Should we, or should we not go to court? That was the question facing us as
believers - both Jews and gentiles - in Yeshua/Jesus. Our congregation in
Beersheba had just experienced a second violent demonstration, which its
participants called a "prayer gathering." It turned into a full-scale riot
that lasted some three hours - and ended only after dozens of police were
called to the scene, including the riot squad (see "Abused for our beliefs,"
The Jerusalem Post, December 29, 2005; Letter to Editor, January 1, 2006).
Having already turned the other cheek once in a big way, and numerous times
in smaller incidents - similar to Israel's policy toward Hamas - and after
counseling with other Messianic leaders around the country, we decided to
sue the Sephardi chief rabbi of Beersheba and the anti-Messianic
organization Yad L'Achim, which includes within its organization a
department called the "Struggle Against the Mission." We have what we
believe to be sufficient evidence to link them together in calling for an
illegal protest against the lawful right to express our faith in Beersheba
and in the rest of Israel. The mind set that refuses to recognize believers
in Jesus as the Messiah as a legitimate and historic faith group is
reminiscent of the attitude of Israel's enemies, who refuse to recognize the
Our nation was reestablished on the ashes of people killed simply because
they were Jewish. We, who believe that the writings of Moses and the
prophets point to Jesus being the promised messiah, are being targeted for
our belief. Our services have been viciously disrupted, a development that
is the result of years of insult and contempt. Will this now lead to pogroms
Disturbingly, there has been virtually no Israeli media coverage of either
the riot or the trial, which opened in Beersheba on June 10 and continued
this week (Civil 1652/07; a final date to complete the presentation before
the court has been set for November 23.)
Do we consider religious persecution newsworthy only when it happens against
Jewish people and synagogues? Should our faith community refrain from
speaking out for fear of a backlash? That may be the Diaspora mentality, but
we have been brought back home.
WE LIVE AMONG our people and are not ignorant of history, of the terrible
mistreatment of Jews by those called "Christian." Yet we ourselves as Jews
were brought up to see gentiles in a negative light, and unfortunately have
not filled our role as a light onto the nations.
Most Jews, even if not consciously expressing it, blame Jesus for all the
troubles in the world, and want to blot out his name and memory.
In our experience with Yad L'Achim and with the Sephardi chief rabbi of
Beersheva, they have stated their objective to get rid of us. Have we
returned to the land of our forefathers just to turn it over to a band of
The current laws of Israel regarding its citizens do not sanction
trespassing onto private property, disrupting religious services, assaulting
individuals or destroying property because of differences in religious
beliefs. However, there are ongoing efforts in the Knesset to change those
laws and make our activities illegal.
I WANT to stress that this lawsuit is not against Israel or against the
Jewish people. It is not intended to be used in any way to foment or promote
anti-Israel or anti-Jewish actions or reactions. Nor is our legal action
intended to be used by any other minority or religious groups in Israel to
encourage or affirm anti-Israel/Jewish sentiment. We love our nation and our
people, and are committed to her uniqueness among the nations. Whether you
consider us as good citizens or only as strangers among you, we are for you
and with you.
This legal course was not taken in haste. We appreciate the forces that are
lined against us. We recognize that proclaiming in Israel our faith in Jesus
Christ as the promised messiah is problematic. We acknowledge the political
and religious influence of the Sephardi chief rabbi of Beersheba and of the
Struggle Against the Mission.
By filing this lawsuit and asking for compensatory damages we are trying to
capture the public's attention (is anybody noticing or even interested?) to
the fact that laws are being violated. If a riot by Jews against those who
believe differently is allowed to take place without any legal accountability
for taking the law into their own hands, then we are not truly a nation under
law, but one that opens a door for lawlessness. Everyone will do what is
right in his own eyes, resulting in much evil in the Promised Holy Land.
Freedom of religion, including the right to change one's faith, are
essential for a truly free society, necessitating tolerance of differences
and disagreements, both in politics and in religion.
Pray, protest, demonstrate, even believe, but let's do so lawfully, in love
for our neighbor as for ourselves.
The writer is pastor of Yeshua's Inheritance Congregation in Beersheba.