Israel’s ultra-Orthodox parties didn’t make a particularly good showing in last week’s elections, but they did well enough to make firm demands as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tries to cobble together his next ruling coalition.
The anti-missionary organization Yad L’Achim hopes one of those demands will be to advance new legislation targeting Messianic Jewish and Christian activity in Israel.
Israel does have an anti-missionary law, but it is limited to prohibiting the solicitation of minors and offering financial benefits for conversion. Most ultra-Orthodox sects completely ignore these prohibitions in their own missionary activity.
The legislation Yad L’Achim is pressing the Shas and United Torah Judaism factions to put before Netanyahu would much more specifically and substantially target the activities of those who believe in Yeshua (Jesus).
This legislation was tabled during Netanyahu’s last government, but was ultimately scuttled by officials who apparently had no taste for Yad L’Achim’s campaign of discrimination and fear-mongering.
A number of recent stories in Israel Today Magazine have shown that a growing majority of Israeli Jews no longer have a problem with Messianic believers in their midst, and are even increasingly open to exploring the person of Yeshua, if not faith in him as Messiah.
“We cannot emphasize enough how urgent it is to demand legislation against missionary activity in Israel,” read a frantic letter from Yad L’Achim to members of Shas and United Torah Judaism, which concluded by noting that “in the past 19 years, more Jews have converted to Christianity [sic] than in the 1,900 years before that.”
Local believers have expressed concern over the possibility of this legislation being passed, but have also noted that if Yad L’Achim is growing increasingly agitated, then perhaps they are doing something right.