CHRISTIANS IN ISRAEL: AN ENDANGERED SPECIES
By Rev. Ted Pike
Anti-Christianity in Israel Today
Even in our era of ecumenical “tolerance," the Talmud's
hatred of Christianity has not subsided in the hearts of Orthodox
and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel. Especially in the occupied territories,
the admonitions of the Talmud to persecute Christians and dishonor
the name and reputation of Jesus are taken very literally.
According to Dr. Israel Shahak, an Israeli citizen, former WW2
concentration camp inmate and founder of Israel’s Human Rights
League, “Dishonoring Christian religious symbols is an old
religious duty in Judaism. Spitting on the cross, and especially
on the crucifix, and spitting when a Jew passes a church, has been
obligatory from around 200 A.D. for pious Jews…The increasing
strength of the Jewish nation has caused these customs to become
more open again but there should be no mistake: the spitting on the
cross for converts from Christianity to Judaism, organized in Kibbitz
Sa’ad and financed by the Israeli government, is an act of
traditional Jewish piety.”
Shahak expands: “Pious Jews object to the international plus
sign for it is a cross, and it may, in their opinion, influence little
children to convert to Christianity. . . It would then be difficult
to ‘educate’ them to spit on the cross. . . .In all Hebrew
elementary schools (and now many high schools as well) the international
plus sign has been forbidden.” 1
Orthodox religious authorities for the state of Israel also advocate
burning the New Testament. “…No less a figure than Professor
Yehoshaphat Harkabi, former head of Israeli military intelligence,
has revealed the facts surrounding Israel’s official burning
of the gospels so cherished by all Christians . . ." General
Harkabi writes: ‘Chief Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, who is considered
to be a moderate. . .(in 1979) issued a ruling that copies of the
New Testament should be burned. This ruling did not remain a dead
letter. An item in the newspaper Ma ‘ariv (14 June 1985) reported
the burning of a copy of the New Testament found in the library of
the Chief Educational officer of the Israeli army. . .’” 2
(Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem, by Issa Nakhleh, p. 395)
Five Years in Prison for ‘Proselytizing’ in
Although it remains legal in Israel for a Christian to talk with
an Israeli about Christ, Israel’s anti-missionary law, conspicuously
passed during Christmas week on Dec. 27, 1977, makes it a crime punishable
by up to 5 years in prison to attempt to convert an Israeli to Christianity
by use of any material inducement. If a Christian gives even a gospel
leaflet to an Israeli, he violates this law. Also, if the Israeli
converts to Christianity after receiving the leaflet he himself could
face 3 years in prison. 3
Of course, because of Israel’s dependence on Christian and
American goodwill, this statute, while on the books, is not rigorously
enforced. Israel has incarcerated 9,000 Palestinians without trial,
yet remains reluctant to imprison even one American missionary. This
could alienate the evangelical “cash cow” whose resources
are vital in keeping Israel’s sagging socialist economy afloat.
For now, Israeli law enforcement walks a middle road, having to be
content with partial measures against proselytizing.
Instead of jailing Christians, Israel demanded about five years
ago that some 50 evangelical organizations which lead tours to Israel
forbid their participants to witness while in the “Holy Land.” All
An acquaintance of mine, an itinerant preacher, described to me
his experience of witnessing in Haifa last year. He and a friend
began to talk with Israelis on the streets about Christ. The Israeli
populace did not, in general, appreciate such concern for their souls.
They followed the missionaries, yelling insults and surrounding them
in mounting hostility. The shirt and beard of my friend were pulled
violently. The police then seized and detained the two Christians.
Yet while the angry crowd distracted the police, the missionaries
slipped away and made their escape.
Decades of Persecution
The late Dr. Issa Nakhleh was a Christian Palestinian lawyer and
diplomat. In his Encyclopedia of the Palestinian
in most university libraries), he presents a long and detailed chronology
of many dozens of attacks against Christians, Christian holy places,
and Christian rights in Israel. Many of these outrages were committed
during and after the 1948 Israeli-Arab war and during the 1967 war
but have recurred up to the present in every part of Israel. 4
For decades, attacks on Christian churches in Israel by angry Orthodox
Jews and Israeli soldiers have been reported.
“During the June war of 1967, Israeli forces opened the church
of the Holy Sepulchre to Jews who poured into the holiest place in
Christendom, indecently dressed, joking and pouring Pharisaic hate
and insults against Christianity and against Jesus Christ inside
the Holy Sepulcher and next to the tomb of Jesus Christ.” 5
During the first half of the 20th century, Palestine, like modern
Lebanon, was home to many Christians. In 1945, 20 percent were Christians.
But in 1948, 100,000 terrorized Christian Palestinians fled the Israelis
into neighboring countries; many would spend the rest of their lives
in detention camps. Today only 2 percent of Israelis are Christians.
Similarly, modern Lebanon, so recently bombed to rubble by Israel,
is 39 percent Christian. That means about 500 Christians died in
Israel's recent attack.
Reign of Terror in Southern Israel
One of the most vehement and prolonged persecutions of Christians
is taking place today in southern Israel. In Arad, a community of
Messianic Christian Jews has been under relentless harassment by
the surrounding ultra-Orthodox Jews, the Haridim. These Orthodox
literal interpreters of the Talmud and Kabbalah are especially numerous
among settlements in the outlying regions and occupied territories.
They believe Christians and Gentiles are animals without souls. To
them, "Jewish apostates" (Messianic Jews) are worthy of
The horrifying truth is revealed in testimony from Lura Maiman
Beckford, a Jewish Christian missionary to Arad, and Schmulik Eitan,
a secular Jew and tour guide of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial
Both report that daily harassment and discrimination occur against
Christians in Arad. Local police actually encourage the Haridim,
often watching as the Orthodox mock, insult, and assault Christians.
According to Beckford, the government of Israel has adopted a hands-off
approach. Israel’s Foreign Ministry says the fault lies with
the Christians who should expect such a reaction if they attempt
to win Jews away from the faith of their fathers.
Here are only a few of many quotations from Beckford, Eitan and
other reputable sources.
Beckford (Feb. 6, '06): "The congregation meets on Saturdays
and the parishioners need to go through a gauntlet of curses from
40 or more Haridim standing in front of the entrance. All through
the service, screams, chants and curses can be heard from outside."
"We have been told that we are animals without souls (Talmud
teaches that) and threatened with being carried out of Arad in coffins,
or shot, or dozens of other threats."
"They vandalize our property-- they attack our people-- they
burned our chess club (only visible reminder that there are Christians
in Arad and the only place to get a Bible in Arad)."
"They stormed into a congregation in Beersheva, during the
service and wrecked the place and threw the pastor into the baptismal
and they did about $2000 worth of damage."
"The police are refusing to take our calls. They are afraid
of the Haridim."
"[There is] very intense persecution of Messianic Jews in
the southern-Israel city of Arad by a large group of Haredi Jews
called the Gur Hassidim."
"They now randomly attack believers in the streets wherever
they recognize them, in some cases shouting at a single mother with
her little girl who is under 5 years, "Dirty Christian, you
filthy Christian!" and to the girl they shout, "Your mother
is a whore!"
"Almost every day there are a few of them that somehow ambush
the house -- sometimes stoning it early in the morning, sometimes
just suddenly banging on the windows and shouting obscenities like "Jesus,
the bastard," "Nazis," "Filthy Christians," etc.
And every week on the same day there is a major demonstration outside
their house with the Hasidim carrying big signs against believers
and shouting obscenities again-- with police looking on and many
times giggling with demonstrators."
"By now it has become abundantly clear that the authorities
are not at all interested in implementing the democratic right of
Freedom of Worship in Israel, when it comes to the Messianic Jews
of Arad. They will most probably only take action if and when there
"It's amazing -- in the Jewish state of Israel, you can be
a Buddhist, a Bahai, a gay or lesbian -- and your democratic rights
are fully protected and upheld. But if you are a Messianic Jew, they
will do nothing for you unless they absolutely have to."
According to the Jewish Virtual Library: "Evangelical Christian
and other religious groups have complained that the police have been
slow to investigate incidents of harassment, threats, and vandalism
against their meetings, churches and other facilities by two ultra-Orthodox
[and anti-missionary] Jewish groups, known as Yad L'achim and L'achaim." (1998
Report on International Religious Freedom, Israel)
Assist News Service reports: "An orthodox group called Gur
Chassidim has been persecuting 30 Messianic Jews in Arid. They have
been insulted in public as Nazis, whores and dirty Christians. According
to eyewitnesses, the police have turned a blind eye and even sided
with the persecutors. An assembly hall has been burned down."
Ha'aretz confirms: "In the past few weeks, the Haridim of
Arad have been harassing the 15 Messianic Jewish families in the
Negev town [Harad]. Hardly anyone has come to their aid. The police
gave the Haridim a permit to hold demonstrations opposite the homes
of the Messianic Jews. The mayor is ignoring the harassment, the
members of the municipal council, those who are secular, report the
Haridim to have representatives in the local governing coalition." (2004)
Recently, members of our staff and I attended a meeting of "Israel-first" evangelicals,
watching Israeli-made propaganda films glorifying Israel. Afterward,
we talked with some of the viewers.
We tried to inform them of such realities as the Deir Yassin massacre
and resultant exile in terror of more than 700,000 Palestinians,
many of whom are Christians. They made it clear that, even if such
atrocities happened, they did not care. The more quickly Arabs are
driven from God's Holy Land today, the better. Without compassion
for Arab suffering, they were also unconcerned that Judaism or Israel
is in opposition to Jesus Christ.
In fact, many believe that since Jews are so divinely favored and
peace-loving, they have no need, at least at this time, to be saved
by Jesus Christ. One lady suggested that since Jews, like Christians,
are earnestly awaiting "the Messiah," it is actually premature
and presumptuous to try to bring them to faith in Jesus. Christ will
convert them, she said, in His good time, at His second coming.
Every few years in the Arctic, countless hordes of lemmings are
seized with a compulsion to swim out to sea and drown. A similar
blind insanity now grips teaming masses of evangelicals. They scorn
Biblical truth. They reject the facts of modern history. They rush
to assist oppressors, as long as those oppressors are Jewish. They
mock the suffering of innocents. They call evil good and good evil.
Yet Scripture tells us that evangelicals will not always remain
in such delusion. Israel, the great harlot (See, "Israel:
On the Way to Empire in the Mideast") will someday turn in fury
and devour the hand that has coddled it for more than a century.
Christianity began under Jewish persecution at the hand of the Pharisees.
7 Jesus prophesied that also in the last days persecution of His
Church would come from such evil Jewish leadership: “…They
will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you
to the synagogues and prisons…” (Luke 21:12)
Today, anti-Christian “civil liberties” groups, top-heavy
with Jews, such as ADL, ACLU, People for the American Way, Southern
Poverty Law Center, etc., are attempting to bring Israeli-style anti-Christianity
and hatred of Christian symbols to the United States. Along with
the Jewish-controlled media, they denigrate the reputation of Jesus,
forbid the use of His name by chaplains, and curb the proclamation
of the gospel in public places.
Two years ago the Jews of ADL tried to imprison 11 Christians in
Philadelphia for 47 years for the “hate crime" of preaching
the Gospel (See, "Eleven
Christians Jailed for Criticizing Homosexuality").
Even now, ADL hate laws bankrupt and exhaust Christians in the western
world (See, “David
Irving: Like Galileo, Victim of Thought Crimes Inquisition”). And in the future, Zion will eventually
persecute the Church worldwide. As Orthodox Jews are now daily harassing
Christians in Arad in Israel, so the Church will be “worn out” (Daniel
7:25) from international persecution by the “synagogue of Satan.” So
intense will be this coming decimation of Christianity that the Zionist
new world order will be “drunken” with the blood of the
martyrs (Rev. 17:6).
How will the Church respond in that day? Will it continue to lavish
flattery on its tormenters? Hardly. The Church will then agree with
the voice of heaven in the book of Revelation: "Pay her back
even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her
Incidentally, I have found “Messianic” Jews in America
to be arch ‘Israel-firsters,” and even more vociferous
against me than the ADL. Claiming to be “experts” on
the Talmud, yet Christians, they are very effective in persuading
evangelicals that what I say is false. They have vilified me in the
print media and for hours on Christian radio. Yet, as will happen
for the whole Church someday, even Messianic Jews, when mercilessly
persecuted, will eventually agree with St. Paul that their unbelieving
brethren are “enemies” of the gospel (Romans 11:28).
Since the first part of this report came out yesterday, Lura Maiman
Beckford, Messianic Jewish spokesperson for the persecuted Messianic
Christians of Arad in Israel, e-mailed me: “As persecuted Israelis
we appreciate your stand for truth. We are being persecuted relentlessly
in this so-called 'democratic' country. Please add our name to your
list and feel free to use our website as reference." 8
Learning the Hard Way
Someday, the appreciation of Lura Maiman Beckford for the warning
I am giving will be shared by all the Church. But by that time, Christians,
confined to Arctic gulags or concentration camps in heartland USA
or sweltering tropical hell holes, will have lost their opportunity
for deliverance. For them, like the millions of Christians in Communist
China in 1950, deliverance will not come through the “rapture.” It
will come through death.
The time to speak out is now.
1 Dr. Israel Shahak, quoted in Encyclopedia
of the Palestine Problem, p. 404.
2 Harkabi, Yehoshaphat. Israel’s Fateful Decision,
(London: L.B. Tauris and Company, Ltd., 1998), pp. 161-162
3 The Penal Law Amendment (Enticement to Change Religion—Law,
5738-1977) was passed by Knesset during Christmas week (Dec. 27,
1977) and went into effect Easter week (April 1, 1978). Violation
is punishable by 5 years in prison or a fine of 50,000 Israeli pounds
(or the equivalent in shekels). It is enforced against those attempting
to convert someone to their faith if a material benefit is offered.
The state of Israel also metes out 3 years in prison, or a 30,000
Israeli pound fine, against a Jew who receives such materials and
converts. The Law says: “1. Whoever gives or promises to a
person money, money’s worth or some other material benefit
in order to induce him to change his religion or in order that he
may induce another person to change his religion is liable to imprisonment
for 5 years or a fine of 50,000 pounds. 2. Whosoever receives or
agrees to receive money, money’s worth or some other material
benefit in return for a promise to change his religion or to cause
another person to change his religion is liable for imprisonment
for a term of 3 years or a fine of 30,000 pounds.”
4 Nakhleh, Issa. Encyclopedia of
the Palestine Problem.
5 Nakhleh, Issa. “Jews Attempting to Eradicate Christianity
in Palestine,” The Cross and the Flag, date unknown.
6 Holy Land Ecumenical Foundation.
7 Edward Gibbon, perhaps the greatest authority on ancient
Rome suggests that Nero’s Jewish wife, Poppaea Sabina, incited
Nero to accuse a relatively unknown and peaceful sect, the Christians,
for the burning of Rome (Edward Gibbon, The
History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, volume
1, p. 459, uncensored version). Gibbon’s theory becomes especially
plausible since we read in the Talmud that ‘Nero was converted
to Judaism and from him was descended Rabbi Meir’. Meir was
one of the very greatest of Talmudic rabbis. (‘Nero,’ Jewish
Encyclopedia pg 88). Poppaea may well have inherited the same
Judaic zeal to destroy Christianity which motivated the Pharisees
in the book of Acts.
8 Lura Maimon Beckford’s website is: http://www.angelfire.com/super/redhorse/Reports/Reports.html It contains graphic documentation of the effects of Jewish persecutions
of Christians at Arad.