Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Testament Burning- Messianic Jews Persecuted In Israel

Caught in the act?? Deputy Mayor of Or Yehuda, Uzi Aharon at the synagogue, holding one of the Christian NewTestaments and Literature Packages that were burnt --

I found an unbiased account coming out of the Israeli news media Haaretz, of the New Testament burning by the Orthodox Jews written as an editorial in the Haaretz , with other recent noteworthy events concerning the Messianic Jew persecution in Israel which have been reported right here, that I think is worth sharing with my readers.

Shas' book bonfire

By Haaretz Editorial

On the occasion of Shas' annual Lag Ba'omer celebration, the party introduced a new custom burning copies of the New Testament. The initiator of the book burning, Or Yehuda deputy mayor Uzi Aharon, claimed that it was a spontaneous act, an angry protest against missionary activity being reported in the city. Among the witnesses to this "spontaneous act" were schoolchildren. A reporter from Maariv documented the event.
Supporters of the bonfire said they were preserving the honor of the Jewish people, and the fire was meant to rid the town and entire country of Messianic Jews.In the Jewish state, they said it is forbidden to disseminate Christian holy scripture. The burning of Christian holy books in Or Yehuda is especially worrisome in light of the continued harassment of Messianic Jews in the country. Their homes are set on fire, they struggle to earn a living, and just two months ago, a 15 year-old boy was seriously hurt when what he thought was a Purim gift package blew up in his face on the doorstep of his family home in Ariel.

Just this past Independence Day, the religious community threatened to boycott the annual World Bible Quiz because of the participation of a young girl from a Messianic family, as if knowledge of the Bible necessitates belonging to the Jewish religion, or any other religion. The Messianic Jews number a few thousand in Israel, and as long as they do not stalk children or try to convince them to change their religious beliefs, their standing in this country should be equal to that of other religious and ethnic groups who enjoy freedom of practice and worship as stipulated in the Declaration of Independence and protected by law.

The indifference to their persecution attests to the treatment of minorities in Israeli society. If it were Jewish holy text rather than Christian books that were burned in some European country, it is safe to assume that the leaders of that country would fall over themselves in rushing to condemn the act, all the while they are painted with the broad brush of anti-Semitism.

In Israel, the coalition's survival depends on Shas, the rabbis support the book burning, though do so quietly, and all that is left to do is to await a decision by the attorney general to bring to trial those responsible. Any kind of significant public statement against the persecution of groups for their beliefs is not in the offing. The burning of religious books connotes horrific events from the past that are difficult to erase from memory. In 1933, the Nazis incinerated the works of Germany's great Jewish literary figures, gathering the public to watch burnings in Berlin's Opera Square. A monument designed by Israeli artist Micha Ullman stands at the square as a chilling reminder of the event and what followed. Throughout history, people of faith have burned religious books of other faiths. Mao Zedong burned Buddhist books, just as the Taliban did a few years ago.

A democracy must not tolerate behavior that is considered normal in totalitarian regimes. The concern is that the persecution of Messianic Jews is rationalized by a twisted interpretation of Jewish sovereignty, as if we were dealing with something resembling an Iran-like enterprise whose raison d'etre was taking revenge on the gentiles. If the deputy mayor of Or Yehuda remains in his post, it will only strengthen the perception that the persecution of minorities has not been discontinued due to its revolting nature. As long as Shas produces the likes of Uzi Aharon, the lighter of the bonfire, it must be viewed as a full participant in this act

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