By Leah and David Ortiz
When the explosion took place, David and I were in Jerusalem visiting with Christian tourists from Europe. While eating lunch we received a phone call from our son El’ad, who at that time was in the army, telling us a bombing had taken place in our town of Ariel.
I called our home where our youngest son Ami was, and the police answered. They said Ami had been seriously injured and was being rushed to Beilenson hospital. When we arrived Ami was being operated on and so we were not allowed to see him for hours. We were told that it was not certain Ami would live.
However, we began to hear about a number of divine “coincidences”: Our housekeeper had just gone outside to throw away the garbage so she was not injured or killed. Down the street a paramedic who had moved into an apartment the day before was at home and came running to give first aid. A nurse who is a neighbor in our building was instantly on hand – so critical because the ambulance took 20 minutes to get to Ami.
Another man who was on sick leave had the presence of mind to take Ami’s picture with his cell phone – a very important factor when the police later attempted to minimize the seriousness of the attack and Ami’s injuries. Ami was blind, covered with blood and burns and full of the needles and screws contained in the bomb.
A month earlier David had opened his Bible randomly and read the ominous words of death in Jeremiah 9:21
For death has come up through our windows;
It has entered our palaces
To cut off the children from the streets,
The young men from the town squares.
David had had a sense of dread for the last ten days. But now, in those desperate hours of waiting, David received a divine peace in his heart that Ami would live. The call went out and believers around the world began to pray for Ami and have continued to do so through the 12 operations he has had (with more still to come). The family of God sent us thousands of emails and letters. Without these prayers, I believe the outcome could easily have been very different.
Meanwhile the Jerusalem police and the Israel Security Agency, the Shin Bet, (similar to the FBI) questioned us for six or seven hours at the hospital that day. We gave them the hard disk of our security cameras which we had placed at the head of the stairwell near our front door and also outdoors to record all passing cars. We did this because, by habit, coming from New York City, we were always security conscious, but we never imagined it would come to something like this.
Three weeks of silence followed, until we called the police and asked for an appointment to give us some kind of update. We knew there was a killer loose, and we wanted to know what the police were doing. They said that they had no leads whatsoever.
From the very beginning, we understood from the police that the attacker was Jewish and not Palestinian; the case was classified as a criminal case and not terrorism – which meant they were looking for a Jewish person and not a Palestinian.
After some time passed we called again and asked to talk to the Jerusalem police whom we finally managed to meet the second time five weeks after our son was almost killed. We pointed out to them that they had not even shown us the videotape which we gave them. “Maybe we might recognize someone in the video – like one of our neighbors….” we offered.
Finally they agreed to show us portions of the video from our cameras. But we didn’t recognize the assailant who delivered the bomb dressed in an Israeli army uniform. We did see there was an individual surveying our hallway before the explosion.
Later we were able to see the rest of the video. We noticed there was a car that circled by our house twice just before the attacker left the bomb. There were two people in the car. That meant there was a probability of more than one person being involved. In other words, the Jewish terrorist was not a loner.
But the police kept insisting that the car had nothing to do with the crime. We wondered why they were so adamant about the “noninvolvement” of a car that circled twice by our house right before the attack.
The American-born resident of Shvut Rahel in Samaria is allegedly behind an unprecedented series of deadly terrorist shootings and bombings spanning 12 years, beginning in 1997.
He smuggled 10 guns and rifles from the U.S, used them to kill a taxi driver and a shepherd because they were Arabs, attempted to kill Ami Ortiz because of his Messianic Jewish faith and Dr. Ze’ev Sternhell because he is a far-left professor. It is not yet known if he was involved in the shooting of two homosexuals, or in a number of other ideological terrorist attacks.
We wondered if the attacker was maybe an informer for the police. I still have a feeling that the police probably knew who the Jewish terrorist was from the beginning. And actually we have seen one newspaper article that claimed Yaacov Teital, the man going on trial for a series of hate crimes, including against Ami, was at some point an informer for the Shin Bet.
The Jewish terrorist Igal Amir who assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 operated in tandem with an informer for the Shin Bet. The security authorities were still completely caught off guard when Amir actually assassinated the prime minister - even though he had talked about doing so.
And then, excuse the expression, the police dropped a bomb on us. They advised, “Well, maybe this was just a warning sign to you.” Stunned, I answered, “You mean to tell me that you don’t regard this as attempted murder?” They replied, “Well, we don’t know what the motive was.”
For an entire year and a half since the attack, the police secured a court-issued gag order which meant that nothing about the investigation could be published, and they could continue to investigate or not investigate in secret.
Early on we had been interviewed by journalist Boaz Gaon of the Maariv newspaper and he obtained a picture of Ami lying in his hospital bed a month after the explosion. The police told us to immediately stop communicating with the media as we were “hurting” the investigation. I felt that they were trying to strong-arm us into getting off the media’s radar screen.
The police then asked if we had a lawyer and we said no. They told us, “You don’t need a lawyer. You just need to be taking care of your son.” I answered, “I am with my son 24 hours a day. I have been home only two times in five weeks.”
As we walked out of the police station, a policeman from our town who was a first responder stopped to talk to us. He said that when he saw Ami, he was sure that he would be blind. (Another tremendous miracle from the hand of God: Ami sees 20/20!) Immediately, the Jerusalem police who saw us talking to our local policeman asked sharply, “How do you know this officer?”
We had been ordered not to speak to the Ariel police because the Jerusalem police were handling the case. However they used the police station in Ariel to meet with us three times.
Why were they acting like this? We had the distinct impression that they were trying to lower the severity of the crime – to make out as if it were just some fellow trying to scare us. They wanted us to keep quiet – seemingly because they were embarrassed to be defending someone of our faith.
As we left the police station in Ariel, we said to each other, “We have got to get a lawyer.” We wanted to be sure that our civil rights were protected even though our Messianic Community is a despised minority.
We asked that the police return our complete hard disk of videos from our security cameras, but they refused to do so. Our new lawyer finally sued and the court ordered them to give it back. Only then did we have a chance to see the entire surveillance video.
DAVID PICKS UP THE NARRATIVE:
After more than a year of seeing the police were apparently doing nothing, I myself decided to visit a number of citizens in my town of Ariel. Surely there were neighbors who knew something or had seen suspicious people casing our home in the months before the attack.
Sure enough, different ones began to tell me things even as they admitted they had said nothing up until then because they were afraid.
When we gave this information to the police, they went directly to these neighbors and questioned them about our private lives, our faith and our finances.
The witnesses realized the questions had nothing to do with the investigation and felt the police were trying to plant suspicion and drive a wedge between our neighbors and ourselves.
A government official told us straight to our face that we didn’t have many friends in Israel, period, meaning we were not to expect a lot of help from anyone in official positions. Another more sympathetic official told us that we Messianic Jews just simply don’t have a strong enough voice in the land. In other words, we as a community are so quiet about our civil rights that we don’t have any clout.
But when it seems hopeless, there is always help from above!
Because our family has duel citizenship, I was able to obtain help from sources, which at this time, I am not able to disclose. These sources began to pressure the Israeli authorities and resulted in the Shin Bet entering into the investigation in earnest.
Our people in America gave us many tips of what to do. Also, our Israeli lawyer made it clear that he was taking our case very seriously because he stood for justice and wanted to see this Jewish terrorist caught. He considers him a danger to the whole country and to the values on which our nation was founded.
So we began to slug it out with the police – trying to get them to devote more resources to apprehending this criminal, and trying to find out what was going on under their gag order.
Here and there we saw a bit of light: one of the Shin Bet officers told us, “What you believe or don’t believe has nothing to do with this investigation. We just know that for the safety of your children and my children and for the State of Israel, these people must be apprehended and stopped.” Another official told us, “These Orthodox extremists are recruiting others, and will overrun the country if we don’t stop them.”
And then two events happened that altogether changed the snails-pace investigation.
A Jewish terrorist planted a similar but smaller bomb at the home of a far-left Hebrew University professor, Dr. Ze’ev Sternhell. The bomb went off as he returned from an overseas trip. His suitcases took the brunt of the explosion and the professor was only lightly wounded. However, the attempted murder of this renowned professor who had won the prestigious Israel Prize stunned the nation. A Jew was out to kill Jews.
Then a short time later, someone walked into a hangout for homosexual youth in downtown Tel Aviv and shot two teenagers dead.
Homosexuals around the world contacted the Israeli government by the thousands and demanded the police find the perpetrators. The police and the Shin Bet jumped. They soon arrested Yaacov Teital – an Orthodox settler who lives close to Ariel where we live – as he was plastering posters in Jerusalem praising the killing of the homosexuals. They have now arrested a second Orthodox man whom they believe to be an accomplice to Teital.
Even though it is not believed at this point that Teital was the killer in the last attack, it is possible that he is part of a larger gang of Jewish terrorists who perpetrated the crime against the homosexuals.
The gag order has finally been lifted – as the press simply had enough of the gag. (The press began a campaign of writing negative articles about the police’s abusive use of gag orders.) But it was so difficult to watch as the police spokesman who finally held a press conference simply could not get out of his mouth the fact that one of the victims of the alleged terrorists is a 16 year-old Messianic Jew from Ariel. Indeed, Ami disappeared from his list.
Furthermore, after the first few days of reporting about Teital, the media for the most part also ceased mentioning that one of the victims was Ami Ortiz, whose father is the head of a Messianic congregation. They began reporting it like this: Teital allegedly killed two Arabs and committed hate crimes against a leftist professor and homosexuals.
TAKING A STAND
I finally called a press conference to denounce the media’s political correctness. The Jerusalem Post correspondent asked me in a condescending tone why I had called the press meeting. I told him so that this attack will not happen to any other Messianic Jew.
We wanted our case to be in the forefront so that our nation would know that a heinous crime has been committed and that a 15 year old child has been seriously injured because we and others in Israel have embraced Yeshua as our Jewish Messiah.
We wanted to send a message to Teitel’s accomplices and others who think like him that there will be a very high price to pay for those who want to dictate and overrule other people’s consciences and destroy the rule of law in Israel.
The U.S. State Department has also begun to take interest in Israel’s treatment of Messianic Jews in their yearly report on human rights. This year, Haaretz newspaper reported that the State Department reiterated its displeasure with a series of incidents in which Messianic Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses have been harassed. “Exacerbating these tensions,” states the American report “was the widespread but false belief that proselytizing is illegal” in Israel.
“Interestingly, despite the harassment, the report notes that the number of Messianic Jews and Evangelical Christians in Israel has grown in recent years through immigration and conversions.” (Haaretz, 8Nov09)
There is no doubt that Israel’s Messianic Jews are not only threatened with violence, but are a target for harassment by the Israeli government and rabbinical authorities.
It is time for the Messianic Jews and Christians to stand up and be counted. You can email the Jerusalem Post, (email@example.com) or contact the Israeli embassy in your country to let them know that the lives of Messianic believers are valuable and must be protected like any other citizen.
Israeli Embassies (check the internet for more information)
Washington D.C Interreligious issues:
Phone: 613-567-6450. Fax: 613-237-8865.
Tel: 020 7957 9500
Fax: 020 7957 9555
No email seen on website
Send an email to Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem:
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Letters to the Editor of The Jerusalem Post
I am writing as a subscriber of your newspaper and a fierce supporter of Israel and the Jewish people. This includes all the Jewish people, including the Messianic Jews. It is my concern that while the man who perpetrated the horrific terrorist bombing against the Ortiz family has been caught and linked to other violent crimes...the only crime left out of your news stories is that of Ami Ortiz. Can you please explain this? As we have seen this week with the Tragedy in Ft. Hood, Texas... political correctness can be deadly...
I urge you in the future not to succumb to pressures that may be placed on your newspaper and keep journalistic integrity by giving each victim of terror equal status... even if that victim happens to be a Messianic Jew.
Todah Rabah! [Thank you]
Dear Editors of the Jerusalem Post and Ben Hartman,
In regards to your article: Teitel court hearing closed to public
How do you think Ami Ortiz feels, after having a bomb blow up in his face, nearly dying, going through countless surgeries, being slandered by organizations as far away as Scandinavia for verbalizing that this attack may indeed have been done by an Orthodox Jew (which we now know it was), thinking maybe the perpetrator will never be caught, reading in some of the talkback comments that he deserved to die, etc, etc,... and then... finally an arrest is made, and the editors of the Post fail to mention one of his most repulsive attacks against a teenager.
How do you think that makes Ami feel? Do you care? Is he not human because of his beliefs? Instead you do mention a crime [against homosexuals] that the police say he most likely had nothing to do with and that he has since renounced.
This could only have been deliberate, as it was so obvious. If Ami were not Messianic, there is no way that you would not go out of your way to highlight the compelling story of a teen who survived having a mishloah manot [Purim present] blow up in his face.
You would share how the doctors told David Ortiz that his son would not make it through the night. How God spoke to David and told him not to worry, that He had a plan. You would tell how amazing it was even before the doctors returned at 4:00am to give David the good news (His son would live!), that David already knew it inside! What a story!
You would surely highlight that the doctors initially said that if he survives he will most likely lose his extremities and how he now plays basketball with all of those extremities.
Instead, you leave out his name completely when listing the crimes of his attacker. SHAME ON YOU.
I can only hope that your reporting will be more honest in the future. And don’t think that the millions of Christians around the world who read your article, who have been praying for Ami and that his attacker would be arrested would not notice this omission. They have been following the Teital case closely.
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Through the Bible Series by Gordon Lindsay
This Bible course was created to give readers a love of the Scriptures.
We have already received contributions to translate and publish a total of 16 of the books. We have another 21 to go!
Your gift will help Israelis mature in their faith – strengthening them to share with other Israelis who are searching for the truth!
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 series of 37 books will be a fresh new way of looking at Bible personalities and learning from them what God wants and expects from us today.
Each book costs $1,750 to translate, edit, proofread, typeset, print and distribute
(£1,050; €1,200 current exchange)
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Blessing Ethiopian Israeli Believers
(as we have been blessed!)
“Even Ezer” Ethiopian Congregation in Tel Aviv joined our congregation for a Saturday service. There is nothing like the Body of Messiah coming together to worship and fellowship!
After the service our members had opportunity to meet their Ethiopian brothers and sisters over coffee and cake.
Not long ago, Ari was asked to preach at a local Ethiopian congregation. He was aware of the fact that although the pastor was ministering to a growing group of people, they had no children’s program whatsoever.
Ari and our children’s director decided to take them under our wing and help them establish an effective ministry for this next generation.
Ethiopian believers have a challenge. They speak Amharic at home but their children study and read Hebrew. Few adult Ethiopian Israelis can teach their children the word of God in Hebrew. But that is what they have to do!
Because we have been blessed so generously through our Maoz contributors, we came bearing gifts to these Ethiopian children: The magnificent new translation of the Hebrew Bible for children, lesson plans for the different ages, Messianic children’s music CDs plus games and puzzles and more.
Our children’s director will coach the teachers and istandwithisrael will send the pastor to Hebrew courses so that he can become fluent in Hebrew and minister to his growing number of youth who read and write Hebrew!
Now a second Ethiopian congregation in Galilee has contacted us to help them get started with a program for their children!
These Ethiopian Israeli children joined our children’s classes for their first time ever in a Bible class created for their ages.
Daily devotional books for children were among the gifts given to the Ethiopian Israeli children.
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From Addiction to a New Profession
Ilan was delivered from drug addiction at a Messianic rehabilitation program established by Carmel Congregation. With his new life, Ilan was ready to learn a profession so that he could be citizen who blesses both the Body of Messiah and his country. Istandwithisrael contributed significantly to his education in graphic art design. He is now in his third year of graphic design and is already working on websites. He is also bringing the Word of God to his people by creating video clips in Hebrew for evangelism.
I wanted to thank you with all my heart for the help with which you provided me at my time of need. When I started my life as a new believer, I was afraid of the hardships waiting for me after the rehabilitation period.
When I arrived at the House of Victory five years ago, I came from an abandoned home with a heavy addiction to drugs, and with only one bag in which were all my earthly belongings.
After coming to faith, I was actually born again to a new family, and you are proof of this to me again and again. Be it those who physically and emotionally stood by me, or people and organizations like you who reached out to help me financially.
When looking back, I know that I’ve come to this point because of the Lord and because of people like you. I am glad not only because of my own success, but because of the fact that I will be able to empathize with those who are lost that the Lord will send to me along the way.
Already now I serve the Lord at Carmel Congregation in Haifa – using the tools which I have gained to spread the Gospel and the truth of the Scriptures in Israel, and also abroad.
Again, thank you for being a vital part of my walk in the footsteps of the Lord and His calling.
A Better Opportunity for a Single Mom and Her Son
Marina received from istandwithisrael.com a contribution to cover the tuition fee of an advanced accounting program. As a single mom, she will now be able to find a superior position with higher wages and thus better provide for herself, her son and her congregation.
Shalom to you,
I wanted to thank you with all of my heart for your help!
For a number of years I have had the desire to advance in my accounting profession, but the financial situation didn’t allow it.
Your support made my dream come true.
You also gave me a sense of a caring family, which I need so badly.
May the Lord bless you and your work, and recompense you a hundred fold.
Blessings from our Messiah Yeshua,
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Think beyond the bounds of a normal cash gift
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BECOME A WALLof HONOR PARTNER TODAY!
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* Transferring a gift of stocks or bonds
People who give are givers. And they regularly give to their church and other well-deserving ministries, like Maoz. Instead of donating cash, you may find it beneficial to give your next gift or year end gift in the form of stock or mutual funds. By donating stock you can legally avoid paying taxes on the appreciation, and still claim a charitable deduction for the full market value of the stock. It’s a win-win situation—as well as a great example of smart stewardship.
For the remainder of this year, individuals 70 1/2 and older are able to make tax-free distributions of up to
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Charitable Gift Annuities
It is possible to support Maoz Israel Ministries financially and also receive a fixed income you can count on—all through a Charitable Gift Annuity. In exchange for a gift of at least $5,000, Maoz Ministries will promise to send you regular payments for the rest of your life. There are several options available to suit your particular circumstances, and a Gift Annuity is simple to set up.
Think about the
Our Stewardship Department is ready and willing to help you maximize your giving by showing you sound, smart strategies when it comes to your giving.
For further information, call any Maoz office:
In the U.S. or Canada, call Jim Morrison at Maoz 800-856-7060.
In Great Britain, call Dan Delap at 208-692-2831.
Our team will be able to assist you and help you see firsthand, with no obligation, just how far your charitable dollars can go.
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Dear Maoz Partner,
As we light the Hanukkah candles and reflect on our Savior, the Light who came into this world to save us, we cannot help but see the darkness around us.
The world has gone blind. It does not know right from wrong, good from bad.
Today’s world governments don’t know who is a terrorist and who is a victim.
The liberal media believes that an American jihadist who killed 13 American soldiers is the underdog – he must have been victimized, abused by fellow soldiers.
In Israel, the Messianic Jews are most often seen as the aggressors, the bad guys – “missionaries” who have betrayed their own people, while ultra-Orthodox fanatics see themselves as the savior of the Jewish people.
We, the Messianic Jews of Israel are a tiny minority, as the police said, “with few friends.”
But we have the secret weapon! Shelter under the wings of the Most High God and an enormous family of God – who pray, give and stand up for righteousness.
Yeshua told us we are His light to the world, so we should not be surprised at the deep darkness around us.
This is our time! Our voice must once again be heard throughout the land. We must act now.
What Messianic Jews need in Israel at this time is a legal fund to protect our families and our congregations against terrorist acts by radical Orthodox Jews who threaten physical violence and fanatical rabbinical authorities who fight – often illegally – inside the Israeli government against the believers of the land.
With these funds, we can stand up to the illegal and violent operations of those who carry on in the dark.
Over the next months, Maoz is specifically helping to subsidize the legal costs of the Ortiz family and the Pnina Pie bakery.
Pnina and Israel Comforti are still battling in court to get their kosher license back. As you probably know, the rabbinical authorities took her license away for the purpose of running their bakery out of business. Furthermore, Pnina has received death threats.
As you can imagine, legal fees are costly. Therefore, Maoz invites you to make an immediate impact by contributing to this fund to help persecuted Israeli believers.
At the same time, we are here in the land to continue to bring light to our people –
• Through helping the poor and needy among Israeli believers get on their feet through our istandwithisrael.com fund
• Through raising up a new generation of believers and leaders in our Congregation Tiferet Yeshua
• Through publishing life-transforming books that are biblically rooted, culturally relevant, and practical for believers throughout Israel
• Through evangelizing the lost, discipling our youth and equipping our children, who face daily hostility in their schools, with a godly foundation.
This spiritual war is two-pronged: Bringing the light to the lost and protecting the existing Body of believers.
You still have the opportunity to make a difference in 2009, to be a part of God’s plan to bring salvation to Israel.
Happy Hanukkah from Israel!,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
Partner with Maoz today by supporting our projects:
Maoz Israel Ministries | istandwithisrael | Persecuted Believers
Congregation Tiferet Yeshua | Coffee House Outreach
Driven by Eternity book | Arab Congregations | Hebrew Literature
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