Whenever anything at all happens in the world, the Israelis' first question is, "How is it going to affect the Jews!"
In Israel, we Messianic Jews look at every political, religious or prophetic happening with much the same perspective: How is it going to affect the Messianic Jews?
In the November 1988 Knesset (parliament) elections the Orthodox won a phenomenal 20% of the entire Israeli vote. We Jewish believers in the Messiah Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus), needless to say, are concerned. However we quickly learned that we are not the only ones. All of Israel is stirred. As Shulamit Aloni, a Knesset member of a civil rights party said, “We are terrified".
In Israel a government is formed by bringing together a coalition of parties in order to form a majority in the Knesset. The Prime Minister then, is from the largest party of that coalition.
Since the new Israeli government has not yet been formed at this writing, we cannot foretell what parties will rule, but we can make a few preliminary comments.
ISRAEL'S GREATEST FAILURE
Israel has an electoral system that is an abysmal failure, by any standard. Voting is done by "direct representation", theoretically that is. Actually one votes for a party, not an individual in Israel. With a mere 20,000 signatures, a party can be registered for the polls.
In the last election, 27 parties were on the ballot, with 15 winning Knesset seats. Winning only 1% of the votes gives a party their first seat.
What this has done for Israel is to give fringe extremists a voice, and to keep either of the two large parties from gaining a majority.
Of these two large parties, the Likud Party represents the conservatives, right of center. It is the party of Menachem Begin and Izhack Shamir. The main emphasis of the Likud platform is to hold on to Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip at any cost which, they say, God has given to Israel.
The second large party, the Alignment Party, made up of various liberal factions, is left of center. Many of the great names of modern Israel's illustrious founders such as Ben Gurion and Golda Meir belonged to this party. Their platform is, in a word, "peace at any cost", Shimon Peres is the leader of the Alignment today.
Out of 120 Knesset seats, Likud won 40 and the Alignment 39. However, a ruling party must put together a coalition of 61 members to have even the narrowest majority. Such a narrow coalition is a very shaky proposition indeed. All it takes is one maverick among the 61 to bring the government down.
Likud's natural allies are the Orthodox parties, although the rabbis may slip back and forth from Likud to Alignment with great agility, depending from whom they can squeeze the most political plumbs.
When Shamir attempted to form a coalition with the four Orthodox parties this time they, feeling their numerical growth and thus increased power, made new demands on Shamir and on his party. They required that Shamir promise to pass a law stating that conversions to Judaism would be recognized by government agencies only if they had been performed by the Orthodox. Thus, the conversions of the Reform and Conservative branches of Judaism would not be "kosher" even to the civil government of Israel.
AMERICAN JEWRY UP IN ARMS
On the surface this may not appear to be an important concession. However, American Jewry has risen up in great distress and anguish.
The Reform and Conservative movements of Judaism-mainly in the States-had learned to live with the fact that the Orthodox did not accept them. But what they could not and would not stand for is a law being passed against them by the secular and civil government of Israel.
The result has been that American Jewry has exerted great pressure against Likud taking the Orthodox on as a coalition partner. Group after group of Diaspora leaders of Jewish organizations have come to warn Shamir of a catastrophic break between American Jewry and Israel, if such a law is passed. The only problem is that Likud cannot form a government without including the 18 Orthodox votes.
On the other hand, the Alignment with Peres at its head could form a government by creating a coalition of 61 or more with the small parties to its left. The problem with that is that some of those parties are communist or anti-Israel Arab parties. The Alignment refuses to team up with them.
For as much as the two large parties may dislike the Orthodox, the alternative of teaming up with Anti-Zionist Arab parties is even less appealing.
ORTHODOX USED TO BE SATISFIED WITH MONEY
Years ago, the Orthodox were thought to be fairly good partners in government. They would let the bigger party more or less run the country, as long as they got their sops such as funds for their many institutions and causes.
However, their taste for money and power has increased by leaps and bounds with the passing years. Their immediate plans in 1989 are to take over the ministerial positions where the most money lies.
MORE OF EVERYTHING FOR THE ORTHODOX
For example, in the current negotiations they want the education portfolio. They could then transfer large sums to Orthodox schools and yeshivas (where students study the Talmud and other Jewish holy books). They could siphon off funds for building larger yeshivas and living quarters for their students. They also pay students to learn, as yeshiva students rarely work outside their studies. And many of them study all their lives.
The Orthodox want the housing portfolio so that they can allocate large portions of government funds to Orthodox neighborhoods. Obviously the 80% of non-Orthodox populace would receive proportionately much less. Moreover, the Orthodox want to take the industry portfolio whereby they can earmark funds for Orthodox businesses in Orthodox areas.
THE STATE RELIGION
They have long since held the religious affairs portfolio and will most assuredly desire to continue. Here more funds are made available for their religious institutions. Orthodoxy being the "state religion", they spend much of the federal tax money to support the propagation of Orthodoxy throughout the land. Rabbis receive state funds as do synagogues and many other religious projects throughout the country.
Also through the Ministry of Religious Affairs they can transfer funds to such organizations as Yad L'Achim, which are in existence solely to harass believers in Yeshua the Messiah.
The real threat of Israel's Orthodox leaders, however, is not just that they would drain the nations meager finances. They have well publicized plans to take over the nation of Israel and make it a theocratic dictatorship.
The Orthodox political leaders in Israel have long had visions of passing a series of "who is a Jew" laws, step by step consolidating their power as the one true legitimate heir to Jewish heritage and identity. Their desire for both money and dictatorial type powers seems unlimited.
WHY DON'T THE TWO MAJOR PARTIES JOIN TOGETHER?
One obvious solution is for the two major parties to come together and form a National Unity Government. Seventy nine votes would make a very stable coalition.
If you recall, that is just what the two parties did four years ago. They even shared the Prime Minister's office with Shimon Peres of the Alignment for two years, and after that Izhack Shamir of Likud who has just finished his two year term.
This configuration did and would continue to lessen the power of the Orthodox. However, the last National Unity Government was noted for its powerlessness to do much of anything. Most of the time what Peres wanted, Shamir vetoed, and visa-versa.
A FORMULA FOR CHAOS
The newspapers are, and have been crying for electoral reform, whereby the small extremist parties would drop off. Imagine, they say, what the United States would be like with 15 parties in the Congress.
But the various Orthodox parties, up until now have successfully vetoed any change, because that would mean a great reduction in their own political power. And the Orthodox, because they hold the balance of power between the two big parties in the Knesset, wield enormous influence, far beyond their numbers.
In the next coming weeks, perhaps before this letter reaches you, Israel will have to form some type of coalition. However, if neither of the large parties is able to do so, then new elections must be called for. The only problem is that there is no guarantee that the same impasse might not occur again.
The only solution then is to create a new electoral system which the Orthodox will do everything in their power to hinder.
Needless to say, Israel needs the prayers of God's people.
THE EFFECT UPON MESSIANIC JEWS
Messianic Jews, if they are aggressive and fearless with direction from the Lord, will find an open door to the hearts of our people. Ari, who is now in Israel, is finding Israelis open to God's salvation through our Messiah, more than ever before.
Because the Orthodox are now so intimidating, the general public, in the back-lash that has occurred, are open to another alternative.
The Israeli public fears that Rabbinical Judaism's next steps will be to turn the state Israel into an Orthodox theocracy, Khoumeni style.
The Orthodox themselves loudly proclaim that they want Israel to be an Orthodox State.
RETURN TO FIRST CENTURY PERSECUTION?
Actually as frightening as all this may sound, if it came to pass, it would be no worse than what Yeshua the Messiah and the disciples lived under as recorded in the Gospels and the book of Acts.
Both Yeshua and the disciples were forbidden to preach the Good News. Both James and Stephen were killed for their faith by the Orthodox.
But none of that stopped the Gospel then, as it will not now. Actually the opposite will take place as it did then.
In spite of any persecution that may be perpetrated against God's born-again sons and daughters, all Israel is going to have revival!
Obviously, the Messianic Jews are an extreme threat to the Orthodox, because they give the Jewish people an alternative to the Orthodox interpretation of the Bible. And our faith is alive through a living Messiah. Our numbers are growing fast. They will surely look for ways to stamp us out, but they will not succeed.
No less persons than the prophets of old, the Messiah Himself and His Jewish followers, all proclaim that Yeshua is, and shall be King of the Jews.
SATAN'S LIE ABOUT ISRAEL
Now is the acceptable day of salvation for Israel. Do not believe a lie that Satan would propagate. What lie am I talking about? That today is not the time for Israel. We assert what we have said in the past. We do not believe that Yeshua the
Messiah of Israel will return to earth without a godly remnant of Israel waiting for Him.
He Himself told the Jewish Orthodox rulers of His day.
"From this time on, you will not see me until you say, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord" (Matt. 24:39).
The God of Israel said through the Jewish prophet Hosea;
"I will be...like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I will tear to pieces and go away... I will go away and return to my place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face. In their affliction they will earnestly seek me" (Hos 5:15).
The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote to Jews concerning the second coming of the Lord:
"So Messiah also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin (in other words not for sinners) to those who eagerly await Him" (To those Jews who are saved and waiting for the Messiah) (Heb. 9:28).
Obviously, the principal of these Scriptures applies to all mankind. But we must not forget that these words were written to the Jewish people. And the Scriptures explicitly state that Yeshua is not corning back for unsaved Jews, but for saved Jews.
Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses may every word be established.
If you are convinced that revival and salvation await the Jewish people, even as the dark clouds of satanic struggle move towards Israel, and indeed all nations, than we ask you to actively participate in the salvation of Israel now!
Maoz's many projects in Israel need your help, not the least being the Bible school and National Conference Center we wish to establish in Israel.
Thank you in advance for a heart of compassion towards our Jewish people.
In our Messiah's Service,
Ari & Shira Sorko- Ram