Missionary Agenda Debate Re-ignited as 6,000 Christians Pilgrimage to Israel

Parliamentarian Rabbi Benny Elon, (National Union-National Religious Party) who heads the Israel Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus (that works with Christian supporters of Israel) responds to the Cheif Rabbinate's discouraging of Jewish Israelis to participate in celebration of over 6,000 Christian pilgrims:

"The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem hosts the largest annual tourist event in Israel, the Feast of Tabernacles on the holiday of Sukkot. They have demonstrated almost three decades of faithful friendship to Israel without strings attached. They even require all Christians to sign a contract denouncing missionary activity before allowing them to participate as vendors at their events. We at the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus as well, do not hide our refusal to cooperate with Christians active in missionary work amongst Jews.

I am of course, aware of all the difficult baggage we carry from our shared past as Christians and Jews, from both our distant and more recent history. But we must recognize that our greatest threat is no longer coming from the Christian world but rather from radical Islam. Amalek has taken the form of incitement in mosques in Iran and Iraq. They have become the angry Muslim youth rioting in the streets of Damascus and Beirut screaming “death to the Jews”. Amalek is Ahmadinejad, who threatens to wipe Israel off the map. No one gave me permission to forgive the Christians for past aggressions on behalf of the people of Israel but we must recognize that they are our only allies in the struggle against radical Islam."

ICEJ Exec Director, Rev. Malcolm Hedding claims that their group is dedicated to helping, not converting Jews. From his Op/Ed published in YNet News, "Invited by the Bible - Christian pilgrims true friends of Israel, have no missionary aims":

"...We have defended Israel's cause abroad through our network of national branches and representatives in some 80 countries worldwide.

In times past, the great Sages of Israel read the Hebrew prophets and declared that when the Lord would begin to restore Zion, Gentiles would be involved as well. As the prophet Isaiah foretold:

“The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you... That men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, and their kings in procession... Also the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you The City of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 60:10-14

We see ourselves as those friendly Gentiles promised in Scripture."

But others view them differently. Israeli MK Ya'akov Margi (Shas Party; pictured) alleges in YNet "The missionary danger" 'Current-day missionaries use friendly tactics, but are just as dangerous as before' :

"Based on accumulated data, we can clearly point to heightened missionary activity among communities of new immigrants (i.e., Russians), as well as submission to this activity. Many of the new immigrants arrive with a Jewish background that is not deep, do not understand Hebrew, miss home, and seek humane treatment. This, in addition to the difficult economic state faced by many of them, prepares the ground for missionary activity.

The Israeli government must boost enforcement and promote the bill I initiated, which would ban conversion efforts and set a jail term of one year for those who violate the law."

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