Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Israel's anti-Christian discrimination

Cranmer may be a friend of Israel, but he is not uncritical. He is dismayed to receive a report from the Anglican Friends of Israel which indicates that Christians of Jewish heritage - who almost invariably support Israel - sometimes get a worse deal than Christian leaders who are ambivalent towards the state or occasionally downright hostile towards it. Incidents like this one, reported in the Jerusalem Post, play straight into the hands of Israel's enemies. One might think, with it being Christmas, that the Israeli authorities might express a little more shalom.

Messianic Jews detained at Ben-Gurion
Dec. 14, 2008

A director of the US Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations and his wife were detained Sunday at Ben-Gurion Airport by Interior Ministry officials amid allegations he is involved in illegal Christian missionary activity.

It is illegal in Israel to proselytize among minors. It is also prohibited to engage in missionary activities among adults when economic incentives are offered.

After over eight hours of detention, Jamie Cowen, a former president of the union, and his wife, Stacy, were permitted to enter Israel only after they agreed to sign a document that they would not engage in missionary activities during their stay.

The Cowens are in Israel to visit their two daughters, one of whom is an Israeli citizen. The other is in the process of obtaining citizenship after she and a group of other Messianic Jews won a Supreme Court case against the state.

The Cowens and their daughters all identify as Jews but believe that Jesus is the messiah.

"This type of religious discrimination would be expected of Iran, not Israel," said Jamie Cowen, a US immigration lawyer, a few hours after he was released by immigration police.

"In the US we imprison individuals suspected of terrorism. Here apparently one can be jailed for his religious convictions. This is a case of blatant discrimination against basic rights. It is a story of a bureaucracy run amok. Someone has to crack down and bring in people of integrity."

Cowen said he had visited Israel about 10 times, and had been active in social causes via the Knesset Social Lobby.

"I've brought $100,000 in humanitarian aid to Israel. We've provided lone IDF soldiers with about $50,000 in aid. This is unbelievable," he said.

The Interior Ministry, which directed the police to arrest the Cowens, said they had classified information regarding missionary activity.

"The Immigration and Population Authority has reliable information that the Cowens were involved in missionary activity prohibited by Israeli criminal law during their last visit to Israel," a ministry spokesman said.

"This is the reason they were detained. As soon as they agreed to refrain from any missionary activity they were allowed in."

The Cowens arrived in Israel on a flight from Frankfurt at 3 a.m. They were arrested at passport inspection and placed in detention at the airport.

"As an immigration lawyer I have visited many detention facilities for illegal immigrants. This one was particularly dirty, smelly and overcrowded," Cowen said.

According to Cowen, the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations has 90 member congregations with membership ranging between 50 and 400 per congregation.
Calev Myers, founder and chief counsel of The Jerusalem Institute, which provides legal advice and representation to messianic Jews, said the Interior Ministry was filled will clerks who identified with a strictly Orthodox definition of who is a Jew.

"During the years that Shas controlled the ministry they made sure to appoint clerks who were willing to carry out their policies," Myers said.

"As a result, Israel is the only Western country where basic freedom of religion is denied. Today those who being discriminated against are messianic Jews. Tomorrow it will be Conservative and Reform Jews."

Myers said anti-missionary organizations such as Yad Le'achim often tipped off Interior Ministry officials regarding messianic Jews attempting to enter the country.

However, Meir Cohen, a Yad Le'Achim activist, said that while it was true that his organization did provide the ministry with information, they were not involved in the Cowens' case.

Cohen said the ministry had its own intelligence unit that gathered information on missionaries and on messianic Jews who were ineligible for Israeli citizenship due to their religious convictions.

The Supreme Court has ruled that Jews who embraced Christianity are not eligible for Israeli citizenship. However, the court has also ruled that people who are not Jews according to Orthodox standards, but who are eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return do not forfeit this right if they adopt Christian beliefs.


Anonymous Preacher said...

Good report Your Grace.
I feel that we as Christians must always expect to be presecuted, particularly if we are at work preaching the gospel to the lost it's never pleasent but it can be a lot worse, as the many cases reported by groups like Barnabas fund show. The Lord himself was persecuted & His followers should expect no better. I believe that Your Grace had first hand experience of this a few hundred years ago!.

17 December 2008 at 09:40  
Blogger dizzyfatplonka said...

I commend Jews who come to Christ as I would any faith or race who find truth, especially when they are up against such intolerant behaviour from their own people or Governments.

Only anyone turning to Christ should retain their own Heritage. Judeo Christianity is distinctly Jewish, British Christianity should be firmly rooted in our Indo European Cultural history.

All Nations have a right to their own distinctive roots, they should be capable of embracing Christ without their legacy being denied them.

Orthodox Israel should embrace their Christian brethren and Orthodox Britain should look to its own Britannic roots.

17 December 2008 at 15:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a sign of things to come. We really are in the End Times. May the Lord be with us all.

17 December 2008 at 17:19  
Anonymous judith said...

Perhaps someone here could explain just how a Jew who believes that Jesus is/was the Messiah can possibly continue to call himself Jewish.

Surely, if you believe that Jesus is Christ The Redeemer, that renders you a Christian?

If you professed to be a devout Catholic but insisted loudly and publicly on the divinity of Krishna, would not your local priest have something to say on the matter?

17 December 2008 at 18:39  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

It's an old story you know, that Christianity threatens the secular order in a way that can be the opposite of moral. Cicero is one the oldest thinkers to have struggled with this complex problem. The Jews were the first to reject Christ on account of the "Universalizing" tendency in Christianity. Some contemporary Hindu's are persecuting Christians in Orissa because Christianity is incompatible with the secular caste based hierarchy. The Chinese during the Boxer Rebellion (an anti-colonial rebellion with demon worship at its centre) killed all of their Orthodox Christians because they thought they were irredeemably foreign. Japan completely annihilated their Christians in the late 19th century. The KKK used to burn crosses. The Bolsheviks persecuted Christianity with a savagery that surpassed the Romans.

17 December 2008 at 18:40  
Blogger len.allan said...

"What shall we say then?That gentiles,who did not pursue righteousness,have attained to righteousness,even the righteousness of Faith.
but Israel pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.
Why?Because they did not seek it by faith,but as it were,by the works of the law.For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.
As it is written"Behold I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offence,
And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame" Romans 9 :30-33
The stumbling stone as all believers know is the Lord Jesus Christ.

17 December 2008 at 18:46  
Anonymous Preacher said...

It is a little complex to explain in a short blog, but Jesus or Yeshua was Jewish, sent as promised to Israel as the prophesied Messiah. During His time on Earth He revealed that the salvation promised by G-d was to include ALL races who would repent of sin and recieve the sacrifice of Yeshua to pay (atone) for those sins as revealed in the book of Isaiah chapter 53. His first followers were all Jewish and known as followers of the way, it wasnt until later that they were referred to as Christians. thus the term Judaeo-Christianity arises sometimes the Jewish followers of Jesus/Yeshua refer to themselves as fullfilled Jews because they believe that He has fulfilled the prophecies and thus the promise of G-d is now complete regarding the perfect sacrifice for sin by the sinless lamb of G-d i.e Jesus.
Hope this sheds some light on the subject for you.

17 December 2008 at 20:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, thanks for that Preacher, but I'm afraid I still find the current situation as posited to be illogical.

These 'fulfilled' Jews, having acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, have become Christians. Ergo, they no longer fit the parameters of adherents of Judaism as specified by the State of Israel, which is not a secular state, and the Rabbinate.

Now, please don't get me wrong, I'm not a Zionist, despite having been born a Jew. However, we have take the situation as it is, not as we'd like it to be.

The State of Israel exists, and it has laws which it is entitled to insist upon; it seems to me that this business with self-styled Jewish Christians or whatever comes down to wanting to have your cake and eat it.

17 December 2008 at 23:01  
Anonymous judith said...

Sorry, the above comment is from me, Judith, not Anonymous, hit the wrong button because my cat is trying to walk over the keyboard!

17 December 2008 at 23:02  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Okay, told you it was tricky to explain, the only extra advice I can offer is to have a look in the New Testament at the book of Hebrews & compare it with the rituals in the Torah, alternately log on to 'Jews for Jesus'.
Keep the cat of the keyboard & sleep well. G-d Bless.

18 December 2008 at 02:17  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Perhaps someone here could explain just how a Jew who believes that Jesus is/was the Messiah can possibly continue to call himself Jewish.

You are reciting the official orthodoxy of the State of Israel rather than anything theological. Jesus was a Jew, followers of Jesus were not ejected from synagogues until 70 years after Jesus' Resurrection.

Judaism clearly has a defined problem with Christianity and its branch of The Olive Tree just as Catholicism has problems with Protestantism but it does not make it invalid - both Jesus and Paul were Jews and Jesus upheld The Torah and was rejected by The Sadduccees and the officials controllong The Temple.

Does Judaism really have so much to fear from Christianity ? Messianic Judaism has much to offer Christianity as it reveals the Jewish components of the gospels which were excised by the early Church and the New Testament makes much more sense if the Judaism of Jesus is allowed to see the light of day.

I think this situation reflects a narrow politico-religious sect in Israeli politics which seeks to distort the Jewish State yet excuses itself and its adherents from any military service to protect the State they themselves polarise.

For Christians it is simply reminiscent of why Jesus was crucified as certain religious factions used the (Roman) State power to destroy a rival

18 December 2008 at 05:34  
Anonymous Dave J. said...

"Perhaps someone here could explain just how a Jew who believes that Jesus is/was the Messiah can possibly continue to call himself Jewish."

Ask Disraeli. Judaism is a faith, but the Jews are a nation, a people, regardless of our individual religious beliefs (or non-beliefs). For Orthodox zealots to deny entry into Israel, and the right of return, to Jews who now profess a faith other than Judaism is an abhorrence: it is a failure to recognize that the creation of the State of Israel was a refuge for all Jews in the wake of the annihilation of millions of Jews most of whom were NOT devoutly Orthodox but rather integrated, modern and to some degree secular.

Being a convert did not spare you from the gas chamber. If you were enough of a Jew for the Nazis to murder you for it, you're enough of a Jew to have a claim to Israel. Period.

18 December 2008 at 05:44  
Anonymous judith said...

Voyager - 'reciting the official orthodoxy of the State of Israel': exactly!

Whether you disapprove of the interpretation of the theology, or I disapprove of the whole concept of Zionism, the State of Israel exists and has framed certain laws, which they are entitled to expect incomers to adhere to.

Of course this exposes the idiocy of basing a State on a religious concept, (not to mention having a PR voting system which gives such power to an extremist rump).

But going back to the original problem of the rejection of 'fulfilled' Jews, I am reminded of Groucho Marx's comment about applying to an anti-semitic golf club "why would I want to belong to a club that doesn't want to have me?".

Preacher: have a good day, and Happy Christmas.

18 December 2008 at 07:59  
Anonymous Voyager said...


Groucho Marx to The Friars Club of Beverley Hills where he WAS a member

18 December 2008 at 08:54  
Anonymous Preacher said...

thanks for good wishes, I hope & pray that you can work out the tangles between State & religion to your own satisfaction, the Messianic Jews that I have met give an added richness & depth to my faith, BECAUSE of their Hebrew background which as a "branch grafted into the vine" would otherwise be lacking.
Jews for Jesus have G-d given desire & drive to proseletyse so that others may come to know the joy that they have. I refer to your original question which had & has nothing to do with State rules or regulations but with a simple matter of personal faith.
G-d bless, have a good day & feed the moggy.

18 December 2008 at 11:01  
Anonymous Hettie said...

Perhaps someone here could explain just how a Jew who believes that Jesus is/was the Messiah can possibly continue to call himself Jewish.

Surely, if you believe that Jesus is Christ The Redeemer, that renders you a Christian?

Surely, Judith, it is up to an individual how they determine their own identity. I don't have a problem with your opinion, but the state should not have the definitive word on this. If I am eligible to settle in Israel according to the Law of Return I expect to be able to do so regardless my religion or the lack of it.

Think about it, if Jews would be persecuted in a country would you refuse their application for citizenship because they believe in Jesus???

18 December 2008 at 12:41  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Surely, if you believe that Jesus is Christ The Redeemer, that renders you a Christian?

Jews have 613 or 620 Mitzvot whereas Christians have 12. Perhaps observance of Jewish festivals like Sukhot make one more Jewish than seems that Jesus was a rabbinical Jew versed in Torah and able to hold his own in The Temple so he presumably did not see himself as a Hellenic Christian.
Indeed was he not persecuted because he called on Jews to be less focused on ritual and more on Faith ?

The Sadduccees no longer exist but the Pharisees represent the basis of post-Temple Judaism....surely if a Jew believes Jesus represented the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah that does not discredit them as Jews ?

Is it really possible to deny someone as an observant Jew simply because he believes the prophecy in Isaiah was fulfilled when Jesus was born to Mary herself descended from the Levites and her husband decscended from the House of David....or was David perhaps not Jewish.

Indeed which Talmud represents Judaism ? The Babylonian ? I suspect the Orthodox Jewish factions fear Jesus just as much as the Jewish allies of the Roman occupiers feared Jesus....unsettling for them

18 December 2008 at 16:32  
Blogger Jeremy Jacobs said...


18 December 2008 at 20:24  
Blogger len.allan said...

If yeshua is not the Messiah,if he didn`t walk into Jerusalem on Branch Monday ,four days before Passover, in 33CE in accord with Daniel 9`s prophetic timeline,if he wasn`t the Suffering servant and Sacrificial lamb of Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22,the Scriptures which brought us the concept of the Messiah aren`t reliable.
If Yeshua is not the Messiah there can be no Messiah, as no one else can fufil the prophesies!.

18 December 2008 at 20:32  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

Somebody, Some group of individuals, somewhere is creating division.
Religions and races and ideologies can live together.
Whom does it benefit to have us all killing each other.

Who directs the Killing, Who Orders it.

21 December 2008 at 13:00  
Blogger Abe Bird said...

You have to consider the fact that Israel doesn't allow any religion, including Judaism, to preach and to tempt for converting to another religion. It is against the law.
the State of Israel is a secular state which let all religions legal autonomy to practice and live with each belief, not offending others.

; According to Judaism the Messaiah didn't yet come. Shouldn't we wait for his coming and then ask his if it is his first of second coming?

29 December 2008 at 23:03  
Blogger len.allan said...

Abe Bird, If Jesus was not the messiah there will be no messiah, no-one else can fulfill the prophesies!
Also if the scriptures that brought the jews the prophesies and the concept of messiah are inacurate this makes the scriptures that judaism rely on unreliable!.

1 January 2009 at 09:13  
Blogger Jehoshaphat said...

You are a sick person. Christians have persecuted, tortured, expelled and in every fasion discriminated against Jews for the better part of two millenia. Now that we finally have our own state, you expect us to allow you to come in here and try to destroy us though missionizing?!

Dream on!

2 January 2009 at 09:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Jewish state was established because of God's promise to Abraham..(The song ...Hava nagila by the way neglects to say Hallelujah) . It will not be destroyed by Christion missionaries or Muslim terorism.It will only be destroyed by God.. as He has done in the past.. and for similar many Israelis are following the first two commandments?

25 March 2009 at 02:09  
Blogger Anders Branderud said...

This post uses the term “Jewish Christians”.

(le-havdil), A analysis (found here: (that is the only legitimate Netzarim)) of all extant source documents and archaeology using a rational and logical methodology proves that the historical Ribi Yehosuha ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth and his talmidim (apprentice-students), called the Netzarim, taught and lived Torah all of their lives; and that Netzarim and Christianity were always antithetical.

Judaism and Christianity have always been two antithetical religions, and thus the term “Jewish Christianity” is an oxymoron
The mitzwot (directives or military-style orders) in Torah (claimed in Tan’’kh (the Jewish Bible) to be the instructions of the Creator), the core of the Judaism, are an indivisible whole. Rejecting any one constitutes rejecting of the whole… and the Church rejected many mitzwot, for example rejecting to observe the Shabat on the seventh day in the Jewish week. Examples are endless. Devarim (“Deuteronomy”) 13.1-6 explicitly precludes the Christian “NT”. Devarim 13:1-6 forbids the addition of mitzwot and subtraction of mitzwot from Torah.

Ribi Yehoshuas talmidim Netzarim still observes Torah non-selectively to their utmost today and the research in the above website implies that becoming one of Ribi Yehoshuas Netzarim-followers is the only way to follow him.

8 March 2010 at 00:02  

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