An Open Letter to the Ministry of Interior
It seems to be time to seriously consider engaging in some much-needed damage control. As the sole arbiters of matters concerning life, death, birth, marriage and everything else connected to registry as a Jew and the accompanying status, benefits and privileges which follow, you have a massively great obligation to all Jewish-born individuals and their offspring who, by virtue of the Law of Return have the right to live in Israel and be counted among her people.
Yet, for many who otherwise qualify as Jews, your personal prejudices, suspicions and unjustified fears have dominated your rulings, denying those who may not necessarily adhere to one brand of the Jewish religion or who may have, unfortunately, been born in what you consider to be the wrong country. This is both morally unconscionable and the highest level of betrayal to those who would have, without a doubt, suffered and been killed at other times in history for their bloodline.
Do you think that your refusals to allow all Jews of all stripes to live in their ancestral homeland embodies the sacred work with which you have been entrusted? Do you think that you are gaining respect and honor by others who have paid close attention to your arbitrary and discriminatory decisions which run counter to the laws which were established concerning true eligibility for citizenship and registry as a Jew?
How long will it be before non-Jewish lovers and supporters of the Zionist State discover your systematic “selection” lines and decide that they will no longer support, either with their presence or finances, a state which turns away its own simply because they are not deemed to be the right kind of Jews?
The Interior Ministry has been cited as ‘un-Jewing’ citizens through probes” and this is highly disturbing because it makes any Jewish citizen subject to suspicion and paranoia, if they have already received Israeli citizenship, but are suddenly reviewed in an attempt to have that status revoked simply because someone in the Ministry has found what they considered to be a strong case against them. This includes large swaths of the population such as all Ethiopian and Russian Jews, all Messianic Jews already living in the country, Jews by birth who may have been adopted by non-Jewish parents and that’s just the beginning.
If one’s religious affiliation continues to be the only acid-test of who is deemed to be a real Jew, then, perhaps, the non-observant, atheists and agnostics and others of a different persuasion may also be in jeopardy of losing their Jewish status. What about the Jewish gay community? What about Israelis who marry outside the faith? Let’s face it, pretty much everyone can be up for grabs.
Is this the kind of refuge and safe haven Israel was intended to be for her people? Is this the kind of state we are now becoming? Will Jews run the risk of being turned away from their shores as the world becomes an increasingly more dangerous place in which to live?
I, for one, do not believe that the vast majority of Israelis agree with this distortion of Israeli law which is being executed by a handful of orthodox zealots who have a lock on matters of life and death and the ultimate sword to wield against any of their people who don’t pass their smell test.
Only a few weeks have passed since Yom Kippur, the day in which we are all to do some inward soul searching in order to righteously evaluate how we relate to God and treat our fellow man. Those of you who work in the Interior Ministry and have this ultimate power need to take an extended moment to reflect upon the evils which you have chosen to perpetuate amongst your own – those who are your kin but with whose pedigrees you may find fault. You need to do it because others are closely watching, and because it falls into the category of acts of unrighteous judgment, but most of all, because it is the right thing to do.
Israel must be a home for all Jews, and maybe the one who expressed it best said was the new head of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog who said, “We need to do whatever we can to unify the Jewish people, make sure the Jewish people are not torn apart. “A Jew is a Jew is a Jew, and it doesn’t matter what kippa he wears or does not wear and what stream he belongs to. We are one people.”
Chava Stein, the granddaughter of Jewish European immigrants to the U.S., made Aliyah to Israel in 1993. Married to an Israeli, they live in the center of the country.
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A new confederation plan?
Israeli Press is reporting on a new attempt of a solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians–a “confederation plan” for the Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria (West Bank). The original plan for confederation came from Yigal Allon after the 1967 war.
From 1948 to 1967, Jordan ruled the West Bank (including East Jerusalem and the Old City) and claimed sovereignty over it. They did not give the Palestinians of the West Bank Jordanian citizenship. Egypt ruled Gaza and did not give them citizenship. Jordan is ruled by an Arab clan known as the Hashemites, who are not considered Palestinians, though the majority population of Jordan is Palestinian.
Jordan was part of the original Palestine Mandate. In the League of Nations partition plan, Jordan was created and separated from the territory west of the Jordan that was still under the Balfour Declaration and affirmed as a homeland for the Jewish people. The U. N. in 1947 presented another partition plan giving the Palestinians of Judea, Samaria, East Jerusalem and Gaza a state; and a state for the Jews on the rest of the Land. Israel accepted this plan and the Arab world rejected it. Then ensued the War of Independence that Israel won, but with the loss of the old city Jewish quarter in Jerusalem and the East Jerusalem Jewish areas including Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital.
The Allon Plan
The 1967 War gave Israel control of the whole area west of the Jordan. But now the famous demographic argument began. It states that for Israel to survive as a Jewish state it cannot incorporate the overwhelming number of Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza into Israel. This would create an Arab majority in democratic Israel. So well before the Oslo accords, and as a way to find peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Allon presented the first plan of separation from the West Bank Arabs. Allon was a famous general and political leader in the Labor party.
The Allon Plan included keeping for Israel the areas of East Jerusalem, especially those areas that were Jewish before the ’48 War, and then adding Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. Secondly, it promoted Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria and military outposts that both would be important for strategic depth and Israel’s security. The idea was to expand Israel and to see the Palestinians incorporated into Jordan.
Jordan’s Response to the Allon Plan
For many years it was hoped that Jordan–under King Hussein–might accept such a plan, since he claimed the West Bank for Jordan. But he was not then open to the territorial compromise that the Allon plan envisioned. Then eventually he renounced all rights to the West Bank. Why? Because he has his own demographic problem. In Jordan many Palestinians do not have full rights and could rise up and overthrow the Jordanian rulers, the minority Hashemites.
The Oslo accords did not explicitly call for a Palestinian state, and some say that Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin–who signed the Oslo accords–did not envision a Palestinian State. But in the years following Oslo, the negotiations quickly went in that direction, and the Palestinians were twice offered a state by Prime Minister Barak and Prime Minister Olmert. However, when Gaza broke from the Palestinian Authority and was taken over by Hamas, any realistic prospect for a two-state solution was killed, in spite of the continued talk that seems to still favor this idea. I have written that I think Gaza should be linked to Egypt and the Palestinian areas of the West Bank in confederation with Jordan. But Jordan refuses this plan due to their fear of too many Palestinians being under their rule.
Yet there is an assumption, a root, which makes a solution impossible. It is that all people need to have full citizenship in a nation state. Where is that written in the tablets of ethical norms? Why couldn’t Palestinians have autonomy as a territory, elect their own domestic government, have Jordanian passports, and have an economy tied to Jordan and Israel? The wrong assumption keeps us from progress. So this looks like a return to Allon’s plan in part. In this plan the Jewish settlements of the West Bank are preserved; and building in the Jewish areas would be legal, but not so for Jewish settlements in the defined Palestinian autonomous zones.
Is this the Trump plan? No one knows…yet. Is it possible? Unlikely since the Palestinian rejection of Israel is a religious based rejection. In all of this, we need to keep in mind that though we want the Palestinians to be treated well and with justice, macro cosmic justice on this issue begins with the affirmation that this Land is promised to the Jewish people. God is sovereign and can allocate lands as He decides. Can there be a temporary solution without this recognition? Yes, but never a permanent one without finally submitting to the will of God.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, October 3, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Dr. Daniel Juster, founder and director of Tikkun International, has been involved in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972 and currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel, from where he serves and supports the Messianic movement worldwide. Dan was the founding president and general secretary of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations for 9 years, the senior pastor of Beth Messiah congregation for 22 years, and a co-founder of the Messiah Bible Institute in several nations. Dr. Juster serves on the board of Towards Jerusalem Council II, provides oversight to 15 congregations in the USA as well as overseeing emissaries in Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Daniel has authored about 20 books on topics ranging from theology, Israel and the Jewish people, eschatology, discipleship, and leadership.
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We can’t hide – Commentary on Parashat Beresheet (In The Beginning)
D’VARIM (GENESIS) 1:1–6:8
Here we are, back at the beginning of the yearly Scripture reading! This is such a familiar Scripture to most of us, but there are always fresh insights from the LORD as His Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). As I was reflecting on this week’s portion, Beresheet, I had some thoughts that I want to share with you and I hope you will be encouraged in your walk today:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’” And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” And the man said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.
Genesis 3:1–12 (emphasis mine)
There are a few points that I want to highlight in the verses above:
- Temptation is not sin. Oftentimes, we get confused between the temptation and the actual act of sin. We live in a day and age where temptations are all around us, and the reality is that we can’t really control their presence. However, what we can control is what we do with those temptations; do we entertain them and allow them to become sin in our lives?
As we can learn from the story above, the temptation was whether or not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. The temptation to eat was not an actual sin. But the temptation to eat quickly turned into sin because Adam & Eve were easily overcome by it. We need to learn how to deal with the temptation in our lives, and not allow it to overcome us so that it becomes sin. We have everything we need in Messiah to overcome temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). We must also learn how to keep every thought captive, submitting it to Him, and to daily train our minds in the ways of the LORD rather than the ways of the world (2 Corinthians 10:5).
- The first religion is found in this account. What do I mean by this? Well, religion is man’s attempt to reach God, by doing things that seem right in our eyes. God says one thing, but we interpret it differently. God told them not to eat of the tree, but Eve said it was forbidden to eat and touch the fruit. We tend to complicate things, don’t we? We think we can do it in our own strength, and we put a heavy yoke on ourselves in order to please God. Our own set of rules often becomes the reason why we fail to do that which God has asked of us. Let’s keep it simple and follow His way, not our own idea of it.
- God knows everything; we can’t run away or hide from Him. Shame is one of the enemy’s greatest strongholds in our lives. Once we sin against God, we tend to hide instead of bringing it to the light of confession. The moment that Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, they saw that they were naked, and they hid. The reality is, my dear brothers and sisters, that God knows everything in our lives! He sees everything that is done in secret and in darkness — nothing is hidden from Him. The GREAT NEWS, however, is that Yeshua died in order to redeem us from everything that is done in darkness. We should not be ashamed nor hide, but rather bring everything to the light, and expect the atonement that He gave to each of us. This is true freedom that only Messiah can bring.
- Human nature is to run from taking responsibility and blame others — even God. When God asked Adam, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”, Adam’s immediate reaction was to blame Eve: “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”
Instead of taking responsibility for his own wrong actions, Adam blamed Eve for causing him to sin, even going so far as to blame God for giving him the woman that caused him to sin. But aren’t we like this, too? Instead of taking responsibility for our own actions, it’s so easy to blame everyone around us, and sadly, even our Creator. The truth is that our shame and pride blind us from seeing the reality.
So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.
When temptation comes, we can call upon Him to help us not to act upon it so that it becomes sin. But when we do sin, we need to take responsibility and bring that sin to the light instead of making it worse by blaming God and others, giving all kinds of excuses. One of the greatest things about our faith in Yeshua is that, because we have relationship with God and the Holy Spirit, we are free to obey God, not because we are obligated to (religion), but because we get to (relationship).
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.
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A tribal tale of tribulation and retribution
Kampa-chewa was an intuitive and naive native nitwit of the Inuits of northern Alaska. He was the great-great-grandson of Kowalo-kampula, who was the first immediate convert of his people to Christianity, in exchange for a free jug of firewater and a Bible, by the first missionary in his frozen wasteland on a northern peninsula. There he raised his offspring on firewater and Christianity, which devoutly trickled on down through the generations unto Kampa-chewa.
One day Kampa-chewa was digging through the garbage bin outside a fish restaurant near his igloo and found a tract wrapped around some decomposing whale blubber, and unfolded it in curiosity. By candle light inside the igloo he read in the tract, written by Ephraim of the Ephraimites, that Gentile Christians were actually in fact the Lost Tribes of Israel mentioned in the Good Book and, like his great-great- grandfather Kowalo-kampula, immediately believed and converted. Of the twelve Lost Tribes he felt decisively that he must be from Zebulun and, as the tract said, he could now go to the Holy Land and claim his rightful inheritance. Besides, it said in that tract that the tract of real estate of Holy Turf was sunny and warm most of the year, and that sounded like the Promised Land after all.
Kampa-chewa soon arrived in the Promised Land to claim his rightful inheritance, but was stopped at the Ben-Gurion airport by immigration police, who asked him what exactly he was doing in Israel, to which he replied the above, and showed them the soiled tract. The smell of decomposing whale blubber was enough to raise suspicion in the agents, and they took him aside and grilled him in an undisclosed cold-storage locker, to make the sweating new arrival feel more comfortable.
He carefully explained to the agents how he was divinely shown that he is from the Tribe of Zebulun, and how he was now coming back here after thousands of years, most of those being lived as a line of Inuits and Eskimos in Alaska. The agents looked on with interest, and broke out laughing. They then contacted the Minister of the Interior to explain, and was told that he already had the quota of returning Zebulunites, thank you, and dismissed the agents with case closed and to send him back to Alaska.
This displeased Kampa-chewa very much, and angered him enough to wish for firewater to douse his kindled inner flames. He asked the agents what tribe they were from, and they said they had no idea, to which he decried them as charlatans, anti-Semites and bigots. Then he asked the agents if they believed in Jesus, to which they replied, Sir, we are Jews. Then Kampa-chewa informed them that they are therefore antichrists, to which they took him by the elbows and led him back to the returning Air Alaska flight.
On the flight back to the cold of the far north, Kampa-chewa meditated on ways to conjure and exact revenge for his rude rejection, such as by writing his own explicit tracts explaining how the current inhabitants of the State of Israel are actually not the real Jews, but illegitimate in that they themselves admitted to him that they have no idea as to from which tribe they had come, if any. But he would first write to Ephraim of the Ephraimites to explain his rejection, and to seek wisdom from that wise guru who had so enlightened him- and many others- as to his true new identity in the Lost House of Israel.
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.
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Law of Moses and the millennium
The Fullness is Yet to Come
In reading through the Torah, we cannot help but notice that there are several social institutions described that never seem to achieve their fullness in Israel’s history. For example:
- Judicial system
- Agricultural system
- Feasts and Calendar
- Settlement of Land
If all these elements are in the Scriptures (and “Scripture cannot be broken” – John 10:35), mustn’t there be a time when they will come into their fullness? Some dismiss all these passages as simply “old” covenant, that are done away with by the “new;” but, we believe that through Yeshua, we will see “fullness of all things” –including everything in the Torah and Prophets, in heaven and on earth (Acts 3:21; Eph. 1:10).
With this in mind, we can read the Torah in a “prophetic” way, with a future fulfillment yet to come (Matthew 5:17-18). End times’ prophecies are filled with references to Torah elements: Isaiah 2 describes the millennial kingdom in which “the Torah will go forth from Zion” (verse 3); Isaiah chapters 60 to 66 speak of a renewal of Zion and resettlement of the land; Isaiah 66 makes reference to food laws (verse 17), Levites (verse 21), new moons and Sabbaths (verse 23).
The last 9 chapters of Ezekiel are perhaps the most challenging. A new Temple is built, described in utmost detail (chapters 40 to 41), that is then filled with the glory of God (chapter 43), with a new priesthood and sacrificial system (chapter 44), including all the feast celebrations (45), led by the Messianic King (46), in a renewal of nature and agriculture (47), and resettlement of the land according to the tribes of Israel (48). What are we going to do with all these chapters?
The end of the book of Joel describes a restoration of Zion both spiritually and economically after the events of the end times. Micah speaks of the former kingdom being reestablished (Micah 4:8). Zechariah 14 describes as well a restoration of feasts and Temple worship after the Second Coming of Messiah. From these quite numerous scriptures, it seems that there will be a renewal and observance of the Torah during the Millennial Kingdom, which will be consistent with New Covenant priorities and emphases, as taught by Yeshua and the Apostles.
God’s kingdom has order. The entire Bible, including the Torah, defines that divine order. (“Torah” means not only “law” but “instruction.”) The ultimate goal of the Gospel of the Kingdom, fulfilled in the Millennium, is to establish God’s order on the earth for Israel and the nations. Let us pray for wisdom to understand the right integration of gospel, law and kingdom in these end times.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, September 27, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.