Calev Myers: He loves me... he loves me not

In November of 2008, Calev Myers the Chief messianic Counsel for the Jerusalem Institute of Justice praised this writer for “…simply good penmanship… You base your articles on facts and state your opinions clearly while using an apparently healthy sense of humor…your writings are like a breath of fresh air.”

Well, it seems I’ve fallen from grace, as last week Myer’s JIJ e-newsletter had this to say:
“Ellen Horowitz, an avid blogger and spokesperson for the radical Orthodox agenda in Israel, actually applauded the burning of the New Testaments and said that “a Bible which is written on a heretical basis is not considered sacred.” According to Horowitz, "if the stuff was given to you, then it's your trash. So, sure it's permissible to burn missionary materials." Radical activists like Horowitz, who sometimes refer to themselves as “anti-missionaries,” insinuate that the Bibles were handed out in Or Yehuda by Christian missionaries. This presumption, however, is very unlikely and is not supported by a shred of evidence. It is just as likely, indeed, that the books were purchased by “anti-missionaries” with the intent of creating an obscene public provocation.”

A few minor points before we tackle the larger issues (like what is "the radical Orthodox agenda”? )

1) Calev Myer’s mistakenly attributes Rabbi Riskin’s psak on the burning of missionary bibles to me, and I’m no rabbi – not even a radical one.

Rabbi Riskin originally told me about his ruling during a private meeting I had with him and Penina Taylor the then-director of Jews for Judaism, Jerusalem Branch. After I blogged about this issue, David Nekrutman, Rabbi Riskin’s executive director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, phoned me to clarify the ruling. He asked me to include the phrase “heretical basis”, because “a Bible which is written on a heretical basis is not considered sacred.”

2) I had kicked off a JI forum asking “Is it permissible to burn missionary bibles?”

My initial comment was, “If the stuff was given to you, then it's yours to trash. So, sure it's permissible to burn missionary materials (but not missionaries!).” Note, Calev, "if the stuff was given to you, then it's yours to trash” (not “your trash”).

It seems you misquoted me on both accounts.

However, Penina Taylor (now the director of Shomrei Emet), reminded me that she did write an article entitled, Taking Out the Trash and she had penned that, “The people who burned these books broke no law. Despite the allusions being made to the burning of Jewish holy books during the times of the inquisition or the holocaust, there is absolutely no comparison here. The New Testaments had been basically thrown out - they were garbage, and there is no law against incinerating garbage, even by religious Jews, even in public.”

I guess that makes Penina a “radical” too. But wait, she can’t be. Because according to Calev Myers “radical Orthodox Jews” have a proclivity towards violence, and shortly after the Ariel explosion - while Myers was in a frantic race to brand and attach the “R” word to Orthodox Jewry - Penina condemned the bombing in Ariel:
“We at Jews for Judaism, Jerusalem condemn this atrocity and hope and pray for the complete healing of this boy and the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator of this heinous crime.”

At the same time I wrote my initial reaction :” I think everyone is appropriately distressed by this tragic incident. We hope that the young man involved recovers, and we are anxious for the police to do their work. There are just far too many unknowns in this case to start speculating…” and I concluded by stating that, “ The incident in Ariel is to be taken seriously and we all hope Ami Ortiz quickly recovers from his severe injuries, but we think Calev Myers should stop salivating over what he may deem to be PR opportunity to present the “Judeo-Christian” church as a persecuted entity in Israel ,and to promote Messianic Judaism as an authentic and legitimate branch of Judaism.”

So if we counter-missionary “radical activists”reacted with a recognition of a tragedy, followed by a public condemnation of violence, and a call for the boy’s recovery, then what exactly is “the radical Orthodox agenda”?

It’s either a fiction, a fetish, or a little bit of both; created by an evangelizing world to discredit those who uphold, protect, and defend Torah Judaism.

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