The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ)
regularly disseminates seemingly pro-Israel news bulletins. But anybody who has the good sense to follow the traditional Jewish dictum of “respect and suspect”
, will take care to read between the lines.
ICEJ’s director Malcolm Hedding recently wrote a piece called the “Politics of Betrayal” (June 9, 2009) in which he blasts Abbas, Hamas, the concept of a two-state solution, and a divided Jerusalem. And he heaps praise on Israel for being “a shining light”
of freedom and tolerance when compared with Arab regimes. So far so good… or is it?
The Gospel as Democracy:
The problem for us begins once Hedding starts espousing a Christianized definition of democracy and freedom of expression. Under the subtitle “The Road to Democracy”
, Hedding criticizes countries where “Christians cannot practice their faith openly, build churches or propagate their message!”
Amidst his praise for Israel, there’s the clear implication that in order to qualify as a democracy, a country is required to allow the Christian message to be spread without restraint. Where does that
leave the Jewish state, and those charged with upholding Torah values? Is ICEJ’s acclaim of Israel’s democracy consistent, or are there problems?
Crying Wolf or Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing?
In reaction to the incineration of missionary materials in Or Yehuda last year, ICEJ spokesman David Parsons, reportedly expected the Israeli authorities to pursue what was the halachically
permissible disposal of deceptive material as a criminal case.
Without evidence, ICEJ was one of a number of evangelical organizations promoting a conspiracy theory linking the criminal vandalism of a church with the halachic
disposal of Christian missionary materials, and a possible Arab terror attack. Parson's was quoted in a USA Today
Missionaries under threat in Israel
, as saying, "We believe there is a link to a series of incidents here in the land that involve harassment, intimidation and physical violence."
And despite a gag order placed on the Ariel explosion case
in which Arab terror has not been ruled out, ICEJ jumped to conclusions and ran news headlines stating: Anti-missionaries suspected in bombing of Messianic family
. The story concluded with “If the perpetrators were Jewish, it would
mark the first time anti-missionary activists have staged such a malicious attack with intent to kill.”
Messianic Connections and Aspirations
As a policy ICEJ claims it “has never conducted any missionary programs in Israel”
. Yet, Director Malcolm Hedding and other ICEJ staff are actively involved
in the openly missionary King of Kings community
in the center of Jerusalem.
More on ICEJ and what they have in store for us can be read here
Does evangelizing Muslims endanger Jews?
World Net Daily
is carrying a report in which Sheik Abu Saqer accused the leadership of the Gaza Christian community of "proselytizing and trying to convert Muslims with funding from American evangelicals."
"This missionary activity is endangering the entire Christian community in Gaza,"
American evangelicals may indeed be funding missionary activities in the PA, but should we Israeli Jews and our local and national government be involved in this dangerous game - in the name of religious freedom and democracy (or is it provocation in the name of Christocracy)?
When the gag comes off of the Ortiz- Ariel Bombing case, we may get some disturbing answers. It's already known that an evangelizing Pastor Ortiz received numerous threats from Arab quarters
and that his targeted proselytizing of Palestinians was openly supported by Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman.
What's the Halacha say?...Ask an Arab
This all goes back to a stunning statement Benny Elon made as Tourism Minister back in 2004, and a bizarre Knesset Debate which followed. It seems the former MK had openly encouraged “Christian missionaries... to 'go from mosque to mosque and bring the light to Moslems.' “
Arab MK Abdel Malek Dehamshe filed a no-confidence motion over the alleged remarks and responded:
I don't know if Minister Elon is aware of this, but the Jewish Halacha forbids trying to get Moslems to change their religion... You are wearing a kippah [yarmulke] and you are a rabbi and you are the son of a man who taught me - and I thank him for that - Jewish Law, among other things. How did you not learn this from your father or in the Beit HaMedrash [yeshiva study hall]?
A better idea...Ask a Jew
What is the Jewish Position on Tolerance, Religious Freedom and Proselytizing?
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz penned this brilliant answer in 2005 in an essay entitled,
The Irrelevance of “Toleration” in Judaism
Jewish Israel suggests that you read the full essay, but below is an excerpt which demonstrates how diametrically opposed evangelical eschatological views
are to Jewish Redemptive aspirations.
Judaism, despite the absolute and exclusionary quality of its monotheism, has a side that tends toward openness and toleration. This side of Judaism has also an expression in the Jewish abstention from proselytizing…
…Judaism does not view itself as the religion of all people. It is the religion of the Jews alone and is, for almost all its practitioners, inherited. The assumption that Judaism is the religion of one people (and a few unsought converts) is emphatically a normative principle … because it suggests that, within Jewish doctrine, there is room for the religious beliefs of others. This principle applies not only to the world as it is today but also to the messianic projections that Judaism makes for the future. Although the messianic era represents an ultimate vindication of truth as Judaism understands it—a time when the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will assert his dominion over all the world—at that time the peoples of the world will not embrace Judaism and will not come to observe Jewish law. In the closing chapters of his monumental Code of Jewish Law, Maimonides gives an account of the end of days. In his portrayal, the messianic realm is one of peace, but not uniformity of faith. According to Maimonides, when Isaiah saw the wolf and the lamb lying down together, what he envisioned was not a change in the nature of creation. Wolves will still be wolves, and lambs lambs; what will change is the relationship between them. At the end of days, the different peoples of the world will not become less different. And because they will not embrace a single faith, the prohibition against gentiles undertaking distinctively Jewish practices will continue…
…By establishing different sets of expectations for different groups, Judaism makes room for adherents of other faiths to perform their own religious obligations in a way that entitles them to salvation by the God of Israel.