MJ's and Aliyah: An Issue to Get Involved In

Israel isn’t letting all of her Jewish people in. It’s that simple. And Israel is losing the battle against Muslim extremism. It’s also that simple.

And who is to blame? Two groups: liberal-minded leaders who hope that appeasement will eventually produce peace and ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionists who run the ministry of Interior. They are a cliche that we like to call strange bedfellows.

On December 14, Jamie Cowen, the former president of our denomination, the UMJC (umjc.net), was detained and held in a cell along with his wife in Tel Aviv. I am pasting the story from the Jerusalem Post below.

The ultra-Orthodox leaders who control immigration and several other facets of Israeli life are a thorn in Israel’s side. By analogy, imagine if Louis Farrakhan or some other rabid extremist group controlled immigration, weddings, and other aspects of America’s social policy.

We can get involved. Through the UMJC and attorney Calev Myers in Israel, work is being done to stop discrimination against Messianic Jews. Also, through The Alliance for the Future of Israel, all discrimination against all Jews who deserve a right to return is being fought against.

The Alliance for the Future of Israel is open to coming to Atlanta (where I am) in February and hosting a Bless Israel event. I am going to be working to put it together. I know many pastors and Christians in Atlanta who would love to see oppression cease in the name of Messiah, which is to say that oppression against Jews who believe in Messiah should cease.

By the way, Jamie Cowen was released and was not deported as the bad guys in the ministry of Interior wanted. They lost this round, thanks to the quick work of attorney Calev Myers and some Israeli leaders who cared enough to stop this discrimination. These people, several not sharing our faith in Messiah, but definitely sharing our disdain for injustice, cared enough to act. Inaction will never get Messianic Jews the right of return. Our involvement is needed. You can contact me or the UMJC if you would like to help.

Here is the story from the Jerusalem Post, December 14:

A director of the US Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations and his wife were detained Sunday at Ben-Gurion Airport by Interior Ministry officials amid allegations he is involved in illegal Christian missionary activity.
It is illegal in Israel to proselytize among minors. It is also prohibited to engage in missionary activities among adults when economic incentives are offered.
After over eight hours of detention, Jamie Cowen, a former president of the union, and his wife, Stacy, were permitted to enter Israel only after they agreed to sign a document that they would not engage in missionary activities during their stay.
The Cowens are in Israel to visit their two daughters, one of whom is an Israeli citizen. The other is in the process of obtaining citizenship after she and a group of other Messianic Jews won a Supreme Court case against the state.
The Cowens and their daughters all identify as Jews but believe that Jesus is the messiah.
“This type of religious discrimination would be expected of Iran, not Israel,” said Jamie Cowen, a US immigration lawyer, a few hours after he was released by immigration police.

“In the US we imprison individuals suspected of terrorism. Here apparently one can be jailed for his religious convictions. This is a case of blatant discrimination against basic rights. It is a story of a bureaucracy run amok. Someone has to crack down and bring in people of integrity.”
Cowen said he had visited Israel about 10 times, and had been active in social causes via the Knesset Social Lobby.
“I’ve brought $100,000 in humanitarian aid to Israel. We’ve provided lone IDF soldiers with about $50,000 in aid. This is unbelievable,” he said.
The Interior Ministry, which directed the police to arrest the Cowens, said they had classified information regarding missionary activity.
“The Immigration and Population Authority has reliable information that the Cowens were involved in missionary activity prohibited by Israeli criminal law during their last visit to Israel,” a ministry spokesman said.
“This is the reason they were detained. As soon as they agreed to refrain from any missionary activity they were allowed in.”
The Cowens arrived in Israel on a flight from Frankfurt at 3 a.m. They were arrested at passport inspection and placed in detention at the airport.
“As an immigration lawyer I have visited many detention facilities for illegal immigrants. This one was particularly dirty, smelly and overcrowded,” Cowen said.
According to Cowen, the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations has 90 member congregations with membership ranging between 50 and 400 per congregation.
Calev Myers, founder and chief counsel of The Jerusalem Institute, which provides legal advice and representation to messianic Jews, said the Interior Ministry was filled will clerks who identified with a strictly Orthodox definition of who is a Jew.
“During the years that Shas controlled the ministry they made sure to appoint clerks who were willing to carry out their policies,” Myers said.
“As a result, Israel is the only Western country where basic freedom of religion is denied. Today those who being discriminated against are messianic Jews. Tomorrow it will be Conservative and Reform Jews.”
Myers said anti-missionary organizations such as Yad Le’achim often tipped off Interior Ministry officials regarding messianic Jews attempting to enter the country.
However, Meir Cohen, a Yad Le’Achim activist, said that while it was true that his organization did provide the ministry with information, they were not involved in the Cowens’ case.
Cohen said the ministry had its own intelligence unit that gathered information on missionaries and on messianic Jews who were ineligible for Israeli citizenship due to their religious convictions.
The Supreme Court has ruled that Jews who embraced Christianity are not eligible for Israeli citizenship. However, the court has also ruled that people who are not Jews according to Orthodox standards, but who are eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return do not forfeit this right if they adopt Christian beliefs.

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