Israel’s “Amazon” Refuses to Remove Messianic Book

It’s a matter of free speech, insists online retailer amid ultra-Orthodox outcry

Online book retailer defense right of Messianic Jews to criticize Rabbinic Judaism
Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90

Israel’s largest online book and e-book retailer, E-vrit, has refused to remove a book authored by two local Messianic Jews that calls into question the legitimacy of the Oral Law that forms the basis of modern Rabbinic Judaism.

The Myth of the Oral Law (מיתוס התורה שבעל-פה) is a Hebrew-language theological book authored by Dr. Eitan Bar and Dr. Golan Brosh and published by Israel College of the Bible, a Messianic institution based in Netanya. It would appear to be an expanded version of an earlier English-language book by Bar and Brosh titled Rabbinic Judaism Debunked: Debunking the myth of Rabbinic Oral Law.

E-vrit is owned and operated by the parent company of Israel’s best-selling newspaper, Yediot Ahronot. As such, it is the most widely-known and well-respected online book and e-book distributor in the country, Israel’s “Amazon,” if you will.

Given E-vrit’s reach and reputation, ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups were outraged that it would help disseminate Messianic Jewish material, especially a book that seeks to undermine the foundation of modern Rabbinic Judaism, which is today far more focused on the Oral Law (as embodied in the Talmud) than on the Bible itself.

According to the anti-missionary group Yad L’Achim, the book is nothing short of an antisemitic assault on Judaism and an attempt to trick Jews to become Christians. Like many such groups, Yad L’Achim does not accept that faith in Yeshua is possible in a Jewish context, and insists that embracing the one from Nazareth means conversion to the “foreign” religion of Christianity.

“The missionaries are exploiting the Internet, including E-vrit, in order to reach as many frightened, desperate and bored people as possible during the lockdown,” read a letter from Yad L’Achim to E-vrit demanding that it remove the Messianic book.

Yad L’Achim says that it received a response from E-vrit Managing Director Guy Ben-Nun in which he insisted that distributing the Messianic book was a matter of protecting “freedom of expression, freedom of choice and freedom of religion.”

Ben-Nun went on to dissuade the ultra-Orthodox from attempting any kind of boycott, noting that “our audience is characterized by being mostly digital book readers and residents of the secular Tel Aviv area. The ultra-Orthodox and members of religious Zionism, the audience that may be offended by the contents of the book, don’t use our service and therefore do not affect us financially. But secular people for whom the aforementioned values of freedom are important, do. Removing the book from our site could therefore have a negative impact on our image and harm us financially.”

Yad L’Achim responded by calling Ben-Nun’s letter a demonstration of the ignorance of most secular Israelis when it comes to the “threat” posed by the Messianic Jewish movement.

 

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