Pope Francis is aligning himself against Israel 

In a treaty that was finalized in Rome last week, the Catholic Church fired the latest salvo in its 2,000-year-old struggle to disenfranchise the Jewish people. Meeting with Palestinian officials at the Vatican, church officials agreed to formally recognize the “State of Palestine” as part of a deal concerning Catholic activities in the Palestinian-controlled areas.

And just in case anyone failed to get the memo, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi went to the trouble of going on record as saying, “Yes, it’s a recognition that the state exists.”

This outrageous step is a severe blow to Catholic- Jewish relations and it cannot go unanswered.

Israel and the Jewish people should protest this measure in the strongest possible terms and make sure that Pope Francis realizes the damage he has done.

In biblical terms, by recognizing a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, the Vatican is effectively seeking to deny the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people, to whom this land was promised long ago. This is not only offensive and disrespectful, but disingenuous too. Indeed, one cannot help but wonder: what Bible is the Vatican reading? Whichever one it is, it must be missing some pages, as even a cursory glance at the Scriptures makes clear that God promised to give the Land of Israel to the Jewish people and nobody else. In fact, there are over 150 biblical verses ranging from Genesis to Joshua to Chronicles which state this and reaffirm that Israel would return from Exile to this holy soil.

Take, for example, Isaiah 14:1-2: “The Lord will have compassion on Jacob; once again He will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land.” Or how about Jeremiah 31:4, where God says: “You shall again plant vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria.” And there’s Genesis 48:3-4. And Judges 2:1, and Ezekiel 34: 11-13. And Hosea 3:4-5. And Amos 9:14-15. And Obadiah 1:17, Zephaniah 3:19-20 and Zechariah 8:7-8.

Moreover, the Bible stresses that these were not merely assurances, but a Divine oath, one that would never be broken.

“He remembers His covenant forever,” says 1 Chronicles 16:15-18, “the word He commanded for a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.’” You get the point. But it seems that the Vatican does not.

In fact, my Christian friends tell me that the words “Palestine” and “Palestinians” do not appear anywhere in the New Testament. Hence, one could argue that Jesus himself would be mystified by the pope’s position.

After all, according to Christian belief, Jesus the Jew was born and raised in Bethlehem, which means there was a Jewish community there, with synagogues, ritual baths, rabbis and perhaps a kosher deli too, centuries before Islam was even founded.

So would the Catholic Church now deem Jesus to have been a “settler” or “occupier” of Palestinian land? For an institution that bills itself as “the Holy See” and which claims to uphold sacred values, the Vatican’s profane involvement in Middle Eastern politics is simply unbecoming.

And given its sordid history of anti-Semitism, book-burnings, forced conversions and Inquisitions, the Catholic Church should think a hundred times over before daring to step on Israel’s toes.

If anything, the pope should be down on his knees pleading for forgiveness from the Jewish people and atonement from the Creator for what the Vatican has wrought over the centuries.

The current attempt to undermine and deny Israel’s right to Judea and Samaria by recognizing Palestinian statehood smacks of “supersessionism,” or replacement theology, a doctrine according to which the Church replaced Israel as God’s chosen instrument nearly two millennia ago.

Over the past 50 years, since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church had slowly begun to acknowledge that the Jewish people are “a covenanted people,” thereby shifting away ever slightly from supersessionism.

But conferring legitimacy on a Palestinian state is akin to suggesting that the Palestinians have replaced Israel as the rightful owners of the land, a position that flies in the face of history, theology and common sense.

It is nothing less than supersessionism via diplomatic means, and a cruel insult to the generations of Jews who longed for Zion while enduring Catholic oppression and persecution.

Israel needs to respond to this affront forcefully. We cannot stand by and watch as our national integrity is called into question. A good place to start would be to withdraw our ambassador to the Holy See, curtail the number of visas granted to Vatican officials, and rule out any possibility of giving the Church the foothold it so sorely wants at the Tomb of King David on Mount Zion.

What a shame it is that after so much progress in Catholic- Jewish relations over the past few decades the Vatican would now betray all the headway that has been made.

But Pope Francis needs to realize that by recognizing the fictitious “State of Palestine” he is aligning himself against Israel, the Jewish people and the bible itself.

And that is something we cannot forgive, nor soon forget.

Domus Galilaeae and the holocaust of love

Goals   Domus Galilaeae Official SiteIn a previous article a unique program occurred on May 4-7 2015 at Domus Galilaeae, the Catholic center for study and prayer in the Galilee. The program included rabbis, cardinals, bishops and priests who met together, prayed together, discussed theology together, sang, danced and feasted together, and recited the Shema together. They cried together as they attended a church orchestra performance of The Suffering of the Innocents[*], commemorating the Holocaust, with the intertwined parallel theme of Mary crying as Jesus suffered and was killed.

The Goals of Domus Galilaeae in their own words are:

The center “Domus Galilaeae” is a place where Christians, and above all, seminarians and presbyters, will be able to have a direct contact with the living tradition of Israel, following the footsteps of, Origen[1], and St. Jerome as well as many other Fathers of Church who returned to their Hebrew roots to understand the meaning of prayer, of feasts, and Hebrew liturgies, which were the daily food of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In stark contrast let me quote some of these Church Fathers:

Justin Martyr – Dialogue with Trypho (Between 138A.D. and 161 A.D.)

We too, would observe your circumcision of the flesh, your Sabbath days, and in a word, all you festivals, if we were not aware of the reason why they were imposed upon you, namely, because of your sins and the hardness of heart.

The custom of circumcising the flesh, handed down from Abraham, was given to you as a distinguishing mark, to set you off from other nations and from us Christians. The purpose of this was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and you cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of you land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem. Your circumcision of the flesh is the only mark by which you can certainly be distinguished from other men…as I stated before it was by reason of your sins and the sins of your fathers that, among other precepts, God imposed upon you the observence of the sabbath as a mark.

Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.) – An ecclesiastical writer and teacher who contributed to the early formation of Christian doctrines.

We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race…hence the city where Jesus suffered was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election.

St. Augustine (c. 354-430 A.D.), Confessions, 12.14

How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay them (the Jews) with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live to you!

The presence in Israel of many of the best scriptures scholars and prestigious biblical schools, allows “Domus Galilaeae” to be the ideal place to promote a recovery of scriptural studies as the witness of the living presence of God.

The ex Catholic priest Martin Luther (1543) in the tractate titled “On The Jews and Their Lies”

“their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians.”

From the above we can firmly see that the Church fathers vehemently hated the Jewish people and clearly believed at the very best the Church was a replacement of the “Israel” of God [the Jews] and at the worst as history bears witness includes also the attempts of the Jews’ wholesale annihilation.

Now lets see what else the goals of Goals of Domus Galilaeae are in their own words:

This will be a channel of communication, which will help Christians to deepen the roots of their faith; a place to build peace and to see God, as Patriarch Sabah said at the end of his homily as he laid the first stone:

«…Blessed are the pure of heart because they shall see God. To see God! Then we will see the truth of his creatures and we will see the peace of God which only in itself can be the peace of all men…Brothers and sisters, let us pray that this new house may truly be a place of encounter, where all doubts will be overcome and where the pilgrim is helped to see God and to enjoy His peace. This we wish to all those who will come to know Jesus and to make him known.»

The meaning for “Domus Galilaeae” has been underlined several times by Kiko and Carmen.  To read the Gospel in the light of tradition and of the Hebrew Liturgies- Carmen Hernandez said – helps to understand «the mystery of this people, who do not demonstrate the existence of God, but as living witnesses, proclaim his presence throughout all of history.» Immersing oneself in prayer and study in this atmosphere will be a real source of personal and theological renewal for many future presbyters and for all those who will come.

John Paul II, very familiar with the Hebrew world, on many occasions has reiterated the need to return to our Hebrew roots in order to understand and live Christianity. Giving as well an impulse to the new evangelization, especially in his recent apostolic exhortation «Dies Domini.

The above comments of the Church Fathers and the stated aim of the Church in the form of the Neocatechumenal Way to the ‘new evangelization’ is part and parcel of a chronological progression pointed out by our sages which has three watches or stages:

The night is divided into three watches, and at every watch G-d sits and roars like a lion…. The signal (for the commencement of each watch is as follows): At the first watch, a donkey brays; at the second watch, dogs bark; at the third watch [near dawn], an infant suckles from its mother and a wife chats with her husband. (Berachos 3a)

The Artscroll overview of Tishah Ba’av on page 16, cites the Maharal (Rabbi Yehuda Loewe 1526-1609), the famous rabbi of Prague, who explains in his book Netzach Yisrael that the allegory of night represents the bleak, gloomy exile, foreshadowing the great darkness and despair in which Israel will sink. Says the Maharal, just as the night proceeds to get darker, so our exile gets progressively worse.

The beginning of the exile and the first stage of exile is portrayed as a donkey braying in the night, symbolizing that our oppressors will initially treat us like beasts of burden, confining us in ghettos and assessing discriminatory taxes upon us.

The second stage of exile is symbolized by barking dogs[2], since dogs bark madly at the sight of death, as our enemies seek to kill us through pogroms, blood libels, inquisitions, genocides and holocausts.

Inauguration of the Library of the Domus Galilaeae

Inauguration of the Library of the Domus Galilaeae

The need for love and peace leads us into the time of the third stage in exile expressed in Berachos 3a above. The third stage and the most terrible stage are represented by the wife who chats with her husband. It predicts that when our enemies fail to destroy us physically, they will attempt to destroy us spiritually. The attempt to destroy us spiritually is know as a silent “Holocaust of Love”.

The silent “Holocaust of Love” is far more pernicious than the “Holocaust of Hate” as shown in the first two stages of exile since assimilation and intermarriage will decimate the ranks of the Jewish nation like no other scourge. Well meaning individuals, even Rabbis who should know better, fall prey to the soft whisper of the principles of political correctness and the lure of lucrative deals with those who are allowed into our midst with the aim of converting us to their particular brand(s) of love and peace…. After all if we are just all loving and peaceful all the violence and inhumanity will just go away! Now is not the time to be divided amongst ourselves! Forget about our differences and be prepared to give lip service to our unique status as “a people who dwells apart, and will not be reckoned among the nations. Num 23:9” for the greater goal! Forget the accepted, binding and precedent halakhic rulings of the most preeminent halakhic authorities of the past century and beyond.

Library   Domus Galilaeae Official Site

The priests of Baal.

The notion that shared religious observances and prayer, intense personal faith discussion and mutual religious-emotional rites would be engaged in by rabbis in unison with Roman Catholic clergy flies in the face of the powerful halakhic andtheological tradition promulgated and embraced by our people, as espoused by its leading and commanding rabbinic luminaries.May God help us at this most dreadful time of our history and survival as unique and chosen people.

________________

Notes

[*] The most conservative estimate of the the number of people murdered at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church stands at 20 million during the dark ages. The same anti-semitic theology of the Roman Catholic Church which inspired Martin Luther and the holocaust of the second world war and now the silent holocaust of love by the Neocatechumenal Way, based in Israel at Domus Galilaeae, the Catholic center for study and prayer in the Galilee. The priests of Baal drool over their attempts of turning Jews an Judaism into museum items just like Adolf Hitler tried to do.

[1] The individual probably most responsible for laying the ground work for Christian anti-Semitism is one of the Church fathers, Origen. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, he lived from A.D. 185 – ca. 254. Expelled from Alexandria in A.D. 232, he moved to the area of Caesarea, capital of the Roman province of Palestine, where he would die. Nicholas De Lange states, “Origen was the founder of the science of hermeneutics in the Church. His work became the basis for subsequent Greek Christian exegesis and…its impact was felt in the Latin West as well.” [Nicholas De Lange, Origen and the Jews, Cambridge University Press, page 34] Lange’s book gives us some helpful insights on Origen and his biblical approach and thinking:

It is no exaggeration to say that, for Origen, the whole of the debate between the Church and the Synagogue can be reduced to the one question of interpretation of scripture…The difference between Judaism and Christianity is that Christians perceive the mysteries which are only hinted at in the Bible, whereas Jews are only capable of a strictly literal reading of the text. ibid page 82-83

It is characteristic of Christianity to interpret the law spiritually: it is in this that the originality of the Christian message consists, and anyone, Jew or Christian, who persists in literalism fails to guard against the ‘leaven of the Pharisees.’ibid page 87

One can see from these quotes that Origen rejected what we would refer to as the natural or the literal interpretation of Scripture. One of the places this hermeneutic became very pronounced was in the understanding of Israel. Origen would see in almost any story passage, such as Jacob and Esau, the symbolic meaning that Israel is rejected by God and the Church has replaced her in God’s blessing and providence. Again, consider some thoughts from Lange.

The figure of Jacob is thus completely reidentified, with dramatic consequences for the traditional biblical exegesis…Since Jacob now stands for the Church, Esau, the older brother, will represent the Jews. ibid page 80

Thus, using a technique derived ultimately from the commentators on Homer and from Jewish allegorists such as Philo, Origen sets out to demonstrate that the Old Testament belongs not to the Jews but to the Church, that it is, in fact, when properly understood, a text-book of Christianity, and that it is essentially at one with the New Testament and the whole of Christian teaching. The arguments based on the non-literal interpretation can be used against the unbelief of the Jews, but they are also useful in replying to attacks on the Old Testament from various sources, and in silencing those within the Church who favour a literal interpretation. ibid page 79

Origen’s interpretive style would make him no friend of the Jews. He, more than likely, neither anticipated, nor would have condoned, what developed over the next 1,800 years in the Churches treatment of the Jews. Nevertheless, as Lange summarized, “He [Origen] lost no opportunity, in his sermons, to attack Jewish literalism, and his powerful invective no doubt made its contribution to the later tragic persecution of Jews by Christians.” ibid page 135

[2] Bava Kamma 60b teaches that when the Angel of death is in the city, dogs begin to bark madly

Judaism: The Slippery Slope of Jewish Religious Dialogue with the Church

Saying “Thank You, but No Thank You” to programs that contravene clear halakhic rulings, including those of Torah luminaries of our times.

Published: Friday, May 15, 2015 4:45 PM

by Rabbi Avraham Gordimer, Rabbi David HaKohen Grosser co authored this article.

The rabbis, cardinals, bishops and priests met together, prayed together, discussed theology together, sang, danced and feasted together, and recited the Shema together. They cried together as they attended a church orchestra performance of The Suffering of the Innocents, commemorating the Holocaust, with the intertwined parallel theme of Mary crying as Jesus suffered and was killed. A bonfire celebration was held under the imposing shadow of a large gold statue of the Pope. The Jewish and Catholic clergy embraced and clasped hands as they spiritedly danced and sang Jewish song together. Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist rabbis… Rabbis such as Irving Greenberg of CLAL, David Rosen of AJC, and a delegation of leaders from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, lovingly declared allegiance to a new and close fraternal relationship with their Catholic counterparts.

An Idol that goes atop of Domus Galilaeae

An Idol that goes atop of Domus Galilaeae

This unique program occurred on May 4-7 of this year at Domus Galilaeae, the Catholic center for study and prayer in the Galilee. Domus Galilaeae opened in the year 2000 upon the visit of Pope John Paul II to the Land of Israel, with the hope that the Domus would become a locus for interfaith dialogue.

The program was coordinated and hosted by the Neocatechumenal Way, an outreach movement within the Roman Catholic Church focusing on the Catholic formation of adults. The nature of the Neocatechumenal Way was defined by Pope John Paul II as follows: “I recognize the Neocatechumenal Way as an itinerary of Catholic Formation, valid for our society and for our times, and as instrument in the parishes at the service of the bishop to return to faith many of those who abandoned it.”

Although the Neocatechumenal Way is known for its warm approach to outreach, the word “Catechumenal” invokes haunting memories of terror for the Jewish People. The Casa dei Catecumeni (House of Catechumens) was an institution that was founded in Italy in 1543 at the instigation of Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits Order. The purpose of the House of Cathecumens was to educate infidels who converted to the Catholic faith both voluntarily and by force. In Rome, the local House of Catechumens had to be financed by the Jewish community, by decree of the Church.

A torah scroll is worshipped like a museum piece at Domus Galilaeae,  surrrounded by the pratictioners of idolatry.

A torah scroll is worshipped like a museum piece at Domus Galilaeae, surrrounded by the pratictioners of idolatry.

In 1858, Edgardo Mortara, a seven year-old Jewish boy, was abducted by the Papal police and eventually brought to the House of Catechumens in Rome. Despite international protests, Pope Pius IX refused to release the Mortara child, who subsequently grew up to become a Catholic priest. These are but some of the events that evoke memories of fear and persecution on the part of contemporary Jews who are acquainted with the history when they hear about a neo-Catechumens program, even though the Neocatechumenal Way does not engage in the conduct of its namesake.

A humungus complex of idol worship here in the heart of Israel; Domus Galilaeae.

A humungus complex of idol worship here in the heart of Israel; Domus Galilaeae.

According to a May 11 Vatican Radio interview with Kiko Argüello, founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, the May 4-7 Domus Galilaeae interfaith gathering was one of genuine, shared religious service and study, leaving a profound impact on the Jewish attendees:

R. – We did it here, dancing together: cardinals, bishops, and all rabbis. It was exciting! They (the rabbis) could not believe their eyes to what was going on. It’s really a historical fact. They want us to continue this relationship. One thing that most impressed them was the passage of the faith to new generations, because they have many problems on this. Young people, in fact, secularists. We screened a video that explained how the passage of faith is done in the Way. They were impressed on how parents can explain to their children the Word; ask themselves about their children: what you say today that Word in your life? They remained impressed and want us to help them in this.

Q. – There was a common prayer?

R. – We had Vespers, led by a rabbi, Wednesday night, in all their forms, in which we participated; and then, on Thursday morning, also they wished that you could pray Christians, and we did Lauds, presided over by Cardinal Schönborn, with Psalms, with a reading of the prophet Isaiah, and Chapter 60, 1-5, with a homily made Cardinal Schönborn which was very welcome.

Q. – At the end, what has been the reaction of the rabbis?

R. – We received exciting experiences … Another rabbi who (attended) said: “I tell you frankly, that I realized something, listening to Kiko. I in my family, in my tradition, I never heard that God loves us “, and said with a force that moved the assembly. “I saw Him here, in this house. – He said – I saw him really in the facts: as they welcomed us … “, in the experiences that I have heard in the groups, as they spoke, these couples, these families, these brothers of the Neocatechumenal Way, saying with their lives, as God had loved, as he had redeemed, saved them … He said: “Well here, I asked my wife: ‘But you, for example, have you heard from someone in your life, in the synagogue, this word, that God He loves us? ‘” And his wife said to him: “No, I have not ever heard, ever heard!” And the rabbi said: “Me too …” There was also a very moving experience of Rabbi Greenberg of the United States. The environment that is created at the end you cannot describe, really! Then, we also had times very familiar, we had dances … there was a spirit of communion really very strong! 

The sight of rabbis gleefully reveling in fraternity and endearment with cardinals, bishops and priests can make even the simplest Jews of Rome’s ghetto cringe. But let’s analyze this all further.

The Catholic leaders at Domus Galilaeae displayed sensitivity and love, as they covered crucifixes and went all out to host and accommodate their Jewish guests. The Catholic hosts reached out gracefully to the Jewish guests in every way, serving kosher food, providing a bonfire for Lag B’Omer, asking a rabbi to lead some of the prayers, and much more.

While we greatly appreciate the graciousness of the hosts, we direct our criticism to our Jewish brethren – the guests, whose participation was in stark and dangerous breach of clear and controlling halakhic rulings, and whose attendance set a precarious precedent.

R. Moshe Feinstein, in a set of halakhic letters penned in 1967 to R. Yosef B. Soloveitchik of Boston and to Dr. Bernard Lander (Igr. Moshe YD 3:43-44), unequivocally forbade Jewish participation in ecumenical dialogue with the Church, citing both concern for apostasy as well as inherent prohibitions of such dialogue. R. Feinstein was firm as steel that participation of any sort constituted grave infractions of Halakha.

In a series of halakhic and binding policy correspondence between 1962 and 1967 (published in Community, Covenant and Commitment), R. Soloveitchik articulated his unyielding position that Jewish delegations should not and may not take part in religious discussion with the Church. R. Soloveitchik expressed concern for apostasy and wrote that the Jewish and Christian religious differences and world outlooks are irreconcilable, such that discussion thereof would be wholly unfruitful and would be wrong.

Although, unlike R. Feinstein, R. Soloveitchik maintained that in theory, dialogue with the Church about “humanitarian and cultural endeavors” – universal, practical issues that do not touch upon personal religious beliefs and practices – would be acceptable and even positive (ibid. p. 260), the context of such dialogue in the situations addressed by R. Soloveitchik caused him to prohibit Jewish participation therein. R. Soloveitchik was adamant and unapologetic in his refusal to allow any form of personal religious discourse between Judaism and Christianity, and the circumstances and impressions conveyed by even otherwise permissible interchange compelled him to comprehensively ban such interchange in his correspondence.

R. Soloveitchik affirmed the same in his seminal 1964 essay Confrontation, in which he wrote in part:

…we must state, in unequivocal terms, the following. We are a totally independent faith community. We do not revolve as a satellite in any orbit. Nor are we related to any other faith community as “brethren” even though “separated.”… For the mere appraisal of the worth of one community in terms of the service it has rendered to another community, no matter how great and important this service was, constitutes an infringement of the sovereignty and dignity of even the smallest of faith communities … Hence, it is important that the religious or theological logos should not be employed as the medium of communication between two faith communities … The relationship between two communities must be outer-directed and related to the secular orders with which men of faith come face to face. In the secular sphere, we may discuss positions to be taken, ideas to be evolved, and plans to be formulated. In these matters, religious communities may together recommend action to be developed and may seize the initiative to be implemented later by general society.

The Rabbinical Council of America, in a statement of addendum issued that same year, formally adopted R. Soloveitchik’s position as its official policy.

Later that year, R. Soloveitchik penned an open letter for publication in the Rabbinical Council of America Record, which reads in part:

We are, therefore, opposed to any public debate, dialogue or symposium concerning the doctrinal, dogmatic or ritual aspects of our faith vis-à-vis “similar” aspects of another faith community. We believe in and are committed to our Maker in a specific manner and we will not question, defend, offer apologies, analyze or rationalize our faith in dialogues centered about these “private” topics which express our personal relationship to the God of Israel.       

The priests of baal.

The priests of Baal.

It must be noted that these rulings of R. Feinstein and R. Soloveitchik were issued during and after the Second Vatican Council and Nostra Aetate, and that R. Feinstein and R. Soloveitchik never rescinded these rulings, despite official changes in Church policy toward Judaism and Jews during that period and the next several decades, throughout which R. Feinstein and R. Soloveitchik were alive and actively teaching and issuing halakhic and theological pronouncements. Direct family members of R. Soloveitchik have personally verified that R. Soloveitchik held resolutely to his rulings on these issues to the very end. R. Dovid Feinstein has affirmed that the positions of his father, R. Moshe Feinstein, pertain to these issues and remain in force to this very day, and R. Soloveitchik’s close disciples have likewise restated the firm position of R. Soloveitchik on these issues and their enduring relevance and applicability to the present and beyond. (Following a 2004 yeshiva visit by high-ranking Church clergy, R. Herschel Reichman, an intimate disciple of R. Soloveitchik, stated that R. Soloveitchik’s ban on interfaith religious discourse includes discussion regarding methods of religious study, even when the actual topics of study are not broached.)

R. Shmuel Ha-Levi Wosner (Shevet Ha-Levi II:59) addressed the permissibility of joint prayer between Jews and Christians and unequivocally forbade it. Other major halakhic authorities who have weighed in on these matters similarly ruled prohibitively. Furthermore, it is quite interesting that R. Aharon Soloveichik, otherwise known to be a social liberal in many situations, was staunchly and animatedly opposed to any interfaith discourse.

We would be remiss for failure to quote the words of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe on our subject:

The concept of “fraternity between nations” is fundamentally positive as long as it is limited to the context of trade, philanthropic institutions and other matters of civil and economic society … However, the claim by believers of a religion to explain their faith and their religious customs to people of other religions and to expose themselves to explanations like that indicates a misunderstanding of the concept of “brotherhood”. Unfortunately, these inter-religious activities have caused at best an increase in confusion and at worst have been an instrument in the hands of missionaries of those religions that see it as a “mission” to spread their faith among people of other religions. The steep rise in the number of mixed marriages has many causes. However there is no doubt that one of the important factors is the movement “inter-religious” or “dialogue” (to put it mildly) in the context of which the priests of a religion are invited to preach from the pulpit of other religions. It is not difficult to realize the destructive effect of this phenomenon in relation to those young people, and also in respect to their parents, whose orientation and loyalty to their faith border on the absolute minimum and approach zero. 

We are at a watershed moment in history, as well-known rabbis en masse contravene the accepted, binding and precedent halakhic rulings of the most preeminent halakhic authorities of the past century and beyond. The notion that shared religious observances and prayer, intense personal faith discussion and mutual religious-emotional rites would be engaged in by rabbis in unison with Roman Catholic clergy flies in the face of the powerful halakhic and theological tradition promulgated and embraced by our people, as espoused by its leading and commanding rabbinic luminaries.

The time has come to disengage from further ecumenical discourse and observances, with respect and thanks, in deference to the serious and robust halakhic and theological mandate of our nation’s preeminent rabbinic authorities. It is time to say, “Thank you, but no thank you.”

The spread of Messianics in the Diaspora and Israel

by Diane Weber Bederman

MAY 10, 2015, 2:34 PM 6

What propels Christian Zionists? Why do they love Israel so much? CBS reporter Bob Simon, in a 1992 “60 Minutes” program found the answer: Because the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland is seen by Evangelicals as a precondition for the Second Coming of Christ.

Somehow I don’t see the Jews as the winners from all this love. The Jews have given their blood in more wars since 1948 than I care to remember in order to keep this Jewish homeland Jewish, yet they aren’t the principle winners in this vision.

I want to introduce you to Canadian Wayne Hilsden, living in Israel since 1983. He is cofounder of King of Kings Community Jerusalem (KKCJ) a congregation located in the heart of Jerusalem. All made possible with the help of the Lord as he is wont to say.

“The vision of King of Kings Community is ‘to be a compelling, Messiah-centered, Spirit-empowered, disciple-making community that reveals the true face of Yeshua (Jesus) to Israel and to the nations.’”

Hilsden believes God recently gave him a mandate to “get Israel back into biblical theology.” He sought the Lord for a fresh vision for the future and came to see that KKCJ “should be identified even more closely with the local, messianic Jewish Body in Jerusalem and Israel and be rooted more deeply in the soil of Israel.” He then formed FIRM(Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries) in 2014. Its mission: “to unite a global fellowship of biblically sound believers committed to cultivating Messiah-centered relationships that work to bless the inhabitants of Israel and the worldwide Jewish community.”

And at the same time offering as proof of its support for Palestinian human rights, FIRM enlisted Jerusalem-based attorney and activist, Calev Myers, in forming its board of directors. The same Calev Myers, about whom I have written extensively who declared “We believe the day is coming, friends, when Jesus once again will reveal himself to Israel, to the Jewish people.”

Snap shot of what goes on in with KKCJ; opening night of the Feast of Tabernacles at the new arena Jerusalem.

Hilsden (KKCJ) and Calev Myers are also affiliated with ICEJ-The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem which has 70 chapters world-wide. ICEJ’s Envision conferences in Jerusalem bring together Evangelical pastors and Israeli messianic missionary leadership including Myers and Hilsden and Tel Aviv born Avi Mizrachi of Israel’s Dugit Messianic Outreach Center and Adonai Roi Congregation 

Watch ICEJ and KKCJ.

Hilsden said “A sense of urgency came into my spirit that there is a force, primarily spiritual in nature, that is seeking to destroy the people of Israel. God is calling us to have a special plan for Israel that reaches well into the future and culminating at the time when the Lord returns.”

I find this all rather confusing. I wrote a piece on Messianics that included Hilsden. I received a gmail admonishing me that Hilsden is not a Messianic. He’s a gentile. OK. He must have a large department that watches all media to have found my article and then me.

Hilsden has established parameters for the development of local Messianic Congregations. There would need to be:

a greater emphasis on the Jewish/Old Testament roots of our faith; a worship-style more suited to Jewish-Israeli culture; an expression of our message of Yeshua (Jesus) in terms Israelis could relate to and understand; a commitment to stand alongside the nation of Israel through prayer and practical support; a deeper level of communication and cooperation with other Messianic communities in Israel and abroad.

And then there was a concerted effort to raise up Messianic believers to join the leadership team for planting congregations. So far, two other congregations have been planted.

Hilsden is thrilled with the expansion of the ministry and property. They are located in the Clal Building with a view from the 14th floor, the highest floor of The Jerusalem Prayer Tower “strategically located so that you can see almost all the way around Jerusalem!”

They have established a Hebrew-speaking fellowship along with their English services; a Bible College; the Kings School of Media which opened in 2009 to” raise up believers in the land to take forward God’s Word through media.” They have a Messianic school of music and arts in Jerusalem and a branch in Tel Aviv.

“Over the years, God has allowed us, by His grace, to catch His vision and see it come to pass step by step. But of course, we are not about to just sit back and be nostalgic. We’re called to ‘press on’ (Phil 3:12). There is so much more that God wants to accomplish in and through us.”

Over the Shavuot holiday there will be another massive missionary event. “Among the prominent missionary leaders scheduled to take part, according to Yad L’Achim, are Avi Mizrachi of a missionary congregation in Tel Aviv, Avner Bursky, Shira Sorko Ram of Tiferet Yeshua and Maoz Israel, Koby Ferguson, and others.” The four-day extravaganza will be open to the public, free of charge and takes place in the newly-built Orna Hall in the Malha complex in southern Jerusalem. Room for 11,600 spectators.

Gershom Gorenberg, author of “The End of Days,” said “The Jews die or convert. As a Jew, I can’t feel very comfortable with the affections of somebody who looks forward to that scenario… They don’t love the real Jewish people. They love us as characters in their story, in their play, and that’s not who we are. And we never auditioned for that part, and the play is not one that ends up good for us… If you listen to the drama that they are describing, essentially, it’s a five-act play in which the Jews disappear in the fourth act.”

The New Christian Zionism and the Jews

A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP

By Rachel Tabachnick*

In late October, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel spoke at a Christians United for Israel (CUFI) event hosted by the controversial Christian Zionist John Hagee at his Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. Internationally broadcast on GodTV, Hagee presented $9 million in donations to 29 Israeli and U.S. Jewish organizations.[1] Hagee is one of the world’s most successful televangelists and a prolific author who prophesizes that apocalyptic wars and the migration of Jews to the holy land will help trigger the return of Jesus and his thousand-year reign on earth.

Wiesel joins a long list of Jews and Israelis who show no discomfort at being in the center of someone else’s apocalyptic religious vision. Making common cause with Christian Zionists are the lobby group American Israel Political Action Committee, which hosted Hagee as a conference keynote speaker in 2007, and Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, who attended a CUFI summit last July.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, a very different kind of “pro-Israel” gathering was taking place. J Street, the “pro-peace, pro-Israel” lobby group, was holding its first national conference with panels featuring American, Israeli and Palestinian speakers. Hundreds gathered in the ballroom of the Washington D.C. Grand Hyatt for the conference, whose program explicitly stated that J Street aims to challenge “right-wing Christian Zionists” – the very people Wiesel was addressing.[2]

J Street ’s leaders are not the first in the Jewish community to resist the embrace of Christian Zionism. Rabbi Eric Yoffie of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism has stated that an alliance with Christian Zionists must be rejected for the sake of Israel.[3] Still, there has been little education in the Jewish community on the precise nature of these dangers. Indeed, some Jews may avoid publicly criticizing Christian Zionists out of concern that it would damage interfaith relations – though Christians show no hesitation in criticizing Hagee. Others, including a few questioned at the J Street conference, say Christian Zionist beliefs are of absolutely no interest to them.

Yet it is their beliefs about the end times which drive their activism. The traditional fundamentalist leaders of the movement preach that Jews returning to the Holy Land are a necessary part of the end times in which born-again Christians will escape death as they are raptured into heaven. Jews and other nonbelievers will remain on earth to suffer under the seven-year reign of the anti-Christ. Then, as the story goes, Jesus will come back with his armies, be accepted by the surviving Jews, and reign for a thousand years. This belief motivates adherents to send funds for West Bank settlements, to lobby for preemptive wars seen as precursors to the end times, and support Jews in the diaspora to make “aliyah” and move to Israel.

Now Christian Zionism – along with much of evangelicalism – is being swept by a charismatic movement which has rewritten the role of Jews in their end times narrative. [4] These charismatics, like Pentecostals, believe that they are endowed by God with supernatural spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues and faith healing. However, these charismatic also believe that God directly reveals new prophecy to their leaders who are unifying the church in preparation for the end times. In their increasingly popular narrative, it is not unconverted but only converted or so-called Messianic Jews who will serve as the trigger for the return of Jesus and the advent of the millennial (thousand year) kingdom on earth. This growing belief is driving the movement to aggressively proselytize Jews and to support “Messianic” ministries in both Israel and Jewish communities worldwide. One splinter group has even taken this story to an extreme, saying they themselves are the “true Israelites” who will play the prophetic role of establishing heaven on earth by moving to Israel.

As we shall see, their distinct end times narratives share an implicit antisemitism creating the movement’s paradoxical love/hate relationship with the Jews. Far from positive, the obsessive “philosemitism” – or love of Jews – of Christian Zionists is tied to a volatile and changing view of the end times that also changes their view of how they should “support” Jews and Israel in fulfilling prophecy. And this obsession has a history of turning ugly.

ANTISEMITISM AND HISTORIC CHRISTIAN ZIONISM

The partnership of Christian Zionists with Israeli leaders dates back to the 1970s, when Israeli prime minister Menachim Begin of the Likud Party and Christian Right leader Jerry Falwell joined forces to oppose U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s support for a Palestinian state. Israel’s alliance with Christian Zionists has only grown in recent decades. As support from increasingly alienated U.S. Jews lagged, Christian Zionists filled the gap with donations and tourism.. Israeli Ambassador Oren even rejected an invitation to attend J Street’s October conference while attending CUFI’s in July.[5]

Ambassador Oren would be wise to reconsider his choice of allies.

Christian Zionists openly portray Jews not as ordinary people, but as superhuman or subhuman, paralleling antisemitic story lines. 

john-hagee-jonathan-feldsteinCamouflaged in love and an exuberant support for Israel, Hagee and other Christian Zionists openly teach narratives that parallel the story lines of overt anti-Semitism in which Jews are portrayed not as ordinary people, but as superhuman or subhuman. With almost no challenge (and often endorsement) from Jewish leadership, Christian Zionists are stripping away the hard-won humanity of Jews with a broadcast capacity and international reach that overtly antisemitic organizations could never match. Their belief that they are saving Jews from themselves allows them to proceed with a sense of self-righteousness and to draw in millions of well-meaning people. History demonstrates that once this humanity has been stripped away, the door is opened for unconcealed hatred, fear, and even genocide of these perceived superhuman/subhuman beings.

Even the long-established Christian Zionist narrative has antisemitic undertones. Christian Zionists talk about themselves as “fishers” who entice Jews to move to Israel, while “hunters” are those who violently force the Jews who are unresponsive to the fishers. This well-used motif –found throughout the movement’s media –is problematic for many reasons, not least in requiring a worldwide wave of antisemitism, described by some as a second holocaust, to ensure Jews fulfill their prophetic destiny.

Hagee is always careful not to use the phrase “second holocaust” but he drew on this motif when he notoriously said that Hitler was a hunter sent by God, prompting John McCain to reject his endorsement in the 2008 Presidential race.[6] The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman and other Jewish leaders should not have accepted Hagee at face value when he said he was joining rabbinical discourse in making his Hitler remark.[7]

Christian Zionist literature regularly uses this threat of the second holocaust to warn, or intimidate, Jews to move to Israel before it is “too late,” and steeps it with additional antisemitic imagery. In Let My People Go, Tom Hess describes his vision of trains taking fleeing Jews from the major cities of the world as they voluntarily leave for Israel, thus saving themselves from an impending holocaust. Its cover shows a Jewish businessman chained to Wall Street, and the book is filled with stereotypes of Jews as money-oriented materialists and worse.[8] Hess’ ministry, based in Israel, sends the books to Jewish households around the world , and claims to have distributed tens of thousands to the “fish” as he calls the Jews of Russia and Ukraine. Hess also hosts the annual Christian Governmental Leaders Luncheon in conjunction with the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus.[9]

Another book, Blow the Trumpet in Zion, lists “The Jew’s Final Holocaust” above “Why Christians Should Love Jews” on its back cover promotion.[10] Its author is Richard Booker, who has worked with the Christian Allies Caucus and Jerusalem Connection, headed by former CUFI director James Hutchens.[11] The best-selling book of another prominent Christian Zionist describes this second holocaust as “beyond the horrors of Sobibor, Treblinka, and Auschwitz – all of the death camps combined.”[12]

Some Christian Zionists believe a second holocaust is necessary to force the repentance of Jews.

These Christian Zionists believe a second holocaust is necessary to force the repentance of Jews.

Hagee argues that his support for Israel has “absolutely nothing to do with eschatology,” referring to end times theology.[13] Yet he has built an international broadcast audience advertised as reaching 190 nations with his apocalyptic sermons echoing these themes. Hagee often delivers these sermons while standing in front of large panels illustrating figures of the end times including the Antichrist – who he describes as gay and “partially Jewish as was Adolph Hitler” –and the “Great Harlot of Mystery Babylon,” whom Hagee claims represents “Romanism” or the Roman Catholic church.[14]

Former Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold, when questioned about the dangers of this end times eschatology – which ends with the destruction of Judaism – responded, “All religions have eschatology. The question is whether somebody believes they can move the clock of eschatology forward by themselves. The only one who says that is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran.”[15]

But in fact many Christian Zionists do believe they can move the clock, as a quick glance at Armageddonbooks.com shows. Among the titles is Hastening the Messiah, Your Role in Fulfilling Prophecy. The author, Johannes Facius, is a former head of the Ebenezer Emergency Fund and Operation Exodus, credited with moving over 116,000 Jews to Israel from the former Soviet Union. Hagee’s mentor wrote the foreword. Its fourth chapter is titled “Fishers and Hunters.”[16]

John Hagee’s ministry magazine also suggests evangelicals can move the clock – by donating to Hagee’s ministry. In an issue with a dramatic war scene and the words “World War III Has Begun” on its cover, a page two ad solicits funds with the headline, “Become a Part of Biblical Prophecy.” The ad’s donation form states, “I want to be a part of fulfillment of prophecy and the courageous effort to return Jewish families to their homeland.”[17]

MILLENNIALISM AND ANTISEMITISM, PAST AND PRESENT

Unless put in context of these paradoxical end times narratives, it is easy to misinterpret Christian Zionists’ millennial obsession. CUFI’s Jewish participants are moved by the Christian Zionist outpouring of emotion for Israel, and the trapping of Jewish ritual, blowing shofars, singing in Hebrew, wearing tallitot (prayer shawls), and celebrating Jewish holidays. The CUFI “Night to Honor Israel” event at which Wiesel spoke was double-billed as the “Feast of Tabernacles,”[18] a celebration based on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot which Hagee infuses with a millennial and Christian supremacist theology.[19]

Wiesel acknowledged the outpouring of support for Israel at the event, saying, “Never in the history of my people have we witnessed an event such as this.”[20] Yet the current wave of Christian Zionism is eerily reminiscent of the wave of Judeocentric millennialism of a century ago, picking up on similar terminology and end times narratives. The millennial wave of the last century included fascination with Hebrew roots, groups claiming to be Israelites, and a philosemitic embrace of Jews.

Narratives based on biblical genealogy and Israelite “Identity” included Anglo- or British-Israelism, which was exported to the United States and adopted by evangelists including Charles Parham, the founder of Pentecostalism.[21] Queen Victoria’s genealogy was traced back to King David, and colonialism was justified as the proper role of “the chosen people” –Anglo-Israelites. Like Christian Zionists of today, they described wars in terms of biblical genealogy, and depending on strategic alliances of the moment, described Germans as either fellow “Israelites” or descendants of the hated Assyrians. These philosemitic British Israelites attacked antisemitism from the pages of the journal “The Banner of Israel.”[22] But a prominent British Israelite was also editor of the notoriously antisemitic Dearborn Independent, a lead newspaper publishing conspiracies based on the notorious forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The movement’s philosemitism easily transitioned into antisemitism.

The volatility of the last century’s obsession with biblical genealogy and Judeocentric narratives also spawned Christian Identity, the theology held by contemporary White supremacists. They view Jews as an evil race descending from Esau, and see themselves as the true heirs of Israel.[23] Their practice often includes “Hebrew” ritual including the “Feast of Tabernacles” based on Sukkot.

Hagee shares this obsession with a distinct race descended from Esau. In his book Jerusalem Countdown, he claims that a genetically evil race of “half-breed Jews” spawned Hitler and credits Esau’s descendants with the persecution of Jews throughout history.[24]

The recognized theological source of modern Christian Zionism is U.S. fundamentalism from the last century, which has its own history of embracing antisemitism. Many leaders such as William Bell Riley, perhaps the major leader of fundamentalism, merged religious narratives with secular antisemitic conspiracies including the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion which theysaw as supporting their end times narrative.[25]

Today’s internationally broadcast Christian Zionist media is a major source of anti-Jewish conspiracy thinking and features New World Order conspiracism.[26] Hagee preaches from the pulpit that the American dollar is being intentionally devalued through the Federal Reserve by a conspiracy of the Illuminati, Rothschilds, and European bankers.[27]

These narratives echo claims from the Middle Ages that Jews have supernatural control over the destiny of others, a concept that is now being spread by Christian Zionists to Africa and other continents, paving the way for acceptance of virulently antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Entire Christian Zionist books are dedicated to linking natural or human disasters to Israel. For instance, in John McTernan’s recent book, As America has done to Israel, he claims that Katrina victims were drowned in their attics as God’s retribution for the removal of settlers from Gaza who had fled to their rooftops to avoid eviction.[28] William Koenig’s 2004 book Eye to Eye lists terrorist attacks and misfortunes of presidents as God’s revenge on America for “land for peace” negotiations.[29] The writers frame their accounts as pro-Israel, and the fulfillment of Genesis 12:3, which reads, “And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse.”

Hagee picks up on another antisemitic story line with a long history when he demeans the much revered Rabbi Hillel. In Final Dawn over Jerusalem, Hagee states that antisemitism comes from the bowels of hell but, in the same book, claims Hillel was an “extremist” and his Pharisee followers were “sword-carrying legalists” who plotted to have Jesus killed. It is they, he claims, who are responsible for Christian antisemitism.[30]

The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber analyzed how propaganda mischaracterizing the Pharisees as the more legalistic sect of Judaism in the time of Jesus impacted 1920s anti-Semitism. Author Paul R. Mendes-Flor states about Buber, “Debating the opponents of Jewry, he realized that the anti-Pharisaism which pervaded modern attitudes toward Judaism was not only a distortion but animated virtually every species of metaphysical anti-Semitism.”[31] The demonization of Pharisees is becoming increasingly common today, particularly in Pentecostal and other charismatic media. They equate the Pharisees with a literal demon said to be the source of legalism and division in the church.[32]

Today those Jewish leaders who embrace Christian Zionists heap ridicule on those who resist, accusing them of being overly defensive. In Evangelicals and Israel, author Stephen Spector quotes Elliot Abrams as saying “anti-Christian bias seems to be the only form of prejudice that American Jews consider respectable.”[33] The unwillingness of Jews to return the embrace of that era’s millennial-minded “philosemites” was also ridiculed in a famous publication of 1920,

The future of the Jew, as prophetically outlined, is intimately bound up with the future of this planet, and the Christian church in large part – at least by the evangelical wing, which the Jews most condemn – sees a Restoration of the Chosen People yet to come. If the mass of the Jews knew how understandingly and sympathetically all the prophecies concerning them are being studied in the Church, and the faith that exists that these prophecies will find fulfillment and that they will result in great Jewish service to society at large, they would probably regard the Church with another mind.[34]

The quote is from Henry Ford’s The International Jew, derived from his reading of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Marketing efforts by CUFI and others to convince today’s Jews to embrace Christian Zionists frequently cite the last century’s support for “regathering of the Jews” in Palestine as evidence that the movement is friendly or benign. This cherry-picking of history ignores the fact that the same millennial narratives played a significant role in the objectification of, and obsession with, Jews in the early 20th century. Since then these quasi-religious narratives have kept the motifs of antisemitism alive during a time when overt antisemitism is not acceptable in society. Today’s Christian Zionism has reintroduced these dehumanizing narratives back into the mainstream of much of the evangelical world as well as the general public.

CHRISTIAN ZIONISM IN TRANSITION

As Christian Zionism changes, attacks on Judaism are becoming more overt. The bulk of the shift in Christian Zionism is a result of the growing international dominance of charismatics who reject the concept of being raptured and stress the conversion of Jews to trigger the end times.

In their version of the end times drama, they do not watch idly from the grandstands of heaven after being raptured but remain on earth to fight evil and the anti-Christ themselves. It is Jesus who remains in heaven until the job is completed and a Christian Israel calls out for his return. This cleansing of the earth is done by the combined forces of charismatic or “spirit-filled” Christians and their Messianic partners, the term applied to Jews who convert but retain Jewish identity. The shorthand catchphrase for this distinctive end times narrative involving converted Jews is “one new man in Yeshua.”

Not surprisingly, the growing importance of converts in the end times narrative is encouraging a new wave of proselytizing to convert Jews to Christianity. As Hagee’s Jewish allies are quick to point out, he publicly opposes proselytizing, but much of his organization’s leadership and events are hosted by those who have embraced this “one new man” ideology and you can find it throughout Christian Zionist media. Hagee also publicly endorsed a Messianic ministry in Israel.[35]

These charismatics identify with a coalescing movement called the New Apostolic Reformation (or simply “Apostolic and Prophetic”) which teaches that a unified church will lead the fight during the end times. Lou Engle, made famous in the film Jesus Camp, is a leading “Apostle” in the movement and Ted Haggard, the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, partnered in the movement’s launch. Sarah Palin has close ties to leading Apostles and during the 2008 elections their broadcasted prophecies claimed that Palin was divinely “anointed” for leadership. [36]

CUFI director Stephen Strang is a prominent Apostle and uses his magazine, Charisma, to promote it.[37] In celebration of Israel’s sixtieth birthday, Charisma dedicated much of its May 2008 issue to Christian Zionists and Messianics who are working to proselytize Jews in Israel. Another CUFI director, Robert Stearns, is the editor of a popular Apostolic and Prophetic magazine and cofounder of the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem (DPPJ).[38] The DPPJ is the largest single Christian Zionist event with advertised participation of 200,000 churches in 175 nations, and endorsed by the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus.[39]

What are these 200,000 churches praying for when they pray for the peace of Jerusalem?

In a 2005 Christian Broadcast Network interview, Stearns said that all participating churches received the book Your People Shall Be My People which explains the“one new man in Yeshua” ideology and pleads with churches to support Messianic ministries.[40] Author Don Finto introduces a multidenominational council of charismatic leaders whose mission is to “recognize and welcome Jewish believers in Yeshua without requiring them to abandon their Jewish identity and practice” with the “ultimate purpose in unifying the Body and restoring the Jewish believers to their rightful place is the hastening of the coming of the Lord Yeshua in glory and the full accomplishment of His work in the kingdom of God.”[41]

By repenting of the Holocaust and allowing Messianics to retain their Jewish identity, these Christian Zionists teach that the stumbling blocks will be removed and Jews will convert in large numbers. In his book Prepare the Way, Stearns claimed that this is happening at an unprecedented rate, stating, “Our elder brother is returning from the dead.”[42] This echoes his CUFI colleague Hagee, who after his infamous Hitler as hunter quote said, “Now they (the Jews) are physically alive, but they are not spiritually alive.”[43]

Stearns ally Jack Hayford, a charismatic leader who cofounded the Day of Prayer, also founded The King’s College and Seminary which has a special division to train Messianics to become the “anointed Spirit-filled team players in the redemption of all Israel.”[44] The seminary coordinates with Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, which trains Messianic leaders in Jewish communities in Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Russia, and Ukraine in order to bring “life to the dead” as stated in its promotional materials.[45]

Another stated goal of the Christian Zionist/Messianic partnership is to fight antisemitism. However while they are very anxious to defend Israel from an Islamic world they view as a common enemy, this conceals the fact that they are equally determined to save Israel from Judaism.

In Your People Shall Be My People, Finto quotes convert Dan Juster as stating “Rabbinic Judaism is a more severe departure from biblical faith than I had ever realized in my early days of Jewish recovery… We who are Jewish are biblical New Covenant Jews, not Rabbinic Jews!”[46]

Stearns describes Juster as the Thomas Jefferson of Messianic Judaism and a “sovereign vessel the Lord has raised up to pioneer this End-Time move.”[47] Juster explained to the 2009 Promise Keepers revival in Boulder that, “The conversion of Israel is a necessary precondition for ushering in the Messianic age. We can only accomplish this task by coming together as one new man. Only then will we have the power to convert Israel.”[48]

Despite easily accessible evidence to the contrary, Robert Stearns was portrayed throughout the book Evangelicals and Israel as the ideal Christian Zionist who refuses to proselytize and has no ulterior end times motives.[49] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has personally endorsed Stearn’s ministry.[50] Evangelicals and Israel has endorsements on the back cover from ADL’s Abraham Foxman and Walter Russell Mead. And in a truly wrongheaded review of the book in Foreign Affairs, Mead suggested that Democrats court Christian Zionists to join their party.[51]

MILLENNIAL DISILLUSIONMENT: BETTER JEWS THAN THE JEWS

Richard Landes, director of the Center for the Millennial Studies project of Boston University, has described cycles of millennial expectation and disappointment dating back to the year 1000. In 1999 he described the modern wave as constituting “the most sustained and unusually philo-Judaic apocalyptic manifestation in the history of Christianity.”[52] Many Jewish leaders dismiss millennialism as benign because they don’t believe that the predicted trials or Jesus’ return to earth will take place. However, Landes warns that the real danger stems from the disillusionment when Jesus doesn’t come back. He asks, “How long can an apocalyptic wave continue? Does all this apocalyptic philo-Judaism of the upswing imply a coming wave of equally intense anti-Judaism in the wake of (inevitable) disappointment?”[53]

We already are seeing the onset of disillusionment with Jews who resist playing their assigned prophetic role. Believing themselves to be better Jews than the Jews, Christian Zionists step in to fill the role themselves. Like the British Israelites of the last century, today a group calling themselves Ephraimites believe themselves to be the true Israelites. But unlike the British Israelites, they are multiracial, including Whites, Blacks and Latinos, and even international.

Members of Israel’s Likud Party are working with these Ephraimites and other Christian Zionists through World Likud, headed by Danny Danon.[54] Following a 2007 conference in Texas with Likud leaders, Joel Bell and friends launched a new organization called Worldwide Biblical Zionism (WBZ) to provide housing, legal assistance, employment aid, and military training to Christian Zionists who wish to make aliyah to Israel and the West Bank.[55]

Several leaders in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government participated in the inaugural WBZ event on November 16, 2008, including Gideon Sa’ar, current Minister of Education; Ayoob Kara, Deputy Minister of Development of the Negev and Galilee; and Yulie Edelstein, Minister of Information and Diaspora Affairs.[56] Much of the outreach in the United States has been by Sagiv Assulin, the Knesset Leader of the Young.

One group reporting contact with Assulin is the Messianic Israel Alliance (MIA), whose name is misleading since the organization is comprised of Ephraimite Christians who believe they have a right to land in Israel. Before their 2008 national convention, they formed a “Provisional Israelite Council in Exile” and demanded their “inalienable right of return to their biblical inheritance and historical territory located in current Samaria and Judea.”[57]

The Ephraimites of MIA believe that they must be fruitful and fill the population gap that will occur as Israel expands to its future borders and “to replace the 235,000,000 non-Jews” who will be removed from the “Red Sea” to the “River Euphrates.” MIA’s leader, Angus Wootten, stated in a 2008 newsletter, “If YHVH would tomorrow remove the million plus Palestinians, who are citizens of Israel, and the three and half million in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, how would, or how could, the present Jewish population of Israel take possession of the land the Palestinians had occupied? And if that isn’t a big enough challenge, add taking possession of Southern Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Western Arabia, and the Sinai.”[58]

Christian Zionists commonly describe the millions of current occupants as expendable, and John Hagee has written, “In modern terms Israel rightfully owns all of present-day Israel, all of Lebanon, half of Syria, two-thirds of Jordan, all of Iraq, and the northern portion of Saudi Arabia.”[59]

In his December 18, 2007 newsletter, Wootten, unhappy with the then-current Israeli government, stated, “SOS Israel, an umbrella group of Jewish settlers now living in Judea and Samaria, has said that in fulfillment of their biblical mandate they will declare a new Jewish state independent of Israel… Their objective is to form a New Jewish Congress that will eventually gain sovereignty of the Jewish Nation over the secular state.” Any Israeli government that does not see Christian Zionists as part of the “Nation of Israel” is illegitimate, he charged.[60]

On August 10, 2008, as part of their international convention, the MIA conducted a “March to the Arch” carrying banners, shofars, flags, and wearing t-shirts stating, “We are Israel.”[61]

It is not clear whether WBZ will succeed in bringing substantial numbers of Christians to the West Bank even as Christian Zionist funds continue to flow to the region; Ariel, described as the capital of “Samaria,” has a swimming pool named for CUFI director Billye Brim, located in the “John Hagee Building.” In fact, there are signs of a backlash within Likud against Christian Zionism that could interfere with the Ephraimites fulfilling their hopes. Moshe Feiglin is among the most right-wing of Likud politicians, but he recently disengaged from his partnership with Christian Zionists.[62] He wrote in the Jewish Press,

The Christian conquest is much more dangerous than the Muslim conquest because it is not direct. It is not violent. Embracing and supportive, it connects with Israel against the Muslim enemy. It supports a Jewish Land of Israel in its entirety – even speaking up for the sanctity of the connection between the Nation of Israel, the Land of Israel and the Torah of Israel. It just forgets to specify which Nation of Israel and which Torah.[63]

CHRISTIAN ZIONISM GOES GLOBAL

In Singapore a stadium of people sing popular Messianic music in Hebrew. In Zambia a network of churches define themselves as Messianic, call their preachers “rabbis,” and celebrate Christianized versions of Jewish holidays. In London, Christian Zionist leaders endorsed by the Israeli Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus meet with members of Parliament in order to lobby for support of Israel based on biblical mandates.[64] In Germany, Christian Zionists who call themselves the Saxon Christian Friends of Israel join with Israeli representatives to commemorate the Holocaust by attacking Islam as the “next reincarnation of fascism.”[65]

A Nigerian pastor travels to Jerusalem and tells the Knesset that any nation that does not serve them will perish, and adds that Africans Christians “would love to kiss the feet of a Jew.”[66] Seven hundred Brazilians travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual Feast of Tabernacles event sponsored by the Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, joining thousands from around the globe.[67] In Tubingen, Germany, a congregation described by the pastor as 70 percent children and grandchildren of Nazis, “reconciles” with Jews by sponsoring Messianic music productions and joint Christian and Messianic Jewish events including Messianic Holocaust events.[68] These have now been imported to the United States.

From Argentina to Ukraine “pro-Israel” groups are singing in Hebrew to the same popular Messianic melodies, dressing in similar costumes, and waving similar flags. It is increasingly difficult to tell if the participants are Christian Zionists or Messianic Jews.

Christian Zionism is increasingly global, aggressively missionary, and openly attacking Judaism as the obstacle to a Christian utopia on earth. Nevertheless, the current Israeli government views the growth of Christian Zionism as an opportunity for building increased support internationally for Israeli policies and is endorsing the spread of this ideology and activism around the globe. Even liberals on this issue are simply uninformed. In a conversation at the J Street conference, a U.S. Congressman told me that Hagee could not possibly be spreading antisemitic notions. “You must be confused,” he added. “Hagee is pro-Israel!”

If progressive Jewish organizations are going to challenge the shortsighted embrace of Christian Zionists, they will have to become literate in end times narratives

The widely held belief that a visibly “pro-Israel” Christian Zionist could not possibly be a danger to Jews, needs to be reevaluated.

If J Street or other moderate and progressive Jewish organizations are going to challenge the shortsighted embrace of Christian Zionists, they will have to become literate in end times narratives, and competent in explaining the serious threats, to both Israel and Jews worldwide, from this millennial movement.

End Notes

  1. Michael E. Duke, “Pastor Hagee Donates $9 Million Dollars toward Humanitarian Causes in Israel,” Jewish Herald Voice, October 29, 2009.
  2. Quote from J Street 2009 conference program,”Driving Change, Securing Peace.”
  3. Shmuel Rosner, “Allying with Christian Zionist is Bad for Israel,” Haaretz.com, April 3, 2008.
  4. This movement is also influencing the renewal movements within mainline Protestant churches and the charismatic movement within Roman Catholicism.
  5. Hilary Leila Kreiger, “Michael Oren Rejects J Street Invite,” Jerusalem Post, October 21, 2009.
  6. John Hagee, “Jerusalem: Countdown to Crisis” Sermon 3 – “The Battle for Jerusalem Has Begun” (DVD) John Hagee Ministries, sermon series delivered September, 2005.
  7. Michelle Boorstein, “Elie Wiesel Speaks at John Hagee Event,” Washington Post, October 27, 2009.
  8. Tom Hess, Let My People Go, (USA: Progressive Vision International, 2004).
  9. Yaacov Lapin, “Christians Fight for Israel,” YNetNews.com, September 27, 2006. Also see Christian Allies Caucus.
  10. Richard Booker, Blow the Trumpet in Zion, (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 1989).
  11. tjci.org
  12. Kay Arthur, chairwoman of the international board of the Christian Allies Caucus Women’s Council, sounds these themes in her Israel My Beloved, (Eugene Oregon: Harvest House, 1996), p. 432.
  13. Max Blumenthal, “Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians for United Tour,” 2007, Video.
  14. John Hagee, “Iraq the Final War,” Sermon 2 – “The Final Dictator,” (Audio Cassette) John Hagee Ministries, sermon delivered on March 16 , 2003 and John Haggee, “Prophecy for the 21st Century,” Sermon 3 -”The Great Harlot of Mystery Babylon” (Video).
  15. Max Blumenthal, “Rapture Ready: The Unauthorized Christians for United Tour.”
  16. Johannes Facius, Hastening the Coming of the Messiah: Your Role in Prophecy, (Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2003). See marketing.
  17. JHMagazine, Vol. 18. No. 5, September/October 2006.
  18. jhm.org and pdf
  19. John Hagee, Final Dawn Over Jerusalem (Nashville, Thomas Nelson Inc. 1998) pp. 165-192. This theme is also in George Warnock, The Feast of the Tabernacles, (Canada, 1951 and Colombia, 2002).
  20. “Wiesel Addresss Evangelical Christians,” JTA , October 27, 2009.
  21. Michael Barkun, Religion and the Racist Right, The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press,1997), p. 53.
  22. The Banner of Israel journal was published in London from 1877 to 1926, by Robert Banks & Son of Fleet Street, London, according to the British-Israel-World Federation. Compiled journals for some years can be viewed online.
  23. An example of current Esau-Edomite publication is Charles Weisman’s, Who is Esau-Edom?, which is marketed on Identity sites including Pete Peters’ Scriptures for America.
  24. John Hagee, Jerusalem Countdown (Lake Mary, Florida: FrontLine, 2006) p.149.
  25. “Apocalyptic Dualism and Conspiracism,” PublicEye.org.
  26. An example is the multi-part series “Apocalypse and the End Times” on GodTV, December 2008 – March 2009, which included New World Order conspiracy theories.
  27. John Hagee, “Iraq the Final War” John Hagee Ministries, 2003 (Audio Casssette).
  28. John P. McTernan, As America Has Done to Israel (USA: Xulon Press, 2006).
  29. William Koenig, Eye to Eye, Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel (Alexandria, VA: About Him Publishing, 2004).
  30. John Hagee, Final Dawn Over Jerusalem (Nashville, Thomas Nelson Inc. 1998) pp. 87-88.
  31. Paul R. Mendes-Flor, Divided Passions: Jewish Intellectuals and the Experience of Modernity, (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991), p. 225.
  32. One example is Freedom from the Religious Spirit, edited by C. Peter Wagner, about the demon which the authors claim is the source of legalism, stagnation, and division, and cause for the Pharisees rejection of Jesus.
  33. Stephen Spector, Evangelicals and Israel (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), p.114.
  34. Henry Ford, The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem, (Montana: Kessinger Publishing, 2003), pp.63-64, reprint of 1920 volume.
  35. talk2action.org
  36. Lou Engle is a member of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, leads The Call events held around the globe, and is a rising leader in the Religious Right recently hosting events including Newt Gingrich and members of the Senate and Congress. Both Ted Haggard and C. Peter Wagner have written about their partnership in developing the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs as the center of operations for the New Apostolic Reformation including Haggard’s book The Life Giving Church. Sarah Palin’s relationship with New Apostolics including Alaska Apostle Mary Glazier is the subject of the special focus section.
  37. apostlesnet.net
  38. kairos.org
  39. daytopray.com
  40. “Robert Stearns: Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem,” 700 Club, September 26m 2005.
  41. Don Finto, Your People Shall Be My People (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 2001) pp. 189,191.
  42. Robert Stearns, Prepare the Way (Lake Mary, Florida: Creation House, 1999) p. 188.
  43. John Hagee, “Jerusalem: Countdown to Crisis” Sermon 3 – “The Battle for Jerusalem Has Begun” (DVD) John Hagee Ministries, sermon series delivered September, 2005. Note that this is the sermon for which Hagee received negative publicity in 2008 that resulting in John McCain rejecting his endorsement. This quote immediately followed Hagee’s desciption of Hitler as a “hunter” helping to fulfill God’s will that Jews move to Israel.
  44. The Kings Jewish Voice
  45. mjbi.org and YouTube Video
  46. Finto, p. 146.
  47. Stearns, p. 189.
  48. J. Terry Todd, “Promise Keepers 2.0: Women and Jews Invited,” Religion Dispatches, August 5, 2009.
  49. See Spector.
  50. eagleswings.to
  51. Walter Russell Mead, “Evangelicals and Israel: The Story of American Christian Zionism,” Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2009.
  52. Richard Landes, “What Happens When Jesus Doesn’t Come in 2000?” Center for Millennial Studies, Boston University.
  53. Ibid.
  54. worldlikud.com
  55. biblicalzionist.org; Also see article at talk2action.org
  56. For video of inaugural event.
  57. messianicisrael.com
  58. Angus Wootten, “The March Through the Arch,” October 14, 2008, Messianic Israel Alliance
  59. John Hagee, Battle for Jerusalem (Nashville, Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2001) p. 236.
  60. messianicisrael.com
  61. “March Through the Arch Video Recap” 2008 (Video).
  62. go.ariel.muni.il
  63. Moshe Feiglin “No Strings Attached,” The Jewish Press, August 20, 2008.
  64. Etgar Lefkovits “UK Forum Promotes Christian Zionism,” January 28, 2007; also reprinted on Jerusalem Summit website.
  65. “Jerusalem Summit Meets German Christian Zionists,” Jerusalem Summit.
  66. Stephen Spector, Evangelicals and Israel (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) p.25. Note that Spector misspells Apostle Zilly Aggrey, of the Royal House of Grace International Church, as Aggfey.
  67. Chris Mitchell, “Feast of Tabernacles is the Time of Christ’s Glory,” Christian Broadcast Network, September 14, 2007.
  68. marchofremembrance.org and tos.info

*Rachel Tabachnick is an independent researcher and contributor to Talk2Action.org, the group blog about the Christian Right. She frequently presents workshops and talks about Christian Zionism.

Judaism and Christianity – Blurring the Lines

Monday, April 27, 2015

Posted by Harry Maryles
Pastor Rebecca J. Brimmer the International President and CEO of Bridges for Peace.

Pastor Rebecca J. Brimmer the International President and CEO of Bridges for Peace.

One of the most epochal developments of the 20th century is the evolution of Jewish Christian relations.  The change in attitude by our Christian friends and neighbors towards the Jewish people and Judaism itself has transformed our relationship. We have evolved from centuries of Christian hatred and persecution to one of tolerance, camaraderie, and even brotherly love.

The Church once considered us to have broken our covenant with God, thus losing His grace, and blamed us collectively and for all time for the death of Jesus. They had believed that Christians replaced the Jewish people covenantally in God’s eyes.

They now reject the notion that the Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death; believe that Judaism is a legitimate ‘brother’ faith; and even offered apologies for their past atrocities against us in the name of their faith. Vatican II accomplished all that. The Church no longer seeks to convert us. At least not actively.

The same is true for many Protestants. At least those that are termed Fundamentalist or Evangelical Christians. They too have in most cases abandoned trying to convert us. They see our destiny entwined with theirs. And act toward us by the directives expressed numerous times in what they call ‘the old testament’ (our Torah). That God blesses those who bless the Jewish people. I am convinced that this is – if not their sole motivation – by far their primary one.

This attitude has resulted in some amazing support for Israel and the Jewish people by virtually all Fundamentalist denominations. For example Pastor John Hagee an Evangelical minister whose church has more members than any other denomination has shown more support for the State than AIPAC – if that’s even possible. I will never forget for example the enthusiastic applause Pastor Hagee received when spoke to AIPAC for the first time.

All of this is unprecedented. Not all that long ago the only thing we knew about Evangelicals was that they had a mission to convert us. That is by far no longer the case. I completely reject the notion by some that it still is. While I realize that there are still some organizations that do this (e.g ‘Jews for Jesus’), they are minuscule in number and do not represent the vast majority of Fundamentalist Christians in this country whose numbers have been estimated to exceed 60 million Americans.

I have therefore long advocated that we do everything we can to strengthen the relationship we have with them. Never has there been a better time to do so. And I believe that is indeed being done.

Unfortunately with every rose, comes a thorn.  This new blessing which God has bestowed upon the Jewish people has also caused some very misguided  activity by  well meaning people. Activity that has been rejected as illegitimate by the greatest Halachic minds of the 20th century spanning all of Orthodoxy. Both Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik have completely opposed the idea of interfaith dialogue of any kind. Rav Soloveitchk could not have been clearer in his essay entitled ‘Confrontation’. Here is how he put it:

“the language of faith of a particular community is totally incomprehensible to the man of a different faith community. Hence the confrontation should occur not at a theological, but at a mundane human level… the great encounter between man and God is a holy, personal and private affair, incomprehensible to the outsider…”

Theological dialogue between Judaism and Christianity was not possible. And certainly not anything remotely close to a joint prayer service[Day to Praise 2015]. Two completely separate theologies that are anathema to each other.

That is not to say that we should not interact with them in other ways. Of course we should. God gave us this blessing and we ought to accept it and develop it. Not on theological issues. But on those issues where our own religious values overlap. Of which there are many.

Many values of western civilization – especially in America – are based upon what has in recent times been referred to as the Judeo-Christian ethic.  Which means that we both Judaism and Christianity have in common many of the values expressed in the Torah. That ought to be the basis of our relationship. These values ought to be promoted together by Christians and Jews in our society.

Rabbi Slomo Riskin

Rabbi Slomo Riskin

Which brings me to Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. It appears that he has once again parted company with his Rebbe, Rav Soloveitchik.  It was done by Rabbi Riskin’s  protégé, David Nekrutman, who heads Rabbi Riskin’s Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) located in Efrat.  The very existence of an organization that is in part dedicated to theological discussions with Christians violate’s his mentors directives. But their latest project has gone even further. By promoting and hosting a joint prayer service in an Orthodox Shul on Yom Ha’atzmaut. Christians were invited to join us and say Hallel and read scripture from the pulpit!

Opposition to this came swiftly from the Charedi community. But they were not the only ones.  R’ Shlomo Amar, former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel (and current Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem) quickly penned his strong opposition to it. So too did Rabbi Sholom Gold, a leading  Religious Zionist rabbi. Their strong words can be seen at the Jewish Israel website. I join them in opposition to this.

I understand Rabbi Riskin’s motives. I am sure they are pure. He wants to strengthen ties with the Christian community.  I agree with that goal. But his methods have crossed lines that Poskim across the board have drawn. Lo Zu HaDerech. This is not the way to do it.

Which is why I am so disappointed in him. Again. I had always seen him as a champion of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. A role model for rabbinic leadership in the modern era. A man that has done so much in the furtherance of Judaism. He has inspired many Jews to take a closer look at their heritage and their faith and become more observant. And to foster a closer relationship with the Christian community.  I believe he still has these goals. But as important as it is to promote our common values, it is equally important to make sure our differences are clear. So that there never will be a blurring of the lines.

Pa$$ion for Truth Mini$trie$

ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KSDK) – A St. Charles pastor with a ministry that’s known around the world pleads guilty to cheating investors out of millions of dollars.

Jim Staley is a pastor at Passion for Truth Ministries. Thursday he admitted in federal court to defrauding 16 investors out of millions of dollars.

Eleven of those victims are local, but not members of the church.

“He knew that he had made a mistake as he told the court this morning he was ashamed of his conduct and it’s not representative of who he is as a man,” said his attorney Scott Rosenblum.

Forty-year-old Staley is still a pastor at Passion for Truth Ministries in St. Charles. Thursday afternoon he pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud.

Court documents show he was making investments for clients that he claimed had minimal risk and would yield large profits in only two years.

What he didn’t tell investors, is that he and others would take about 40 percent of the money in commission. For Staley that equaled more than $570,000.

Rosenblum says his actions have nothing to do with him being a pastor and says his client wants to pay the victims back.

“That’s his goal,” he says. “It’s a lot, but he’s going to work for it.”

tammy

For some denial is a river in Egypt!!

One church member who talked to us off camera says Staley is an awesome man and pastor and the church has been a blessing to him. He still supports his pastor. and he’s not the only one.

“The courtroom was packed with his supporters and they still support him,” said Rosenblum.

Sentencing is set for July.

Wire fraud carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, and/or fines of up to a quarter of a million dollars.

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