A word to Israel’s new government – It’s time to embrace the Israeli Messianic community

(From left) Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett, Gideon Sa'ar and Merav Michaeli sit together after their new coalition wins Knesset approval, June 13, 2021. (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

There is no question that Israel’s new unity government can use all the support it can get.  Say what you will about the last regime, but they definitely enjoyed a close and enduring friendship born out of a sense of loyalty from the evangelical Christian community abroad, especially in America.

In fact, Ron Dermer, former Israeli ambassador to the United States made what was considered to be a controversial statement when he recently said that “Israel should spend more of its energy reaching out to its strongest base for support, ‘passionate’ American Evangelicals, rather than Jews, who are ‘disproportionately among our critics.” (Israel and Evangelicals – a complex relationship, June 13, 2021)

Well here’s a word to Israel’s new government.  You don’t have to court American evangelicals who live some 10,000 miles away in order to gain the support of bible believers who cherish Israel and will always be loyal to her. Right within your midst is a strong and vibrant community of around 30,000 such individuals, the vast majority of whom possess full Jewish Israeli citizenship. They are law abiding individuals who value freedom of thought and religion as evidenced by their not being in lockstep with the Orthodox rabbinic one-sided version of Jewish faith and expression.

Messianic Jews who live in Israel, as well as their counterparts who live abroad, live as Jews. Many keep kosher, all observe Shabbat worship and practice Brit Mila as well as celebrate the bar/bat mitzvah of their children. Also among those who have chosen to return to the homeland of their forefathers, are individuals who have served in the army, learned Hebrew, keep the holidays and are useful, productive members of Israeli society on every level.

If you take the time to speak to them, you’ll quickly discover that their choice to be part of the Jewish homeland has clearly come from a deep conviction and strong identification with their people, their history and their culture. It is their belief that they are fulfilling their spiritual destiny, in accordance with the scriptures, which speak of the regathering of the exiles from the four corners of the earth.

As frequent hosts to those visiting abroad, either for the first time or multiple times, they are the staunch defenders of the land which they believe is their inheritance. It has been their commitment to support the leaders of that land, oftentimes when the leaders, themselves, not only did not support them but actually were complicit in allowing the Interior Ministry to threaten their ability to live here and also do everything within their power to prevent their family members who wanted to immigrate from doing so.

Despite those reprehensible actions, they never turned against their beloved Israel, knowing that it was only the fault of a small group of extreme Orthodox zealots who were persecuting them and not the Israeli people – their neighbors and dear friends.

Although Netanyahu promised that as long as he would serve as Israel’s Prime Minister, he would allow Messianic Jews to enjoy freedom of worship, he did nothing to stop the systematic discrimination and mistreatment of Messianic Jews both already in the country as well as those desirous of immigrating, which is their birthright as individuals who were born Jews and whose ethnicity remains intact.

Sadly, the last twelve years has proven to be an anti-Messianic Jewish campaign deliberately perpetrated by Shas and other Orthodox streams who have viciously viewed these Bible believers as nothing more than active missionaries who seek to convert Jews.  It didn’t matter that this false and slanderous narrative was neither proven nor factually based. It served an effective libel which worked each time to frighten anyone who open-mindedly saw for themselves, that, unlike some orthodox Jewish young men, Messianic Jews do not hand out pamphlets and cassettes at traffic lights or attempt to force their personally held beliefs on segments of the population who simply want to live and let live.

The Messianic Jewish community, by and large is comprised of families and individuals who seek to live their daily lives in peace, quiet and freedom. Those who have immigrated have enough on their plates trying to learn the language, help their kids get through their school courses and earn enough money to build a successful life which they feel has more meaning in the Jewish homeland. To paint them as dangerous individuals with a nefarious agenda, as they were portrayed by the last government, is not only wrong, but it displays a complete ignorance of a prospective, significant block of loyal support to the individuals for whom many actually voted.

As a Messianic Jew who has lived in Israel for nearly 30 years, I am well-acquainted with a great many of my fellow Messianics enough to say that all we want is to be accepted, respected and valued just as other Israeli citizens. In return for such considerations, there is no doubt that this community will fully support and hold this incoming government in high regard – a government which has promised to represent all of its citizens regardless of political or religious persuasion.

It is time for the new leaders to forge a new chapter in this country. No one will be more loyal, steadfast and devoted to you than those of us who love Israel with all our hearts.  Let us know that we are equal citizens in our land, and, most of all, let all Jews, no matter what their persuasion, know that they will be welcomed and highly esteemed in choosing Israel as their future home – especially now when Jewish hostilities are at an all-time high.  Tell them that this is their land too, and that you are not afraid or intimidated to open your arms to the vast array of diverse Jews who make up 14 million of us in the world today.