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Christian Group Fires Back at Samaria Rabbi in Funding Feud

Samaria's regional rabbi attacks Education Ministry for taking money from Christians, says they seek control over Israel.
By Ido Ben Porat, Gil Ronen
First Publish: 6/12/2014, 5:37 PM

Rav Elyakim Levanon
Rav Elyakim Levanon
File photo

Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, Regional Rabbi of Samaria and Dean of the Elon Moreh Yeshiva, has issued a sharp attack on the Ministry of Education for its decision to cooperate with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ). The IFCJ will donate funds for children's summer activities, and Rabbi Levanon sees this is as a sly attempt to make Israel dependent on the Christian world.

The IFCG issued a response denying Rabbi Levanon's claims Thursday.

"In recent years,” wrote Levanon, “the Christian religious perception has undergone a process of sobering-up, and everyone now understands that the state of Israel is a fait accompli, and cannot be eliminated. Some Christian movements have developed a new direction. The new direction is to join forces with the central movements in Israel and strengthen their partnership with the Christian world. This bond is supposed to clear the path to a change of direction in the state of Israel.”

The establishment of the state of Israel was a huge blow to Christian belief, explained Rabbi Levanon, because the Jews were supposedly a beaten nation, punished for eternity for abandoning the true faith, and all of a sudden – this allegedly fallen nation succeeded in establishing a state. The Church's decision absolving Jews of the murder of Jesus (or “that man,” as religious Jews call him), was a way of "softening the blow" to Christian belief following the establishment of Israel, he said.

"Their goal today is to cause Israel to be dependent on the Christian world, and eventually make it possible for Christians to control Israel and bring about 'salvation.' That is – the return of 'that man' to control and lead Israel.” This, alleged the rabbi, is what the IFCG seeks to create, and the funding of summer camps “is a wide opening toward that goal.”

IFCJ responds

The IFCJ, which is headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, rejected Rabbi Levanon's claims Thursday. The IFCG said that Rabbi Levanon never tried to find out what the facts were by asking the IFCJ, and added that other rabbis who have recently mounted a campaign against the IFCJ funding for the Education Ministry project behaved similarly.

"The donations to the IFCJ are received from hundreds of thousands of people,” the fund added. “The average donation per person is about $70 per year. The donors have no effect on the fund's policy and have no connection to the bodies that the fund transfers their donation to.”

The IFCJ added that “if Rabbi Levanon were truly systematic and consistent in his suspicion of a creeping Christian attempt to take over the country, he should have also forbidden the use of all MRIs in Israeli hospitals, as well as 2,600 bomb shelters in the North and South, which were donated by the IFCJ, and more."