Friday, June 13, 2008

Religious Zionist MK warns conference RZ has become cult

Kadima MK warns Religious Zionism has become 'cult' [YNET]

Otniel Schneller speaks at Religious Zionism conference on education, economy society, says sector has lost its way and is demonstrating cult-like characteristics. 'Religious Zionism cannot stay closed up within itself, it will suffocate,' he says

by Kobi Nahshoni

"Religious Zionism has lost its true substance and has become a cult," said MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) Wednesday at the Religious Zionism conference on education, the economy and society.

Dozens of rabbis, educators and public figures took part in the conference, which marked 60 years of Religious Zionism. The conference held various panels on subjects such as the breakdown of the educational system, the conversions crisis, the growing use of internet services among the religious sector, military prep-schools and the challenges the religious sector may face in view of the coming elections.

Speaking at one of the conference's panels, Schneller, a religions Jew, slammed the religious and political leadership of the national-religious public, saying "I grow up in an environment which perceived the rabbi as the 'whole'. The leaders of Religious Zionism have taken this whole and pulled it apart, supporting only one of its parts.

"The fight for the Land of Israel is important, but hailing it as the sole theme makes Religious Zionism a cult. I know many of you will resent this definition, but this wasn't the way taught by the Religious Zionism I grew up on."

Schneller went on to criticize the Religious Zionism rabbis' involvement in politics, saying that every decision religious politicians want to make must be clear by the rabbis first. "We've become nothing but a small group of kippah wearers," he said.

The lawmaker went on to say he does not like to use the term "Religious Zionism" as the title of his public sector, seeing how "it is a leaden term which constricts instead of expands."



  1. I already deal with this on my blog (shameless plus:

    To survive, Mizrachi has to become a comprehensive movement, one which addresses all issues, not just Yehudah and Shomron.

    Certainly the halachic material is there. It's just an issue of getting both those inside and those outside the community to become aware of it.

  2. A Peek Inside the Christian Zionist Death Cult:


    Christian Right Ramps Up Support for Perpetual War in the Middle East

    - by Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, Executive Director of HaMifgash in Los Angeles, CA and co-director of and Rev. Dr. Donald Wagner, professor of Middle Eastern studies at North Park University in Chicago, IL.

    * * * * *

    On July 16-19, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) will convene its second annual convention in Washington , D.C. and again push its apocalyptic war agenda with the Bush Administration and Members of Congress. Last year CUFI’s inaugural convention drew approximately 3600 Christian fundamentalists and conservative Jewish supporters. After three days of “sermons” by “end-time” preachers and politicians calling for war on Iran and additional military support for Israel ’s war with Hizbollah in Lebanon , conferees were deployed to Capitol Hill to lobby for these agendas. This year’s convention is expected to serve up another diet of end-time Biblical scenarios and perpetual war in the Middle East with the centerpiece being a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran .

    The Christian “end time” calculations of CUFI loyalists, coupled with “re-build the Temple settler” Jewish allies, and the cynical demands of American and Israeli politicians form a pathogenic religious brew that is frightening. Most American and Israeli Jews understand that territorial compromise, a viable Palestinian state and respect for Israeli and Palestinian security and national rights are the key ingredients for a peace agreement in the Holy Land . CUFI and company prefer to see Israel control every inch of the West Bank and Gaza Strip even if the price is war without end. We believe these policies are inconsistent with our scriptures, ethical standards, and the future security of both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs.

    CUFI’s President, the Rev. John Hagee, Pastor of the San Antonio Cornerstone Baptist mega-church, is the most visible Christian advocate of Christian Zionism and stronger U.S. ties to Israel ’s right wing political parties. Despite the significant growth of CUFI and its close ties with Israeli and American Jewish leadership, its support is far from monolithic. In the Jewish community, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest religious grouping in America , reminded the Jewish community of the other agendas of the Christian Right and CUFI. In a recent “Forward” editorial (5/18/07) entitled “When We Let John Hagee Speak For Us”, Rabbi Yoffie pointed to “the disastrous results of an alliance with John Hagee, who is contemptuous of Muslims, dismissive of gays, possesses a triumphalist theology and opposes a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.” In addition, the long-held Jewish advocacy for civil liberties, particularly free speech, concern for the environment, and protection from Christian proselytizing activities in government sponsored activities are endangered by associating with the CUFI camp.

    The end-time fear and death theology practiced by fundamentalists (Jewish and Christian) conflicts with the teachings (Torah) of life and the Gospel (“Good News”). The websites and provide alternative resources and analysis for Christians and Jews to challenge Christian Zionism and similar organizations that play fast and loose with their respective scriptures, the protection of civil liberties, and the separation of church and state.

    The mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Churches reject the theology and practices of Christian Zionism with five U.S. denominations issuing policy statements that reject the theology and practice of Christian Zionism. In August, 2006, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem , consisting of Patriarchs and Bishops representing all major Christian denominations in the Holy Land issued a clear challenge to Christian Zionism. Citing Christian Zionism’s tendency to frame issues within a theology of war and an end-time Apocalypticism, the statement said: “We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teachings that corrupt the biblical message of love, justice, and reconciliation….We (further) reject these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetuate war rather than the gospel of universal love.” Most Evangelical Christians also reject CUFI’s militant theology, as reflected in a July, 2002, letter to President Bush that was signed by fifty Evangelical leaders, which stated: “Significant numbers of American evangelicals reject the way some have distorted biblical passages as their rationale for uncritical support for every policy and action of the Israeli government instead of judging all actions - of both Israelis and Palestinians --on the basis of biblical standards of justice. The great Hebrew prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, declared……that God calls all nations and all people to do justice to one to another, and to protect the oppressed, the alien, the fatherless and the widow.”

    The present decade has demonstrated repeatedly that most political conflicts in the Middle East cannot be resolved by military force alone, and certainly not by religious extremists. Therefore, we call upon people of faith to reject CUFI’s agenda as false prophecy, reckless politics, and contrary to the essential teachings of the three Abrahamic faiths. We continue to hope that religious people will embrace the teachings of peace rather than war. Jews, Christians and Muslims must stop blessing war and seek peace based upon justice.

  3. And more for contemplation:

    "One of the most dangerous consequences of the messianic carnival that has overtaken Lubavitch society during the past two decades has been its exploitation by fundamentalist Christian missionaries. Reporting on a California highway billboard with the phone number of a Christian mission to the Jews, a picture of Schneerson and the words "Right Idea: Wrong Person," Rabbi Berger concludes with sadness that "the profound theological differences between Judaism and Christianity have been reduced to a matter of mistaken identity." This perverse development has also led Dennis Prager - the national radio show host whom this reviewer has long considered a dangerous Jewish version of Jerry Falwell - to propose in earnest that the Jewish community embrace Jews for Jesus so long as they repudiate the idea of Jesus's divinity and stop proselytizing to the mainstream Jewish community. This proposal is, as Rabbi Berger accurately reports, based on Mr. Prager's analogy between Jews for Jesus and "some wonderful chabad Jews who believe the last Lubavitcher Rebbe was the messiah."

    Still, he is certainly correct in claiming that the majority of Orthodox Jews - ranging from the fervently Orthodox Agudath Israel to the modern Orthodox mainstream - seem to care little if at all about Lubavitch messianic heresy. But it seems to me that this is because so few of them today retain the traditional, passive belief in miraculous messianic redemption. Jews are living in a de facto post-messianic era, not in the sense that the messiah has come, but rather because supernatural redemption is not nearly so sorely needed as it was in the pre-modern era of Jewish powerlessness and incessant suffering. The establishment of Israel has realized politically the most difficult aspects of the messiah's mission. What has been left for the savior to do - such as the establishment of animal sacrifice in a rebuilt temple - is not something that most Jews today, including the Orthodox, exactly relish, though they give it lip-service in their daily prayers. The good Modern Orthodox members of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue or the Hampton Synagogue are hardly waiting on the rooftops of their town houses and seaside mansions to be redeemed from the misery of their earthly existence, only to be able to slaughter sheep and pigeons in Jerusalem.

    As for the significant number of religious Zionists - the settlers of Gush Emunim in particular - who view Jewish rule over Eretz Yisrael Ha-Shleyma (the entire territory of biblical Israel) in apocalyptic terms, they long ago departed from the essentially quietistic and passive posture of traditional Jewish messianism. Since early talmudic times, the rabbis mandated passive waiting for supernatural redemption and firmly condemned any political attempts to hasten the redemption (known as dehikat ha-ketz, literally pushing the end) as a heretical usurpation of the messiah's role.

    Once traditional Jewish messianic faith has either lost its urgency or been corrupted by political extremism, as it has in our days, further distortion of that belief ceases to appear as a grave heresy. It is viewed, at the very worst, as a curiosity and, at best, as poignant and charming. And this is precisely what sets the tenor of the centrist Orthodox response to Lubavitch messianism.

  4. "Ironically, Jews who live in Israel are the most vulnerable to missionaries. That’s because missionary groups see making inroads in the Jewish homeland as a special achievement and therefore invest tremendous energy and resources there."

    Missionaries who masquerade as volunteers for Jews for Judaism? or other anti missionary groups? There is no limit to the extent of the Evangelical Christian assault on our communities.

    "The chutzpah of the missionary groups reached unheard-of proportions over Chol Hamo'ed Pesach, when their members showed up at a youth festival near Ashkelon to spread their propaganda – wearing shirts identifying themselves as members of Yad L'Achim, the anti-missionary organization."


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