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The best test you can have of your ‘Jewishness’ is to see if the State of Israel would grant you citizenship. In 1950 the Knesset, the parliament of Israel, formulated the ‘Law of Return‘. This states that any Jew can receive Israeli citizenship the moment he or she sets foot on Israeli soil. It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t believe in God or the Bible, or whether you’re a communist, an astrologer, or even a convert to Hinduism – as long as you’ve got the papers to prove you’re a Jew, you’re welcome. This was later widened, in 1970, to include spouses of Jews and those with Jewish ancestry, ironically, as defined by the sinister Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany, where having a Jewish grandparent was sufficiently kosher to mark you as a Jew.
There is only one group of people who are definitely not welcomed with open arms and they are Jewish Christians, or Messianic Jews. In 1989, the Israeli Supreme Court decided that Messianic Jews were not eligible to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, because they have changed religion (although some have since challenged this ruling on legal technicalities and have won their case). It was (and still is) considered by the Jewish community as a whole that Jewish converts to Christianity are no longer Jews! They are now considered Christians, as if a foreskin has grown back, knowledge of Yiddish, chicken soup recipes and Shabbat prayers have been mystically blotted out, replaced by a new zeal for car maintenance, Irish stew and hiking.
Seriously, one should not joke of such things. Instead we must try to understand why it should be that the highest court in the land of Israel should be so moved to completely and utterly disown any Jew who has professed a faith in Jesus, but to accept any Jews who have embraced Buddhism, Hinduism, atheism, Satanism, even Islam! Interestingly, at the time of the new law a poll was published in the Jerusalem Post, which found that 78% of the Israeli public favored Messianic Jews coming into Israel under the Law of Return, provided that the immigrants were really of Jewish lineage, held to their historic heritage, and served in the army when called upon to do so.
It was OK if you have no belief in God, or believe that God is another name for Nature or even believe that God has three heads and a tail! All of these were acceptable; Israel would have welcomed you with open arms. But if you believed that the Jewish Messiah had come and his name was Jesus Christ (actually Yeshua Ha Mashiach, his proper Jewish name), then, in the eyes of the Jewish establishment you had ‘lost your Jewishness‘. You had become the enemy, or, in the eyes of the Orthodox, you’d died and, if you came from an Orthodox family, a funeral would have been conducted for you!
These were strong reactions indeed. You could have been a mass murderer or a compulsive adulterer, but you could still be Jewish and would have been allowed your very own place in the State of Israel – albeit in a maximum security prison. But in the eyes of a State that claims, as a whole, not to even be religious, your Jewishness could have been stripped away like the skin off a banana, simply by believing in something they disagreed with. Now take one step back and with a clear, rational mind just consider for a moment what you’ve just read. Why should one’s beliefs provoke such a reaction? Is it rational, or is there something going on here that needs further investigation?
The reason for the decision by the Israeli Supreme Court was simply a fear, a justifiable fear borne out of the lamentable treatment Jews had received for centuries at the hands of the “Christian” Church, culminating (but not ending) with the Nazi Holocaust, an event considered by many Jews as a Christian-inspired event. The Church has so much to answer for. Thanks to many in the Christian world who have woken up to the sins of the past, the Christian Zionists and others with a sincere love for the Jewish people, the Israeli government has been able to be reassured that Christendom has changed with the times and that the worst kinds of anti-Semitism (i.e. that involving physical violence) seems to be coming more from the Muslim world these days. That is not to say that “Christian” anti-Semitism is no more; it’s just that it doesn’t have the power to threaten Jewish lives, although, sadly, it is still very active behind the scenes poisoning minds and souls.
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For the previous article in this series, click here.
When is a Jew not a Jew?