When I moved to Israel in 1967 right after the Six Day War, I became aware of a cultural sensitivity far removed from the consciousness of the people of Texas, where I grew up.
Very soon, I noticed that literally all Israelis were hypersensitive to any criticism of Israel. Immediately, the first words on their lips seemed to be “anti-Semitism.” It was a knee-jerk reaction from politicians, pundits and the man on the street whether they were conservatives, religious or liberals.
No wonder! 1967 was only a mere 22 years after 6,000,000 Jews were massacred in a way that had never been seen before since the beginning of time. Whole families, communities and even towns were utterly wiped out. There was hardly an Ashkenazi Jew (whose family had come from Europe or Russia) who hadn’t lost close relatives in that Holocaust.
My first language teacher, Yona, introduced me to her husband, who was one of 10% of Jews from Poland who made it out alive by hiding in forests for three years while the Nazis murdered 1.9 million Polish Jews.
I learned that many Ashkenazi Jews of Israel would not think of purchasing a German car, or anything German, for that matter. Even though the mother tongue of German Jews who escaped the war was naturally German, they could not bear the thought of speaking in German or even hearing anyone speak it.
The trauma of the Holocaust survivors who made their way to Israel was passed down to their children, and even their children’s children. This was the case whether parents talked about the war or not—and many would not utter one word of the unspeakable hell they experienced.
Today in Israel, even though the intense trauma has somewhat diminished, and few survivors of the Holocaust are left, the Jewish people of Israel are still extremely attuned to the threat of anti-Semitism.
Even though the United Nations has been unable to agree on a description of anti-Semitism, Israeli Jews know exactly what it is.
It is Jew-hatred.
WHAT BIRTHED WESTERN ANTI-SEMITISM?
Tragically, this Jew-hatred, which still exists, sprang from Christianity which originally spread across Europe, Russia and Great Britain. Why does the European continent and England even today have such a high rate of anti-Semitism? Why have their cultures been permeated with anti-Semitism for centuries? Sadly, Europe’s anti-Semitism originated from the Early Church’s theology—that God has forsaken the Jews as His chosen people because of their sins and replaced them with the Church. (This is one of the most ridiculous doctrines ever created by mankind, taking into account the utter evil and corruption of the Church throughout the ages.)
Nevertheless, the Catholic Church—the only church for the first thousand years—promoted and developed this doctrine until it became an inseparable component of Christianity. Even when Luther broke from the Catholic Church and founded what became known as Lutheranism, he was unable to extract the horrific virus of anti-Semitism which permeated literally all Christianity through the heresy of Replacement Theology. In short, for hundreds of years, Britain expelled all Jews from its kingdom and for two thousand years, Jews were harassed, ghettoed, and murdered by so-called Christian Europe.
Today, throughout the traditional churches around the world, anti-Semitism still remains alive and well. Many, if not most adherents of traditional Christianity in Britain, and in the European Union nations, are infested with Jew-hatred. (This is the reason virtually all European nations have no problem going along with the Islamic anti-Semitism that permeates the UN.)
I remember an Israeli woman discussing the three main religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—with me. She told me Christianity was the most evil, violent religion that the world had ever created. No doubt, she was speaking from her experience at the hands of Nazis who claimed to be Catholics or Lutherans.
LESS ANTI-SEMITISM IN UNITED STATES
Only when the pilgrims, who desired a life based on the Bible and a relationship with God, fled the religious persecution of the Church of England, did they free themselves from anti-Semitism.
That is why America has been relatively free from anti-Semitism. I use the word “relatively” with caution. America has been plagued with fascist, right-wing, anti-Semites since the founding of the nation. Everyone knows there have been organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazis in every generation. These haters despise both Jews and African Americans—in fact, all minority races in America.
But anti-Semites have always been a tiny minority, not at all representing the American people as a whole. A number of polls state that about 9% of Americans are prejudiced against Jews. The Washington Post states that less than 5% of whites, Asians and others are anti-Semitic, while 30% of African Americans hold an anti-Jewish bias. Forty two percent of Latino immigrants—mostly from Catholic countries—decrease to 20% with anti-Semitic views of Latinos born in the U.S. (www.washingtonpost.com)
All of these percentages are disgraceful and repulsive. But compared to 24% in Western Europe and 34% in Eastern Europe, America is a bastion of tolerance. (global100.adl.org)
In fact, a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that Jews are the most positively viewed religious group in the United States. (www.huffingtonpost.com)
But what every American Christian should know is that many Jews who survived the Holocaust and who came to America as refugees from Europe or elsewhere, lived that exact same trauma resulting from the atrocities committed by Christianity and Nazism that I observed in Israel. The difference was that in the new state of Israel, Judaism was the majority. In America, the Jewish refugees found themselves in a Christian-majority country. This is one of the main reasons (but not the only one) that American Jews tend to be liberal and anti-conservative. In their minds, Christians could turn on them just as Christian Europe did some 70 years ago.
The survival antennas of Jews everywhere are constantly on guard against Jew-hatred coming from the right.
Only in the last couple of decades have Jewish officials and leaders—especially in Israel—come to realize that the majority of Evangelicals are not infested with the disease of anti-Semitism. On the contrary, Evangelicals are close friends and faithful advocates of the Jewish people because their Guide to Life is the Bible.
HOW ISRAELI JEWS SEE IT
Here in Israel, there is a great divide between the perspectives of American Jews and Israeli Jews. All Jews who survived the Holocaust were in shock, fighting for the rest of their lives the nightmares of seeing family and friends murdered before their eyes. Those Jews who, immediately after World War II, attempted to make their way to their ancient homeland, were still doomed to fight again against—who else? None other than the Christian nation of Britain whose navy and army was determined to keep even helpless Jewish survivors from reaching their homeland. For three years (1945-1948), Jews were virtually banned from the British-ruled area once known as Israel.
One Romanian Holocaust survivor friend told me he was on a rickety boat of refugees trying to sneak to the shores of the land of Israel when a British navy ship sped over to arrest them all. As he looked at the sailors standing on the deck, he saw they were all decked out in their best white uniforms in honor of Christmas day. The Jewish Holocaust survivors were seized and put in a British internment camp in Cyprus—holding some 53,500 Jews for two and a half years in inhumane conditions. My friend said they used dehumanizing tactics like throwing over the fence only half as many forks for the number of people to eat with. It was, of course, the most aggressive prisoners who grabbed the forks.
When these Jews were finally allowed to reach what the Romans had named “Palestine,” things began to look up. The United Nations offered a piece of the Holy Land to the Jews and a piece to the Arabs. But when the Arabs rejected their part, the traumatized Jewish refugees who had finally made it home, found themselves immediately in a war of survival with massive anti-Semitic Muslim armies determined to throw the Jews into the sea.
The Israeli Jewish population quickly learned that Muslims, who were on the opposite political spectrum of the Nazis, were just as hell-bent to destroy the Jewish people as were the Nazis. And so it has been since the Jewish state was birthed, that the Jew-haters of Islam are scheming and plotting to destroy the Jewish race. Not a single day passes that Muslim political and religious leaders have not shrieked their hate-filled promises to destroy Israel. The Internet is full of them—the more religious a Muslim, the greater his hatred for the Jewish nation. In Israel, virtually every Israeli understands this—whether he or she leans to the right or the left.
AMERICAN JEWS AND ISLAM
But in America it is very different. Jewish Americans are indeed honed in to identifying racist anti-Semites. And all Christians must also be alert to every sign of bigotry against the Jewish people. It is clear that there has been a rise in anti-Semitic threats and attacks from white supremists over the last few months. This is intolerable. Pray that President Donald Trump will respond to the calls from Congress and leaders to fight hatred against the Jewish people with all the tools and wisdom in his power.
But American Jews are not—I repeat—not aware of the anti-Semitism which is inseparable from mainstream Islam.
The 1.6 billion Muslims in the earth are born and raised to hate Jews and the Jewish state. If they are devout Muslims who study the Koran and follow Sharia law, then they are taught it is their mission in life to destroy the Jewish race and the Zionist state.
Islam in America does not operate like skinhead gang members of white supremists or individual anti-Semites operate—the kind of haters American Jews easily identify.
In America, Islam looks ahead to the days when a Muslim president will be elected as a Muslim, when there will be many Muslim representatives in Congress and the Senate.
Their plans are far more sophisticated. With millions, if not billions, of oil dollars pouring into the West, they have built an incredible infrastructure of mosques, organizations and influence in universities. They are training Muslims and non-Muslims to prepare to be professors, judges, community leaders and even more to be advocates for Islam and for war against Israel, “the racist occupier of Palestinian land.”
Their plan is to conquer America by democratic means—the vote. (The violent Jihadist activity will come later against those who oppose them as their influence and numbers increase, as is already being experienced in Europe.)
But make no mistake. An America or Europe which falls to Islam will be unrecognizable. Christians and Jews under Sharia law will be allowed to stay alive as long as they pay the Jizya tax as a sign of submission (dhimma). But no other faith can be publically propagated under Sharia. Muslims who leave their religion will be killed. Mandatory female genital mutilation is practiced by many sects of Muslims. Homosexuals will be killed. If this is hard to believe, visit any Muslim country in the Middle East.
WHY AMERICAN JEWS WILL NOT OPPOSE ISLAM
But Muslims have found the position to checkmate non-Muslims in a democracy. They are a religion! Any pushback against them is intolerance of religion. Communists were not a religion. Nazis weren’t a religion either, so freedom-loving Americans could fight against these ideologies with no feelings of guilt.
But as the great majority of Jews will tell you, no democracy can deny members of any religion the right to practice their faith as they choose. This perspective is prevalent because Jews have been persecuted by reason of their religion for 2,000 years.
And so American Jews, along with the liberals of America, nearly elected Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison as the Democratic National Committee Chair. (He is now Deputy Chair.)
This convert to Islam is a true Muslim. He has espoused support for convicted terrorists and peddled conspiracy theories about the September 11 attacks. An entire article can easily be written of Ellison’s anti-Semitic and Jihadi speeches.
Ellison has received political donations from over 1,400 prominent members of known Islamist organizations. For example, founder of the Islamist organization CAIR, Nihad Awad, gave Ellison a $50,000 donation. Awad is on video saying he is in support of the Hamas movement. Hamas, of course, has one reason for its existence: to destroy Israel and take over the entire land of Israel. (www.meforum.org)
Harvard Law professor and pro-Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz cited what he called Ellison’s “long history of sordid association with anti-Semitism, including his work with notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, of the Nation of Islam movement.” Ellison has tweeted that Louis Farrakhan is a role model for black youth. Farrakhan’s life message is that Islam will take over America. Enough said. (www.timesofisrael.com)
AMERICAN JEWS DON’T SEE IT
And yet the majority of Jewish Americans, including former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, wanted Keith Ellison to head the Democratic Party! There is no other explanation for any freedom-loving Democrat to want to see a devout Muslim lead his or her party except unadulterated blindness for what lies ahead.
The strategy that Muslims and extreme leftists have developed and are working towards in tandem, is not to defame the Jewish people, but the “Zionist state of Israel.” Right now, this generation of college students is eating Islamic ideology like cake. The BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) they are leading against Israel is meant to choke the Jewish state’s economy until the nation is destroyed.
But, of course, the spillover naturally generates hatred of individual Jews. There are endless news articles about Jewish students in universities across the U.S. being intimidated and physically threatened as the atmosphere becomes more anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.
Richard D. Heideman, one of the foremost legal experts on fighting the BDS movement, believes that this so-called “free speech” is nothing less than hate speech. And he believes such bullying is damaging to young Jewish students who now fear to let their identity and ideas be known. (www.jpost.com)
This is only the beginning of the extremist liberal/Muslim war against the Jewish people and the Jewish nation. As abhorrent and hideous as white supremacy attacks are, I believe the extremist liberal/Muslim movement is far more dangerous, massive and organized.
These are strange bedfellows: liberals who want forced “free” sexual behavior, tax-paid murder of babies and forced godless government, who are in partnership with Islamic Jihadists who plan to implement Sharia law and force the teachings of Allah on American citizens, killing homosexuals, putting women in their place…
And, yes, the Jewish population of the United States is virtually blind to this danger.
THE HOPE OF THE NATION: PRAYERS OF BELIEVERS
But hatred against Jews is actually hatred against the God of Israel and Yeshua, the King of the Jews. I am convinced there is no other section of American society that can defeat this enemy of God and His people except born-again Christians and Messianic Jews. It will take massive prayer and massive activism to win against this evil movement which is absolutely determined to carry out its Jihadist goals—against Jews, Christians and all who oppose them. Wherever anti-Semitism rears its evil head, coming from fascist white supremists, or lawless and godless liberal ideologies, or the Muslim religion, we must stand united, bold and full of faith.
But that is not enough. We must pray daily for revival to come to the Western democratic nations—the one and only hope for our survival.
Natan Sharansky, Israel’s most famous Russian refusenik who spent nine years in a Soviet prison before being freed to immigrate to Israel, has set a criteria to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism.
His 3D Test of anti-Semitism is catagorized by three phenomena: Delegitimization, Demonization, and Double standards.
Delegitimization of Israel refers to the denial of the Jewish peoples’ right to self-determination—for example, by claiming that the very existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor—because it is Jewish.
Demonization refers to the portrayal of Jews as evil, demonic or satanic. Its proponents charge Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, using sinister stereotypes and negative character traits. Slandering Jews of secretly controlling the world or with drinking Christian blood for Passover are two of the many conspiracy accusations against Jews.
Double standard is one of the UN’s regular and dangerous tools. It singles out Israel for differential and discriminatory treatment in the international arena.
The UN itself explains it is unable to come to a conclusion of just what anti-Semitism is, and therefore is having trouble recognizing it. As only one example out of an entire UN agenda of massive opposition to the state of Israel, the UN freely allows the Islamic, anti-democratic nations to set up “special units” devoted to spurious investigations and excoriations against Israel at regular fixed intervals, costing millions of UN dollars a year.
Israel is the only state in the world that is administered these punitive inquisitions. The UN printing presses produce many more millions of dollars of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist pamphlets, booklets, papers and films, which are distributed in the UN’s six official languages to school children around the world. No other nation in the UN receives such treatment. This double standard throughout the UN is anti-Semitic, period.
Congregation Tiferet Yeshua’s pastor Gil Afriat with wife Tamar, an anointed and talented worship leader.
CAST YOUR BREAD UPON THE WATERS…
At Congregation Tiferet Yeshua, it is our heart to be an active blessing to our city, Tel Aviv: secular, modern and cosmopolitan, it is often called “The City that Never Sleeps” or “The Capitol of Cool.” Tiferet Yeshua sits on the border between the sun-drenched beaches and chic restaurants and boutiques, and South Tel Aviv, an area well-known for its poverty, crime and drugs.
Over the past year and a half, our members have spontaneously initiated groups that go out on a weekly basis to serve in the darker parts of our city at a local soup kitchen, handing out hot, home-cooked meals on Friday nights to the city’s most destitute, and visiting the elderly in a nursing home during the holidays.
…FOR YOU WILL FIND IT AFTER MANY DAYS
The more we have turned our focus to be a blessing outward, it seems that every week there are more and more non-believing Israeli visitors coming into our congregation. “I grew up in a believing family, and I’ve been to many congregations. But this movement of visitors is something I’ve never seen before,” says David Trubek, one of our associate pastors. “Every week I see new faces in the congregation, and it’s extremely encouraging for us.”
About a year and a half ago, we started hosting special events during Israel’s holidays featuring a children’s concert and activities for the kids. This year, for the Purim holiday, we again opened our doors to all for a festive holiday event. We also encouraged our congregation members to bring friends and family.
Tanya Kadin, one of our worship leaders and a classically-trained choir leader and conductor, puts together special children’s holiday concerts which many non-believing families want their children to be a part of! There were even non-believing children who joined our children to perform a repertoire of beloved Purim songs and original pieces by Tanya.
The entire event was so successful due to the fact that all of our youth and many others from the congregation volunteered to serve in one way or another, to the point that there were more volunteers than there was work to be done!
In all, there were at least ten non-believing families that attended Tiferet Yeshua’s Purim celebration, at least four families of believers who don’t attend any congregation and more than twenty visitors we’ve never seen before. In the end, not only did the visitors get to enjoy the fun activities and holiday festivities, but they were exposed to heart-felt worship and heard the preaching of the gospel out of the Esther scroll, understanding how the image of Mordechai points to Yeshua the Messiah. And they felt the love of our members who were happy to welcome them.
David Trubek shares: “Once I came to the congregation with one of my non-believing friends. At the end of the service, he shared with me that during worship he felt something that was hard for him to describe–he felt at home. Even though our service felt foreign to him because he grew up attending traditional Orthodox services, he felt like he wanted to stay: the atmosphere of worship in the room just enveloped him.”
We believe that God has given us a special anointing to serve and reach out to non-believers in our city. We’re a congregation with a growing number of regular members who attend every week, and rejoice to see non-believing Israelis coming through our doors every week to hear about the Messiah of Israel, Yeshua, who came to seek and to save His own Jewish people.
This last year at Congregation Tiferet Yeshua has been exciting because of the growth we’ve experienced! Every weekend we see new people in our main meeting, and our meeting hall is becoming crowded. Our location is ideal—we are in the middle of downtown Tel Aviv, and we are now on the verge of utilizing our current maximum capacity.
Since we want to maximize our ability to reach more people, we feel it is urgent to embark on major renovations that will allow us to double our meeting hall capacity.
It is thrilling today to worship the Lord in our congregation and experience His presence and anointing—how much more so with twice the number of people!
Coupled with our desire to increase the size of our main meeting area is the vision to live stream our services online. We believe this will be a huge blessing to believers who live in areas of Israel without a local congregation, as well as attract unbelievers who are seeking truth.
Actually, we will be the first Hebrew-speaking congregation to stream services online, thereby reaching Israelis with anointed worship and teaching. We feel this will be groundbreaking, as seekers can be exposed to a Messianic congregation in the privacy of their homes and even in Orthodox communities.
The current setup of our meeting hall does not allow for quality live streaming: the stage is placed in a corner due to a pair of foundation columns located in the middle of the hall, and the lighting, acoustics, and sound equipment are also not of a quality appropriate for live streaming.
With the planned renovations, we will remove some walls, move the stage to the center of the hall and solve the issue of the columns by placing large screens on them for people sitting in the “blind zones.” This will allow us to increase the hall capacity significantly and also provide quality lighting and acoustics required for live streaming.
When we have finished the renovations, we will then take the next step to acquire the media equipment for live streaming.
As we know, growth can be challenging—and the challenges of this plan are many and significant. This project will require major funding, and we will not be able to use our meeting area for a couple of months during the renovations.
But, because we clearly feel this is from the Lord, we are ready to face the challenges to see the Kingdom of God advanced.
To begin the project, we needed $11,000 (£9,000, €10,300) to prepare the comprehensive plans: architecture, interior design, electrical, lighting, acoustics, media and more. We are grateful that those funds have been supplied!
We will soon be ready for the next stage: the construction and renovations work. For this phase, we need $110,000 (£90,400, €103,000). Our Israeli members—none of whom are wealthy—will be giving all they can towards the renovations. Also our elders will be seeking help from their friends and donors.
We invite you to partner with us for this exciting new phase to reach more Israelis, inside and outside our congregation, with the love and life of Yeshua!
Gil Afriat is pastor of Congregation Tiferet Yeshua. He ministers together with his wife, Tamar, and also works in the Hi-Tech industry. They have three children. www.tiferetyeshua.org