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National Prayer Network Special Report

CHRISTIANS IN ISRAEL: AN ENDANGERED SPECIES

By Rev. Ted Pike

PART II
Anti-Christianity in Israel Toda
y

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 Israel

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 50 agreed.

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 Problem (present 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. 6

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 death.

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 in Jerusalem.

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 is bloodshed."

"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)

Incredible Blindness

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.

Death Wish

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 deeds…"(Rev.18:6)

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.


Endnotes:

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.


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

For much fuller discussion and documentation of this subject, read Rev. Pike's gripping 345-page book, Israel: Our Duty, Our Dilemma. This unprecedented work is available for $24.90 postpaid at www.truthtellers.org. Many other articles explaining how the Church has gone wrong in its relationship to Israel but may go right again are posted at this site.

TALK SHOW HOSTS: For interview with Rev. Pike on this subject, call 503-631-3808.


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