Messianic Jews besieged in southern Israel

Tuesday, March 01, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Last week a huge mob of ultra-Orthodox Jews surrounded a Messianic Jewish congregation in the southern coastal city of Ashdod and demonstrated against what they called “the missionary situation.”

The chief rabbi of Ashdod participated in the event, and reportedly told the one thousand or so protestors that Messianic Jews are no better than Hitler. Ultra-Orthodox extremists often complain that Messianic Jews are trying to destroy the Jewish people by turning them into “Christians.”

“The missionaries want a final solution to the Jews, in the name of the same cursed name that created Christianity (he meant Jesus). That is what Hitler wanted,” local Messianic leaders Simcha and Bella Davidov quoted the chief rabbi as telling the crowd.

The Davidovs also said that the anti-Messianic organization Yad L’Achim was there passing out hostile flyers that read:

“The goal of the Messianics is clear, they want to convert all of us Jews to Christianity and not leave any trace of the Jewish people. The Arabs want our Land, and they [the Messianic Jews] want our souls.”

Yad L’Achim said that it had received an increased number of complaints of “missionary activity” in Ashdod, and so decided it was time to take action.

The group vowed that the demonstration will become a monthly event, and while police prevented any violence from erupting this time around, there is no guarantee that future demonstrations will not result in damage or injuries. Several years ago, a similar mob of ultra-Orthodox extremists also purportedly led by Yad L’Achim attacked and caused substantial damage to the Nachalat Yeshua congregation in Beersheva.

Another local Messianic reportedly tried to argue against the distribution of literature that incites hatred against Jews who believe in Yeshua (Jesus), but was told by police that the demonstrators were not doing anything illegal. Tellingly, the police take firm action against fringe Jewish settler groups that distribute literature inciting violence against Palestinian Arabs.

Many local Jews fear that the blood libel Yad L’Achim has been trying to push against them is gaining traction, and that the authorities are responding far too slowly, or not at all.

Another demonstration against Messianic Jews was scheduled to take place in the small Negev town of Arad on Tuesday, March 1. That demonstration is an annual event, and regularly attracts the participation of most of Arad’s sizable Orthodox community.

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