Israeli law allows refusal of entry to Israel due to missionary activity
The Ministry of Tourism announced that 3.6 million tourists entered Israel in 2017. Border control officers working for the Ministry of Interior (in Hebrew, Misrad HaPnim) at Ben Gurion airport or other border crossings must approve entry and stamp the passport of every incoming visitor. However, each year border control officers refuse entry to many potential visitors.
In 2016 Israeli authorities refused entry to 16,534 visitors. While this number may seem high, the number of refused visitors is less than 0.5% of the total amount trying to enter the country. Israel, as any sovereign nation in the world, has the right to defend its borders and deny any foreign national entry into its territory. At the same time, the authority to deny foreign nationals entry to the country is sometimes misused in order to prevent Messianic Jews or Christians from entering Israel. It is important to stress that Israeli passport holders returning to the country may not be refused entry to Israel, their home country.
Common Reasons a Foreign Citizen Is Denied Entry to Israel
The most common reason people are refused entrance to Israel is due to concerns of illegal immigration. Visitors who enter Israel as tourists, but stay in the country and work without a work visa. In the past few years 90% of foreign citizens refused entry to Israel due to suspicion of illegal immigration are from Ukraine, Georgia, Russia, and other former Soviet Union countries. Other reasons for denial of entry are security concerns, if the visitors are suspected of involvement in criminal activity, or if there is suspicion that the visitor is a member of an organization that supports the BDS movement against Israel.
Common Reasons Messianic Jews and Christians Are Denied Entry to Israel
Israeli border control officers have been known to deny entry to Christian and Messianic Jewish leaders who they suspect of missionary activity. According to a legal procedure published by the Ministry of Interior on July 20, 2017, potential visitors to Israel may be denied entry on the “suspicion of missionary activity.” This procedure is a slippery slope, as immigration officers at border control will likely have a broad interpretation of the term “missionary activity.”
Israeli law forbids an adult to coerce a minor to convert to another religion and to give money (or the equivalent of money) to a person to change their religion. As a Jewish and democratic state, freedom of speech and religion are fundamental rights defended by the law and the courts, and Israel should view favorably people who share religious ideas. However, border control officers may not take this into consideration when making a decision to deny entry to a person based on suspicion of “missionary activity.”
Visitors who tell border control officers that they are on a “mission’s trip” or who are found carrying evangelistic material in their belongings may be questioned and subsequently denied entry. Also various Orthodox Jewish anti-missionary organizations sometimes inform the Ministry of Interior about individuals they request be denied entry to Israel. In the past foreign citizens already in Israel participating in an evangelistic campaign were detained by immigration police and deported from Israel. The legal reason for the deportation is the alleged “unlawful use” of a tourist visa.
Appealing a Decision to Deny Entrance to Israel
The law of entrance to Israel authorizes border control clerks to decide whether to allow or deny entry of a potential visitor. At the same time, any administrative decision made by state agents is subject to the rule of law, therefore the decision must be reasonable and free of prejudice. Thus a border control clerk’s decision can be appealed.
Once a tourist is issued a deportation order, they are held at a detention center at the airport until the return flight. During this time it is possible to meet a lawyer who will urgently request the court to give an injunction order to stop the deportation process. However, judges will not usually overrule decisions by Israeli immigration officers in such cases. Also, there is usually limited time to complete the legal process, since the Israeli immigration police aim to deport the person as fast as possible.
One ramification of denial of entry to Israel by a border control officer is a ten-year ban from returning to Israel. The only way to avoid this is to appeal the ban and try and have the ban cancelled.
There is a better chance to continue the legal process to challenge the validity to refuse the visitor entry after the person is back in their home country. The deported visitor can hire a lawyer (give power of attorney to a lawyer in Israel) to approach the head of the Border Control Department at the Ministry of Interior in Jerusalem in order to try and lift the ban. However, if the appeal is not accepted the lawyer can take the case to court, bringing legal arguments and evidence to support the claim that the refusal of entry was a mistake and has no legal justification.
Be Aware of Legal Procedure for Denial of Entry to Israel
As you have read in the statistics above, it is uncommon for a foreign visitor to be denied entry into Israel and even more rare that the reason is anything other than concerns over illegal immigration. However, it is important to be informed on this subject, particularly as it relates to alleged missionaries, an accusation which is almost always directed at Messianic Jews or Christians. The border control officers are authorized to refuse the entrance of tourists to Israel, but their authority is subject to judicial review by a court of law.
Advocate Joshua Pex is a partner at Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law firm in Jerusalem. He specializes in immigration to Israel.
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LISTEN: John 20: Resurrection community of grace
The resurrection creates a community. The summary of community life is that it has one heart and soul. God is always looking for a people to inhabit and to glorify Himself through. In our passage the disciples hid for fear of the Jews, but no Jews were after them! They had locked the door, and Jesus walked in saying, “Peace to you! Shalom!” This peace is a divine revelation. We don’t have to live in fear. Sin destroys the witness of the resurrection. Jesus is very compassionate on sinners but hard on the sin itself. Jesus came bringing healing and destroy the works of the devil. The goal of the community should be to walk the way that Jesus walked, a community of compassion; great grace was upon them. There must be a response to grace.
Readings: Acts 4:32-35, 1 John 1:1-10, John 20:19-31
David Pileggi lives in Jerusalem with his wife Carol and their three adult children where he is the rector of Christ Church in the Old City of Jerusalem. They have lived in Israel for 33 years where David has worked as a journalist/researcher and for 19 years was director of a study program dedicated to teaching Christians about the Jewish context of their faith. David has an M.A. from the Hebrew University in Jewish Studies and is a licensed tour guide.
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An historical perspective of the mess in Gaza
For almost 400 years most of the Middle East was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. This includes present day Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and other nations. World War I brought the demise of the Ottoman Empire, and following the War the Allies (predominantly the British and the French) divvied up the area. The area consisting of Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan became known as the British Mandate. As you can see from the map above, the British created the nation of Jordan from this Mandate. Previously, the British had agreed to give the region of Palestine (the entirety of the British Mandate) to be a homeland for the Jews. At this time there were about 100,000 Jews living in the land (most of whom had immigrated over the previous 40 years) and 500,000 Arabs.
Following World War II and the Holocaust, there was an almost universal sense among the Western nations that a nation state of Jews needed to be formed in the land controlled by the British Mandate. This resulted in United Nations Partition Plan of 1947. The land of Palestine (excluding Jordan) would be divided between a Jewish state and an Arab (Palestinian) state. This is the first time the issue of what becomes known as the Gaza Strip arises. In the map below you can see the yellow strip (later known as the Gaza Strip) along Mediterranean Sea, designating this area as part of the future Arab state. What’s particularly notable is its proximity to the West Bank.
In the end the surrounding Arab nations and the Arabs within the partitioned area rejected the Partition Plan and instigated a war against Israel. The result was an Israeli victory, a significant increase of land under Israeli control, the absorption of the West Bank under Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip under Egyptian control. Note in the map below how the Gaza Strip is now significantly separated from the West Bank, especially in comparison to the original Partition Plan.
Additionally, hundreds of thousands of Arabs were displaced from Israel during the war. These Arabs and their descendants now are often referred to as Palestinian refugees by the Arab communities. See the map below which shows 190,000 Arabs from Israel relocating to the Gaza Strip. Today, out of the 1.9 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, one million are considered refugees.
The 1967 Six-Day War resulted in, among other things, the Gaza Strip, the entire Sinai Peninsula and the West Bank coming under Israeli control. The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt as part of 1979 peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. The Gaza Strip remained under Israeli control. In 1988 Jordan renounced any rights to the West Bank. In the 1993 Oslo Accords Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) agreed on a plan of limited autonomy of PA control over much the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The hope was that over a period of time PA control would increase and possibly lead to the formation of a Palestinian state. See the map below.
In 2005 then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to withdraw all Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip and to hand over administrative control of the Strip to the PA. In the 2006 Palestinian elections, Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt, won a shocking victory. Hamas was considered a terrorist organization by Israel and most Western nations. In an essential civil war in the Gaza Strip in 2007, the PA was thrown out of the government in Gaza, and the PA banned Hamas involvement in the West Bank, thus creating two governing organizations over portions of the Palestinian lands. Since that period, Israel has fought several wars with Hamas in Gaza and has blockaded the Strip from almost all international trade, fearing the development of a military arsenal to be used against Israel. Unlike the PA, Hamas continues to call for Israel’s destruction and launches constant terrorist and bombing attacks against Israel. In addition, the current Egyptian government has prevented most trade going to and from Egypt through its border with Gaza. The combination of Israel’s and Egypt’s blockades against Gaza and Hamas’ allocation of its limited resources to weapons and terror against Israel has resulted in widespread poverty and unemployment in what is considered one of the most densely populated areas of the world.
Recently, Hamas decided to launch a popular protest against Israel by gathering thousands of demonstrators and busing them to the Israeli border protected by a security fence. Hamas used the events of Israel’s soon to be 70th anniversary of the state’s founding (called Nakba – catastrophe – by the Palestinians) and the anniversary of Land Day, remembering the confiscation of Arab lands in northern Israel in the 1970’s. Hamas has used the demonstrations to call for Israel’s destruction and return of the refugees from the 1948 war to their former lands within Israel proper.
Sadly, the first day of demonstrations a week ago led to a confrontation with the Israeli military on the border, resulting in several Palestinians being killed and hundreds more shot. News reports of the events are in tremendous conflict with Palestinian reports of Israeli snipers shooting peaceful protesters, while Israel reports that Israeli snipers are shooting at Palestinians that are attempting to throw Molotov cocktails and breaching the security barrier. Both sides acknowledge that some of those killed were Hamas military operatives. On the other hand, it does appear that many of the injured Palestinians simply were peacefully protesting.
The Gaza situation seems like it has no good solution. With Hamas in power, a peaceful resolution appears impossible. If Israel makes progress in peace negotiations with the PA in the West Bank, and if the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank thus improve, then perhaps the Palestinians could force a governmental change in Gaza. In the meantime, please pray for wisdom and restraint on the part of Israel’s military leadership. Also, pray for a change of heart in Israel’s government to seek real peace with Palestinian leadership. Finally, pray that Hamas would be exposed to the Palestinians in Gaza as the primary source of their misery.
Jamie Cowen is a Partner at Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh Law Offices, Petach Tikvah, Israel; Former Rabbi, Tikvat Israel Congregation, Richmond, Viriginia; Former President, Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations; Former Chief Counsel, US Senate Subcommittee 1978-1986
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Parashat Shemini: What it really means to be kosher
Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.
Ihope that everyone had a meaningful Passover. We had a great holiday, in fact, it was very hard for me to get back to work. This Shabbat we read and study Parashat Shemini. Our parasha speaks of kosher laws, especially regarding animals that we are forbidden to eat. The swine, a notoriously unclean animal, is mentioned in our parasha.
In addition, the famous teaching that appears in different formulations in the Bible, “Be holy, because I am holy,” (Leviticus 11:44 [NIV]) also appears at the end of this portion.
Further, two major historical events occur: the dedication of the Tabernacle and the unexpected death of Aaron’s sons.
“Be holy, because I am holy.”
The kosher laws have been derived and preserved in the collective consciousness of the Jewish people and have never been removed. In fact, the swine, or rather the avoidance of it, has become a central symbol of Judaism.
In each generation we try to find an explanation of why God commanded us to keep from unkosher foods.
Some have determined that the kosher laws and restrictions help maintain the distinction between the Jew and the rest of the world. While others decided that the kosher laws were given for health reasons, that the Jewish diet was a recipe for better health.
It’s possible that God may have given the kosher laws for both reasons. As humans, we can find a thousand reasons why God forbade us to eat pork, but the truth is, they are irrelevant to the discussion – God commanded us, and so we obey.
After the long list of unkosher animals comes the commandment of God, “Be holy, because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44 [NIV]). This commandment is stated in the context of eating kosher.
It is used to indicate the importance of observing God’s commandments. Likewise, to make it clear to the people of Israel and to us, that we have the need to preserve purity, including what enters our mouths and what comes out of them.
What it Really Means to be Kosher
Eventually, we come to one of the old arguments about kosher laws in the Judeo-Christian and Messianic world, when Yeshua talks about what goes into someone’s mouth:
“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” – Matthew 15:11 [NIV]
This saying of Yeshua seemingly contradicts the kosher laws of the Torah, and there are people who interpret this passage as giving them permission to eat anything. It should be clear to us that this is not Yeshua’s intent, he is speaking in the manner that the prophet Isaiah did.
For example, when Isaiah said that God does not want sacrifices or offerings, but rather that there be kindness amongst men, this notwithstanding that the Torah explicitly commands the offering of sacrifices.
In a similar manner, Yeshua said that what enters the mouth defiles a man for a limited time. In fact, the next day that person will be clean from the impurity of the food.
The words that come out of the mouth, however, have the power to defile or harm others for much longer than a day. When Miriam spoke against Moses, she immediately became leprous, which makes a person unclean for much longer than eating all unclean things together.
According to Yeshua’s perception, there is no comparison between the severity of the act of slander and eating. Just as there is no comparison between the severity of the act of lying, theft, or murder, and yet we are commanded to avoid all of these.
The Punishment of Aaron’s Sons
This Shabbat we finally read about the dedication of the Tabernacle. In the second part of the Book of Exodus, we read a detailed review of the Tabernacle and its vessels.
Following that was the instruction regarding the sacrificial practices in the Tabernacle that were described to us at the beginning of the Book of Leviticus. Now, this parasha begins with the dedication of the Tabernacle.
In the middle of this important and happy event, the priestly family and the people of Israel were tragically traumatized: the two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu the priests, were killed in the Tabernacle, right in the middle of the celebrations.
“Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” – Leviticus 10:1,2 [NIV]
The reason for the severe punishment of the sons of Aaron is explicitly written in the Bible: the offering of “unauthorized fire.” Torah commentators have attempted to interpret this sin. They spectated that perhaps they came in drunk from wine or they came in without washing their hands and feet.
Why Did God Strike Nadab and Abihu?
There are those who say that they wanted to take authority from Moses and Aaron and start a rebellion, or perhaps it was even a spiritual ecstasy. There are many possibilities to discuss.
In my opinion, there are three possibilities that exceed the others in their logic:
The first is spiritual ecstasy, they became uncontrollably excited and broke God’s instructions in public, this interpretation speaks of innocence, not evil, and not malice.
The second interpretation talks about rebellion, in effect an attempt by the sons of Aaron to take over the institution of the priesthood as well as the nation.
The third interpretation targets wine as the culprit. That is to say that when the sons of Aaron entered into the service of God, they were drunk from wine, which is unacceptable.
In the past I spoke about the first two topics, so today I want to talk about the possibility that they, the sons of Aaron, drank wine before they went to serve God.
It seems reasonable that their sin is connected to wine, because immediately after the punishment, God spoke to Aaron and told him to keep from wine, so that he would not die when he comes into the Tent of Meeting.
“Then the Lord said to Aaron, ‘You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean…’” – Leviticus 10:8-10a [NIV]
The severity of the calling to be a teacher
In this section we learn some points that are very important for us today: It is critical to respect the house of God. We cannot defile His holy place nor can we bring impurity when we go to worship before the Almighty.
As God told Aaron, He distinguishes between the holy and the unclean. Therefore, we are obligated to make the same distinction when we enter into our congregation – we must honor the place as the House of God.
The second point I gleaned from this part is that the leader of the community has a great deal of responsibility. Be it a priest, a chief rabbi, or a congregational leader.
When we display inappropriate behavior, we despise the name of God, whom we represent. This is the same idea that appears in James:
“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” – James 3:1 [NIV]
What was James’ intent in this rather harsh verse?
First of all, James didn’t say that there should be no teachers, but rather he noted that with the role comes the power to build and to destroy. He emphasized that it is worthwhile to act cautiously.
The teacher bears double-responsibility, because he directs and influences not only himself, but rather he does the same for an entire group of people. In the instance that he, the teacher fails and/or makes a mistake, he misleads a whole group of people.
Yeshua also warned the teachers and the leaders about responsibility and criticism. He claimed that they not only close the gate to Heaven for themselves but also for others, and therefore their punishment is greater:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” – Matthew 23:13 [NIV]
This connects us to an interesting talmudic quote:
“Torah should be taught only to a proper student – one whose deeds are attractive – or to a person whose behavior is unknown. However, [a potential student] who follows bad ways should be influenced to correct his behavior and trained to follow a straight path. [After he repents, his deeds] are examined and he is allowed to enter the house of study to be instructed.” – Talmud Torah 4:1
“A potential student who follows bad ways,” speaks of a person who does not behave properly, and therefore should not be accepted into an institution for Torah studies.
Here’s the catch: should not such a person receive an extra dose of Torah in order to teach him about virtues?
The answer is that a Torah student who does not behave properly causes blasphemy. How can this be?
Torah students represent religion for all to see. The general public appreciates the virtue of religion according to the moral value of its representatives: Torah students of good character encourage people to respect the Torah.
Torah students who are not good people, however, evoke a negative attitude not only towards themselves, but also towards the Torah which they supposedly represent, and this is the essence of blasphemy.
The leader carries even greater responsibility, just like in the case of Aaron’s sons. I also want to point out, not necessarily in a bad or critical manner, that we must be aware that we also carry this responsibility.
We are the billboard for faith in God and in Yeshua the Messiah. We are literally a walking advertisement, and when you see us and our lives in a positive light, we give God good publicity.
We spoke today about the kosher laws. Indeed, Yeshua emphasized that what is important is what comes out of the mouth. However, it does not have to be at the expense of what goes into the mouth.
The divine command is, “Be holy, because I am holy.” This requirement comes at the end of the list of foods that are, according to God, unfit for eating.
We also spoke about the tragic end of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu. In addition, we talked about the importance of behaving properly and preserving the sanctity of the house of God.
Finally, we are called not just to be a good example, but also to be billboards for faith in Yeshua.
This article originally appeared on Netivyah, April 8, 2018, and reposted with permission.
The teachings of Messiah Yeshua in a Jewish context. Netivyah is an Israeli non-profit organization that teaches God's Word and helps those in need.
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Israel – the 4000-year saga continues
May all who hate Zion be put to shame and turned backward! Let them be like the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up. – Psalm 129:5-6
As the Jewish world prepared to celebrate the Exodus of their ancestors from Egypt almost 4000 years ago last Friday afternoon, about 30,000 Gazans, seething with an ancient hatred of their Jewish neighbours and cousins, gathered at various locations along the Israel – Gaza border, to begin 6 weeks of ‘peaceful’ demonstrations against the fact the they are not able to enter Israel, and against the planned relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem on May 14th. If you saw news footage of the demonstrations, you will have seen that it was not a ‘peaceful’ event, but a near riot by a tyre burning, rock throwing rabble of brainwashed, hate filled Muslims.
Nothing has changed over the last 4000 years when it comes to Israel and the Jewish people. There is always someone who the Devil influences to carry out his plan to destroy the people of God. Those who make themselves the enemies of Israel are really opposing the Creator of the Universe, and they always pay the same price – the destruction that they plan for Israel, falls back on them. It would be very wise for the Muslims and others who see the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people to consider the fate of the Pharoah’s army, and the words of Pharoah (in the Ten Commandments) when he finally realised the truth after the death of all the first-born of Egypt, and the total destruction of his army. In a state of crushing defeat the Pharoah said “the God of Moses is God.”
As the saga of Satan’s desperation to destroy the Jewish people moved into the 21st century, he gained a new and powerful weapon – the news media. Hitler’s Nazis used the much less equipped media of their time to fuel the hatred of the Jewish people that fed the flames of the Holocaust. Today’s hi-tech media is exponentially more powerful and impactive when it comes to deceiving and manipulating the way the general population thinks about the key issues facing the world today, Israel being the perfect example. As Hamas must have planned for, the news media parroted their claims of ‘peaceful demonstrations’ and almost immediately began to make it look like Israel was using excessive force against the ‘peaceful demonstators.” And of course the UN and numerous world leaders rebuke Israel and say nothing about the terrorists who created the situation.
The true situation is that the majority of the people killed and injured are known terrorists who were not demonstrating peacefully, but shooting or launching projectiles at IDF soldiers and attempting to break through the security fence. Watching the chaos at the Gaza border, we must ask the question “what do they really want”? They have their own ethnically cleansed territory, where not one Jewish soldier or civilian is allowed to enter. If they leave Israel alone, Israel leaves them alone. Many nations send large amounts of money and supplies into Gaza, but most of that is take and misappropriated by Hamas. So what are they really demonstrating for? You will read the answer in news item # 2 – The leader of Hamas openly stated that the goal is that all of ‘Palestine’ will be theirs.
The Israeli government tries hard to get the truth out in defense of its actions, but it is like pushing against a tsunami wave. Israel needs as many ambassadors as possible to stand in solidarity with our tiny nation. As the majority of the world falls for the lies of the Devil and is unknowingly serving his scheme to destroy Israel in the hope of stopping the return of Messiah Yeshua, you can make a difference. May the LORD bless you and your families as you bless Israel, by standing with us and speaking up to defend Israel when you hear others spreading the lies they have heard through the media. If your congregation does not have an exisiting prayer for Israel group, may I encourage you to seek the LORD in prayer as to whether you should begin a small group to pray for Israel. Josie and I can assist you with prayer points and other information.
Yes the 4000 year old saga continues, but we know that YHVH will have the victory in the end which is getting very close, and will come even quicker, as the Body of Messiah rises up to pray (2 Peter 3:12).
This article originally appeared on Out of Zion Ministries, April 6, 2018, and reposted with permission.
David together with his wife, Josie, founded Out of Zion Ministries, whose mission is to fulfill God’s call on Israel as His ‘Chosen Nation’ to be a light to the Nations as well as to encourage the Church to fulfill God’s call to the Gentiles to assist in the spiritual ingathering of the Jewish people.