By Calev Myers
Following our recent elections, Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party, was asked by President Shimon Peres to form a coalition government; a mission that proved to be even more difficult than expected. Tzipi Livni of the center-left Kadima party, breached pre-election promises by refusing to join a national unity government, forcing Netanyahu to create a narrow right-wing/religious government. What does this mean in plain English? The ultra-religious parties are back in the seat of power in Israel.
How will that affect your life? Well, if you are a Conservative Jew, Reform Jew, Messianic Jew, an Evangelical Christian (perhaps residing in Israel on a temporary student or volunteer visa) or are affiliated with any other type of minority religious stream in Israel, you’d better start praying.
Here is a direct quote from the coalition agreement between the Likud and ultra-Orthodox Shas parties, under a section titled “Religion and State”: “The government will look into the claims regarding the expansion of the scope of illegal missionary activity in Israel and the steps required to deal with it, to the extent necessary.”
You may think that this is no big deal; since no person in the history of the modern state of Israel has ever actually been indicted with “illegal missionary activity” (i.e. proselytizing minors or bribing someone to convert to a different religion). But let’s not be naive. Shas did not have a narrow legal definition of “missionary” in mind when that coalition agreement was signed. Every Messianic Jew in Israel, for instance, is profiled by Shas’ rabbis as “an illegal missionary” regardless of their actual vocation or behavior.
Shas, who had control of the Ministry of Interior in Israel for several decades up until they were replaced by the secular Shinui party in 2004, proved that they are capable of creating a well-oiled machine of discrimination against members of all minority religions within Israel.
Well, guess what? Thanks to Mr. Netanyahu’s current quandary, they are back. Not only have they appointed a new Minister of Interior from their ranks, they also received the chairmanship of the Knesset Committee on Internal Affairs.
We are not saying that it is time to enter your bunkers and bomb-shelters, but we would strongly recommend that you do not mention the name of any Messianic Jewish friends when asked at Ben-Gurion Airport if you know anyone in Israel.
Yes, it is that serious!
An innocent Evangelical family from Hong Kong, who came to Israel for a “Bible Roots Tour” accidentally did that last month and was immediately arrested, put in jail and told that they would be sent back to Hong Kong on the next available flight. Why? They were told by a Ministry of Interior clerk at the entrance terminal that they were suspected of “illegal missionary activity”.
Does that term sound familiar? It was only through the spontaneous efforts of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice team, together with other justice-loving partners such as Mr. Eeki Elner (http://www.affi.org.il/ ), that the family from Hong Kong was released from jail after several hours. It should be noted that they were required to deposit a $30,000 cash bail and sign a declaration to the effect that they will not engage in “missionary activity” during their travels in Israel. Wow! We should all feel relieved that four Mandarin-Chinese speaking tourists from Hong-Kong will not be able to steal the souls of our children while they are sun-bathing on the shores of the Sea of Galilee or doing mud-treatments at the Dead Sea.
Another recent victory: Jerusalem Institute of Justice is happy to report another victory on a case this week that was tried at the District Court level involving a Christian lady who married a leader in a Messianic Jewish community in Israel. Although she should have received citizenship, under the Law of Citizenship, after four and a half years of residing in Israel and being married to an Israeli citizen, she was denied this lawful right although she had resided in the country for more than ten years.
The reason given (and documented by a clandestine recording device) - the Ministry of Interior received information that her husband actually teaches and leads a home meeting in a local Messianic Congregation. The couple apparently did not realize that such activities could jeopardize their citizenship in Israel. Thanks to the efforts of the litigation team of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, she will now receive full Israeli citizenship, after a relatively short six-month legal process.
Calev Myers is Founder
and Chief Counsel of Jerusalem Institute of Justice.
Back to Top
Why Would Anyone Want to be Prime Minister of Israel?
By Shira Sorko-Ram
"Becoming head of the government in Israel has to be one of the most thankless jobs on the planet. The obstacles and complications are endless. Enemies of the state lie within and without. Muslim terrorism, the UN’s anti-Semitic multifaceted and incessant attacks, and the world media’s fanatical bias against Israel is just the start.
There are more opinions than people in the Knesset. On the right there are ultra-Orthodox parties who do not recognize the State of Israel because, they say, the Messiah has to be the ruler of the true Israel. So they have their own laws and own educational institutions. On the other hand, they will gladly milk the taxpayer for millions and millions.
On the left, there are Arab Knesset members voted in by Israeli Arabs who regularly call for the destruction of Israel. Then there are personality clashes of every kind within all parties. For the most part, there is precious little a prime minister can do to keep all of the egotistical and opinionated politicians working together as a team.
Our new Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, worked night and day for over a month, trying to pull together a coalition of different parties to form a government - a minimum of 61 Knesset members out of 120.
Though Netanyahu, tried hard to woo Tsipi Livni and her center-left Kadima party to join his government, she would have none of it. She believes she can lead the opposition, and help bring down Netanyahu’s coalition within a year or so, putting her party in position to win the next election.
SHAS PARTY BACK IN POWER WITH A VENGEANCE
In order to form his coalition, Netanyahu (who believes in God) stated that his “natural partners” would be the ultra-Orthodox parties - which unfortunately are controlled by fanatical rabbis. Seeing how difficult it was for him to form a government, they took Netanyahu for a cleaning - or as we used to say, highway robbery.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the powerful spiritual ruler of the Shas party. All Shas politicians must receive his approval on all issues.
If you receive our weekly email prayer letter, then you are aware of how the Shas party literally held Netanyahu hostage, knowing that after Livni’s refusal to join the coalition, Netanyahu could not possibly create a government without participation of the ultra-religious parties.
Shas, the largest religious party, with only 11 seats, demanded and received astounding political
concessions and financial backing of close to a billion shekels ($250 million) in exchange for their support! (This does not include the millions that the other three religious parties with 12 seats have demanded and received.) So Israel has just experienced its own bailout - specifically for the non-working ultra-Orthodox population.
A Haaretz newspaper editorial lamented:
“The most irresponsible clauses in the Likud-Shas coalition agreement appears to be regarding
budgets for ultra-Orthodox education.
“[Netanyahu] has ensured not only that this generation carries on its back an ultra-Orthodox
community, most of whose men shirk both work and military service. They have also ensured that the next generation will continue to do so, and will finance a much larger ultra-Orthodox community.
“The Education Ministry continues to finance elementary schools that don’t teach core curriculum subjects and civics, [such as math, English, history] even though this, at best, is of dubious legality. This creates a new generation of ultra-Orthodox men with no marketable job skills - in other words, another group of poor people dependent on handouts. . .while encouraging voluntary unemployment and draft-dodging.” (Haaretz, 6Apr09)
(For information on how Shas and three other Orthodox coalition parties will affect the Messianic Jews of Israel, see Caleb Myers’ article.)
AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN - THE MAN WHO LOVES TO SHOCK
Next Netanyahu turned to Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) a right-wing party and its leader, Russian-born Avigdor Lieberman, to join his government. Lieberman had some reasonable issues in his platform while electioneering - especially pressing for Israel to finally draw up a constitution. However, when he realize he had to accept the rigid ultra-Orthodox world-view in order to reach a coalition agreement, he basically recanted on his promises for more civil rights for which he so vigorously campaigned in order to gain the votes of many Russian immigrants.
Rather, he traded those promises for the privilege of being Israel’s Foreign Minister - an office for which he is ill-suited. With his heavy Russian accent, and his very coarse personality, even his good ideas will almost certainly be seen as fanatical and extreme by the rest of the world.
Indeed, in foreign affairs, he has already angered Egypt by telling President Mubarak that if he didn’t want to visit Israel, he could “go to hell.” Egypt has now said they will not meet with him under any circumstance until he apologizes. He also said if Egypt went to war with Israel, Israel could bomb the Aswan Dam. He added, “If you want peace, prepare for war!”
Avigdor Lieberman standing on the fields of a kibbutz near the border with Gaza.
The statement that caused the most consternation with the American government was his declaration that the Annapolis peace talks of 2006 were dead - reminding the world that Israel had never actually ratified it. On the other hand, Lieberman announced that he was willing to pursue George Bush’s 2002 Road Map (which Israel had very reluctantly agreed to.) What is interesting is that both plans would ultimately lead to a two-state solution, meaning a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
The difference between the Road Map and Annapolis is that the Road Map itemized 48 clauses - detailed progressive steps that hopefully would be undertaken by each side, building stability and trust - while the Annapolis talks simply made a flying leap to create a Palestinian state and then worry later about the “outstanding issues.” Israelis believe such a plan would lead to the creation of another “Gaza” with Hamas shooting rockets from the West Bank on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
There is no doubt that Lieberman’s demeanor paints him as the proverbial bull in a china shop. But worse yet, he is under investigation for alleged corruption and may have to vacate his office if formal charges are made against him. He is suspected of bribery, money laundering and breach of trust and fraud. Israeli media has reported that Lieberman allegedly accepted bribes and used the money to fund his election campaigns.
However, as everybody in Israel knows, Netanyahu’s greatest challenge is Iran. It is clear now that no other nation is going to disarm the soon-to-be nuclear state. The problem is, as the pundits see it, Israel really doesn’t have the military capacity to take out all the nuclear capabilities of Iran. The U.S. does, but will not. So if Israel does try - which is definitely likely - it will be an act of great desperation, but without much hope of success, outside of a supernatural act of God.
Back to Top
Israel's Humanitarian Crisis
As this new government begins its period in office, there hangs over the people of Israel a sense of siege, asserts Amnon Rubinstein, former Knesset member. All of the Arab areas in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), a short drive from the homes of most Israelis, are off limits to Jews. Any Jew who strays into a Palestinian town will probably not come out alive.
The world cares little about the kidnapped soldiers of Israel. No human rights organization spends two seconds thinking about these lost souls; the International Red Cross has never visited one captured Israeli soldier. In fact, Israelis never know if their abducted soldiers are dead or alive. On the other hand, Israel is hounded with severe accusations of crimes against humanity at every turn.
The world talks about the Gazan humanitarian crisis. Rubinstein contends, “There is also an Israeli humanitarian crisis, and alongside the siege of Gaza, there is also a siege of Israel. A large chunk of this tiny country is exposed to brutal shelling from Gaza and the psychological effects of this exposure are felt by every Israeli.
“True, Gaza is smaller than Israel, but Gaza has a border with Egypt - not merely an Arab state, but the self proclaimed mother of all Arabs and a staunch defender of Palestinian causes. Israel has no border with a kin state and even in the two countries - Jordan and Egypt - which are at peace with it, Israelis do not feel welcome and, especially in Egypt, cannot but hear the hate barrage aimed against their country and people.” (Jerusalem Post, 1Apr09)
In fact, throughout the world, “the hate campaign against Israel and the Jews,” says Rubinstein, “has reached such heights that it must be ranked as equivalent to the Nazi propaganda which preceded the holocaust and the fact that this campaign is aided and abetted by Jewish and Israeli academics does not make the crisis any easier.” (Ibid.)
Very worrying to Israel is the fact that the young generation of American Jews who are educated in the very anti-Semitic atmosphere of U.S. liberal universities (and that also goes for students in the U.K. and Europe) have themselves become part of the intellectual anti-Israel community.
For example, the J Street organization, an American Jewish political arm of a pro-peace movement among young American Jews, claims to be pro-Israeli. But its literature and media sound like al Jazeera, the foremost Arab network. J Street regularly lambasts Israel and, not surprisingly, the Christians that stand with her!
With even American Jewry beginning to turn its back on Israel, and a new president of the U.S. ready to drive Israel into dividing up its land, it is the evangelical Christians who will be the only friends left on whom Israel can truly depend. The world is not a friendly neighborhood for the Jewish state. One day, the people of Israel will look to their only Hope, the Hope of Israel.
Back to Top
By Shira Sorko-Ram
I trust our Jerusalemite friends will forgive us if we brag a bit about Tel Aviv. On its 100th birthday, we simply must take a moment to celebrate the beauty of our fair city!
Tel Aviv is a city of only 400,000, the size of Oakland, California or Miami, Florida. But taking in the adjoining suburbs of Tel Aviv, the metropolis encompasses 3,000,000 inhabitants, half of Israel’s Jewish population.
The city is an absolute delight in the spring and fall, as anyone who strolls along its beachfront promenade and boardwalk will readily acknowledge. Tel Avivians are proud of the beautiful beaches, museums, parks and our soaring Azrieli towers.
Tel Aviv has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its white boxy Bauhaus-style buildings designed by Jewish architects who fled Nazi Germany. And preservation and renovation of once-beautiful buildings and boulevards are making the city more beautiful than ever.
The Tel Aviv University with 30,000 students and the Bar Ilan University with 27,000, are only two of many public and private colleges in the metropolitan area.
Tel Avivians see their city as a symbol of modernity, openness and freedom. The residents have always prided themselves on being both a bastion of secular Jewish life and defenders of an environment where the religious live in peace along side their bohemian neighbors.
Trendy Sheinkin street has an unwritten agreement: On Fridays it’s open to gay parades, tattoo parlors and fresh fruit juice stands; on Saturday it shuts down to respect the Sabbath. (msnbc, 5Apr09)
Meaning “Hill of Spring,” Tel Aviv is considered the first Hebrew city, and was built from scratch on land purchased from Arabs. Founded on April 11, 1909, a group of Jews parceled out lots among themselves on the deserted sand dunes north of the ancient city of Jaffa (connected to both Jonah and Peter in the Bible.)
It was in Tel Aviv that Founding Father David Ben Gurion declared Israel to be a reborn state in 1948.
Its critics say Tel Aviv lives in a “bubble,” detached from the “other” Israel of religious domination, communities under missile attack from Gaza and the 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank, just 20 miles away. But the Tel Aviv defenders counter, “We are a city of live-and-let-live. (msnbc, 5Apr09)
Today, the military headquarters are here, as well as all the foreign embassies. Tel Aviv’s blossoming as Israel’s business, media and employment center is especially striking against the backdrop of Israel’s other cities and their gradual decline. (Haaretz, 8Apr09)
The Mediterranean Sea has fashioned the character of the city. It has become the party town of the Middle East and its slogan is “the city that never stops.” Club owners say that the nightlife in Israel is crazier than anywhere in the world. They say that Tel Avivians have chosen this way of escape from the hopeless problems of the tiny nation.
Iran refers to Tel Aviv as the capital of “the Zionist regime.” The truth is, Israel is a city full of sin and great poverty-of-soul. It is in this city that God planted us and the Maoz Israel ministry. We believe the God of Israel has many souls here He is waiting to redeem.
The Dry Bones that arrived on the shores of the Mediterranean over the last century is the first sign of God fulfilling His ancient promise to the children of Israel. The Bones of the city are moving, but there is of yet no breath in them.
Still, there has always been a remnant of believing Jews, and today that remnant in Tel Aviv is continually increasing, as our congregation and ministry - and the ministries of other fellow laborers can testify. What’s more, there are many hungry souls looking, searching for the Answers to Life.
So, as Ezekiel was commanded by the Lord, we and our Maoz Israel intercessors are calling on the God of Israel to breath life into these Dry Bones.
Back to Top
The Five Love Languages - in Hebrew
The book that believers are raving about in Israel!
Israeli families are thanking Maoz for the practical tools “The Five Love Languages” is giving to married couples.
Moreover, single individuals are testifying that
this book has been life-changing to them in their relations with family and friends.
Thank you, Maoz partners, who provided the $2,500 needed to print and distribute this wonderful book.
Your investment, is already helping many relationships among believers in Israel to be more positive and fruitful - an important ingredient to the development of the Messianic Jewish community in Israel!
Books in Hebrew are a critical component to the spiritual growth of the Body of Messiah in Israel.
We cannot overstate their importance for Israelis who really want to push ahead and go as deep and as wide as the Spirit will lead them.
We have another eight books waiting their turn for translation so they too can be absorbed by this generation of Messianic Jews who need literature in their own language.
Your help will count for all eternity.
Back to Top
Through the Bible Series by Gordon Lindsay
Last month we received contributions to cover two books, for which we are very thankful! We have another 35 to go!
Before his death in 1973, Gordon Lindsay, founder of Christ for the Nations, authored a Bible course called “Through the Bible” series. Lindsay teaches the personality of God and the way He deals with human beings by analyzing the lives of the men and women of the Old Testament.
Although Rabbinical authorities of course teach from the Bible, they do not usually deal with the deep spiritual relationship between God and man.
For the Israeli reader, this will be a fresh new way of looking at the Bible characters and learning from them what God wants and expects from us today.
This Bible course of 37 booklets was created to give readers a love of the Scriptures.
We wish to translate the series into Hebrew.
Each book will cost $1,750 to translate, edit, proofread, typeset, print and distribute (£1270; €1370)
Your gift will help Israelis mature in their faith - which means they will be strengthened to multiply themselves by reaching new Israelis who are searching for the truth!
Back to Top
Driven by Eternity by John Bevere
If you haven’t read this book, you’ve got to!
It is one of the most impactful books I have read in my lifetime. The book focuses on a subject that most believers spend very little time thinking about - our reward in heaven when this short life of ours is over.
Nevertheless, Yeshua spent much of his time here on earth talking about this very subject. For a reason! Nothing can be more important in our lives than how we will spend the next billion years… John Bevere’s portrayal of this great Biblical truth is incredibly ENCOURAGING! And MOTIVATING!
Israeli believers need this book. We invite you to help us publish DRIVEN BY ETERNITY.
Cost for translation, editing, typesetting, proof reading, printing and distribution:
$13,900 (£10,400 ,€9,400 at current exchange rates)
We have obtained the rights to publish this book and will begin translating the minute we have the funds!
Back to Top
Dear Maoz Partner,
Times are changing.
A new USA administration - different from anything America has ever known.
A new administration in Israel - facing, for the first time, a Muslim country soon to have a nuclear bomb, and swearing to annihilate the Jewish state.
A Europe - finally awakened to the fact its culture is becoming Islamic.
A world economic meltdown - turning countries, known for their capitalistic philosophy, to experiment with socialism.
But one thing hasn’t changed. This Gospel must be preached as a witness to all nations, and then the end shall come.
One of the best ways, as you know, to preach the Gospel to multitudes is through the written word. That is why we continue to push ahead with translating into Hebrew and publishing in Israel some of the finest books in existence for believers.
Furthermore, we have printed several hundred thousand books focused on evangelism - reaching the lost - and will continue to do so.
The words of Yeshua, “Work, for the night is coming when no man shall work,” becomes more real as the world hurtles toward the end.
For that reason, we look to you, our partners, fellow members of the Body of Messiah, to team with us to print books that will help Israelis gain the spiritual revelation and power to multiply and bear fruit. Fruit that remains.
Take a look at the books we are currently working on, and let the Holy Spirit guide you where He wants you to invest in the salvation of Israel.
There are still 35 books of Shira’s father, Gordon Lindsay’s Through the Bible Series to publish. There is John Bevere’s Driven by Eternity, a faith-building book that draws us to consider that every faithful act on this earth is registered in heaven, and will be waiting us when we arrive to our reward.
Israelis need these books. They deserve to have the same opportunities to grow and be enriched as any other believer!
Let’s give them that chance!
You are making an investment in the Israeli people you will never regret.
May God’s face smile upon you as you bless the people of Israel.
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. Our gratitude knows no bounds for our partners, who month after month, have enabled us to not just maintain, but to increase our ministry outreach in Israel, even at such a time as this! Thank you!
Let us hear from you this month. And send us your prayer request, as well, so we can pray for you, your family, your business, your finances, your health! We know you pray for us, and our Maoz team loves to pray for you! Every work day we come together to pray for your requests.
Partner with Maoz today by supporting our projects:
Maoz Israel Ministries | istandwithisrael | Through the Bible series
Congregation Tiferet Yeshua | Coffee House Outreach
Driven by Eternity book | Hebrew New Testament | Burkina Faso
Arab Congregations | Persecuted Believers
Back to Top