In this issue:
Goldstoned |  One Brave Man Faces Goldstone Committee | 12 Steps for the Goldstone Report  | 
Unbelievable  |  I Received a Phone Call  |  Annuities: As Good As You’ve Heard!

Goldstoned

Monthly Report: November 2009
Cheshvan - Kislev 5770

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1109-Top

Judge Richard Goldstone


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By Shira Sorko-Ram

So you’ve never heard of Judge Goldstone. Most Israelis hadn’t either until he vaulted onto the world stage with his commission from the UN to expose Israel’s war crimes when fighting against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

It’s as if he appeared out of nowhere. From the UN’s point of view, He was the perfect choice - a highly respected international judge, a statesman and most of all - a Jew.

And now, suddenly, he is a household name in Israel - a diplomat who might be causing more damage to the State of Israel than anyone else since the modern state was born. His Goldstone Report accuses Israel of deliberately terrorizing Arab civilians during the Gaza war, thus committing war crimes and “perhaps crimes against humanity.”

His report has Israelis as frightened, if it were possible, as they are about Iran’s threats to attack Israel with nuclear bombs. It has been the number one story in the media for weeks.

Richard Goldstone’s panel was set up at the instigation of Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, Malaysia and Bangladesh, all Muslim countries, in the notoriously anti-Semitic, anti-Israel UNHRC (Human Rights Committee). Understandably, Israel felt nothing good could come out of the report and refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Incidentally, Hamas also did not cooperate with the panel. Judge Goldstone did make a cursory summary of Hamas’ activities but quickly returned to his job of uncovering Israel’s war crimes. (Jerusalem Post, 18Sept09)

In so doing, Goldstone interviewed Arabs who claimed Israel had terrorized them – while Hamas officials were present during the interviews to make sure the witnesses remembered Israel’s crimes accurately. In fact some of the witnesses were Hamas activists themselves.

ISRAEL REACTS IN FURY

When the Goldstone report was finally delivered to the UNHRC it made the most damning condemnations that this nation has ever faced. Israelis were shocked and horrified. The editorial of the Jerusalem Post on September 17, 2009 stated: “The learned judge’s concoction, based heavily on unverifiable claims from avowedly non-objective sources, some of them long-since discredited, is a feat of cynical superficiality, without appropriate distinction between terror and defense. The distorted picture justifies the Foreign Ministry’s reaction of ‘nausea and fury.’”

Top Israel Defense Forces attorney, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit, carefully summarized the difficulty when fighting terrorists who have no rules, no morals and no conscience. He explained, “Theoretically every target that is usually protected because it is of a civilian nature but is now used for military purposes – to store weapons, snipers or conduct surveillance – loses its protection for the time period that it is being used for military purposes.”

But in real life, what does a moral army do when Hamas’ top leaders hide in Shifa, Gaza’s main hospital, the duration of the war?

Rule: When there are terrorists, and especially terror leadership commandeering a facility, then it becomes a legitimate target.

Reality: Israel did not attack the Shifa Hospital.

In fact, Israel’s experience in fighting densely populated urban areas in both Gaza and Lebanon has forced Israel to develop some highly sophisticated systems for warning civilians to flee their homes.

During the war in Gaza, the IDF dropped millions of flyers to warn civilians of imminent operations. It also made more than 250,000 phone calls to homes and cell phones to urge residents to flee, and the Israeli Air Force even developed a special stun bomb that was dropped on buildings before bombing them to scare the residents into leaving.

The IDF is currently reviewing more than 100 complaints it has received from Arabs regarding its activities during the operation and has launched 24 criminal investigations. One case widely reported was of an Israeli soldier who stole the credit card of a Palestinian and then withdrew money from Israeli ATMs. He was charged with looting and sentenced to seven-and-a half months in prison.

1109 - Terrorists digging a smuggling tunnel

One of the hundreds of tunnels which Hamas has dug to bring weapons into Gaza. The tunnel is inside a civilian home.

Another tragic case concerned a Gazan doctor who works in an Israeli hospital whose children in Gaza were killed by an Israeli bomb. There were terrible mistakes. In fact, a number of Israeli soldiers were killed by their own friendly fire during the war.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the IDF is facing a new “legal front” whereby numerous anti-Israeli organizations – and possibly European countries which support them – will attempt to deter Israel from launching future military operations by threatening its officers with legal action. (Ibid.,17Sept09)

The Goldstone Report has now been approved by the UN Human Rights Committee by a wide margin (25-6), and is on its way to the UN Security Council and/or General Assembly. At this writing, the Palestinians and Arab nations are working very hard to persuade the UN to send the Report on to the International Criminal Court in the Hague where Israeli politicians and military leaders would be tried for war crimes.

 

APPEALING TO A HIGHER JUDGE

One well-known journalist, Michael Freund, who has, incidentally, written a number of articles favorable to Messianic Jews, appealed to a Higher Judge:

“In contrast to Goldstone and his ilk, [there] is one tribunal where we can and will get a fair hearing, from a judge who truly has our best interests at heart and wishes to dispense justice tempered with mercy.

“The slap in the face that the UN has given Israel is a timely reminder that we cannot place our trust in man, or rely on him to adjudicate on our behalf. It is a sharp and unpleasant signal that Israel remains very much alone among the nations, maligned and misunderstood...

“If you believe, as I do, that there is a God who actively intervenes and guides the course of history while granting us free will, then by necessity the course of the future has yet to be finalized.

“So this Rosh Hashana [Jewish New Year] let’s strike a blow at all the Goldstones and Israel-bashers out there, and channel our passions in the direction of prayer. Let’s show the UN what we think of its courts and their rulings, by going over their heads and appealing to a much higher authority. For in doing so we can be assured that justice will, for once, finally be served.” (Ibid.)

WHY WOULD AN OBSERVANT JEW DO THIS TO ISRAEL?

What motive could Goldstone, a South African Jew whose daughter claims he “loves Israel,” have had to reach such an outrageous conclusion? The only answer a baffled press has come up with is the possibility of ambition. One theory is that he is aiming for a top job at the UN, possibly the secretary-general’s office. His work on the Gaza report and the high profile it is receiving worldwide will boost his visibility and popularity, especially among the Arab and non-aligned states.

One good thing has come out of the Goldstone Report: It has united virtually all Jewish political parties. Tsipi Livni, head of Israel’s opposition, at a speech at Yale University, slammed the report. “I will never accept the comparison between IDF solders and terrorism, just as you would never compare murder and accidental killing.” She added that the IDF is a moral army, and Israeli soldiers endanger themselves on a daily basis in order to avoid harming civilians.

Some American politicians understand what is going on. Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, said in a statement, “In the self-righteous fantasyland inhabited by the authors [of the Goldstone Report], there’s no such thing as terrorism, there’s no such thing as Hamas, there’s no such thing as legitimate self defense.” (Ibid.,18Sept09)

1109 - Hamas Fighter

International law today lacks the ability to deal with international terror. Its rules and regulation are for conventional armies fighting each other and does not provide serious practical norms and guidelines as to how to deal with terrorists who hide behind civilians and who bomb other civilians. It does not deal with suicide bombers. These laws were composed before the age of terrorism.

Simona Halperin, official in Israel’s Foreign Ministry said, “All democracies fighting terrorism, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world, should be worried that this report throws out the narrative of democracies fighting terrorists, and embraces the idea that terrorists are freedom fighters entitled to act the way they do. The world which cares about the rule of law and protection of human life should be outraged at this message.

“We are trying to create awareness in the public that this report threatens every democratic country,” Halperin warned. “Those who are happy with the report are those trying to blow us up.”  (Ibid.,17Sept09)

* Note: A couple of weeks ago Ha'Aretz Newspaper Online featured a very interesting article - "U.S. using Goldstone report to punish Netanyahu" - and we are providing a direct link for you in case you would like to read it: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1121529.html.

THE PROPHETS SPEAK

I never cease to wonder at the accuracy of 2500-year-old Biblical prophecies. What other nation could the following Scriptures apply to except Israel?

For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem;

And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away [or carry it] will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.
Zechariah 14:2; 12:3

Should Christians just let their nation be one of those who “is gathered” against Israel? An emphatic NO - for the good of Israel AND their own wellbeing. Only the Christians understand the spiritual forces and implications. For every nation that comes against Israel, God Himself will fight against that land.

It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Zechariah 12:9

Those who know God’s Word will be fighting along side God! The believers will be fighting on the winning side of the battle over Jerusalem - whether here on earth or in heaven!

Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You! Zechariah 14:5

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Col. Richard Kemp
One Brave Man Faces Goldstone Committee

Thank you Mr. President.

I am a former Commander of British Forces in Afganistan. I served with Nato and the United Nations to command the troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia, and participated in the Gulf war. I spent considerable time in Iraq in the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee.

Based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this - during Operation Cast Lead [the war in Gaza last December-January] the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of the civilians in the combat zone, than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned it’s military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population. Hamas, like Hizbollah, are experts at driving media agendas; both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning the Israeli Defense Forces for war crimes. They are adept to staging and distorting incidents...

Many missions that could have taken out Hamas’ military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza; to deliver aid virtually into your enemies’ hands, is to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilian lives were lost. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American, and other forces in Afganistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes. More than anything, the civilian casualties were consequences of Hamas’s way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice its own civilians.

Mr. President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its people to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets. And I say this again; the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of the civilians in the combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Thank you Mr. President. 

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12 Steps for the Goldstone Report

1. The Goldstone Report which accuses Israel of war crimes during the war in Gaza stuns Israel and is everything Muslim terrorists could have dreamed of - the report slaughters Israel, barely touches Hamas’ operations. Israeli citizens consider it an attempt to keep Israel from defending herself against terrorists.

2. The U.S., understanding the seriousness of the accusations against Israel and its possible implications, presses the Palestinian Fatah president Mahmoud Abbas to ask the Human Rights Committee in Geneva to delay the report until March 2010. Abbas, under tremendous pressure, withdraws support for the report.

3. The Palestinians are outraged. On the other hand, Hamas’ (Abbas’ enemy) prestige rises, as they have been able to commit endless terrorist acts against Israel and get away with it. A wave of unprecedented Palestinian protests call for Abbas’ resignation.

4. Meanwhile, Ali Abudusalam Treki, of Libya, who is currently president of the UN General Assembly, demands that the Security Council accept the Goldstone Report immediately.

5. The United States is annoyed with the Goldstone Report, believing that it is interfering with the peace process the U.S. is trying to broker between Israel and the Palestinians. On the other hand, it could give President Barack Obama more leverage in exchange for his support - to squeeze more concessions from Israel.

6. Abbas backs down under pressure, reverses his decision to delay the Goldstone Report, and announces his demand that the Goldstone Report be approved by the UN Human Rights Committee immediately.

7. The UNHRC does approve it without mentioning a word about the Report’s meager accusations against Hamas, and at the time of this writing, is sending it on to the UN in New York.

8. The goal of the Muslim nations in the UN is to enable the International Criminal Court to indict Israeli diplomats, politicians and IDF commanders who could find themselves wanted men abroad and put on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. They could be arrested if they travel to any number of nations, including many European countries.

9. The Report will also serve as fodder for more anti-Israel resolutions at the UN and its various bodies and agencies such as possible sanctions and boycotts to destroy its economy and brand Israel as a pariah state. European nations who are beginning to seriously restrict cooperation with Israeli scientific and educational institutions will support increasing restrictions and boycotts to isolate tiny Israel.

10. The huge winner in all this is none other than Hamas. The inexcusably lenient treatment of blatant Hamas terror will doubtless be interpreted by Hamas and its colleagues throughout the area as justification for their tactics of shielding themselves behind civilians, operating in the midst of densely populated civilian areas and deliberately targeting Israeli civilians. They will become bolder knowing that the Goldstone report has given them a green light.

11. The peace process is in shambles, while the prestigious Goldstone Report further demonizes Israel in the sight of the world and gives a tail wind to other international crimes courts who might entertain the thought of prosecuting Israel.

12. And now a message to the nations: What begins with delegitimizing Israel will later be used against other democratic nations fighting terrorism. Unintentional death happens in every single war. Goldstone chose to call the unintentional deaths war crimes. The long-term goal of the Islamic nations is to make it impossible for democratic states to fight Islamic terrorists. It’s as simple - and as awful - as that.

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Unbelievable

Written by Yuval Azoulay

Slowly, but surely, the unjust and even illegal persecution against Messianic Jews is being recognized by Israel’s media. One such article – a 4,000-word exposé on the anti-religious freedom organization which ferociously fights the Messianic Jews was published on Oct 3, 2009 by Haaretz newspaper. Here are excerpts from that article:

How does the Yad L’achim organization fight Messianic Jews? Hint: all means are justified.

1109 - Newspaper Article

The orthodox organization Yad L’achim locates “Messianic Jews” (who have accepted Jesus as messiah), gathers information on them and transfers it to the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry staff summons them for an inquiry and turns their lives into a bureaucratic hell. In addition to this there are incidents of harassment, rumor spreading and damage to businesses, like in the case of Pnina Comforti, who woke up one morning to find this poster hanging outside her bakery. “God doesn’t allow? Oh, yes he does.”

In most cases the people hurt are Israelis, citizens in every way: they perform military service; educate their children on their country’s values and Zionism and send them to regular schools; celebrate the nation’s holidays and observe its commemorative dates; work for a living, and pay taxes. They love the country, swear to their loyalty and devotion, become emotional with the raising of the flag and the singing of the anthem, and still feel like a persecuted minority.

About 20 [sic] communities of Messianic Jews are active around the country, and the number of their members is estimated at several thousands. They believe in G-d and consider themselves as Jews, refer to the Bible and the New Testament as their holy scriptures, are convinced that Jesus is the messiah and don’t understand how it’s any of the country authorities’ business.

The battle against them is led by the orthodox organization Yad L’achim. Rabbi Shalom Dov Lipchitz, the founder and chairperson of the organization, claims that Messianic Jews “abuse Israeli democracy in order to convert innocent Jews and encourage them to cross over to Christianity.” The organization’s members are proud of their activity and promise to continue in it. In their words, they fight against the mission, absorption, assimilation and what they define as “cults.” They go so far as distributing posters and brochures against the activists in these communities “in an attempt to warn
the public.”

Documents received by Haaretz point to the possibility that cooperative relations exist between the organization and clerks in two branches of the Ministry of Interior. A similarity can be found between the terminology used by the head of the civil registry office in Tel Aviv, Amos Arbel, and that used by Rabbi Lipchitz. He explained the entire theory in a few words: “whoever takes part in messianic activities acts against the Jewish people. Messianic activity means taking Jews and turning them into Christians. If any exist, the state of Israel does not respect them.”

Adv. Calev Myers, legal adviser of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, represents citizens whose rights were deprived by the Ministry of Interior because of their beliefs. Myers himself is part of one of the Messianic Jewish congregations in Jerusalem, and testifies that during the last five years he handled several cases in which “the Ministry of Interior made the lives of these citizens miserable.” He also identifies the long arm of orthodox opposers behind this harassment. “Organizations calling themselves ‘anti missionary’ provide the Ministry of Interior with false and instigating information regarding activists and members of the messianic Jewish community,” he says. “This is the origin of most of the problems community members face due to their religious belief alone.”

The Ministry of Interior was requested to answer general, as well as specific questions on this matter, which were submitted in advance. Its spokesperson, Sabin Hadad, who usually replies to media applications within a few hours, took no less than three weeks to give her reply. Finally the following answer arrived:

“Any persons suspected of Messianic missionary activity – their entrance to Israel is refused at the Ben Gurion Airport border or by consulates abroad upon submitting the application. There are a few cases of people entitled to exercise the Law of Return who arrived in Israel and later on participated in Messianic missionary activity, when in all cases information on them was not at our disposal beforehand. The Ministry of Interior does not participate in any kind of activity in order to locate or receive information regarding Messianic missionary activity. All information accepted by us is received from organizations in Israel or private entities.”

CLASSIFIED ACTIONS

The headquarters of the orthodox organization is situated on Jerusalem Avenue in Bney Brak, in the basement of a residence building, in which ritual articles and cheap clothing can also be acquired. The chairperson, Rabbi Lipchitz, sits in a spacious room. He’s an amiable and courteous man who fears the current “situation”: “It’s terrible. Thousands and thousands of Jews were lost to assimilation and missionaries. We are few and they are many. Why do the Christians take them away from us?”

In his eyes, this is war. It is held in city centers, in malls, inside IDF tanks and APCs and even in Park HaYarkon, when Madonna performs there [when Messianic youth passed out literature
outside the concert]. “I won’t settle for giving up a single Jew,” he declares.

Lipchitz and his people define Messianic Jews as cult members. They have academically analyzed the conduct of cults around the world, and are convinced of the symmetry in this case. When they decide to make the life of a person who they have determined to be a “missionary” miserable, few means would be unacceptable. They almost ruined the livelihood of Pnina Comforti, owner of Pnina Pie bakeries. After years of running a successful bakery in the shopping center in Gan Yavne, she decided to make her dream of expanding her business come true. She knew she would have to work harder, but told herself that no craft was more fun than baking cakes.

1109 - Newspaper Article 2“In February 2006 I opened the bakery in Ashdod and the business progressed Beautifully,” she says. “I saw that it was being accepted, that the customers were responding well. It took off. What a pleasure.” She comes from a religious family and joined the Messianic Jews about 15 years ago while staying in the United States and working in an evangelistic church. “For a very long time I couldn’t make my peace with Jesus being the messiah, and I didn’t feel right about it,” she says. “I learned and studied, and after eighteen months I came to this conclusion. Our Bible and the New Testament are one and the same."

She is married and a mother of five. “My children are in combat units in the army”, she says proudly. The trouble began in the summer of 2007, when Comforti received a summons for inquiry in the local rabbinate in Ashdod. “I realized that Yad L’achim had renewed their activity against me,” she says. “I know their activities back from the days when I operated my bakery in Gan Yavne. The municipal rabbi, as if it were any of his business, asked me what I believed in. I told him I believed in the Bible and the New Testament. He didn’t hesitate and said, ‘People like you don’t deserve a kosher certificate.’

To this day I can’t understand the connection between my religious beliefs and my bakery’s kosher certificate. Until then, a kosher supervisor on behalf of the Ashdod rabbinate would come everyday and find nothing wrong. If that’s not persecution then what is?”

Through Adv. Eliad Shraga, Comforti petitioned the High Court of Justice, and the judges ordered the rabbis in Ashdod to give her back her kosher certificate three months ago. But the Chief Rabbinate requested further discussion, and in the meantime nothing has changed. “To this day I don’t have my kosher certificate,” says Comforti. “So I work without it, because I have no choice. The business has to operate.” She has a hard time stifling the wave of emotions flooding her: “It’s like the way a groom feels when he arrives at his wedding and the bride runs away. Everything went as planned, even better than I expected, and then they turned against me.”

After the ruling of the High Court of Justice, the Yad L’achim people went to great efforts to make her religious belief public. “The entire city area in Ashdod was covered with posters against me,” she says. “The name of my bakery was published in large print. They publicly announced that people should be careful around me. They turned me into a monster.”

“Keepers of their soul shall refrain from purchasing any products in the business owned by the missionary,” the Yad L’achim poster stated. “The kosher certificate was given to it as a result of the court’s coercion of the rabbinate.” The customers made their decision by staying away. “Most customers didn’t show their faces anymore,” she says. “Customers who used to kiss me every morning and tell me how much they’ve enjoyed the cake they bought passed by here and didn’t even look in my direction. When many French people came, French posters were put up and then they stopped coming too. Later on they did the same thing with the Russians. They dried up my business. I used to sit here and cry my eyes out for whole days. You try baking cakes in that sort of emotional state.”

Comforti decided to ride out the storm. “I guess the years of handling their wild incitement have made me stronger,” she says. “And still, it’s hard.”

LEAVE US ALONE

“They come to this country with the excuse of the Law of Return and claim to be Jewish,” Rabbi Lipchitz accuses Messianic Jews. “They should be ashamed. Others come here and supposedly convert to Judaism, but they believe in Jesus and admit to it. If they act against the law, how is it that I’m in the wrong and how is it that they complain against me? On what grounds, that we expose them as frauds? There’s no such thing as ‘Messianic Jews.’ A person who believes in Jesus is a
Christian, period.”

Do Messianic Jews in fact act against the law? The law, called “the Mission Law”, prohibits “giving or promising a person money, the equivalent of money or any other material benefit in order to entice them to convert from their religion or to entice another to convert from theirs.” According to Adv. Calev Myers, community activists spread brochures and propaganda materials on their beliefs, and that is entirely legal activity. “The community’s activists are very aware of what is allowed and what isn’t, and they make sure not to go against the law,” he says. “Since the establishment of this state, not one member of the Messianic Jewish community was put on trial for these actions.”

“We don’t fight Christians or Arabs and don’t have a war against any religion,” says Rabbi Lipchitz. “But the Jews are few and they are many. How many do we have? Half a million Jews have assimilated, and in the end there will be no more left, G-d forbid.

We’re a small people and that’s why Jews must remain Jews and Christians must remain Christians. They don’t need to convert, they just need to leave us alone, not influence others and not perform their propaganda here, heaven forbid.”

Yad L’achim claim that they have clear evidence of the Messianic Jews’ missionary activity, and present propaganda material handed out during Madonna’s concert in Israel, calling out to “know Jesus.” “They handed out these materials along with the New Testament,” Rabbi Lipchitz protests.

“They act like a cult,” claims Benjamin, an activist in the department against cults, called by Lipchitz in order to explain. “It begins with a gradual exposure. They don’t pressure you, just bring you closer. It happens in their house meetings and also in IDF tanks.

Their activity doesn’t amount to listening to music once a week. They do much more than they tell. They go from house to house and hand out propaganda materials.”

Journalist: Habad [ultra-Orthodox] people also hand out propaganda and set stations on the streets for laying tefillin. If you don’t want it – you don’t take it.

Lipchitz: “But the Messianic Jews make false presentations. They claim to be Jewish for all matters, but to come from a different current. If they knock on a Jewish person’s door and say ‘hello, we are Christians and want to bring you closer to Jesus,’ they’ll be pushed down the stairs. They manipulate. They use a different world concept, in order not to be deterred. Instead of church they say congregation and instead of priest they say shepherd.”

Journalist: What do the personal beliefs of Pnina Comforti from Ashdod have to do with her bakery?

Lipchitz: “We advertised against her because many Jews in Ashdod have become Messianic. It’s a restaurant, she has nice food, and maybe she gives someone some good cheese and says ‘sweetheart, it’s a good deed to come to the mission.’ That’s why the rabbinate wants the key to her restaurant, to know what goes on there, and now it’s in the hands of the High Court of Justice. A kosher certificate isn’t just a technical thing. Many restaurants are run by Arabs and we don’t act against them, because they don’t try to convert Jews.”

Ha’aretz Newspaper, 3 October 2009. Translation to English by Jerusalem Institute of Justice. Check out their website: www.jij.org.il/ 

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I Received a Phone Call

Pnina Comforti:

When I answered the first phone call there was silence, and nobody answered back. I hung up.

Then the phone rang again. This time there was an evil raucous laughter and it was like he was saying “Ohhh, what is waiting for you…”

I hung up again.The third time the phone rang there was this ear-piercing laughter again and suddenly a voice started a conversation:

Voice: “Pnina?”
Pnina: “Yes.”
Voice: “How are you?”
Pnina: “O.K. who is it please?”
Voice: “How do you feel?”
Pnina: “O.K. who is it please?”
Voice: “I am the messenger.”
Pnina: “What messenger?”
Voice: “The messenger of Satan, of death, and evil.”
Pnina: “Yes…”
Voice: “I came to settle the score with you. I came to take your soul. How do you feel knowing that you are about to die?
Pnina: “Just like you.”

And then I hung up again… Suddenly he called again

Voice: “Don’t think that by hanging the phone I won’t hunt you. I will hunt you and get you. I know everything about you! I know you are working a lot of hours in the Bakery Shop, and I am coming to take your soul!
Pnina: “Why?”
Voice: “Because you are a heathen and because of the things that you do!”
Pnina: “What is your name?”
Voice: “You will know my name when I will write it on the wall with you’re blood! I will slowly peel your skin off of you.”
Pnina: “O.K. so get ready then.”
Voice: “Don’t worry I will do it. Do you still have your Bakery Shop on the Tsiyonut Street?”
Pnina: “If you know everything about me, how come you’re asking me?”

I had enough of him and hung up. He hasn’t called since then.

1109 - Prayer for Pnina

Our congregation Tiferet Yeshua praying for Pnina (cannot be seen) and her husband Israel (short haircut, white hair, center right).

Pnina and Israel Comforti who own “Pnina Pie,” a bakery in the center of Asdod, Israel. For three years the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate of that city has severely persecuted this Messianic Jewish business, trying to force the Konforti’s into bankruptcy.

The Comforti’s have taken their case to the High Court of Justice and won. However, the rabbinate has defied the High Court. Now the ultra-Orthodox have ratcheted up the harassment by threatening to murder Pnina.

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Annuities: As Good As You’ve Heard!

The truth is, most people are surprised by the benefits of charitable tax planning. This is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that charitable tax planning strategies often make it possible to realize multiple objectives.

Careful planning actually makes it possible to enjoy personal (or family) benefits and realize philanthropic goals and dreams by taking full advantage of incentives that encourage charitable planning. The Charitable Gift Annuity is a perfect example of this reality.

An Annuity – And A Gift

Typically, these two concepts are viewed as virtually opposite actions. Annuity refers to the creation of an annual income stream, while a Gift gives it away.

1109 - Annuities PicThe Charitable Gift Annuity combines these two ideas.

In practical terms, the Gift Annuity is a contract between MAOZ Israel Ministries and an individual or couple. The contract provides fixed payments to you for life and an ultimate gift to MAOZ.

Here is how the contract works:

You create a $50,000 Gift Annuity with us. MAOZ provides annuity payments for as long as you live. Rates on onelife Gift Annuities range as high as 9.5% and are based on your age. For purposes of our illustration, let’s assume that you are 76 years of age. The $50,000 Gift Annuity guarantees you annual payments of 6.4%.

But the benefits do not end with the attractive annuity rate. Since, upon death, the Gift Annuity contract becomes a gift to MAOZ, a number of charitable tax benefits accrue. A formula calculates the value of the ultimate gift to us and provides for an immediate charitable income tax deduction. And when the Gift Annuity is funded with an appreciated asset, a portion of each annuity payment may be tax-free... further reducing tax liability.

If you’d like to see just how a Charitable Gift Annuity agreement might help you realize your objectives, simply call, write or fax your birth date, the amount of annuity you desire, and whether you’d like payments to be made for one or two lives. There is no obligation for this educational service, and we are happy to be able to offer it to friends of Maoz Israel Ministries.

Please Call Me:
Jim Morrison
Maoz Israel Ministries
Toll free number: 1 800 856-7060
Fax: 214 677-0500

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November 2009

Dear Maoz Partner,

Persecution of Messianic Jews in Israel is certainly on the rise as the radical anti-religious-freedom organization, Yad L’achim, has massively increased its operations throughout Israel.

The Messianic Jewish Body of believers is growing and the ultra-Orthodox extremists are determined to stamp us out, just as the Islamic extremists are determined to stamp out the Jewish nation.

It is ironic to see the similarities between the two spiritual forces. Radical Islamic forces want to wipe out the remnant of the Jewish people who have come back to the Land of Israel as the prophets foretold numerous times.

Radical ultra-Orthodox forces want to wipe out the spiritual remnant of the Jewish people who have come back to the God of Israel, also as the prophets foretold numerous times.

In both groups there is the same spirit of hatred and intolerance, with the aim to destroy the remnant. It is the same controlling god who has come to kill, to steal and to destroy. It’s sole intent is to destroy the people of Israel.

Look at the parallels: Islamic terrorists are not only using violence, but also every legal means to demonize and isolate the Jewish nation. Likewise the ultra-Orthodox extremists are not only using violence and intimidation, but also every legal scheme to isolate and weaken the Messianic Jewish body in Israel.

The Islamic extremists want the nations to believe that the Jewish nation is evil and bringing chaos
to the world. The ultra-Orthodox extremists want the Jewish people to believe that Messianic Jews are evil and bringing chaos to the Israeli nation.

As Israel looks for friends to stand with her for her very existence, the Messianic Jews also look to the Body of Messiah, the people of God throughout the nations, to stand with her.

If these powerful extremists had their way, there would not be a single believer in the country! But God has PROMISED that His People Israel will return to their Land and to their God!

In Biblical days, the children of Israel had to fight for their Promised Land. Today, we also must fight for the rights of the Israeli people to have the chance to hear the Gospel and decide for themselves if they will serve the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua the Messiah.

We have helped many persecuted believers through istandwithisrael.com, but now the need for legal aid is so great that we are creating a separate fund for persecuted believers – like Pnina Comforti, and like Ami Ortiz who was almost killed by an extremist ultra-Orthodox bomb.

Through our contributors, Maoz has been able to donate thousands of dollars to fight the violence and legal intimidation by Yad L’achim and the Interior office of the government which is dominated by ultra-Orthodox. And we will need much more as the hostile forces increase against us.

As in the days of the Nehemiah when building the ancient Temple, we must work with the plow in one hand and a spear in the other. Your help will give us the ability and the strength to do just that.

This month we invite you to fight the good fight of faith with us – through your contributions we will continue to build up the Body of Messiah and stand against the forces of destruction against us.

        For Zion’s sake,

A&S signature

        Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram

P.S. When you donate to Maoz Israel Ministries, you can be sure you are contributing to an organization that is witnessing to the lost, discipling believers, raising up a new generation of leaders, nurturing a congregation in downtown Tel Aviv – AND standing with the Messianic Jews in the land who are being persecuted.  

Partner with Maoz today by supporting our projects:

Maoz Israel Ministries  |  istandwithisrael  |  Congregation Tiferet Yeshua 

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In this issue:
Goldstoned |  One Brave Man Faces Goldstone Committee | 12 Steps for the Goldstone Report  | 
Unbelievable  |  I Received a Phone Call  |  Annuities: As Good As You’ve Heard!

Goldstoned

Monthly Report: November 2009
Cheshvan - Kislev 5770

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1109-Top

Judge Richard Goldstone


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By Shira Sorko-Ram

So you’ve never heard of Judge Goldstone. Most Israelis hadn’t either until he vaulted onto the world stage with his commission from the UN to expose Israel’s war crimes when fighting against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

It’s as if he appeared out of nowhere. From the UN’s point of view, He was the perfect choice - a highly respected international judge, a statesman and most of all - a Jew.

And now, suddenly, he is a household name in Israel - a diplomat who might be causing more damage to the State of Israel than anyone else since the modern state was born. His Goldstone Report accuses Israel of deliberately terrorizing Arab civilians during the Gaza war, thus committing war crimes and “perhaps crimes against humanity.”

His report has Israelis as frightened, if it were possible, as they are about Iran’s threats to attack Israel with nuclear bombs. It has been the number one story in the media for weeks.

Richard Goldstone’s panel was set up at the instigation of Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, Malaysia and Bangladesh, all Muslim countries, in the notoriously anti-Semitic, anti-Israel UNHRC (Human Rights Committee). Understandably, Israel felt nothing good could come out of the report and refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Incidentally, Hamas also did not cooperate with the panel. Judge Goldstone did make a cursory summary of Hamas’ activities but quickly returned to his job of uncovering Israel’s war crimes. (Jerusalem Post, 18Sept09)

In so doing, Goldstone interviewed Arabs who claimed Israel had terrorized them – while Hamas officials were present during the interviews to make sure the witnesses remembered Israel’s crimes accurately. In fact some of the witnesses were Hamas activists themselves.

ISRAEL REACTS IN FURY

When the Goldstone report was finally delivered to the UNHRC it made the most damning condemnations that this nation has ever faced. Israelis were shocked and horrified. The editorial of the Jerusalem Post on September 17, 2009 stated: “The learned judge’s concoction, based heavily on unverifiable claims from avowedly non-objective sources, some of them long-since discredited, is a feat of cynical superficiality, without appropriate distinction between terror and defense. The distorted picture justifies the Foreign Ministry’s reaction of ‘nausea and fury.’”

Top Israel Defense Forces attorney, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit, carefully summarized the difficulty when fighting terrorists who have no rules, no morals and no conscience. He explained, “Theoretically every target that is usually protected because it is of a civilian nature but is now used for military purposes – to store weapons, snipers or conduct surveillance – loses its protection for the time period that it is being used for military purposes.”

But in real life, what does a moral army do when Hamas’ top leaders hide in Shifa, Gaza’s main hospital, the duration of the war?

Rule: When there are terrorists, and especially terror leadership commandeering a facility, then it becomes a legitimate target.

Reality: Israel did not attack the Shifa Hospital.

In fact, Israel’s experience in fighting densely populated urban areas in both Gaza and Lebanon has forced Israel to develop some highly sophisticated systems for warning civilians to flee their homes.

During the war in Gaza, the IDF dropped millions of flyers to warn civilians of imminent operations. It also made more than 250,000 phone calls to homes and cell phones to urge residents to flee, and the Israeli Air Force even developed a special stun bomb that was dropped on buildings before bombing them to scare the residents into leaving.

The IDF is currently reviewing more than 100 complaints it has received from Arabs regarding its activities during the operation and has launched 24 criminal investigations. One case widely reported was of an Israeli soldier who stole the credit card of a Palestinian and then withdrew money from Israeli ATMs. He was charged with looting and sentenced to seven-and-a half months in prison.

1109 - Terrorists digging a smuggling tunnel

One of the hundreds of tunnels which Hamas has dug to bring weapons into Gaza. The tunnel is inside a civilian home.

Another tragic case concerned a Gazan doctor who works in an Israeli hospital whose children in Gaza were killed by an Israeli bomb. There were terrible mistakes. In fact, a number of Israeli soldiers were killed by their own friendly fire during the war.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the IDF is facing a new “legal front” whereby numerous anti-Israeli organizations – and possibly European countries which support them – will attempt to deter Israel from launching future military operations by threatening its officers with legal action. (Ibid.,17Sept09)

The Goldstone Report has now been approved by the UN Human Rights Committee by a wide margin (25-6), and is on its way to the UN Security Council and/or General Assembly. At this writing, the Palestinians and Arab nations are working very hard to persuade the UN to send the Report on to the International Criminal Court in the Hague where Israeli politicians and military leaders would be tried for war crimes.

 

APPEALING TO A HIGHER JUDGE

One well-known journalist, Michael Freund, who has, incidentally, written a number of articles favorable to Messianic Jews, appealed to a Higher Judge:

“In contrast to Goldstone and his ilk, [there] is one tribunal where we can and will get a fair hearing, from a judge who truly has our best interests at heart and wishes to dispense justice tempered with mercy.

“The slap in the face that the UN has given Israel is a timely reminder that we cannot place our trust in man, or rely on him to adjudicate on our behalf. It is a sharp and unpleasant signal that Israel remains very much alone among the nations, maligned and misunderstood...

“If you believe, as I do, that there is a God who actively intervenes and guides the course of history while granting us free will, then by necessity the course of the future has yet to be finalized.

“So this Rosh Hashana [Jewish New Year] let’s strike a blow at all the Goldstones and Israel-bashers out there, and channel our passions in the direction of prayer. Let’s show the UN what we think of its courts and their rulings, by going over their heads and appealing to a much higher authority. For in doing so we can be assured that justice will, for once, finally be served.” (Ibid.)

WHY WOULD AN OBSERVANT JEW DO THIS TO ISRAEL?

What motive could Goldstone, a South African Jew whose daughter claims he “loves Israel,” have had to reach such an outrageous conclusion? The only answer a baffled press has come up with is the possibility of ambition. One theory is that he is aiming for a top job at the UN, possibly the secretary-general’s office. His work on the Gaza report and the high profile it is receiving worldwide will boost his visibility and popularity, especially among the Arab and non-aligned states.

One good thing has come out of the Goldstone Report: It has united virtually all Jewish political parties. Tsipi Livni, head of Israel’s opposition, at a speech at Yale University, slammed the report. “I will never accept the comparison between IDF solders and terrorism, just as you would never compare murder and accidental killing.” She added that the IDF is a moral army, and Israeli soldiers endanger themselves on a daily basis in order to avoid harming civilians.

Some American politicians understand what is going on. Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, said in a statement, “In the self-righteous fantasyland inhabited by the authors [of the Goldstone Report], there’s no such thing as terrorism, there’s no such thing as Hamas, there’s no such thing as legitimate self defense.” (Ibid.,18Sept09)

1109 - Hamas Fighter

International law today lacks the ability to deal with international terror. Its rules and regulation are for conventional armies fighting each other and does not provide serious practical norms and guidelines as to how to deal with terrorists who hide behind civilians and who bomb other civilians. It does not deal with suicide bombers. These laws were composed before the age of terrorism.

Simona Halperin, official in Israel’s Foreign Ministry said, “All democracies fighting terrorism, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world, should be worried that this report throws out the narrative of democracies fighting terrorists, and embraces the idea that terrorists are freedom fighters entitled to act the way they do. The world which cares about the rule of law and protection of human life should be outraged at this message.

“We are trying to create awareness in the public that this report threatens every democratic country,” Halperin warned. “Those who are happy with the report are those trying to blow us up.”  (Ibid.,17Sept09)

* Note: A couple of weeks ago Ha'Aretz Newspaper Online featured a very interesting article - "U.S. using Goldstone report to punish Netanyahu" - and we are providing a direct link for you in case you would like to read it: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1121529.html.

THE PROPHETS SPEAK

I never cease to wonder at the accuracy of 2500-year-old Biblical prophecies. What other nation could the following Scriptures apply to except Israel?

For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem;

And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away [or carry it] will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.
Zechariah 14:2; 12:3

Should Christians just let their nation be one of those who “is gathered” against Israel? An emphatic NO - for the good of Israel AND their own wellbeing. Only the Christians understand the spiritual forces and implications. For every nation that comes against Israel, God Himself will fight against that land.

It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Zechariah 12:9

Those who know God’s Word will be fighting along side God! The believers will be fighting on the winning side of the battle over Jerusalem - whether here on earth or in heaven!

Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You! Zechariah 14:5

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Col. Richard Kemp
One Brave Man Faces Goldstone Committee

Thank you Mr. President.

I am a former Commander of British Forces in Afganistan. I served with Nato and the United Nations to command the troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia, and participated in the Gulf war. I spent considerable time in Iraq in the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee.

Based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this - during Operation Cast Lead [the war in Gaza last December-January] the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of the civilians in the combat zone, than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned it’s military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population. Hamas, like Hizbollah, are experts at driving media agendas; both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning the Israeli Defense Forces for war crimes. They are adept to staging and distorting incidents...

Many missions that could have taken out Hamas’ military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza; to deliver aid virtually into your enemies’ hands, is to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilian lives were lost. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American, and other forces in Afganistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes. More than anything, the civilian casualties were consequences of Hamas’s way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice its own civilians.

Mr. President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its people to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets. And I say this again; the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of the civilians in the combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Thank you Mr. President. 

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12 Steps for the Goldstone Report

1. The Goldstone Report which accuses Israel of war crimes during the war in Gaza stuns Israel and is everything Muslim terrorists could have dreamed of - the report slaughters Israel, barely touches Hamas’ operations. Israeli citizens consider it an attempt to keep Israel from defending herself against terrorists.

2. The U.S., understanding the seriousness of the accusations against Israel and its possible implications, presses the Palestinian Fatah president Mahmoud Abbas to ask the Human Rights Committee in Geneva to delay the report until March 2010. Abbas, under tremendous pressure, withdraws support for the report.

3. The Palestinians are outraged. On the other hand, Hamas’ (Abbas’ enemy) prestige rises, as they have been able to commit endless terrorist acts against Israel and get away with it. A wave of unprecedented Palestinian protests call for Abbas’ resignation.

4. Meanwhile, Ali Abudusalam Treki, of Libya, who is currently president of the UN General Assembly, demands that the Security Council accept the Goldstone Report immediately.

5. The United States is annoyed with the Goldstone Report, believing that it is interfering with the peace process the U.S. is trying to broker between Israel and the Palestinians. On the other hand, it could give President Barack Obama more leverage in exchange for his support - to squeeze more concessions from Israel.

6. Abbas backs down under pressure, reverses his decision to delay the Goldstone Report, and announces his demand that the Goldstone Report be approved by the UN Human Rights Committee immediately.

7. The UNHRC does approve it without mentioning a word about the Report’s meager accusations against Hamas, and at the time of this writing, is sending it on to the UN in New York.

8. The goal of the Muslim nations in the UN is to enable the International Criminal Court to indict Israeli diplomats, politicians and IDF commanders who could find themselves wanted men abroad and put on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. They could be arrested if they travel to any number of nations, including many European countries.

9. The Report will also serve as fodder for more anti-Israel resolutions at the UN and its various bodies and agencies such as possible sanctions and boycotts to destroy its economy and brand Israel as a pariah state. European nations who are beginning to seriously restrict cooperation with Israeli scientific and educational institutions will support increasing restrictions and boycotts to isolate tiny Israel.

10. The huge winner in all this is none other than Hamas. The inexcusably lenient treatment of blatant Hamas terror will doubtless be interpreted by Hamas and its colleagues throughout the area as justification for their tactics of shielding themselves behind civilians, operating in the midst of densely populated civilian areas and deliberately targeting Israeli civilians. They will become bolder knowing that the Goldstone report has given them a green light.

11. The peace process is in shambles, while the prestigious Goldstone Report further demonizes Israel in the sight of the world and gives a tail wind to other international crimes courts who might entertain the thought of prosecuting Israel.

12. And now a message to the nations: What begins with delegitimizing Israel will later be used against other democratic nations fighting terrorism. Unintentional death happens in every single war. Goldstone chose to call the unintentional deaths war crimes. The long-term goal of the Islamic nations is to make it impossible for democratic states to fight Islamic terrorists. It’s as simple - and as awful - as that.

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Unbelievable

Written by Yuval Azoulay

Slowly, but surely, the unjust and even illegal persecution against Messianic Jews is being recognized by Israel’s media. One such article – a 4,000-word exposé on the anti-religious freedom organization which ferociously fights the Messianic Jews was published on Oct 3, 2009 by Haaretz newspaper. Here are excerpts from that article:

How does the Yad L’achim organization fight Messianic Jews? Hint: all means are justified.

1109 - Newspaper Article

The orthodox organization Yad L’achim locates “Messianic Jews” (who have accepted Jesus as messiah), gathers information on them and transfers it to the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry staff summons them for an inquiry and turns their lives into a bureaucratic hell. In addition to this there are incidents of harassment, rumor spreading and damage to businesses, like in the case of Pnina Comforti, who woke up one morning to find this poster hanging outside her bakery. “God doesn’t allow? Oh, yes he does.”

In most cases the people hurt are Israelis, citizens in every way: they perform military service; educate their children on their country’s values and Zionism and send them to regular schools; celebrate the nation’s holidays and observe its commemorative dates; work for a living, and pay taxes. They love the country, swear to their loyalty and devotion, become emotional with the raising of the flag and the singing of the anthem, and still feel like a persecuted minority.

About 20 [sic] communities of Messianic Jews are active around the country, and the number of their members is estimated at several thousands. They believe in G-d and consider themselves as Jews, refer to the Bible and the New Testament as their holy scriptures, are convinced that Jesus is the messiah and don’t understand how it’s any of the country authorities’ business.

The battle against them is led by the orthodox organization Yad L’achim. Rabbi Shalom Dov Lipchitz, the founder and chairperson of the organization, claims that Messianic Jews “abuse Israeli democracy in order to convert innocent Jews and encourage them to cross over to Christianity.” The organization’s members are proud of their activity and promise to continue in it. In their words, they fight against the mission, absorption, assimilation and what they define as “cults.” They go so far as distributing posters and brochures against the activists in these communities “in an attempt to warn
the public.”

Documents received by Haaretz point to the possibility that cooperative relations exist between the organization and clerks in two branches of the Ministry of Interior. A similarity can be found between the terminology used by the head of the civil registry office in Tel Aviv, Amos Arbel, and that used by Rabbi Lipchitz. He explained the entire theory in a few words: “whoever takes part in messianic activities acts against the Jewish people. Messianic activity means taking Jews and turning them into Christians. If any exist, the state of Israel does not respect them.”

Adv. Calev Myers, legal adviser of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, represents citizens whose rights were deprived by the Ministry of Interior because of their beliefs. Myers himself is part of one of the Messianic Jewish congregations in Jerusalem, and testifies that during the last five years he handled several cases in which “the Ministry of Interior made the lives of these citizens miserable.” He also identifies the long arm of orthodox opposers behind this harassment. “Organizations calling themselves ‘anti missionary’ provide the Ministry of Interior with false and instigating information regarding activists and members of the messianic Jewish community,” he says. “This is the origin of most of the problems community members face due to their religious belief alone.”

The Ministry of Interior was requested to answer general, as well as specific questions on this matter, which were submitted in advance. Its spokesperson, Sabin Hadad, who usually replies to media applications within a few hours, took no less than three weeks to give her reply. Finally the following answer arrived:

“Any persons suspected of Messianic missionary activity – their entrance to Israel is refused at the Ben Gurion Airport border or by consulates abroad upon submitting the application. There are a few cases of people entitled to exercise the Law of Return who arrived in Israel and later on participated in Messianic missionary activity, when in all cases information on them was not at our disposal beforehand. The Ministry of Interior does not participate in any kind of activity in order to locate or receive information regarding Messianic missionary activity. All information accepted by us is received from organizations in Israel or private entities.”

CLASSIFIED ACTIONS

The headquarters of the orthodox organization is situated on Jerusalem Avenue in Bney Brak, in the basement of a residence building, in which ritual articles and cheap clothing can also be acquired. The chairperson, Rabbi Lipchitz, sits in a spacious room. He’s an amiable and courteous man who fears the current “situation”: “It’s terrible. Thousands and thousands of Jews were lost to assimilation and missionaries. We are few and they are many. Why do the Christians take them away from us?”

In his eyes, this is war. It is held in city centers, in malls, inside IDF tanks and APCs and even in Park HaYarkon, when Madonna performs there [when Messianic youth passed out literature
outside the concert]. “I won’t settle for giving up a single Jew,” he declares.

Lipchitz and his people define Messianic Jews as cult members. They have academically analyzed the conduct of cults around the world, and are convinced of the symmetry in this case. When they decide to make the life of a person who they have determined to be a “missionary” miserable, few means would be unacceptable. They almost ruined the livelihood of Pnina Comforti, owner of Pnina Pie bakeries. After years of running a successful bakery in the shopping center in Gan Yavne, she decided to make her dream of expanding her business come true. She knew she would have to work harder, but told herself that no craft was more fun than baking cakes.

1109 - Newspaper Article 2“In February 2006 I opened the bakery in Ashdod and the business progressed Beautifully,” she says. “I saw that it was being accepted, that the customers were responding well. It took off. What a pleasure.” She comes from a religious family and joined the Messianic Jews about 15 years ago while staying in the United States and working in an evangelistic church. “For a very long time I couldn’t make my peace with Jesus being the messiah, and I didn’t feel right about it,” she says. “I learned and studied, and after eighteen months I came to this conclusion. Our Bible and the New Testament are one and the same."

She is married and a mother of five. “My children are in combat units in the army”, she says proudly. The trouble began in the summer of 2007, when Comforti received a summons for inquiry in the local rabbinate in Ashdod. “I realized that Yad L’achim had renewed their activity against me,” she says. “I know their activities back from the days when I operated my bakery in Gan Yavne. The municipal rabbi, as if it were any of his business, asked me what I believed in. I told him I believed in the Bible and the New Testament. He didn’t hesitate and said, ‘People like you don’t deserve a kosher certificate.’

To this day I can’t understand the connection between my religious beliefs and my bakery’s kosher certificate. Until then, a kosher supervisor on behalf of the Ashdod rabbinate would come everyday and find nothing wrong. If that’s not persecution then what is?”

Through Adv. Eliad Shraga, Comforti petitioned the High Court of Justice, and the judges ordered the rabbis in Ashdod to give her back her kosher certificate three months ago. But the Chief Rabbinate requested further discussion, and in the meantime nothing has changed. “To this day I don’t have my kosher certificate,” says Comforti. “So I work without it, because I have no choice. The business has to operate.” She has a hard time stifling the wave of emotions flooding her: “It’s like the way a groom feels when he arrives at his wedding and the bride runs away. Everything went as planned, even better than I expected, and then they turned against me.”

After the ruling of the High Court of Justice, the Yad L’achim people went to great efforts to make her religious belief public. “The entire city area in Ashdod was covered with posters against me,” she says. “The name of my bakery was published in large print. They publicly announced that people should be careful around me. They turned me into a monster.”

“Keepers of their soul shall refrain from purchasing any products in the business owned by the missionary,” the Yad L’achim poster stated. “The kosher certificate was given to it as a result of the court’s coercion of the rabbinate.” The customers made their decision by staying away. “Most customers didn’t show their faces anymore,” she says. “Customers who used to kiss me every morning and tell me how much they’ve enjoyed the cake they bought passed by here and didn’t even look in my direction. When many French people came, French posters were put up and then they stopped coming too. Later on they did the same thing with the Russians. They dried up my business. I used to sit here and cry my eyes out for whole days. You try baking cakes in that sort of emotional state.”

Comforti decided to ride out the storm. “I guess the years of handling their wild incitement have made me stronger,” she says. “And still, it’s hard.”

LEAVE US ALONE

“They come to this country with the excuse of the Law of Return and claim to be Jewish,” Rabbi Lipchitz accuses Messianic Jews. “They should be ashamed. Others come here and supposedly convert to Judaism, but they believe in Jesus and admit to it. If they act against the law, how is it that I’m in the wrong and how is it that they complain against me? On what grounds, that we expose them as frauds? There’s no such thing as ‘Messianic Jews.’ A person who believes in Jesus is a
Christian, period.”

Do Messianic Jews in fact act against the law? The law, called “the Mission Law”, prohibits “giving or promising a person money, the equivalent of money or any other material benefit in order to entice them to convert from their religion or to entice another to convert from theirs.” According to Adv. Calev Myers, community activists spread brochures and propaganda materials on their beliefs, and that is entirely legal activity. “The community’s activists are very aware of what is allowed and what isn’t, and they make sure not to go against the law,” he says. “Since the establishment of this state, not one member of the Messianic Jewish community was put on trial for these actions.”

“We don’t fight Christians or Arabs and don’t have a war against any religion,” says Rabbi Lipchitz. “But the Jews are few and they are many. How many do we have? Half a million Jews have assimilated, and in the end there will be no more left, G-d forbid.

We’re a small people and that’s why Jews must remain Jews and Christians must remain Christians. They don’t need to convert, they just need to leave us alone, not influence others and not perform their propaganda here, heaven forbid.”

Yad L’achim claim that they have clear evidence of the Messianic Jews’ missionary activity, and present propaganda material handed out during Madonna’s concert in Israel, calling out to “know Jesus.” “They handed out these materials along with the New Testament,” Rabbi Lipchitz protests.

“They act like a cult,” claims Benjamin, an activist in the department against cults, called by Lipchitz in order to explain. “It begins with a gradual exposure. They don’t pressure you, just bring you closer. It happens in their house meetings and also in IDF tanks.

Their activity doesn’t amount to listening to music once a week. They do much more than they tell. They go from house to house and hand out propaganda materials.”

Journalist: Habad [ultra-Orthodox] people also hand out propaganda and set stations on the streets for laying tefillin. If you don’t want it – you don’t take it.

Lipchitz: “But the Messianic Jews make false presentations. They claim to be Jewish for all matters, but to come from a different current. If they knock on a Jewish person’s door and say ‘hello, we are Christians and want to bring you closer to Jesus,’ they’ll be pushed down the stairs. They manipulate. They use a different world concept, in order not to be deterred. Instead of church they say congregation and instead of priest they say shepherd.”

Journalist: What do the personal beliefs of Pnina Comforti from Ashdod have to do with her bakery?

Lipchitz: “We advertised against her because many Jews in Ashdod have become Messianic. It’s a restaurant, she has nice food, and maybe she gives someone some good cheese and says ‘sweetheart, it’s a good deed to come to the mission.’ That’s why the rabbinate wants the key to her restaurant, to know what goes on there, and now it’s in the hands of the High Court of Justice. A kosher certificate isn’t just a technical thing. Many restaurants are run by Arabs and we don’t act against them, because they don’t try to convert Jews.”

Ha’aretz Newspaper, 3 October 2009. Translation to English by Jerusalem Institute of Justice. Check out their website: www.jij.org.il/ 

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I Received a Phone Call

Pnina Comforti:

When I answered the first phone call there was silence, and nobody answered back. I hung up.

Then the phone rang again. This time there was an evil raucous laughter and it was like he was saying “Ohhh, what is waiting for you…”

I hung up again.The third time the phone rang there was this ear-piercing laughter again and suddenly a voice started a conversation:

Voice: “Pnina?”
Pnina: “Yes.”
Voice: “How are you?”
Pnina: “O.K. who is it please?”
Voice: “How do you feel?”
Pnina: “O.K. who is it please?”
Voice: “I am the messenger.”
Pnina: “What messenger?”
Voice: “The messenger of Satan, of death, and evil.”
Pnina: “Yes…”
Voice: “I came to settle the score with you. I came to take your soul. How do you feel knowing that you are about to die?
Pnina: “Just like you.”

And then I hung up again… Suddenly he called again

Voice: “Don’t think that by hanging the phone I won’t hunt you. I will hunt you and get you. I know everything about you! I know you are working a lot of hours in the Bakery Shop, and I am coming to take your soul!
Pnina: “Why?”
Voice: “Because you are a heathen and because of the things that you do!”
Pnina: “What is your name?”
Voice: “You will know my name when I will write it on the wall with you’re blood! I will slowly peel your skin off of you.”
Pnina: “O.K. so get ready then.”
Voice: “Don’t worry I will do it. Do you still have your Bakery Shop on the Tsiyonut Street?”
Pnina: “If you know everything about me, how come you’re asking me?”

I had enough of him and hung up. He hasn’t called since then.

1109 - Prayer for Pnina

Our congregation Tiferet Yeshua praying for Pnina (cannot be seen) and her husband Israel (short haircut, white hair, center right).

Pnina and Israel Comforti who own “Pnina Pie,” a bakery in the center of Asdod, Israel. For three years the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate of that city has severely persecuted this Messianic Jewish business, trying to force the Konforti’s into bankruptcy.

The Comforti’s have taken their case to the High Court of Justice and won. However, the rabbinate has defied the High Court. Now the ultra-Orthodox have ratcheted up the harassment by threatening to murder Pnina.

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Annuities: As Good As You’ve Heard!

The truth is, most people are surprised by the benefits of charitable tax planning. This is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that charitable tax planning strategies often make it possible to realize multiple objectives.

Careful planning actually makes it possible to enjoy personal (or family) benefits and realize philanthropic goals and dreams by taking full advantage of incentives that encourage charitable planning. The Charitable Gift Annuity is a perfect example of this reality.

An Annuity – And A Gift

Typically, these two concepts are viewed as virtually opposite actions. Annuity refers to the creation of an annual income stream, while a Gift gives it away.

1109 - Annuities PicThe Charitable Gift Annuity combines these two ideas.

In practical terms, the Gift Annuity is a contract between MAOZ Israel Ministries and an individual or couple. The contract provides fixed payments to you for life and an ultimate gift to MAOZ.

Here is how the contract works:

You create a $50,000 Gift Annuity with us. MAOZ provides annuity payments for as long as you live. Rates on onelife Gift Annuities range as high as 9.5% and are based on your age. For purposes of our illustration, let’s assume that you are 76 years of age. The $50,000 Gift Annuity guarantees you annual payments of 6.4%.

But the benefits do not end with the attractive annuity rate. Since, upon death, the Gift Annuity contract becomes a gift to MAOZ, a number of charitable tax benefits accrue. A formula calculates the value of the ultimate gift to us and provides for an immediate charitable income tax deduction. And when the Gift Annuity is funded with an appreciated asset, a portion of each annuity payment may be tax-free... further reducing tax liability.

If you’d like to see just how a Charitable Gift Annuity agreement might help you realize your objectives, simply call, write or fax your birth date, the amount of annuity you desire, and whether you’d like payments to be made for one or two lives. There is no obligation for this educational service, and we are happy to be able to offer it to friends of Maoz Israel Ministries.

Please Call Me:
Jim Morrison
Maoz Israel Ministries
Toll free number: 1 800 856-7060
Fax: 214 677-0500

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November 2009

Dear Maoz Partner,

Persecution of Messianic Jews in Israel is certainly on the rise as the radical anti-religious-freedom organization, Yad L’achim, has massively increased its operations throughout Israel.

The Messianic Jewish Body of believers is growing and the ultra-Orthodox extremists are determined to stamp us out, just as the Islamic extremists are determined to stamp out the Jewish nation.

It is ironic to see the similarities between the two spiritual forces. Radical Islamic forces want to wipe out the remnant of the Jewish people who have come back to the Land of Israel as the prophets foretold numerous times.

Radical ultra-Orthodox forces want to wipe out the spiritual remnant of the Jewish people who have come back to the God of Israel, also as the prophets foretold numerous times.

In both groups there is the same spirit of hatred and intolerance, with the aim to destroy the remnant. It is the same controlling god who has come to kill, to steal and to destroy. It’s sole intent is to destroy the people of Israel.

Look at the parallels: Islamic terrorists are not only using violence, but also every legal means to demonize and isolate the Jewish nation. Likewise the ultra-Orthodox extremists are not only using violence and intimidation, but also every legal scheme to isolate and weaken the Messianic Jewish body in Israel.

The Islamic extremists want the nations to believe that the Jewish nation is evil and bringing chaos
to the world. The ultra-Orthodox extremists want the Jewish people to believe that Messianic Jews are evil and bringing chaos to the Israeli nation.

As Israel looks for friends to stand with her for her very existence, the Messianic Jews also look to the Body of Messiah, the people of God throughout the nations, to stand with her.

If these powerful extremists had their way, there would not be a single believer in the country! But God has PROMISED that His People Israel will return to their Land and to their God!

In Biblical days, the children of Israel had to fight for their Promised Land. Today, we also must fight for the rights of the Israeli people to have the chance to hear the Gospel and decide for themselves if they will serve the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua the Messiah.

We have helped many persecuted believers through istandwithisrael.com, but now the need for legal aid is so great that we are creating a separate fund for persecuted believers – like Pnina Comforti, and like Ami Ortiz who was almost killed by an extremist ultra-Orthodox bomb.

Through our contributors, Maoz has been able to donate thousands of dollars to fight the violence and legal intimidation by Yad L’achim and the Interior office of the government which is dominated by ultra-Orthodox. And we will need much more as the hostile forces increase against us.

As in the days of the Nehemiah when building the ancient Temple, we must work with the plow in one hand and a spear in the other. Your help will give us the ability and the strength to do just that.

This month we invite you to fight the good fight of faith with us – through your contributions we will continue to build up the Body of Messiah and stand against the forces of destruction against us.

        For Zion’s sake,

A&S signature

        Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram

P.S. When you donate to Maoz Israel Ministries, you can be sure you are contributing to an organization that is witnessing to the lost, discipling believers, raising up a new generation of leaders, nurturing a congregation in downtown Tel Aviv – AND standing with the Messianic Jews in the land who are being persecuted.  

Partner with Maoz today by supporting our projects:

Maoz Israel Ministries  |  istandwithisrael  |  Congregation Tiferet Yeshua 

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