File photo of an EL AL Boeing 777 aircraft at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Nir Elias/File Photo.
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
Jews are being threatened all over the world these days. Antisemitism is on an upswing and, throughout Europe, Jewish neighborhoods, synagogues and meeting places are ready targets for the Jew-haters of the world, who are rapidly growing in number. And when these violent acts occur the perpetrators do not stop to find out that particular Jew’s thoughts, opinions or positions on religion. It’s enough to see that they look Jewish, are frequenting a Jewish establishment or are living in a Jewish area. They are literally marked people.
It is because of this environment that more and more of them over the past few years have been seriously weighing immigration to Israel, knowing that this is not only the land of their forefathers but also the safest place on the planet to be a visible Jew.
Yet, there is a significant segment of the Jewish population who are being turned away when trying to immigrate to this safe haven. It is not because their parentage does not qualify them. Most have two or at least one Jewish parent, so under the Law of Return they are eligible for citizenship no matter what political, religious or personal views they may hold. In fact, what they think and believe has nothing to do with their birthright.
After WWII, the Israeli leaders of the young state had come to the conclusion that the Law of Return was necessary in an uncertain world which hated the Jews to such an extreme.
Some 70 years later, there is a segment of the Jewish population which is being denied this very basic right to return to their land due to the particular conviction they hold that Jesus of Nazareth was the son of God and promised savior as foretold in the Hebrew scriptures. It is a belief which does not change their parentage or their desire to be faithful to their cultural identity.
For them, Shabbat, service in the Israeli army, celebration of the biblical holidays and historical Jewish observance is an integral part of their identity and predisposition. They don’t want to be anything but who they are, and the fact that they have been convinced that the messianic prophecies throughout the Tanach refer to Jesus does not change their lifestyle, habits or skin color. Many of them have non-Messianic family members in the highest places in Israel. Some of them are related to high-ranking IDF officers, to Knesset members and even to government officials. As Israeli citizens, they live and work among non-believing Jews and are their friends and neighbors.
Messianic Jews desperately need the same protections as any other Jews for they, too, are in danger of being targeted and killed. To deny them entrance to their homeland is tantamount to turning away a ship full of concentration camp survivors.
Jews who are seeking to immigrate to Israel today are forced to fill out a form which asks the question: “Have you ever been a Messianic Jew or have you ever believed in Jesus as Messiah?” As a Messianic Jew the choice is to either lie (anathema to true believers) or risk being turned down immediately the minute you answer in the affirmative.
By today’s Interior Ministry practices, Messianic Jews will either have to fork over large sums of cash to bring the battle to live in their homeland to court (which generally ends with their eventual citizenship after much hardship and financial loss) or you have to be untruthful. There is a third option, and that option is to fight this horrendous injustice. It is unconscionable for Jewish-born individuals to be turned away, at this point in history, by other Jews.
It is unconscionable for one’s personal beliefs to be the determining factor regarding whether one is a desirable addition to the Israeli population.
It is time for the doors to be opened and welcoming to all Jews, regardless of their opinions and views, so long as they are willing to live as law-abiding citizens with respect and deference to others and to their government. It is time to put aside this particular phobia and accept the fact that Jews do not come in one size and shape. Among the ranks of Jews are Buddhists, Scientologists and atheists.
All are afforded the right to live here and the protection which comes with that right.
We must stand with those Messianic Jews who very much want to live here and be part of this amazing country, and proclaim as their forefather Moses once did, “let my people go” from their countries of exile and “let my people come” to Israel.The author, the CEO of Rav Tikshoret, is a former
Yediot Aharonot journalist and Labor Party spokesman.
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