Friday, August 26, 2011

Sorry, But No Proselytizing, Please

I boarded bus #148 from the Central Egged Bus Station in Jerusalem today at 13:00 to return home to Shiloh.

On the seat next to me I found a booklet, in Hebrew, entitled "Ben David" or, "Son of David", decked with Israeli flags on a background of Jerusalem's Old City walls:

Now, since the Yeshiva at Eli is called "Bnei David", someone could presume there is a Jewish connection but I knew otherwise (I have had 50 years of experience, actually). It was a missionary tract, a new translation in Hebrew of the Book of Matthew, and see below* on the anti-Semitism therein, sponsored by a nasty messianic Christian effort whose Statement of Faith parallels most of this group's statement, which is linked to at their site.

Here it is:

This is an act of proselytizing. Whoever you are, you are distributing articles of faith of a different religion with the intent of influencing Jews to convert.

I know you think that that is what being a good Christian is. But it is not. And yes, I do know some Christians really are upset at our reluctance to permit full-scale missionizing attempts and even slide into hate speech. As the US State Department's annual report notes:

A 1977 anti-proselytizing law prohibits any person from offering or receiving material benefits as an inducement to conversion; however, there have been no reports of the law's enforcement. A bill that would have restricted proselytizing further was promulgated in 2000; however, similar bills did not reach a final vote in the past and local observers do not believe that this bill will be enacted. Christian and other evangelical groups asserted that the draft bills were discriminatory and served to intimidate Christian groups. Missionaries are allowed to proselytize, although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) voluntarily refrains from proselytizing under an agreement with the Government.

The law adopted into our Penal Code reads
Giving benefits to induce change of religion

174A.If a person gives or promises another person money, valuable consideration or another material benefit in order to entice him to change his religion or to cause him to entice another to change his religion, then he is liable to five years imprisonment or a fine of NS150,000.
Receiving benefit for change of religion

174B. If a person accepts or agrees to accept money, valuable consideration or another material benefit for the promise to change his religion or to cause another person to change his religion, then he is liable to three years imprisonment or a fine of NS49,800.

Change of a minor's religion

368. (a) If a person performs a religious conversion ceremony of a minor or performs some other act that leads to the change of a minor's religion, in violation of the provisions of section 13A of the Capacity and Guardianship Law 5722-1962, then he is liable to six months imprisonment.
(b) If a person induces a minor, by addressing him directly, to change his religion, then he is liable to six months imprisonment.

You may think that draconian (a futher tightening of restrictions was rejected [in Hebrew]) but there's a good reason for what is the law ro be the law of the land, the Land of Israel. All faiths and those of no faith are free to practice their religious beliefs in Israel. You can come here and do good deeds and do charity. Stealing Jewish souls, for that is what proselytizing is, is not a good deed. We do not practice that and as Hillel, who predated Christianity, said, "do not do unto others what you would not want done unto you."

Good and normative relations are being built between Christians and Jews in Judea and Samaria based on the recognition that if you believe in the Bible, then you must believe that what we are doing in Judea and Samaria is good and contributes to the ultimate benefit of all mankind. What we are doing is correct and right and has been prophesied.

Let us get on with our work, unhindered, or at least with positive assistance, and all will be better. We have much that could be shared but that doesn't mean that you have the freedom to feel that you can 'snatch'. Our other shared history is too painful to be gone over but know, we recall and remember and we have not fully reached the level of forgiveness and, to be truthful, there is no reason we should.

But we can look forward to a future in which we all can gain - but without any feelings of mistrust and suspicion on our part, which would be caused by the activity I described at the beginning of this post.  There is much to be lost.  Be careful, if only for your co-religionists who approach the task of being part of Jewish national reconstitution and their efforts be harmed.

Can we agree on that?


Although the Gospel of Matthew is considered to be the "most Jewish" of the Gospels, it contains one of the most anti-Jewish passages found in the Second Testament. Probably located in Syrian Antioch, the Matthean community defined itself over and against the synagogue.

Thus, the term "Jews" in the Gospel represents those who deny the resurrection and believe that the disciples stole Jesus's corpse (28:13-15). Through Jesus, membership in the one people of God is extended to include the Gentiles (24:14; 28:16-20; see also Great Commission), but they do not replace the Jews (4:18-13:58). Both Jew and Gentile participate in God's plan for salvation.

As Matthew's narrative marches toward the passion, the anti-Jewish rhetoric increases. In chapter 21, the parable of the vineyard (to which we have already referred) is followed by the great "stone" text, an early christological midrash of Psalm 118:22-23: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone" (Matt. 21:42). Then, in chapters 23 and 24, three successive hostile pericopes are recorded. First, a series of "woes" are pronounced against the Pharisees: "you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets...You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?" (23:31, 33).

According to the New Testament Gospels, Jesus, on his fateful entry into Jerusalem before Passover, was received by a great crowd of people. Jesus was arrested and purportedly tried by the Sanhedrin. After the trial, Jesus was handed over to Pontius Pilate, who duly tried him again and, at the urging of the people, had him crucified.

Then, Jesus laments over the capital: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it...See, your house is left to you, desolate" (23:37-38). And finally, Jesus predicts the demise of the Temple: "Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down" (24:2b).

The culmination of this rhetoric, and arguably the one verse that has caused more Jewish suffering than any other second Testament passage, is the uniquely Matthean attribution to the Jewish people: "His [Jesus's] blood be on us and on our children!" (27:25). This so-called "blood guilt" text has been interpreted to mean that "all Jews, of Jesus' time and forever afterward, accept the responsibility and blame for Jesus' death."



Anonymous said...

I always find it so disrespectful that any other religion thinks they have a right to proselytize. Not only is it hubris to think only you speak to God but it is blatant discrimination. Not really surprised by the US State Department, its not as if they respect anything about Jewish history, religion or self-identification. Talk about institutionalized anti-Semitism.

Anonymous said...

"as Hillel, who predated Christianity, said, "do not do unto others what you would not want done unto you."

which is why ethnic cleasnsing was such a big mistake for the Zionists to make. And YESHA justs compounds it.

YMedad said...

Dear Anon.: please don't be either silly or stupid. who ethnically cleansed the Jews between 638 and 1947?

Read: During the Arabic period, the Land of Israel was of a low priority for the Arabic rulers. The Umayyad government centre was in the Arab Peninsula at first, moving to Damascus in 660. The rulers of the Abbas dynasty moved their centre to Baghdad, while the Fatimid and the Seljuks ruled from Egypt. The Land of Israel was an occupied territory and a source of revenue from tax and land confiscations that benefited the rulers. In his article “Status of the Land of Israel under Muslim Rule”, Prof. Moshe Gill describes it as “a gold mine for Muslims”: From the year 670 to 975, the Arabs collected from 304,000 dinars per year (during the 820’s) to 850,000 dinars per year (during the 860’s). The average annual tax collected was about 400,000 dinars. Many of the rural settlements were deserted and destroyed and the cultivated area shrank in size. Many of the Jews and Christians were farmers, particularly those in small settlements. Jews worked also in pottery manufacturing, smithies, glass manufacturing, mats making, textiles, flour mills, and soap manufacturing, as well as commerce...

YMedad said...

...The constant fighting, however, hurt trade and manufacturing, the economy deteriorated and the country’s population was impoverished. There is no data about the number of Jews living in the country on the eve of the Arabic occupation. Based on his analysis of various factors, Michael Assaf estimates that their number then was 150,000--200,000. During the Arabic occupation, in the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries, Jews from communities in the Arab Peninsula, North Africa, and Babylon returned to Israel and its Jewish population increased slightly, but from correspondence preserved in the Cairo Genizah we learn that the security situation in the country made many leave, particularly during the Fatimid period. Documents from the Cairo Genizah presented by Prof. Moshe Gill contain evidence of Jewish communities in Israel, particularly from the 10th to the 11th centuries. In the Galilee, Tiberias was the centre of Jewish spirituality, with several synagogues and two communities: Jews from Babylon and Jews from Jerusalem. There were also Jews in Acre, Haifa, Gush Halav, Pequi’in, Dalton, Kfar Cana, Kadesh Naphtali, Tzipori, Kfar Hananya, ‘Ivlin, Kfar Mandi, Safed, ‘Akhbara, and Biriya. According to the 10th century Arabic Geographer Al Muqadassi, there were large Jewish settlements in Gush Halav and Kadesh Naphtali, and Jews lived also in Ramle, Hebron, the coastal cities, Tzo’ar (near the Dead Sea) and Eilat. Ramle was the largest Jewish centre in the South, with three communities, 2 synagogues, and 5000 Jews. The community in Hebron was well organised and had a synagogue near the Cave of Machpelah. During the Arab occupation Jews lived in Caesarea, Jaffa, Ashkelon, and Raffiah.
The Genizah letters also tell of deteriorating security under Fatimid rule as a result of 60 years of constant fighting against extremist Shiite elements, the Byzantines, and Bedouin assaults. Letters describe horrors committed by Bedouins in Jerusalem and Ramle. In his study Michael Assaf mentions Jewish settlements in the Negev and notes that Eilat was called “City of the Jews” by the Geographer Al Bakri (d. 1094). Assaf points out that in addition to coastal cities and Tiberias, Raqat and Hammat, other Upper Galilee Jewish places mentioned in the Cairo Genizah documents include the Fort of Dan, Ba’al Gad, ‘Akal, Zeitoun, ‘Alma, Al-‘Alawiya, and Tirtzah, as well as Jerusalem, Hebron, and Ramle in Judea. Assaf mentions several factors that caused the significant decline of Jewish population numbers at the end of the Arab occupation due to desertion, which was caused by the unstable security conditions.
Prof Moshe Gill summarised the Jewish situation in Israel during the Arab occupation as evident from the Genizah documents. Genizah letters describe “generations of decline and impoverishment in body and spirit in the wake of the extraordinary troubles of the times and the transformation of the Land of Israel into a constant battle field. The Jewish settlement fought for its actual physical existence”. But the letters also reflect “the continuance of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel through generations of Arab occupation. This settlement was a direct descendent of the Jewish settlement of ancient times”.

sdrake said...

It's a right of free speech to proselytize, just as you have a right to express your opinions. Why is the Jewish religion so intertwined with government? Why can't they be separate entities? If anything, bringing in more cultures and faiths may bring more tolerance to Israel. Judaism is dying. It's becoming a culture instead of maintaining it's stance as a religion. Moral relativism has crept into your own country. Soon you will have to proselytize yourself due to no converts and "Jews" going the way of the world.

YMedad said...

sdrake: aren't you lucky I believe in free speech? otherwise, your tripe would be expunged. anyway, if you were a girl, and I kept walking up to you and asking for a date, or for sex, and you didn't like me, is it my frre right of expression to keep at it, badgering you?

but since you slide into classic antisemitic garbage, I'll let you stew in boiling bovine fesces.

Anonymous said...

I have read PENAL LAW 5737 - 1977. I see that attempts to convert for the purpose of material gain,
and conversion after an offer or granting of material gain, and attempts to convert a minor without the parents’ consent, are illegal.
However, I do not see that attempts to convert, in the absence of any offer of material gain and with the parents' permission, are prohibited by this law.
If there is a more general prohibition against attempts to convert, either in this law or subsequent law,
could you please provide a citation or link. I am very interested in this from both an historical and a legal perspective.

Secondly, I do not agree with a poster that it is "hubris to think only you speak to God."
That notion comes as natural to some people as the notion comes to others that no one has the right to try to convert them.
Especially when it comes to religion, many people believe they have a duty to convert others.
It doesn't bother me much, because I am pretty confident in my beliefs, there are plenty of philosophers and scholars and religious speakers
who provide substantiation for my beliefs; and if anything, attempts to convert me are a great help in getting me
to re-examine, re-evaluate, and at times adjust my religious beliefs.
I don't fear being corrected, or being stimulated, or being challenged;
so I don't fear having people tell me about their religious beliefs in an attempt to convert me.
Maybe they are right! Then I will convert. But if they are not right, my beliefs will be developed and strengthened.
- Tarquinius