Are there differences between how American Evangelicals and Israeli believers view Netanyahu and his reelection?
(Jerusalem, Israel) — In the wake of our national elections, I did a series of interviews yesterday with American media outlets discussing the results, including with John Jessup and Jenna Browder, hosts of the “Faith Nation” program on the CBN News Network.
We certainly discussed Israelis’ reaction to the results, and the possible impact on the peace process. But they also asked me an especially interesting and perceptive question: How do Israel’s Messianic Jews and Evangelicals perceive Israel’s Prime Minister, and do their perceptions differ with American Evangelicals?
Here is a transcript of our discussion. To watch the full interview, please click here. (Note: The segment begins at 11 minutes and 30 seconds into the program.)
JOHN JESSUP, CBN NEWS: What is the mood there as Israeli react to the news of another Netanyahu term?
ROSENBERG: Well, first, I think people are stunned — either stunned with excitement, there were very few people that were sure that he was going to win reelection; in fact, the polls showed that he was behind for most of the campaign. The polls certainly showed that he and the Likud Party were closing the gap in the final week, but even the exit polls did not indicate with any assurance that Netanyahu was essentially going to perform a magic trick. They call him a magician. He pulled a rabbit out of the hat, again. Most people didn’t see it. Even people who were for him went to being thinking, “I don’t know.” But there is also a whole swath of the country that is thinking, “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me. He’s here forever.” So, it’s a mixed view here right now.
JOHN JESSUP, CBN NEWS: Joel, what does Netanyahu’s reelection mean for the United States, and also for the Middle East peace process?
ROSENBERG: Great question. The first thing I would say is that with Prime Minister Netanyahu being reelected — and almost certain to be able to put together a coalition government; we’ll see that over the next few weeks — there will be continuity for the Trump team. President Trump knows Netanyahu well. Obviously, the Trump peace team — the architects like Jared Kushner and the rest — they know the Netanyahu team well. So, there will continuity and they’ll be very happy about that. They won’t have to change the game plan for Benny Gantz or the others who could have come in and been the new leaders here.
In terms of how it will actually affect the peace process, look, I’m of the view that the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas has absolutely no intention of saying yes to any plan that President Trump puts forward. They will probably read the plan, but I wouldn’t even put it past them not to read it. I’m sure they will, but I’m just saying there’s no indication that Abbas and his team are even open at all. So, the question remains: Does the plan allow for the Gulf states’ Arab leaders to say, “Why would the Palestinians reject this plan? It’s not perfect, but it’s reasonable. It’s credible. It’s a serious plan. The Palestinians should sit down and negotiate.” And if the Palestinians don’t, then in theory it could open up an opportunity [for the Gulf states to move towards peace with Israel without waiting for the Palestinians.]
JENNA BROWDER, CBN NEWS: I want to talk to you about believers there in Israel. How do they perceive Netanyahu?
ROSENBERG: Well, there’s about 30,000 Messianic Jewish believers in Jesus here in Israel now. There’s another 4,000 to 5,000 Arab Evangelicals. And there are, you know, another 10,000 or more Christians of various other kinds, mostly Evangelicals, living, working, serving in the country in various capacities. It’s interesting, Jenna, I think there is quite a divide between how American Evangelicals perceive Netanyahu, and how believers see him here.
I think American Evangelicals see the best of Netanyahu — which is true about him, but he is a complicated man. American Evangelicals see him as a statesman, as a visionary, as a strategic thinker. [For example,] I don’t know who else could have stared down President Obama and taken on and resisted and refuted the Iran nuclear deal, and then gone on to persuade President Trump to scrap that nuclear deal and reimpose crippling economic sanctions on the Iranian regime. That was the right thing to do. Netanyahu resisted President Obama’s efforts almost to force Israel to relinquish strategic territory to Israel’s sworn enemies. So, Evangelicals see that in Netanyahu and they like that. Netanyahu is also opening diplomatic bridges to China, to Brazil, to India, to the Arab countries. And this is Netanyahu at his best.
But local followers of Jesus here see that, but they see other things, too. They see, for example, that he gives an awful lot of power and money to ultra-Orthodox religious parties that are hostile to Christians, and hostile to Messianic Jewish followers of Jesus — I mean, very hostile. They see that Netanyahu has said very unkind, very harsh things to Arabs here in Israel, Arabs citizens we’re talking about, even saying recently that a new law made it clear that only Jews were real citizens of Israel, and no one else really was.
I share that deep disappointment with Netanyahu on some of these matters, including the fact that Netanyahu brought into his political coalition in recent weeks — honestly, and I say this with deep disappointment because I worked for Netanyahu nineteen years ago — but he brought in a party called Otzma Yehudit, Jewish Power, that is a racist, bigoted, anti-Arab, anti-peace party, that was really associated with a violent, extremist party that was outlawed here 25 years ago. So, these are things that have caused Israeli Jewish believers and Evangelicals here mostly to vote for center and center-right parties, but not for Bibi. And I will tell you that I was one of them who struggled because I see both sides of Bibi, what he’s very, very good at, and the mistakes that he makes that are very disappointing. And I couldn’t bring myself to vote for him this time around, though I respect him. I pray for him. But I guess I’m becoming a little more Israeli than I was when I could only see him from a distance.
To watch the full story and interview, please click here. (Note: The segment begins at 11 minutes and 30 seconds into the program.)
This portion of the interview was reposted with permission from Joel C. Rosenberg’s blog.
Joel C. Rosenberg is a New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of 10 novels and five non-fiction books, with more than 3 million copies sold. He is also the Founder and Chairman of The Joshua Fund (www.joshuafund.com), a non-profit educational and charitable organization he and his wife launched in 2006 to mobilize Christians to “bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3.” He and his wife have four sons. They made Aliyah in 2014 and now live in Israel and the United States.
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Little Hearts in a big city – Jerusalem preschool nurtures reconciliation
The demographic of Jerusalem is one of the most fascinating ones in the world.
It may not be as diverse as Toronto (which is considered to be the most diverse city in the world), but it sure is more complicated than the Canadian metropolis.
For centuries Jerusalem has attracted merchants, armies and spiritual leaders from around the world. Many have settled in the land, while others come and go.
In a way, so it is to this day. While the Old City of Jerusalem is split between Jews, Muslims, Christians and Armenians, one does not need to walk far from the city gates to come across compounds inhabited predominantly by Ethiopian Jews or the Russian Orthodox, to name a few.
With hundreds of diplomats and international expats thrown in the mix, it is no surprise that the unique diversity is true of every generation in the city – including children.
Aware of this cultural wealth, one remarkable preschool in Jerusalem is paving a way in helping different groups of the society interact and integrate. The ‘Little Hearts’ school program created a loving and nurturing environment that models unity amongst the Arab, Jewish and International populations of Jerusalem.
Built on cooperation, it welcomes all children while making sure their staff also represent various communities of the city.
The Little Hearts Preschool embraced the world renown Montessori method of education and implemented it with huge success. The idea behind the Montessori system is to help and allow children to develop independence in all areas according to his or her inner psychological directives.
In a country like Israel, it seems pivotal to take that into consideration and cater to every child’s individual needs and circumstances.
Offering excellence in education through a Biblically-based learning environment the school serves up to 65 families each year. The children at Little Hearts are learning reconciliation and cultural diversity at a very young age and mingle daily in a warm and cheerful setting. Some have barely started walking and talking.
With all the creative and educational activities at Little Hearts, there is no time for prejudice or fear.
This article originally appeared on FIRM and is reposted with permission.
Estera Wieja, born and raised in Poland, moved to Israel in 2010. She is a journalist and in 2018 joined the staff of Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM) in Jerusalem.
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Sderot – City of Life – In every sense of the word
It’s not by accident that the only Messianic Jewish congregation in the embattled, border town of Sderot near the Gaza Strip is called City of Life (Ir HaChayim) since it has persevered and survived thousands of rocket attacks over the last 18 years.
It was back in the year 2000 that a young Jewish-believer from Latvia named Dina came to Israel as a student and found herself leading a small group of other student believers in the Negev city of Sderot. Just a year later, rocket fire became a daily occurrence, hitting the small border town on a daily basis, making the lives of all its residents intolerable. The battered town, once home to 20,000 began to see its numbers drop to a mere 13,000 – 14,000 residents as people began to leave their homes for safer areas. Over this very difficult period, the small band of student believers had to, themselves, decide whether or not to remain, but as they prayed, they felt that they were to stay put – continuing to pray and fast for their city just as Abraham had done for his thousands of years before.
It wasn’t until 2006 that a young Jewish believer from the Ukraine came to the area as a new immigrant also searching for other like-minded individuals with whom he could freely worship his Messiah. That young man connected with these students who, by then, had grown into the beginnings of an active, full-fledged Kehila (congregation) also containing young families. For him, it was a joyful challenge to help Dina to guide and lead this group. It wasn’t long before a romance blossomed and the two were married. Today, Michael is the spiritual leader of Ir HaChayim (City of Life) appropriately named since Hamas terrorists vowed to turn Sderot into a city of death, wiping it off the map completely.
It was during that time, as the Sderot believers began to pray, fast and intercede for their city, that a vast number of miracles began to occur. Although a constant barrage of rockets were being launched daily, even hourly, the great majority of them failed to reach their targets and actually fell between houses rather than on houses. If they did fall on houses, it always happened when people were not home and the houses were empty. Whether they were shopping or on vacation, it was remarkable that this was the pattern. Michael also recalls a specific time when a bar mitzvah took place at a local, traditional synagogue with many people in attendance. Even though the event was still in full swing, the cleaning person began to pressure people to leave early, stating that she had to do a rush cleaning job in order to get home early. Just after the people had left and she’d finished cleaning, a rocket fell on the site, but since everyone had left early, no one was hurt.
Another incident involved a rocket hitting a large factory on a Saturday night. If that had happened during the week, there is no doubt that it would have done massive harm. Having seen the grave effects of a rocket falling near his mother’s house, Michael knows just what kind of destruction would have occurred. From that time on, many rockets fell in open fields but no real damage was done. The power of prayer and intercession surely made a huge difference in the outcome of this dangerous period of time.
Perhaps the best illustration of this was a rocket which fell at 11 p.m. one Friday night in a preschool which was just 50 meters away from Michael and Dina’s home. Often when the city-wide sirens would go off, they would not wake their children to take them to the bomb shelter, knowing how scary this was for them, but on this particular night, they ran to get their two children and whisk them away to safety. The rocket fell just 50 meters from their living room, causing these young 3 and 4 year-olds to suffer fear and trauma. Despite their scare and endless questions as to why this was happening, their parents were able to comfort them by telling them that God had sent His angels to protect them. Indeed, they were unharmed.
From the years 2001-9, some 13,000 rockets have landed in Sderot, but the enemy has not prevailed. God has continued to protect the city, its residents and the many believers there.
Today, some ten years later, Ir HaChayim is a full-blown, active and vibrant community with home groups, counseling and humanitarian aid facilities and a place which is offering abundant life and help to its community. Even municipal workers have taken notice of the charitable acts of kindness which is being showered upon this embattled community as the love of Messiah Yeshua is being poured out in so many tangible ways.
The congregation is involved with Holocaust survivors, the needy, single families and many others – providing food, funds, diapers, furniture and much more. There is a bible club which meets bi-monthly, teaching non-believers the Word of God. Seminars are also conducted on a variety of subjects – everything from marriage to families to other practical and useful help. In fact, Ir HaChayim has received many invitations from local groups and organizations, requesting to hear more about them and their faith. As Michael puts it, “We proudly speak about the God of Israel and the great things He has done for us.
They also conduct historical trips for non-believers, taking them to biblical sites where they relate the stories of the bible.
The congregation meets each Shabbat morning. Once a month there are Friday night meetings where congregants eat together. The congregation, although having many Russians is a Hebrew- speaking one which does provide English and Russian translation.
There are also native Israelis members with home groups tailored to them as well as home groups in Russian. In fact, there is even a home group in a neighboring kibbutz.
Michael hopes to develop home groups in two neighboring towns where a number of Russians live, but they have been areas which have a very strong spirit of orthodoxy steeped in rabbi-worship and superstition. Those areas have been difficult to penetrate, but with your prayers, Ir HaChayim believes that this spirit will be broken and the truth of the living God will be made known.
The goal is to establish a thriving congregation there as well.
You may ask how all this work is getting accomplished given the fact that Michael and his wife barely have any income. Some outside contributions are received, but God is moving nonetheless, and the proof is in the fact that they have been able to rent a new 450 square meters which they’ve begun to renovate. It includes a huge humanitarian warehouse and room for everything. They need an additional 250,000 NIS to finish the renovations. They say it has been a miracle that they were able to get this facility.
The municipality knows about it and quietly accepts them due to the helpful and respectable work they have done. In fact, Ir HaChayim organized a joint project this past summer, with the municipality for 400 children who had experienced much shelling. It was a fun day with trampolines and gifts for each child.
Perhaps that act of kindness has changed some of the minds of those who, in the past, engaged in targeted campaigns against the believers of Sderot where vicious anti-missionary groups went around hanging posters on doors stating that these people are dirty missionaries who want to convert Jews to Christianity and want to kill the Jewish soul. They also drove around the local neighborhood with loudspeakers screaming, “Beware of missionaries. They are thieves and liars.”
For now, there is relative quiet and peace. As Michael puts it, “We believe this is a period of grace with God has given to us, and we look forward to only greater things with God’s help.”
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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Messianic children’s music becomes a means of sharing the gospel
A children’s album produced by Maoz Israel Ministries has opened the door to be more than a tool to teach children Bible stories, but has become a means of sharing the Gospel with non-believers who are involved in the project.
Released a year ago, the CD, You are Special (Meuhad Atta), is still producing ripple effects throughout Israel. With an ensemble of Messianic and non-believing Jewish children, the songs are provoking curiosity about Yeshua from listeners as well as the project’s participants, Tanya Kadin, composer and worship leader at Tiferet Yeshua, told Kehila News Israel (KNI).
“I am sure they have conversations with their parents about all the biblical topics in the songs,” Kadin told KNI. “Out of their curiosity they are talking about these things with their parents and asking questions.”
A collaboration by believers from different congregations, the recording came about when Hadassa Natali Shechtman, a children’s pastor at Beit Immanuel congregation in Jaffa, approached Kadin with lyrics she had written about several Bible stories. Shechtman suggested putting them to music in order to be used as a tool for Bible teachers.
“I looked at the text and I connected with it immediately,” Kadin recalled.
Kadin, along with her husband Roman, composed and arranged the music and the album began to take shape.
Maoz Israel, of whose founders Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram also founded Congregation Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv, now led by Gil and Tamar Afriat, raised money for the recording. Seven Israeli musicians, and producer Jamie Hilsden, came together to record in a studio. And Kadin, who also conducts a children’s choir at the local community center, recruited talented singers. Being a believer was not a requirement.
In fact, of the seven girls who sing on the recording three are from non-believing families.
“We told the parents that some of the songs are about Yeshua,” Kadin said. “Now we found ourselves with two girls that made aliyah from Russia and the Ukraine and they are performing while their parents are in the audience. The parents were asking questions and one has started coming to a course where they teach new believers. They are asking, ‘Who are Messianic believers?’ They are more open now.”
The songs on the CD tell various stories from the Bible through different musical styles making the Word accessible to the children. The title itself, You are Special, refers to both God and every child who listens, Kadin said.
Though the ensemble is still performing songs from at various congregations and conferences around Israel, a new recording is now in the works with a few songs already written and studio work underway. The singers meet weekly with Kadin to practice and to learn the new music.
“Every week, the kids are learning something new during these meetings,” Kadin explained.
While continuing to work on the children’s songs, manage the band and conduct her choir, Kadin is also working on her own project, a musical portrait of the Book of Revelation.
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.
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Outreach to Israelis through media in Hebrew
Is there a way to reach hundreds of thousands of Israelis for the Lord today? Does the Lord want all Israel to be saved? Of course! That’s why He sent His Son to redeem His people, by dying on the cross.
So how can we reach hundreds of thousands of Israelis? The answer is simple – media!
Since 2010, different Israeli Messianic ministries have been producing Hebrew language videos, including testimonies, teachings, interviews and music video clips. Yeshuachai.tv brings all these together for broadcasting through our own 24/7 TV channel on the Internet, along with our own productions.
Since we started broadcasting on 21 September 2015, we have given away hundreds of physical copies of the New Testament, 40,000 unique users have entered our website, we have reached 80,000 Israelis through our social media pages, and we have just started referring people to local congregations. All this means we are one of the largest outreaches to Israelis since the time of Yeshua.
The breakthrough came when we started using a professional marketing company to advertise the channel through a systematic marketing campaign.
Our great desire and wish is to see all our people saved. As Paul said in Romans 9:1-3:
I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.
Should we all have the same passion as Paul for the people of Israel? It is understandable why we Israelis have it, but why should non-Jews carry this burden too? Well, Paul explains in Romans 11:12:
But if their [Israel’s] transgression means riches for the world, and their [Israel’s] loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring! I am talking to you Gentiles.
How wonderful it is that now you too are grafted into that cultivated olive tree with us and are receiving nourishment from it. However, there is much more to come – when we the original branches that were cut off are all grafted back in, it will bring greater blessings and then the Lord himself will return. So, we are waiting for the second coming of our Lord Yeshua, and one of the conditions for His return is that the leaders of the Jewish nation will cry out “Baruch Haba Beshem Adonai” – Blessed is He who comes in the name of our Lord.
In Romans 10:1 Paul says –
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.
Its good to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, for the prosperity of the land and for the soldiers, but the most important prayer that we can pray is for salvation.
The vision of Yeshuachai.tv is based on the promise of Romans 11:26, that, “All Israel will be saved”.
I believe that we’ve been called in these end-times to actively participate in a spiritual revolution. With God’s help we need to together awaken Israel to return to the Lord, so that He will return to our world.
Please join us in this revolution by partnering with us.
Our website in English is: www.yeshualive.tv
The TV channel website is: www.yesh.tv