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Rabbis express unprecedented criticism of American evangelic

It's About Time!
Rabbis express unprecedented criticism of American evangelical support for Israel
Monday May 10, 2004
Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM (AP) Prominent Israeli rabbis are for the first time speaking out against Israel's profitable alliance with evangelical Christians in the United States who have funneled tens of millions of dollars to the Jewish state.

The rabbis fear the Christians' real intent is to convert Jews, their aides said Monday. Others are concerned about the evangelicals' support for Israel's extreme right-wing, opposing any compromise with the Palestinians.

The dispute touches on an increasingly sensitive issue in Israel: the country's dependence, both economically and politically, on conservative American Christians.

Besides contributing tidy sums to projects in Israel, some evangelical Christians have lobbied in support of the Israeli government in Washington.

Troubling to Israelis is the fact that one influential group of evangelicals believes in a final, apocalyptic battle between good and evil in which Jesus returns and Jews either accept him or perish a vision that causes obvious discomfort among Jews.

``I'm worried as a Jew,'' said Mina Fenton, a Jerusalem City Council member from an Orthodox Jewish party, who has led opposition to the evangelical groups. ``I don't want my people to be assassinated, sacrificed, killed or slaughtered because of their beliefs.''

Concern has been bubbling under the surface for some time, and although leading rabbis had stayed in the background, their worries emerged Monday in the Israeli media.

The focus of the latest criticism has been the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, a Chicago-based group that has raised tens of millions of dollars from Christian supporters of Israel.

Two former chief rabbis of Israel, Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliahu, recently approved a religious ruling urging followers not to accept money from the group.

The ruling, issued by Shapira in March and later signed by Eliahu, accused the fellowship of accepting money from groups involved in ``missionary activity.''

``I don't see any permission to receive funds that aid in the infiltration of the work of strangers under the false impression of aid to the needy,'' the letter said.

Rabbi Simcha Hacohen Kook, another critic of the fellowship, said he fears the donors are trying to exploit Israel's most vulnerable people. ``Those who don't have money don't ask questions,'' he said.

``They are spending millions of dollars to make people closer to Christianity,'' said Kook, chief rabbi of the city of Rehovot and member of a rabbinical dynasty. ``The situation is very serious.''

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, brushed off the criticism as complaints by a tiny minority.

He said the group has raised $100 million, including $20 million last year alone, to assist Israel's poor, elderly and new immigrants, as well as impoverished Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union. The group sponsors projects in 85 Israeli towns and cities, he said.

Eckstein, an Orthodox rabbi, also noted that he has served as an adviser to Israeli prime ministers and sits on the boards of the Jewish Agency and Joint Distribution Committee, influential groups that serve Jewish communities abroad.

Although many of the thousands of donors to his group may hope to convert Jews, Eckstein said, ``we just don't allow any kind of missionary activity.''

He said his donors are motivated by other factors, including the Jews' connection to the biblical Land of Israel and feelings of guilt over anti-Semitism.

``Judaism does not focus so much on motivations as much as deeds,'' he said. ``In Judaism, the actions speak louder than words, and certainly louder than motivations.''

He also claimed that Eliahu has received funding from the fellowship in the past and has signaled in recent days that he would continue to allow his supporters to accept the funds.

People close to Eliahu said the rabbi remains opposed to the group. Eliahu's spokesman did not return repeated messages left Monday.

Maintaining good relations with American evangelicals is important to Israel's government. Evangelicals make up a powerful base of support for President Bush and enjoy close ties with the White House.

But many evangelical groups have shown a growing interest in Israeli politics, adopting views considered extreme in Israel.

The groups opposed the U.S.-backed ``road map'' peace plan when it was launched last year, because it would lead to Israeli concessions, and they opposed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's attempts to uproot Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

Hundreds of evangelical churches offer regular donations to Jewish settlements for school equipment, playgrounds, medical supplies and bulletproof buses.

Rabbi David Rosen, international director of inter-religious affairs in the American Jewish Committee's Jerusalem office, said this political activity is a larger concern than charitable work.

``There's support for some of the most extreme political positions in Israeli society,'' Rosen said. ``That I find far more disturbing than any suggestion that there could be missionary activity.''

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

homepage: homepage: http://cbsnewyork.com/international/Israel-Evangelicals-ai/resources_news_html

Many Orthodox Jews oppose Israel's existence & violent creation/history 12.May.2004 00:43


"The entire existence of the tumei regime [the Zionist "State"] is in opposition to our holy Torah in a manner that has not been precedent... and anyone who possesses even a thought that there is necessity for [the existence of] their "State", this constitutes acquiescence to idol worship without a doubt... and there is no doubt in my mind that we would already be in the period after the Messiah's arrival if not for this tzureh [Zionism] prevalent in the world."
-- Grand Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum

"The Zionists have attacked the center point of Judaism."
-- Rabbi V. Soloveichik

"Not via our desire did we leave the land of Israel, and not via our power will we come back to the land of Israel."
-- Rabbi S.D. Schneerson

"[The Torah] forbids us to strive for the reunion or possession of the land by any but spiritual means"
-- Rabbi S. R. Hirsch



Grand Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum
Grand Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum
Orthodox Jews in Montreal burn Israel's flag in protest
Orthodox Jews in Montreal burn Israel's flag in protest

Strange Kind of Freedom 12.May.2004 01:40

Robert Fisk

The most astonishing -- and least covered -- story is in fact the alliance of Israeli lobbyists and Christian Zionist fundamentalists, a coalition that began in 1978 with the publication of a Likud plan to encourage fundamentalist churches to give their support to Israel. By 1980, there was an "International Christian Embassy" in Jerusalem; and in 1985, a Christian Zionist lobby emerged at a "National Prayer Breakfast for Israel" whose principal speaker was Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to become Israeli prime minister. "A sense of history, poetry and morality imbued the Christian Zionists who, more than a century ago, began to write, plan and organise for Israel's restoration," Netanyahu told his audience. The so-called National Unity Coalition for Israel became a lobbying arm of Christian Zionism with contacts in Congress and neo-conservative think-tanks in Washington.

. . . In May this year, the Israeli embassy in Washington, no less, arranged a prayer breakfast for Christian Zionists. Present were Alonzo Short, a member of the board of "Promise Keepers", and Michael Little who is president of the "Christian Broadcasting Network". Event hosts were listed as including those dour old Christian conservatives Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who once financed a rogue television station in southern Lebanon which threatened Muslim villagers and broadcast tirades by Major Saad Haddad, Israel's stooge militia leader in Lebanon. In Tennessee, Jewish officials invited hundreds of Christians to join Jewish crowds at a pro-Israel solidarity rally in Memphis.