Opinion: Stop Christian missionaries at Israel festivals
On Sunday April 29, 2012 at the Israel Festival in Los Angeles, many people visited Jews for Judaism’s booth to acquire literature and show their support for our efforts to keep Jews Jewish.
During the day we received numerous complaints about the presence of three different organizations that were granted booths at the festival.
1) The Mormons / Latter Day Saints
2) The Kabbalah Centre
3) The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministries
For this report we will focus on Friends of Israel Gospel Ministries even though we share concerns about the Mormons who are a missionary religion, and the controversial Kabbalah Centre that has gone so far as to claim Jesus was a Kabbalist and the potential messiah of his era who was turned over to the Romans for execution by the anti-Kabbalists. (Source: Audio lecture by Yehuda Berg)
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministries booth was located not far from the Jews for Judaism booth. After receiving our first complaint we visited their booth, obtained two pieces of literature and asked their representatives to explain their mission. Their answer was very revealing. “Our mission is to support Israel and proclaim the truth.”
When asked what the truth is, they replied, “Jesus is the Suffering Servant who died for our sins.”
Another representative of Friends of Israel, who happened to be a Jewish convert to Christianity, told us “Jews and Israelis are mostly secular and don’t even believe they are the Chosen people. They follow Judaism blindly out of tradition and can only know the truth by accepting Jesus.”
The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministries has been on Jews for Judaism’s radar for many years. They are known for disguising their missionary activity under the banner of being supporters of Israel. However, their website and literature sheds light on their true agenda.
The Friends of Israel website reveals that their approach of “studying the Scriptures with an appreciation for Israel and the Jewish people” has a goal to enhance “opportunities to minister effectively.”
Also found on their website is Friends of Israel’s Statement of Faith. It says they believe in the Trinity and that Jesus is God. They also believe that mankind is born into spiritual death and can only be saved by accepting Jesus. Whoever fails to accept him will suffer eternal punishment.
The Friends of Israel literature distributed and the Israel Festival is also quite revealing.
In their Israel My Glory magazine the majority of articles are preaching the Gospel.
Additionally, several articles are written by Jews who have converted to Christianity.
Here are some of the most disturbing statements in this magazine:
1) The Jewish Prophet Isaiah alluded to the Trinity and clearly all three entities are God… Page 8
2) Buy the book Zechariah by messianic Jew David Levy and discover that “Zechariah is second only to Isaiah and his prophesies include the future Tribulation and glorious return of the Lord…” Page 12
3) God is a Tri-unity… Page 18
4) We must seek and call on [Jesus] to receive redemption… Page 19
5) Jesus Christ fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecies. Isaiah also revealed the Messiah is a God-Man. He is virgin-born, a descendant of Jesse and King David and the Suffering Servant…” Page21
6) Friends of Israel writer and messianic Jew Steve Herzig wrote, “More than 700 years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah prophesied that God would send a unique sin-bearer, born of a virgin… Do you have trouble? No one can help you like He can…” Page 33
7) The book of Hebrews was written to provide evidence of Jesus Christ’s divinity … and the law has been abrogated in Christ…” Pare 36
Friends of Israel also distributed another brochure at the Israel Festival. Entitled Five Facts You Should Know about Israel, the brochure included the following statements:
1) “Messiah will not crush Satan and reestablish God’s rule over the world system until the nation of Israel repents of its rebellion against God. This repentance will involve accepting Jesus as the Messiah Savior…” Page 9
2) “One third of Israel will repent when they see Jesus Christ in His glorious Second Coming and recognize that he is their Messiah…” page 10
There is abundant evidence that The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministries is a missionary organization. As their name implies their mission is to spread the gospel to the Jews.
It is our opinion that Friends of Israel and other missionary organizations pose a threat to Jewish survival and continuity. They should not be provided a forum to share their message at community Jewish events or allowed to distribute their literature to unsuspecting Jews.
In conclusion, we have two recommendations:
1) Implementation of a community policy that groups seeking to actively proselytize Jews through deceptive means should not be allowed to participate in Jewish community programs. By allowing them to participate gives de facto communal support for their deceptive activities.
2) Prior to community events, organizers should actively seek to determine if a particular group is problematic. This can be facilitated by investigating the group in consultation with Jews for Judaism, the Board of Rabbis or the BJE who can help evaluate if the group has a hidden agenda that is inconsistent with the goals of the Jewish community.
Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz is founder and director of Jews for Judaism www.JewsForJudaism.org