During the week covered by this review, we received 5 articles on the following subjects:
Arab Believing Communities
Iton Shacharit, August 20, 2018; Yavniton, August 17, 2018
The first article reported that missionaries from the “Messianic Jewish cult” have for many years now attempted to target new Jewish immigrants to the Holy Land. Missionaries take advantage of the innocence of immigrants, as well as the fact that new immigrants are in need of support. More recently, these missionaries asked an immigration absorption center if they could be involved in supporting a group of 30 doctors and their families that have recently immigrated from the former Soviet Union. The director of the absorption center understood the present danger and made contact with Yad L’Achim, who within a day organized a conference for the doctors. During the conference, the doctors were given insight into what Yad L’Achim does, and were told to turn to Yad L’Achim for any needs – material or spiritual.
The second article reported that the city of Yavneh has seen a rise in missionary activity on the part of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The missionaries have gone from door to door to proselytize in pairs, using language that makes it sound as though the cult’s beliefs are a natural extension of Judaism. Yad L’Achim has responded by broadcasting public warnings on local radio stations.
Haaretz, August 21, 2018; Haaretz, August 23, 2018
It was reported that Israel’s Education Ministry plans to fund a bible-based leadership program developed by American Evangelical Christians in the settlement of Ariel. The purpose of the program is to “give students a deeper connection to God.” The program will specifically target Israelis from an Ethiopian background, who are seen to have lost a connection to their religious and cultural heritage. The initiation is the handiwork of Heather Johnston, the founder and director of U.S. Israel Education Association, which in 2010 opened a leadership center in Ariel. The leadership center has been running its program privately for about 5,000 students every year. Now, the government will fund about 3,000-4,000 students at the sum of about 1 million NIS. Johnston’s organization also works as a pro-settlement lobby in the United States, and opposes an independent Palestinian State. Johnston’s website claims that with this new contract between her organization and the Israeli government, the leadership center in Ariel will be “the only recognized provider of leadership and biblical content for Israel’s Education Ministry.’”
An organization that advocates for Ethiopian Jews in Israel has responded to this report with outrage. The Executive director of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews sent a letter to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, among others, demanding an immediate intervention to halt the initiative. So far the Ministry of Education has not addressed whether it believes there is a problem in funding a program developed by Evangelical Christians. Just a few years ago, the Ministry of Interior rejected 40 million NIS from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews for the development of summer camps. The decision to abandon the large-scale funding in that instance was made after serious opposition came from the Hassidic community.
Arab Believing Communities
Maariv, August 21, 2018
Amit Barak, who spends his spare time building up connections between Christians and Jews in Israel and abroad, said in this article: “I have come across many situations where Christians in the world are not at all aware of the fact that there are Christians in Israel, and those who are aware often do know of the positive changes Christians are undergoing in terms of integration into Israeli society.” Barak said he believed it was important to raise awareness about Israeli Christians, noting that Israel is the safest place for Arabic speaking Christians in the Middle East. Barak said that after he became active in encouraging Christian Arabs to join the IDF, he received many requests from Evangelical Christian organizations abroad, asking to meet these soldiers. He said, “they invited us to come abroad, give lectures and tell our story…. We then understood that there is international interest in what we do.”