The battle over missionizing

Israel National News has a number of articles on the battle over missionizing.

Soldiers Banish Missionaries From Army Base

The question with regards to why Israel does not enforce anti-missionary legislation has been brought up. I’ve compiled the below history to give you a brief look as to just how complex this issue really is.

In 1998, there was a move to draft serious anti-missionary legislation in the Knesset. Labor MK Zvilli and and Shas MK Pinhasi jointly sponsored the Bill. In that same period the American Congress passed the “International Religious Freedom Act.” which Evangelical Christians (including Jews for jesus) used in order to get the American State Department to pressure Israel to withdraw planned anti-missionary legislation. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was accused of breaking a promise to Christian leaders abroad by voting for the anti-missionary bill in the Knesset. Sen. Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and other fervent supporters of Israel were livid with Netanyahu.

Israel was also threatened with trade sanctions from the United States if the legislation passed. Opposition was spearheaded within Israel by the Messianic Action Committee (MAC), a group calling for “deliberate, continuous and intense pressure” on Israeli lawmakers by opinion-makers, politicians and other interested people who are friendly towards Israel.

Zvilli withdrew support for the bill he had sponsored, and Netanyahu buckled.

To make matters worse the The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) kicked in with a public statement expressing concern with regards to civil liberties and religious freedom in Israel. Foxman wrote to Netanyahu: “While we are concerned by efforts to convert Jews, we are also concerned by the implications such anti-missionary legislation would have on minority rights in Israel.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded with, “Let me assure you again that Israel will pass no laws which limit freedom of religion and contravene the international conventions to which it is a signatory.”

ADL WELCOMES ASSURANCES THAT ISRAEL WILL NOT PASS ANTI-MISSIONARY LEGISLATION

In the end the Christian Embassy, Bridges for Peace and others formulated an anti-missionary pledge in lieu of Knesset anti- missionary legislation.

However it was conceived with a major loophole…

While some evangelical churches and ministries have agreed not to engage “in activities which have as their intention to alienate them [the Jewish People] from their tradition and community…”, they find it perfectly kosher to fund and encourage “Jewish believers in Jesus” – because they “remain Jews” and are therefore not alienated from their community.

Since those days, the State of Israel has done nothing to stop the flow of missionaries into this country or to restrict their activities. In fact Israel has reduced visa restrictions and encouraged them.

THE TRUE FRIENDSHIP TEST

In addition to enacting legislation, one obvious solution would be to ask your very friendly evangelical Christian organizations to support Israel in her struggle to rid herself of this plague by endorsing efforts at legislation and visa restrictions and by publicly condemning any efforts to publicly spread the gospel throughout Israel via any means (but that is the evangelical religion -so how could they?). Such a request would certainly separate the men from the boys and would let us know who truly stands with Israel, as opposed to who wants a Judeo-Christian empire in Eretz Yisrael.

Israel may feel obligated to protect the holy sites of the three major religions and to respectfully welcome visitors and tourists from various faiths and backgrounds, but why does the Jewish state feel compelled to grant unrestricted American-style religious freedom and freedom of expression to everybody and anybody, and to those who challenge the very nature, character and faith of this land and its people?

August 5, 2007 | 27 Comments »

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