Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Burning the New Testament - fighting the Jewish Messianic missionaries in Israel II

The following article was sent by Penina Taylor. It provides a better context for the events than does the Jerusalem Post article previously posted

Taking out The Trash

Penina Taylor - Executive Director of the Jerusalem Center of Jews for Judaism

(Op Ed published on Israelenews and Israelinsider)

It was reported yesterday by several major news outlets that recently the religious Jews of Or Yehuda set fire to hundreds of copies of the New Testament. Ha’aretz called it “the latest act of violence against Christian missionaries in the Holy Land.” Calev Myers, attorney representing the Messianic communities of Israel called for the people who did it to be brought to trial. But brought to trial for what?

The people who burned these books broke no law. Despite the allusions being made to the burning of Jewish holy books during the times of the inquisition or the holocaust, there is absolutely no comparison here. The New Testaments had been basically thrown out – they were garbage, and there is no law against incinerating garbage, even by religious Jews, even in public.

First let’s look at the whole story. The town of mostly religious Jews had recently been targeted by missionaries, a form of harassment. The missionaries were not invited to come, they invaded, and in the wake of their invasion, they left hundreds, maybe even thousands of New Testaments and other missionary literature. The townspeople were in a quandary – what to do with this heresy that they did not want in their homes? So, the Deputy Mayor came up with a solution. He offered to take the unwanted trash off the residents’ hands and dispose of them in such a way that made it clear and in no uncertain terms that such literature was not only unsolicited, but unwelcome.

Like a modern day King Josiah, Deputy Mayor Uzi Aharon set out to unburden the citizenry he was sworn to serve, and they gave him the unwanted materials willingly. In the book of 2 Kings, chapter 22 and in 2 Chronicles 34, we read the story of King Josiah who took the throne at the age of eight years old. It is said of him, “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. ” (2 Kings 22:2) – a claim that no Christian would deny. And yet, we read in 2 Chronicles 34:33 that “Josiah removed all the abominations from all the country that belonged to the children of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not depart from following the Lord God of their fathers.”

Now, King Josiah removed the objects of heresy and idolatry forcibly, he did not give the citizens a choice in the matter, including regarding their service to God and this is where the two stories diverge. Truth be told, we could go on about how the burning of the New Testaments was simply an exercise in freedom of expression or even freedom of religion, which Israel claims to be why proselytizing is no longer illegal in the land. But the bottom line is this: there was no persecution or violence against Christians here, and no one was forced to do anything he/she didn’t want to do. If anything, it is the missionaries who are guilty and deserve to be brought to trial for mass harassment, not to mention the countless number of trees who senselessly gave their lives for the printing of the unwanted material and the ridiculous amount of space this story is now taking up on web pages and newspapers the world over.


  1. Let's not be so naive.

    I am very skeptical that the New Testaments were brought into the neighborhood by Messianic Jews. The fact is that they rarely, if ever, distribute evangelistic material door-to-door in Israel, and certainly not in religious neighborhoods. This is apparently a clever story created by the Deputy Mayor to try to wiggle out of a criminal offense.

    He clearly transgressed Sections 170 and 173 of the Israeli criminal code. We should remember that one person's "trash" may be another person's "treasure" and we should consider what would happen if people started making bon-fires from Tora scrolls around the world. I hope that police in the relevant jurisdictions around the world would prosecute seriously such crimes.

  2. Skeptical said...

    Let's not be so naive.

    I am very skeptical that the New Testaments were brought into the neighborhood by Messianic Jews.
    So be skeptical but that is how it has been described in all the accounts. In fact Calev Myers - the Messianic 's lawyer - simply said it is not prohibited by Israel law to try and convert adults only children. There has been no reported denial by the missionaries that that is what they were doing.

  3. I WISH that this incident would send the message to Christian missionaries that they are not wanted in Israel.

    Unfortunately the opposite is more likely to be true. Perusal of any Christian newsletter (for example this one from 2007) will show that "This persecution inspires them [to believe] that they're following the true God." (Mission Network News, 16 Oct 2007)"

    Films of Jews burning New Testaments in Israel will be used to raise millions of dollars in Evangelical Churches all over the world. Tens of thousands of 'spiritual tourists" will come to Israel this summer. These people are well trained for months ahead of time for their "three week" spiritual vacations in Israel where they will try to mission every Jew they meet.

    In thousands of Churches throughout the US, members are studying Hebrew in order to better missionize Jews.

    Here is an example:

  4. "Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas." Acts 19:18,19

    Not the type of source one would usually like to cite, but in my misspent youth my expertise was knowing the "makor" for concepts in the NT. B'H I'm a little rusty. I knew the book but had to cheat to find the exact location.

    There demand that their books be treated differently is a demand to implicitly recognize them.


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