Lifshitz denied his organization was connected to the harassment of the Ortiz family, and when presented with a poster showing the family with other Messianic activists, the rabbi denied his activists were distributing it … Yesterday, Lifshitz denied Teitel was connected to his organization. ‘I have no idea who this is and we have nothing to do with him. I’ve read about him in the papers, and it sounds like he’s making it all up with his feverish imagination. Maybe his claim about working with us was just an excuse to his wife for his absence at night.’ Lifshitz also denied Teitel took part in five ‘rescue’ operations a year. ‘So he says, so what. I wish we had someone who could take part in five operations a year. Look, we have a lot of volunteers, hundreds of them, maybe he joined us under a false name,” he said. “You can’t know anything for sure these days. I guess I’ll have to check the passports of every one of my men from now on.’ The Yad L’achim chairman said he had not been approached by the police or the Shin Bet since Teitel’s arrest. ‘He’s a wacko, he’s nuts. I don’t know the guy,’ he said.”
The report also provided more information regarding the way the investigation was conducted: “Two months after the explosion in Ariel, the injured teenager’s father, David, approached several authorities in Israel and abroad. He said he felt the investigation had reached a stalemate, even though he had given police CCTV footage showing Teitel placing the bomb near his door. Among others, he approached the Irish Christian Friends of Israel. The mission’s staff then sought explanations from Israel’s ambassador to Dublin, Nadav Cohen. In response, the ambassador stated that the investigation was classified and that the officer in charge would tell him only that ‘Ariel has a community of about 20 Messianic Jews, and their leader [Ortiz] has been provoking Jews and Muslims, convincing them to convert … the police is working to prevent this incident from recurring, but also told me that the Messianic Jews must alter their behavior to prevent extreme incidents in the future.’”
Anti-missionary Activities
Mishpacha, February 11; BeKehila, February 11; HaMachaneh HeHaredi, February 11; HaModia, February 11; HaMevaser, February 12, 2010

These reports in the religious papers all related to the news that Yad L’Achim had obtained a “damning document” which “revealed the explicit intention of the ‘Messianic Jews’ in Tel Aviv”: “A special pamphlet issued by the ‘Church of the Chosen People’ – the missionary center in the heart of Tel Aviv run by the ‘Messianic Jews’ – points to a new peak in the cynicism of the missionaries on the way to achieving their dark goal of converting as many Jews as possible. The document which ‘Yad L’Achim’ succeeded in obtaining is intended for supporters in the United States, and speaks about a special soup kitchen being run by the missionaries in the heart of Tel Aviv on behalf of the needy population, where they preach during mealtimes about the supposed rights and duties of believing in ‘that man’ [Jesus] and following his path, God have mercy on us. ‘In Israel,’ the pamphlet, originally written in English, says, ‘2 million Jews live below the poverty line. This number includes Holocaust survivors, new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and the sick.’ The missionaries see each of these weak groups as a target. The description of the missionary soup kitchen, whose doors are open to all who seek to enter, states: ‘While the guests are feasting their hearts and nourishing their bodies on the finest food, one of our best evangelists appears before them and tells them about ‘that man’ and calls on them to follow him.’ Then follows the revolutionary suggestion of the Tel Aviv missionaries to their overseas donors: ‘We call on you to become our partners in this important endeavor to which we are called,’ says the evangelist, stating that ‘you can contribute $300, which will cover the expenses of the soup kitchen for one day, which will be called after you. Everything you contribute by the thirty-first of the month will go towards feeding the starving in Israel, providing sanctuary to those who are cold, supplying them with hot drinks of tea of coffee while listening to a ‘believer’ who will incline a compassionate ear towards them, and of course preach the gospel to them.’”