Sharing the Gospel of Jesus remains a touchy topic in the modern Jewish state. But what really exacerbates the matter, and stirs up ill feelings toward Israel, is the way it’s often reported by Christian and Messianic Jewish voices.
The most negative remarks and hostile positions regarding faith in Jesus are latched on to, painting a picture of near-institutionalized persecution of believers.
But the reality is that the “anti-missionary” organizations in Israel are fighting an uphill battle in getting the authorities to pay any attention whatsoever Christian/Messianic proselytization.
For example, an Orthodox Jewish news portal recently reported that only after it and other outlets made a stink online did the Israel Police agree to reopen an investigation into a Messianic dance instructor who allegedly influenced a 14-year-old student to come to faith in Jesus.
It is not illegal to share the Gospel in Israel, contrary to how some ministries portray the situation. It is, however, illegal to convert minors, or to offer any person financial incentive to change his or her religion. And that goes for any religion, not just Christianity.
So the question becomes did this Messianic dance teacher directly attempt to convert her student, or was she merely open about her faith and who she is in Messiah? It’s a tricky line to draw, which is why the authorities typically avoid such cases.
See related: Can Israel Stop the Christian Gospel?
The reopened investigation is also expected to be buried and quietly closed after being passed to the prosecutor’s office.
And that despite the impassioned public pleas of anti-missionary groups like Or L’Achim (Light to the Brothers) and Btsalmo (In His Image).
“We will not give up on this case until an indictment is filed against the missionary,” insisted Or L’Achim in a statement.
The CEO of Btsalmo told The Jewish Voice that “the fight against the [Christian] mission must be a priority for the Israel Police and must be treated as terrorism. This is silent and covert terrorism, but tens of millions of shekels are invested in it.”
Finding a more mature, effective response
It’s easy for believers to get offended at remarks such as those issued by the head of Btsalmo. But they must be seen in historical context.
For millennia, Christianity preached that God had abandoned the Jews, and the Church, both on its own and through Christian monarchies, attempted to do away with the Jewish people by either coercing or forcibly converting them all to Christianity.
Many religious Jews see modern missionary initiatives, financed with millions of dollars by Western churches, as a continuation of this age-old effort to spiritually eliminate the Jewish people.
Getting angry at them won’t alter their perspective.
Doing so only serves to stir up anti-Jewish sentiment among Christians, and in turn make Israel more suspicious of Jesus.
Setting records straight
The reality in Israel today is that believers–be they Messianic Jews like many of my colleagues, or Gentile Christians like myself–do not face persecution.
Occasional prejudice? Sure. But who doesn’t face that in some form or another?
To suggest that Israel practices institutionalized discrimination toward, or even oppresses believers in Jesus is simply false.
Sadly, many believers do make such suggestions, thus implicitly, and perhaps unintentionally, equating Israel with the likes of Iran and China.
Recently, an Orthodox Jewish member of the current government tabled a proposal that would expand existing anti-missionary laws by outlawing Hebrew-language online videos about Jesus, since they could be inadvertently accessed by minors.
Christian and Messianic communities were in an uproar. And they stirred up churches around the world.
Lost in the commotion was the fact that the same bill had been proposed numerous times over the course of decades, with no one, not even its author, ever expecting it to become law.
Still, the widespread Christian discontent, which was gleefully picked up by the anti-Israel mainstream international media, compelled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to issue a public statement reassuring the Christian world that neither his nor any other Israeli government would ever pass anti-Christian laws.
Just as in centuries past, Christians themselves are often the primary obstacle keeping Jews from seeing their Messiah.
Was this article helpful?
Support Israel Today and help us raise a voice of hope & truth!
Israel Today Membership
Save 18% Per Month.
Six Months Membership
Save 9% Per Month.