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National Prayer Network


CHRISTIAN JEWS ARRESTED, PERSECUTED IN ISRAEL

By Rev. Ted Pike
18 Dec 08
 

The state of Israel says “GO HOME!” to Christian Jews who want to become citizens or to live as authentic, Holy Spirit-led believers in Israel. Israel prohibits Christian Jews from becoming citizens. It also forbids any Christian—whether Jew or Gentile—from sharing Christianity with a minor or even buying an adult Jew a cup of coffee in the course of their religious discussion!

In Israel’s latest act of official anti-Christianity, a Messianic Jewish couple was arrested and detained for over eight hours—in what the husband described as a “particularly dirty, smelly and overcrowded” detention facility—because of their faith. 

The Jerusalem Post:

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

Cowen, who is also a U.S. immigration lawyer, comments: “This type of religious discrimination would be expected of Iran, not Israel…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.” ("Messianic Jews detained at Ben-Gurion," The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 14, 2008)

To Obey or Not Obey in Israel

In the Book of Acts, apostles Peter and John were similarly detained by Jewish authorities. Like the Cowens, they were warned that if they continued to witness for Christ they would be flogged and imprisoned – a much worse fate than simply being denied entry to Israel. Unlike the Cowens, they did not agree to be silent and deny their Lord. They were subsequently flogged and imprisoned. (Acts 4, 5) They would not insult the Holy Spirit’s right to guide their actions at any time, anywhere, even in a land where it is illegal to witness for Christ.

Today, the government of Israel requires any Christian who wants to live there unimprisoned to insult the Holy Spirit. That Christian must ignore God’s prompting to speak or teach. The Cowens were told to leave their freedom of speech and the Holy Spirit at the Tel Aviv airport. This is the worst moral assault on any true Christian – assault on his conscience and openness to God’s guidance. God’s Holy Spirit yearns to use the Cowens and all believers visiting Israel to help save lost Israelis, young and old. Now such souls may go to hell.

For the privilege of entering the "holy land” and visiting their daughters, the Cowens, like millions of visiting evangelicals every year, agreed to Israel’s anti-Christ terms of silence.

Colossal Ingratitude

Ironically, the Cowens aren’t even racists or political subversives! Hardly. They are dedicated backers of Israel with an impressive record of support for Jewish charities. “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.’ Of the slap in the face which Israel gave him for his altruism, Cowen says, ‘This is unbelievable.’”

The US Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, over which Cowen formerly presided, “has 90 member congregations with membership ranging between 50 and 400 per congregation . . .”  The government of Israel understands Cowen’s influence and that their harassment of him could send shockwaves among evangelicals. Yet the Interior Ministry, increasingly inhabited by ultra-Orthodox Jews, only cares about ending Christian evangelism in Israel, not about world opinion. 

The government of Israel, as well as local governing bodies, continues to silently look the other way as Messianic Jews in Israel endure continuous and increasing harassment, persecution and even violence. Official anti-Christianity is documented via many graphic video clips by the oppressed Messianics at their websites. [1]

Israel’s mistreatment of the Cowens is a reminder that Israel, despite its propaganda, is not a democracy. “Calev Myers, founder and chief counsel of The Jerusalem Institute, which provides legal advice and representation to messianic Jews, said, ‘Israel is the only Western country where basic freedom of religion is denied.’”

Israeli Thought Police

Many evangelicals, led by “Israel-first” fanatics like Pastor John Hagee, believe (evidently like the Cowens) that tireless love, blessing, and financial gifts will soften Israel’s anti-Christianity. The behavior of the increasingly Orthodox government proves otherwise. Israel is developing into an anti-Christian police state, feeding on tips from Orthodox informers. The Post quotes anti-missionary spokesman Meyer Cohen saying the Interior Ministry now has its own intelligence unit to spy on missionaries and Messianic Jews. Calev Myers says, “anti-missionary associations such as Yad Le’achim often tipped off Interior Ministry officials regarding messianic Jews attempting to enter the country.” Israel, taking off her smiling mask, emerges as an ominous “speech crime” gestapo on the make.

In the United States and through world governing bodies, the Anti-Defamation League, chief PR rep for Israel, works tirelessly to conform the rest of the world to what they view as the Israeli ideal. ADL wants to make the whole world like Israel – a place where it will become a federal crime for anyone to witness for Jesus Christ in print, on the airwaves, the internet, or just on the street corner.

ADL wants Christians in heartland America, as in Israel, to face arrest and imprisonment for the “hate crime” of leading anyone to Christ. When those converted are Jews, ADL ups the ante to the crime of “anti-Semitism,” a crime against the Jewish people which conceivably could lead to deportation and imprisonment in Israel, fulfilling Christ’s prophecy (Luke 21:12). [2]

Holding the Holy Land Hostage

For millennia, the "holy land" has been viewed as owned by God, a place for individuals of all faiths to find inspiration, to visit or live in. Now Israel holds it hostage as if it belongs only to Talmudic Jews.  The government legislates not only against Christians and Moslems but even Jews who believe in Jesus. The Post says, “The [Israeli] Supreme Court has ruled that Jews who embraced Christianity are not eligible for Israeli citizenship.”

When will evangelical visitors to Israel stop caving to Israel’s demands that they not witness?  When will Christians, like the apostles in Acts, resolve to speak only as the Holy Spirit leads, regardless of the price? After all, authentic Christianity is about pleasing God alone, not man. If Christians do not defy Israeli law, as did the apostles, even to the point of going to prison, Israel’s anti-Christian aggression will only increase.

It’s time for Christians to do what has heretofore been unthinkable to them.

Say to Israel, "We must obey God, rather than men." (Acts 5:29)

 

Endnotes:
 
1. See Lura Maimon Beckford’s website at http://kingsmenarad.com/.
 
2. See ADL's Foxman: New Testament is Anti-Semitic at truthtellers.org, February 15, 2006.

 



Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.

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