Missionary stands by Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (file)
Missionary stands by Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (file)Hadas Parush/Flash 90.

Just before Christmas, a Priest arrived at the Nahal Eshkol Council and began to hand out packages of  much needed security equipment as well as New testaments to heads of security for the different townships throughout the region. In addition to the New Testaments, missionary literature was distributed suggesting that readers learn passages of the New Testament and accept Jesus.

A conflict arose among the various heads of security for the towns as to whether or not to accept the gifts, which can be put to good use in providing extra security for the region, which borders closely with the Gaza strip. Some of the security organizers were in favor of accepting the gifts, and even took pictures with the priest, while others, were furious at the implied gesture. One security organizer, who is also a Rabbi, and requested to remain anonymous called Yad L’Achim, an organization that works to counter missionary effort in Israel, to complain about the incident.

Rabbi Shmuel Lifschitz, One of the heads of Yad L’achim spoke to Arutz Sheva about the severe infraction of the law that took place. “There are lots of organizations that are Christian that donate to Israel and are not missionary in their nature. While we encourage donations that help the security of Israel to continue, whether it be from Jewish or Christian donors abroad, we cannot accept attacks of this kind on our religious values and beliefs.”

According to Israeli law, it is illegal to give gifts and connect them to an initiative to convert people to one religion or another.  

“Who is this priest to donate security equipment while at the same time trying to convert Jews?” exclaimed Lifschitz. “If you want to donate, then donate, but if you want to convert people, don’t do it in Israel.”   

Rabbi Lifschitz explained why the issue of donating with the idea of missionizing is such a conniving thing to do. “Human nature is that a person connects on a spiritual level to the donor, they feel beholden to the donor.  And if a person tries to include statements about Jesus and idolatry with requests to change one’s religion together with the donation, that is a serious infraction of the law, and just inappropriate. Jews have been hounded enough by missionaries throughout history employing one tactic or another to convert us. We do not need to suffer this kind of treatment in Israel.”  

While Rabbi Lifschitz said that neither he nor the organization at Yad L’achim is in a position to judge any of the security organizers for the region, he did say that Jews and Israelis should not have to suffer this type of religious harassment in order to be able to provide security for their families.   

“If the security organizers need gear then they should get gear. But they should not be accepting money or gear from missionaries. If Christians want to donate then great, that is fantastic. But to connect it and attack Judaism by trying to convince people to convert Christianity, then this is outright exploitation of the current security situation.”  

“We need to say in a respectful way, in way that makes a kiddush hashem, that we do not want to be attacked via donations. We simply ask that we do not be missionized!”