- About SI
Israel: Messianic Jews not welcome!
Sun, 01/13/2013 - 3:25pmLink
Israel Is Very Canny With The Religion Issue
On one hand, they promote themselves to the world as a secular democracy that allows and promotes freedom of religion. But in practice, they have erected a maze of laws, courts, cultural and business practices etc. designed to ensure that Jews remain a majority of the population and maintain all positions of real power. Whenever this state of affairs is challenged, Israel uses their being surrounded by Muslims and Arabs - and the military and demographic threat that they pose - as their defense. While these concerns are legitimate, the same measures that are used to limit the growth and influence of Arabs and Islam in Israel have the same effect on Christianity. While it is seldom openly spoken of in mainstream arenas - but if you read Jewish papers and blogs it is talked about a lot more - Israel cares as much about keeping Christians out as they do keeping the Muslims and Arabs under control if not more, so the same measures that are publicly aimed at Muslims and Arabs are just as effective against Christians. In addition, they have some measures that are explicitly aimed at Christians but are just seldom talked about, such as anti-missionary laws, where attempting to convert a Jew - especially a minor - is a misdemeanor, and some rabbi groups are attempting to make it a felony. That Israel is able to do this while still being considered a western secular democracy that respects freedom of religion is quite a feat, but it couldn't have been accomplished without the silence of American Christians on the issue.
Think about it: were Israel as open on religion - or at least as open to Christians - as America or even most western European countries, there would be tons of evangelicals and fundamentalists over there planting churches, starting businesses, becoming citizens, running for office etc. Now our being so willing to provide unconditional political and financial support to Israel despite Israel doing its level best to keep us out of their country is one thing. But we are also quick to forget that a sizable percentage of the Arabs in Israel are also Christian (though mostly Roman or Orthodox Catholic and not evangelical). Yet little thought to Israel's treatment of Arab Christians is given, including how Israeli policies make it difficult to convert the Arab Christians into Bible-based Christianity. It is amazing that American Christians would rather lend financial and political support to Jewish politicians, rabbis and radical settlers than to Israeli Arab Christians.
As far as the Messianic Jews go, while they may be exceedingly sincere in their convictions, the fact is that the Jews decided that one cannot be a Jew and believe in Jesus Christ in the 2nd century A.D. That has been the official policy of all streams of Judaism ever since, and it is also the legal policy of Israel. Basically, supporting Messianic Jews in their quest to become recognized as Jews by the Jewish religion and the Israeli government requires ignoring the true nature of that religion and almost 2000 years of history. Judaism regards Christianity as a pagan abomination, and not only rejects Jesus Christ's deity but condemns Jesus Christ as a wicked apostate and deceiver doomed to eternal torment by immersion in boiling human excrement. Judaism actually has more regard for Islam - both as a religion and culture - than Christianity. They no longer view Christianity as a pressing existential threat only because in their view Christianity has been "tamed" by the Enlightenment (i.e. democracy, rationalism, secularism, capitalism), but in their view pre-Enlightenment Christianity is a bigger threat to Jews than Hamas, Iran etc. will ever be. So this idea that Jews are going to accept Jewish believers as Jesus Christ requires rejecting the reality that Judaism is as much a false religion as any other. For instance, Judaism teaches that the Jew who becomes atheist can still go to heaven so long as he maintains his identification with the Jewish people and minimal observance of Jewish laws, but the Jew who believes in Jesus Christ is unconditionally eternally damned.
Needless to say, the good relations that Israel currently enjoys with American evangelicals and fundamentalists relies on things like this not being spoken of. So American Christians play along by keeping quiet about it. And it is because of this that we believe that Israel should recognize Messianic Jews and allow them to emigrate there when that idea is actually a total abomination to the Jewish religion and against the political, religious and cultural interests of the Jewish state.