Recent Protests for Human Rights in Israel
Recently, advocates for women's rights in Israel held a large
protest against the extreme ultra-Orthodox organization, Eda Haredit.
These and other members of ultra-Orthodox sects have sought to impose
very restrictive standards in territory where they have a significant
number of residents. This includes making women walk on the other side of
the street so that the men will not be defiled by accidental contact,
rigidly modest dress codes and forcing women to ride in the back of
public buses that provide service to ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.
The catalyst for the protest was the treatment of an 8 year old Modern
Orthodox girl as she was walking to school in the town of Bet Shemesh.
The Eda Haredit claim that the dress of the Modern Orthodox is immodest,
but by any standard in the West the dress of the Zionist Modern Orthodox
is very modest - it is just not up to Taliban standards! One of the Eda
Haredit spat on the girl. Thousands rallied to protest. The protest
included both secular Jews and religious Jews who do not normally
identify with the utra-Orthodox. The Chief Rabbi of Israel has spoken
against the sect's behavior, as has the Prime Minister and many other
The Tepid Response to Violations against Messianic
I think it is instructive to compare this reaction to the reaction to
human rights violations against Messianic Jews. When a Messianic Jewish
woman, in-spite of winning a Supreme Court case, was put out of business
due to the complaints of Orthodox Jews, there was no protest. There was
no protest when ultra-Orthodox Jews harassed a Messianic couple in Arad
and shut down their chess club. Finally after months of harassment the
co-proprietor of the club sought to slowly drive forward when protestors
blocked him from getting to his own house. When one of them was injured,
the Messianic believer was arrested and later punished by the court and
sentenced to house confinement. When a Messianic Jewish congregation in
Beersheva was broken into, vandalized and the members pushed and
mistreated, there was no protest. A subsequent court case found the
leader of the Orthodox group to be innocent. They claimed there was not
sufficient evidence to find him guilty.
Finally, when a bomb disguised as a Purim gift basket planted on the
doorstep of the Ortiz home almost killed their son Ami, there was no
great protest. Ami Ortiz has undergone a painful recovery with multiple
surgeries. Thankfully the alleged bomber is finally going on trial,
having recently been found competent to stand trial. The accused, Jack
Teitel admitted to police that he worked for the extreme anti-missionary
organization, Yad L'achim (A Hand to the Brothers). They denied
that they supported his actions, but Yad L'achim regularly harasses
Messianic Jews and Christians. This group was exposed in a recent
national Channel 2 program. They actually want to see Christian Zionists
lose their visas to be in Israel, even if they commit to not evangelize.
This is their goal, in spite of the fact that Christian Zionists are a
major force to gain support for Israel in many nations. The recent late
leader of Yad L'achim said that when human rights conflict with
Judaism, human rights must give way to Judaism. Of course, many others do
believe that Judaism must support human rights. The conflict between
human rights and Judaism is his incorrect interpretation of Judaism.
Recently, Messianic Jews in the town of Mevasseret Tzion were illegally
harassed by having their names and pictures with addresses printed on
flyers distributed throughout the town. A resident of Mevasseret had been
featured in a Channel 2 documentary on Messianic Jews. There has been no
great protest against these violations of both human rights and Israeli
law. The reason? Messianic Jews are not a favoured minority.
Jewish protests over the mistreatment of Arab Muslims are much greater.
Actually, there is not much protest against human rights violations
against Arab Christians and other traditional Christians who also are
harassed by the Interior Department with regard to obtaining identity
cards, travel documents and more. Due to a long sad history between
institutional Christianity and the Jewish community it is hard for Jews
in Israel to really care about Christians and Messianic Jews even though
they are full citizens, serve in the Army, pay taxes and are loyal to the
State. This is prejudice, pure and simple.
Human Rights and the Weaker Minorities
The evaluation of a society regarding biblically consistent human rights,
free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to persuade others of political,
social and religious views, freedom of the press and equal worth under
the Law, is contingent on how the society treats its lower status
members. In this regard the Messianic Jew is somewhat akin to the canary
in the coal mine. The lack of protest and the lackadaisical pursuit of
justice by the police and the courts when Messianic Jews are involved,
highlight the inconsistencies of our society. Thankfully there is some
justice and we hope that this will be the case for the Ortiz family.
Scripture and Human Rights
What does Scripture say? Human rights are based on Scripture. Of course,
we do not assert that the full flowering or understanding of those rights
is fully found in the Bible. The greater development began in the 17th
century and came to its fullness in the 20th century in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. Genesis asserts that every man and woman is
made in the image of God. As such, it is crucial we respect freedom of
choice and conscience. In Exodus 23:3-6 we read that the judges are not
to show favoritism to the poor or to the rich. Verse 8 warns judges
against taking bribes. In Deuteronomy 16:20 the judges are commanded,
"Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess
the land the LORD your God is giving you." The whole of society needs
to stand up for justice to ensure that these standards are maintained.
Messianic Jews have weighed the evidence and have concluded that Yeshua
is the Messiah. They are the key to the salvation of Israel and the
nations. They have not been brainwashed by cult leaders. Compared to
indoctrinated Ultra Orthodox Jews and even the off hand, cavalier
rejection of Yeshua by most Jews, religious or secular, Messianic Jews
are an amazing testimony to the ability of people to transcend their own
cultural bias to seek the truth. Messianic Jews are a test. Will we be
given a fair hearing and be treated fairly according to human rights
standards? I believe there is a growing number of Jews in Israel who will
stand with us on the basis of human rights.