On the seat next to me I found a booklet, in Hebrew, entitled "Ben David" or, "Son of David", decked with Israeli flags on a background of Jerusalem's Old City walls:
Now, since the Yeshiva at Eli is called "Bnei David", someone could presume there is a Jewish connection but I knew otherwise (I have had 50 years of experience, actually). It was a missionary tract, a new translation in Hebrew of the Book of Matthew, and see below* on the anti-Semitism therein, sponsored by a nasty messianic Christian effort whose Statement of Faith parallels most of this group's statement, which is linked to at their site.
Here it is:
This is an act of proselytizing. Whoever you are, you are distributing articles of faith of a different religion with the intent of influencing Jews to convert.
I know you think that that is what being a good Christian is. But it is not. And yes, I do know some Christians really are upset at our reluctance to permit full-scale missionizing attempts and even slide into hate speech. As the US State Department's annual report notes:
A 1977 anti-proselytizing law prohibits any person from offering or receiving material benefits as an inducement to conversion; however, there have been no reports of the law's enforcement. A bill that would have restricted proselytizing further was promulgated in 2000; however, similar bills did not reach a final vote in the past and local observers do not believe that this bill will be enacted. Christian and other evangelical groups asserted that the draft bills were discriminatory and served to intimidate Christian groups. Missionaries are allowed to proselytize, although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) voluntarily refrains from proselytizing under an agreement with the Government.
The law adopted into our Penal Code reads
Giving benefits to induce change of religion
174A.If a person gives or promises another person money, valuable consideration or another material benefit in order to entice him to change his religion or to cause him to entice another to change his religion, then he is liable to five years imprisonment or a fine of NS150,000.
Receiving benefit for change of religion
174B. If a person accepts or agrees to accept money, valuable consideration or another material benefit for the promise to change his religion or to cause another person to change his religion, then he is liable to three years imprisonment or a fine of NS49,800.
Change of a minor's religion
368. (a) If a person performs a religious conversion ceremony of a minor or performs some other act that leads to the change of a minor's religion, in violation of the provisions of section 13A of the Capacity and Guardianship Law 5722-1962, then he is liable to six months imprisonment.
(b) If a person induces a minor, by addressing him directly, to change his religion, then he is liable to six months imprisonment.
You may think that draconian (a futher tightening of restrictions was rejected [in Hebrew]) but there's a good reason for what is the law ro be the law of the land, the Land of Israel. All faiths and those of no faith are free to practice their religious beliefs in Israel. You can come here and do good deeds and do charity. Stealing Jewish souls, for that is what proselytizing is, is not a good deed. We do not practice that and as Hillel, who predated Christianity, said, "do not do unto others what you would not want done unto you."
Good and normative relations are being built between Christians and Jews in Judea and Samaria based on the recognition that if you believe in the Bible, then you must believe that what we are doing in Judea and Samaria is good and contributes to the ultimate benefit of all mankind. What we are doing is correct and right and has been prophesied.
Let us get on with our work, unhindered, or at least with positive assistance, and all will be better. We have much that could be shared but that doesn't mean that you have the freedom to feel that you can 'snatch'. Our other shared history is too painful to be gone over but know, we recall and remember and we have not fully reached the level of forgiveness and, to be truthful, there is no reason we should.
But we can look forward to a future in which we all can gain - but without any feelings of mistrust and suspicion on our part, which would be caused by the activity I described at the beginning of this post. There is much to be lost. Be careful, if only for your co-religionists who approach the task of being part of Jewish national reconstitution and their efforts be harmed.
Can we agree on that?
Although the Gospel of Matthew is considered to be the "most Jewish" of the Gospels, it contains one of the most anti-Jewish passages found in the Second Testament. Probably located in Syrian Antioch, the Matthean community defined itself over and against the synagogue.
Thus, the term "Jews" in the Gospel represents those who deny the resurrection and believe that the disciples stole Jesus's corpse (28:13-15). Through Jesus, membership in the one people of God is extended to include the Gentiles (24:14; 28:16-20; see also Great Commission), but they do not replace the Jews (4:18-13:58). Both Jew and Gentile participate in God's plan for salvation.
As Matthew's narrative marches toward the passion, the anti-Jewish rhetoric increases. In chapter 21, the parable of the vineyard (to which we have already referred) is followed by the great "stone" text, an early christological midrash of Psalm 118:22-23: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone" (Matt. 21:42). Then, in chapters 23 and 24, three successive hostile pericopes are recorded. First, a series of "woes" are pronounced against the Pharisees: "you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets...You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?" (23:31, 33).
According to the New Testament Gospels, Jesus, on his fateful entry into Jerusalem before Passover, was received by a great crowd of people. Jesus was arrested and purportedly tried by the Sanhedrin. After the trial, Jesus was handed over to Pontius Pilate, who duly tried him again and, at the urging of the people, had him crucified.
Then, Jesus laments over the capital: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it...See, your house is left to you, desolate" (23:37-38). And finally, Jesus predicts the demise of the Temple: "Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down" (24:2b).
The culmination of this rhetoric, and arguably the one verse that has caused more Jewish suffering than any other second Testament passage, is the uniquely Matthean attribution to the Jewish people: "His [Jesus's] blood be on us and on our children!" (27:25). This so-called "blood guilt" text has been interpreted to mean that "all Jews, of Jesus' time and forever afterward, accept the responsibility and blame for Jesus' death."