Messianic Jew at Center of Latest Netanyahu-Lapid Tussle

Faith of Israeli foreign minister’s sister-in-law highlighted in local media after Netanyahu criticism pushes her out of new position

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: MESSIANIC JEWS
Netanyahu might not care that Lapid's sister-in-law believes in Jesus, but he took issue with her being appointed to public office. Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Ilil Keren was the newest board member of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) for just a few days before stepping down amid a media firestorm sparked by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ilil had been appointed to the position by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. Netanyahu took issue with this from the Knesset podium last week, noting the duplicitousness of Lapid claiming to fight against corruption and nepotism, and then giving his own sister-in-law such an influential job.

Lapid in turn took to Facebook to slam the duplicitousness of Netanyahu pointing to the speck in another’s eye while ignoring the log in his own (to use one of Jesus’ parables). Netanyahu remains under indictment in several corruption cases.

“The public arena will be a little less of a good place from today. A talented lawyer who has asked far too many difficult questions, questions that only those who want the public good will ask,” wrote Lapid (use Facebook’s translate feature to read the full statement).

Ilil is the sister of Lapid’s wife, Lihi. But what some Hebrew-press seemed more interested in is that she’s a Messianic Jewess.

Ilil’s faith didn’t seem to even be on Netanyahu’s radar. Israel Today is aware of several openly Messianic Jews who have worked with and for Netanyahu himself in the past. The former prime minister was more concerned with her relationship to Lapid.

Religious Israeli news outlets, however, felt that her connection to Jesus was the real story.

“Lapid’s Sister-in-Law and the Connection to Messianic Judaism,” read one. “Yair Lapid May Be Tied to Messianic Jews,” declared another. “Lapid Accused of Nepotism, Suspected of Ties to Messianic Jews,” worried a third.

It was the ultra-Orthodox anti-missionary organization Or L’Achim that reportedly highlighted Ilil’s Messianic faith following the confrontation in Knesset. Some suggested that the subsequent religious media reporting was a coordinated hit job aimed at bringing down Lapid and his government by associating him with Messianic Jews.

That would be ironic, since it is Netanyahu, who enjoys the support of the ultra-Orthodox, who is typically seen as cozy with believers in Jesus, of both the Christian and Messianic Jewish sort.

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