Blog by Chaim GoldbergIt’s been quite a week in Israel, and it's only Thursday.
Social protests spilled into the streets again, with people upset about the cost of living in Israel. Some are so insistent upon government aid, one mentally unstable man, tragically, and shockingly set himself on fire!
The debate continues over whether to force ultra-Orthodox Jews to serve in Israel's Defense Forces, just as all other Israeli young people must do. Just yesterday, the political party Kadima announced it is leaving Prime Minister Netanyahu's coalition government because no agreement could be reached over the emotional 'religious draft' issue. This will likely lead to early elections for a new Israeli government.
Yesterday in Haifa, a massive drill is being held, to simulate rocket attacks from Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon who have thousands of missiles pointed at Israel. (This past Monday was the 4 year anniversary of Hezbollah rockets hitting Haifa, killing 8 Israelis.)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Israel and Egypt this week. She is warning that Jihadist terrorists could take over Egypt's Sinai desert.
As this blog is being written, news is breaking that Syria's defense minister has been killed in the ongoing civil war in that neighboring country.
And while all of this is raging in and around us... the story that motivated me to sit down and write this blog... is about an Israeli Knesset (parliament) member, proudly tearing up a copy of the New Covenant (New Testament) in front of cameras.
His name is Michael Ben-Ari. He is an Orthodox Jew and a member of the National Union Party. So why did he so gleefully tear up this text that is sacred to believers in Yeshua all over the world?
Earlier this week, an organization called the Bible Society in Israel sent a copy of the complete Bible to many members of the Knesset. It was a leather-bound book with both the Tanach (Old Testament) and New Covenant published with references in Hebrew for the first time.
The Bible Society's CEO sent a letter with the Bibles stating that he is “proud to present the new publication featuring 90,000 annotations, which results from cooperation between researchers in Israel and abroad..." (Jerusalem Post)
This unsolicited gift to Israeli lawmakers caused quite a stir, to say the least. Most labeled it as the "activity of missionaries." The radical ultra-Orthodox political party, Shas, which is no friend of the Messianic Jewish community... used the event as an excuse to call for stricter laws against 'missionaries.' That's their way of saying they want it to be illegal for Messianic Jews, Christian Arabs and all believers in Yeshua to even talk about their faith here in Israel.Knesset member Ben-Ari's response was not to pass a new law, but instead to hold a press event, where he literally tore up the Holy Scriptures. He said he was “enraged to receive the book” and used the ignorant excuse that because of this book “millions of Jews were slaughtered.”
This blogger who is 100% Jewish, with relatives who were killed in the Holocaust, and great-grandparents who fled persecution in the former Soviet Union, is in no way indifferent to the hateful persecution of my people. But to listen to so-called 'religious Jews' blame the New Covenant for Hitler's actions or others who have targeted Jews over history, is just sad and the height of ignorance.
Like it or not, the New Covenant was written by Jews. At the very least, 'it's a family thing.' That is, you cannot speak about the New Covenant and Yeshua as if it were something outside of Judaism. For whatever reason, a large number of Israeli Jews in the first century got together and wrote this book. It is worthy of discussion in modern day Israel.
To associate the New Covenant with Hitler or the Pogroms is like blaming the Declaration of Independence for the horror of American slavery. Hateful, murderous people don't need any excuse for their actions. They act as they see fit, and are motivated by one thing, and one thing only – evil.
For these Israeli lawmakers to perpetuate this ignorant stereotype is beyond disappointing to a Zionist like me, who loves his country and who prides himself on the long heritage of Jewish education and scholarly debate. This stunt, of tearing up a book, any book, is beneath the nation of Israel and the Jewish people.
I was very happy to read Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev's statement on this issue. He said, “We totally deplore this behavior and condemn it outright. This action stands in complete contrast to our values and our traditions. Israel is a tolerant society, but we have zero tolerance for this despicable and hateful act.”
Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin said: "I condemn any disrespect of holy texts of any religion, including ripping the New Testament by an MK yesterday. Every holy book is important to its believers.”
“Democracy is the freedom of speech, but it is not anarchy, and freedom of faith and worship is one of the founding values of this country,” Rivlin added.
Even Knesset member Masud Gnaim (a Muslim) commented on the issue: “I got a copy of the New Testament in the mail, too, but I never thought to rip it up or burn it. As a Muslim, I respect all religions’ holy books.”
All these years later, Yeshua is still causing quite a stir, here in Israel. Please pray for those of us who currently call Him LORD, and those yet to come...
Terror in BulgariaIn case you didn't hear the latest madness report, a suicide (homicide) bomber blew himself up yesterday, next to a bus full of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. Airport security footage shows the man scouting the area around the buses waiting for the Israeli tourists for over an hour.
Dead = 7 (5 Israelis)
Injured = 34
Israel sent two military planes to retrieve the victims of the attack (living and dead), and they arrived in Israel this afternoon.
The Israeli government says it has intelligence linking Iran to this terror attack.
Let us all pray for healing for the injured, comfort for the loved ones of those killed, and for God's protection for the people of Israel.
More news and Messianic news are available as they happen on www.maozisrael.org
Please, pray for Michael Ben-Ari and for the family of the victims of terror in Bulgaria!
God blesses you and Shalom!