Is Israel a racist country?
What if I told you of a people that thought that they were a superior class of humans. They were stronger, smarter and more attractive. They were going to rid their land of immigrants and foreigners, rid it of anyone not like them. Those who stayed would be persecuted minorities.
Is that how you think of Israel? More and more, that is how she is portrayed. But, in fact, that would be Iran, Nazi Germany or any ISIS-controlled territory. Contrary to the lies of anti-Semites like Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who said two weeks ago that Muslims do not have freedom of worship in Israel, Israel Muslims are the freest in the Middle East. To be clear, when she said that Muslims are not free to worship, she was dead wrong.
Created out of Necessity
In order to understand why Israel is the antithesis of racism, you have to understand her origins. Unlike Nazi Germany, Israel never sought to create a master race. Unlike the Islamic state, that wanted to control the world through Islam, Israel was created out of the necessity to survive. There was an existential threat against the Jewish people.
After 2,000 years of wandering the world, the Jewish people came under increasing persecution at the end of the nineteenth century. Not that things were easy before that. In seventeenth-century Ukraine, as many as 100,000 Jews were murdered by the regime of Bogdan Chemelnitsky. Tens of thousands of Jews were forced from their homes and livelihood in Spain in the latter fourteen hundreds. Thousands of Jews died during the crusades.
A Father is Born
But, in the late eighteen hundreds, pogroms (violent demonstrations against the Jews) broke out in Russian, Poland and Ukraine. During that time, a young Theodore Herzl did not think the Jews needed their own country. He just wanted to see people of all countries accept the Jews that lived among them as equals. He was an anti-Zionist.
However, when he covered the trial of Alfred Dreyfus in France for the Vienna-based newspaper for which he worked, he was shocked. It was clear Dreyfus was innocent. The Jewish officer was arrested on trumped up charges, brought by anti-Semites in the French military. When he was convicted and sent into exile at Devil’s Island, a conviction overcame Herzl: The Jews will never be accepted among the nations. We need our own country!
He wrote a book called “The Jewish State” and began to promote Zionism all over the world. A secular prophet, he called for the restoration of Israel on her own land.
The Opposite of Racism
So, you can see that Israel was not birthed because of Jewish racism against others, but because of racism against Jews by virtually every other nation. However, we implored the Arabs in the region not to leave, but to stay and become equal citizens in our new nation. Read the following excerpt from our Declaration of Independence, spoken by our first Prime Minister on the day of our birth, May 14th, 1948:
WE APPEAL – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
Did the Nazis give an invitation like this to the Jews? Does ISIS seek to give minorities equal rights? No! Half a million Jews chose to leave their nations after Israel’s independence for fear of their lives. Racism broke out against the Jews after Israel’s rebirth and the only nation that could protect them was the newly-formed Jewish state—proving her need to exist!
Some 800,000 Arabs fled Israel during the War of Independence at the urging of the surrounding Arab states. They were going to destroy Israel before she began. These Arabs were told (by the surrounding countries) to leave temporarily and that they could come back for the spoils after the victory. The 600,000 Arabs who did not leave became Israeli citizens, while those who left in hopes of Israel’s destruction became refugees. The descendants of the Arabs who stayed are full and free citizens of Israel.
For more than 70 years, oil-rich Arab nations have done everything in their power to keep the 800,000 Arabs who fled (and now their descendants) in refugee camps. They could have absorbed them into their nations, but, instead, they treated them terribly, so they could continue to be used as a political issue against Israel. Thousands of Palestinian refugees have been murdered in Syria’s civil war, yet you never even hear about it. The fact is that the racism other Arabs nations have towards Palestinian Arabs is tremendous. In English, they talk about the poor Palestinians and, in Arabic, they curse them.
The Palestinian Issue
Palestinians are not the same as the Israeli Arabs. Palestinians are actually Jordanians. After Israel became a nation, Jordan swallowed up the West Bank (ancient Judea and Samaria). They never once offered to build that area into a “Palestinian State”. There was no such thing as a Palestinian Arab ethnicity. They became Jordanians. The word Palestinian referred to any person living in region—Jewish, Arab or European.
But, during the Six Day War, after Israel promised not to attack them, Jordan decided to attack Israel. Within two days, Israel drove them out of Jerusalem and over the West Bank. It was a swift and unexpected victory. Suddenly, Israel was in a pickle having to administrate the lives of more than 1,000,000 new people. Giving back the land—that again, we gained only because we were attacked—was illogical from a security point of view. It is a complicated issue for sure. But it is not connected to apartheid or racism, but to security.
I would be lying to say Israel is racism-free – no country is. But I can say two things that are true: Israelis’ negative feelings toward the surrounding Arab nations and Palestinians have everything to do with the fact that they hate us. We would love to live in peace with them. And, secondly, if you come to Israel, you will see that Israel is most embracing of other cultures and ethnicities in the world. It is a wonderful country!
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, February 25, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Ron and wife Elana make their home in Tel Aviv. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua—the Glory of Yeshua—a Tel Aviv-based, Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregation. Ron is a published author with Destiny Image Publishers, having written books like “Identity Theft”, “Leave Me Alone, I’m Jewish” and “The Jerusalem Secret”. Ron is a sought-out conference speaker and shares passionately about the Jewish Roots of the New Testament and God’s broken heart for His ancient people Israel.
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[Israel Politics 101] A Hopeful marriage – the Political merger between Gantz and Lapid
Yesh Atid party head, Yair Lapid wasn’t joking when he suggested that he and Israel Resilience party head Benny Gantz lock themselves in a room and emerge only when white smoke can be seen from the roof (the system used when choosing a new pope).
Indeed, the white smoke resulted from intense negotiations which yielded the coveted merger of the two hopefuls whose sole aim is to take down the ten-year veteran Likud party prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Together, the party’s new name is Kachol Lavan (Blue and White) which stands for the colors of the Israeli flag and refers to anything made in Israel. This new party is poised to win the needed amount of votes required to form a coalition and unseat the ruling party which has dominated the country for a decade. Already one poll is predicting a win of 36 seats for the new party, leaving Likud with only 26. Another poll has the numbers at 36 to 30 respectively and yet another poll brings the race a bit closer with 35 to 32. Either way, for the moment, Blue and White is expected to win with the hope of changing the landscape of the political monopoly.
Of course, it should be noted that the aforementioned expected results is only the beginning. Even if the Blue and White party attains the highest number of votes, they still must succeed in building a coalition of other collective parties in order to reach the number of 61 Knesset member recommendations which would then put them in a strong position to be the ruling governmental party. While many of the centrist and center left parties would be inclined to support the Blue and White party, some of their own minimal membership numbers make them ineligible to be considered as a supportive group to be counted as part of the Gantz/Lapid coalition.
Yet, a Blue and White win would be an amazing upset with far-reaching impact, both for the secular population and the believing community in the land, it’s important to understand what led to this moment in time.
The past ten years have brought a stronger choke hold by the ultra-Orthodox which have largely determined day to day life issues of birth, marriage, death, Jewish citizenship and registry – all based on Orthodox worthiness – often being decided with what many have viewed as much political corruption and self-interest. To the Israeli population, which became fed up with the status quo, and has sought to enjoy a more pluralistic, democratic and less overtly religious society, this move has been a long time coming. Now that it’s here, many feel, for the first time, that the possibility exists for a dramatic change to take place in how Israelis can enjoy more freedom to live their daily lives as they please.
In order for this merger to happen, both Gantz and Lapid had to be willing to make generous compromises for what they felt was “the good of the country.” As revealed by both men, “having seen the country being torn apart” motivated them to “put their egos aside to decide on a mutual agenda and run together.” (JPost, 2/22/19). For Lapid, this meant surrendering the top spot to the former IDF general as he stated, “A winning team needs to be led. I wouldn’t be standing here today if I didn’t believe that Benny Gantz could lead us to victory and then lead the country. He’ll be an excellent prime minister. I believe in him.” (Ibid)
Of course, that number one spot is expected to be rotated if a party win is realized. As expected, the current Prime Minister reacted to these developments angrily and defensively, stating that the Blue and White party will “endanger Israel’s security and economic success.” (Ibid) He also used the threat of such a win being the catalyst which will ultimately contribute to the official formation of a Palestinian state, while at the same time reminding the public how safe life has been for them over these past ten years.
Unquestionably, a Blue and White win would bring sweeping changes to Israel, likely freeing up Sabbath transportation practices which have greatly limited buses from running on that day. It would also likely oversee some changes in the very stringent marriage laws where only Israeli Jews (one born to a Jewish mother, according to Jewish law) are permitted to marry in the country and only by an Orthodox rabbi. It could also mean the end to government stipends for ultra-Orthodox men who are paid to study Jewish law while being exempt from the mandatory military service that is required by all Israeli young men and women.
For believers, perhaps, the most important change would be taking the Interior Ministry – the government agency which determines who is a Jew and has, for the last many years, sought to block all Jewish believers from freely immigrating to their land, out of the hands of the ultra-Orthodox and recognizing Messianic Jews as having the same ethnic legitimacy which would grant them the right of return to the Jewish homeland. Such a move could have a tremendous impact on many Jewish-born believers who have not dared to immigrate, knowing just how hostile the present government has been in that regard.
With an uptick of anti-Semitic acts in recent days, both throughout Europe and the U.S., moving to Israel could become a viable option for the first time to those who have felt excluded.
With the possibility of such freedom, it would behoove many Zionist Christians who have believed in and supported Netanyahu to be willing to see this election from the perspective of their Jewish counterparts in the faith who either live here already and are viewed as unworthy and non-Jewish by the ultra-Orthodox and also from the perspective of those believing Jews who wish to live in the land of their forefathers but have been unable to do so for fear of having their faith discovered and then ultimately being rejected. It, indeed, might be time to usher in a new era which which would make it possible to fulfill the scriptures which categorically state that EVERY Jew will return to their land.
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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PARASHAT KI TISA (WHEN YOU LIFT UP)
SHEMOT (EXODUS) 30:11–34:35
This week, we read of one of the most well-known, yet tragic accounts in the history of the people of Israel. It begins with Moses on Mt. Sinai, receiving the stone tablets, which were written with God’s finger. During that time, the people grew impatient because they thought Moses was “late” in coming down from the mountain. They gathered against Aaron and told him to make them a god that would walk before them since they did not know what happened to Moses.
The people’s impatience was rooted in selfishness, which caused them to take matters in their own hands. Often times we are also impatient! We don’t want to wait upon the Lord, and take matters into our own hands. And the results are the same as those of the children of Israel i.e. we make for ourselves a different “god” that we trust in and follow.
Aaron feared the people more than he feared God. This fear caused him to surrender to the people, and therefore, he collected all the golden earrings and turned them into a molten calf. He then blasphemously declared, “This is your god, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4)
The blasphemy against the one and only true God did not stop there; Aaron built an altar and said to the people that, “tomorrow will be a festival to the lord”. The next day the people rose up to offer “burnt” offerings, to bring “peace” offerings and they sat down to eat, drink and to make “merry”. Most Bible translations translate the word “לְצַחֵֽק” Letzachek as “to make merry”, but a more accurate meaning would be the sound resulting from a licentious kind of debauchery. In other words, the children of Israel were engaging in a form of lewd idol worship!
God wanted to destroy Israel and rightly so! However, we once again see that despite their human selfishness, God was moved to compassion because of His love and His faithfulness. Moses “reminded” Him of His unconditional covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel).
As Moses was coming down from the mountain he met Joshua, who reported to him in verse 17 “the voice of war (battle) in the camp.” Moses’ reply has a very significant meaning in the Hebrew, which gives us the key to understanding what was truly happening in the camp. Moses responds in verse 18, “It is neither the voice of signing (response) of victory (“עֲנ֣וֹת גְּבוּרָ֔ה” anot gevura) and not the voice of singing (response) of weakness (“עֲנ֣וֹת חֲלוּשָׁ֑ה” anot chlusha), but the voice of selfishness (“אָנֹכִ֖י” anochi) that I hear.”
I find interesting that Joshua heard the sound of war and Moses heard the sound of selfishness. I believe that both are true as what was happening was one big spiritual battle, due to the blasphemy that took place in the camp of Israel. Moses’ rage and anger caused him to throw the tablets that he was holding, causing them to break. He then burned the golden calf. Moses had no tolerance for idol worship, and neither should we followers of Messiah.
As I reflect upon this story, I am reminded of the words of exhortation from 2 Peter 3:3–8:
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
God is never late! Don’t allow your selfishness to cause you to take matters in your own hands — which will result in sin — but rather, remember all that He has done for you! He is faithful — take hold of His promises so that you can follow Him and walk with Him today. Do not grow weary in waiting for Him!
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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Lasting, bonded relationship of love
What is life all about? That is a question that incalculable numbers of people have asked over the course of human history. The Bible provides an answer. The meaning of life is primarily found through succeeding in establishing lasting, bonded relationships of love. That love also compels us to extend the circle of love in the Kingdom of God by serving others and introducing them to the liberation of the Gospel and discipleship so that they also might succeed in the great task of establishing bonded relationships of love. This is easier said than done, especially for people who were raised away from any context of seeing this lived out in before their eyes. However, through the power of God in Yeshua, we can all find healing and establish such relationships.
The first bonded and lasting relationship the power of the Gospel leads us into is with God, where we discover – as the Reformers taught – that the primary purpose of our lives is to love God and enjoy Him forever. This relationship is a key to learning to love and to overcome self-centeredness.
The next most important bonded relationship of love for most people, is with their spouse, with the potential for an amazing depth of joy. I am privileged to know that joy.
Then for most people, the next bonded relationship is with their children. We go through the struggles and, for the wife, the great pain of childbirth and raising young toddlers, for the joy set before us of the potential of a lasting relationship of intimacy with our children.
Those not called to marriage and family are still called to deep bonded relationships with others. We have relationships with relatives and friends. God more than makes up for the lack of marriage and children for those who are called to a single life. God also gives us a heart to love people with great differences of interest and in many different stations in life. He broadens us.
The patterns of our modern Hi-Tech culture are arranged for fleeting relationships, for shallowness and trivia. They replace real intimacy with superficial information. They encourage zero or low commitment engagements and prioritize the immediate over the important. Many books have been written on this. I want to encourage you to stand against this trend. Internet Church is not Church. Facebook may be good for minimally keeping in touch, but can never be the relational basis for our lives.
Many years ago, I asked the Lord to give me a contingent of leaders who would walk with me in covenant love (bonded relationships of love) that would last a lifetime. God fulfilled that prayer, and I think the Tikkun story is largely a ripple effect initiated by those bonded relationships. We appreciate your connection to the Tikkun story and pray that your life would increasingly be given to establishing lasting, bonded relationships of love.
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, February 5, 2019, 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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Taking the bull by the horns
LOVE is a word much spoken of, but most often as a noun. Love as a noun becomes an abstraction of little use other than as a tennis ball to be bantered back and forth across a court of speculation. But love as a verb is love indeed, manifest in action on the real stage of life, not only in Heaven.
Love is real and may be felt and seen. If ‘love’ is the word spoken but is experienced as ‘loathe’, something fundamental has been lost in translation. Love is dynamic, not passive: “God so loved the world that He gave,” expressing His will on earth as in Heaven. Love is transmitted, and if the beloved does not know that he or she is loved, it is not love at all, but something less. For love to live it cannot lie inert. If love is not expressed it is a mere personal sentiment lodged alone inside one individual.
For Love to live it must find a language, and to be communicated it must learn the language of the beloved. If I were to say to one who knows only Japanese ani ohev otach (‘I love you’ in Hebrew) it will not be understood. But if I cannot soon learn Japanese, I may express my love by offering a cup of coffee or a sandwich. Love requires the investment of time and the very minimum of a cup of coffee.
Faith is not sufficient to prove love, as one may believe he is loved, but if it is not experienced, it is futile. I knew a young man who believed he was not loved and, when I told his girlfriend that he had tragically taken his own life she exclaimed, “But I loved him.” To which I informed her, “He did not know that.”
Real love when reciprocated from both sides with Heaven’s blessing forges bonds that are not fragile, but is a strong threefold cord not easily broken. If it quickly unravels like a single thread that is unable to bear any weight, it was not love, but its counterfeit. Love requited renders one naked and vulnerable to both pleasure and pain, but it weathers the storms that threaten to quell it and, forgiving, rekindles love from the coals. Love is not for the fearful but the brave, nor for snowflakes, who melt at the first unpleasant heat.
Love is not a mere ceremony of abstract symbols, but the reality to which the symbols point. Love is a voyage of adventure through rough seas and dangers as well as placid lakes and sunrises, through pleasures and pains, fully expressed and fully lived. It is taking the bull by the horns, nothing less.
‘Little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue, but in deed and truth.’ – 1 John 3:18
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.