The Ruddick Int'l Group  



(c) Morris E. Ruddick


Amid the cycles of intifadas, peace and war, the turmoil and confusion in Israel continues to mount. Four related Israeli-published articles point to underlying issues.


An attempt was made " With Friends Like These ," (9/6/04 Jerusalem Report ) to expose those referred to as missionizing Christians in Israel, along with their close ties and access to hawkish Israeli politicians. The implication was "who needs friends like these?" " Divestiture Genie ," in the same Jerusalem Report issue, played into the very question raised by the first one. It described the Presbyterian Church USA's "social justice" move to promote withdrawal of investments with firms that support Israel's fight against terrorism! It expressed the fear that other mainline churches supportive of Palestinian agendas may follow.


A third article - from Israel Today (9/04), was titled " Hatred Among Brothers ." It focused on the Jewish concept of " sin 'at hinnam," which means "hatred without cause" among Jewish brothers. Jewish tradition considers it the reason for the destruction of both the first and second Temples. It was also spoken of across Israel amid the turmoil surrounding withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The conclusion is this path of hatred and division among brothers makes it easier for Israel's enemies - because of the destruction it creates from within.


Finally, " The Mezuzah Law ," also from Israel Today, portrays the dynamics surrounding a recent Knesset bill. The bill supported attaching some 75,000 mezuzahs to door posts at public buildings in Israel, as a reminder of the commandment to love God and walk with Him as Israelis go about their daily tasks. But Jewish secular opponents mounted heavy opposition - in order to avoid " religious coercion."


These articles provide a glimpse into the combined impact of the failure of Israel to recognize her friends, love the brethren and embrace her true heritage.


The Hidden Issue

At the core of the contradictions, confusion and division are the premises of secularism. The proponents of secularism within the Jewish community should be distinguished from those commonly referred to as "non-observing Jews." There are many within Israel today who believe in God, yet for one reason or another, have been disillusioned or repelled by the religious contradictions and hypocrisy reflected by extremists espousing their "excesses" as Judaism.


Those advancing this secular identity are in reality championing their own religion - a unique variety of secular humanism. It is the reason they are blind to their real friends and are strangely drawn to concern over the actions of anti-Zionist leaning segments of the church toying with their own brand of secular humanism being masqueraded as "social justice." Secular humanism has replaced a faith-in-God with a faith and moral structure that thinks it can make it without God.


Secularism within the Jewish community is the ultimate in replacement theology. For those not acquainted with replacement theology, replacement theology reflects a splinter group of Calvinist-leaning Christians who believe that the Jewish people have lost their place in God's plan and have been replaced by the Church. Yet, within Judaism, the same replacement theology dynamic is at work: Jewish secularism.


Due to centuries of pogroms and persecution by misguided zealots operating in the name of the Church, advocates of this secular Jewish identity have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. They fail to recognize the fundamental issues and are being seduced by the very spiritual dynamics that bred centuries of anti-Semitism in the first place.


The early Church was in fact a very Jewish sect. But in the third century Constantine hijacked the Church, removed all semblance of its Jewish identity and introduced anti-Semitism. Today, one of the most vibrant moves within the Church reflects those becoming reacquainted with the Jewish roots to their faith.


However, the Emperor Constantine wasn't the only hijacker-in his efforts to remove the Jewish roots to Christianity. The proponents of secularism's efforts to create a Jewish identity based solely on its cultural, historic and national expressions have functionally been sabotaging the very core of Judaism itself.


The Identity Issue

The identity issue for the Jewish people is at a critical juncture. The biblical standard is pivotal to Jewish identity. While some within the Jewish community have retained this standard; far too many have yielded to non-scriptural foundations of "oral laws" and the writings of sages and theologues which has given rise to this diluted hybrid of secularism with a Jewish flavor; or made being Jewish so religious and cumbersome that it sadly is viewed as impossible to follow-or just plain irrelevant. One of the most misunderstood segments of Judaism, Messianic Judaism, represents a movement championing the resurgence of biblical Judaism, with the biblical standard for Jewish identity.


Jewish identity is far more than the rich heritage of Judaism, although that is an important part of it. Jewish identity without God is the foundational step toward the goal of assimilation. True Jewish identity is irretrievably tied to God - and the role His people have in His plans for the days ahead.


Jewish identity is an eternal covenant relationship. D'varim (Deuteronomy) 28 spells out the terms. Devotion to the Lord and adherence to His principles will result in God's blessings that will exalt His people above all the nations in the earth. However, disobedience and arrogance will result in the Lord withdrawing His presence, which is tied to His blessings. The consequence is curses, confusion and disillusionment on every front.


God's hand upon the Jewish people is evidenced by the impact Jews have made on the world. Jews gave birth to Western civilization. Our most treasured values have evolved from Jewish beliefs. From the Torah have come the foundational principles of the world's most successful governmental, legal and economic systems. Yet the standard responses across the centuries to these significant contributions in advancing Western society has been suspicion, ridicule, rejection and persecution.


From the time of Herod to the crusades to the Holocaust, misguided despots, blind to the contributions of the Jews, have sought to eliminate the world of their influence. The Jewish response to this rejection and persecution has been repeated attempts to shun their identities and assimilate into the midst of society.


The Zionist movement that began gaining momentum at the turn of the 20 th century culminated in the remarkable rebirth of Israel - a significant step in the departure of the Jewish people trying to be like "everyone else."


Yet, here we are again - with the secular proponents striving for a politically-correct identity. A politically-correct Jewish identity will gain no more acceptance than what was achieved by the German Jews of the late thirties who sought to ignore their true identity and assimilate into polite German society. Anti-Semitism remains as it has been over the years. Neither diplomacy nor Jewish secularism's misguided efforts will tame it. It needs to be faced head-on as the spiritual issue that it is. True Jewish identity will involve a return to biblical Judaism.


Friends and Division

In a time marked by the growth of anti-Israeli alliances from the Middle East to seats of power across Europe, failing to recognize true friends is not an option. We have entered a time requiring an unusual array of bedfellows - alliances and coalitions that work together toward strategic common causes foundational to Israel today. This is not to suggest some watered down ecumenical diversion. Rather it indicates the common ground of those whose God is the God of Israel and whose faith is based on the Bible. It is that common ground - the God of Israel and the biblical foundations - that forms the basis of what should be Israel's genuine friendships.


The reality that needs to be faced is that, despite the destructive forces amassed against Israel, it is the division that is its greatest undermining threat. The reality is as long as Christians and Jews fail to recognize their true common heritage and are enmeshed in peripheral issues; the seedbed of hatred and division will continue to fester.


Radical Responses to Radical Times

Israel is at the edge. The Jewish soul in Israel is yearning for hope; a hope that will never be satisfied by anything short of the God of Israel. The secular route has been milked for all its worth. Kabala, musar, even Eastern religions have been tried. The scripture in Mishlei (Proverbs) says that " hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life ." We face a time in which " those who know their God" must set the standard. The times and the situation demand strong action.


1. Israel needs a voice to define its true identity. It needs a voice to turn the tide toward the restoration of biblical faith infused in Judaism. That means those who share the heritage of the Bible and the God of Israel need to come together and speak out. With God's help, a united Israel would be as it was destined: impenetrable.


2. Israel needs a voice to counter the hatred, division and paranoia run amok. The fractionalization and division paralyzing Israel needs to be countered by initiatives that address genuine needs, bring people together and build the community. It is easy to be sidetracked by passions that miss the big picture with a myopia that undermines Israel's hope and future. Being right is wrong if it results in division.


3. Believing Jews and Christians have a responsibility to be mobilizing and gathering together for prayer.

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and heal their land ."

Divrei-HaYamim Bet (2 Chronicles) 7:14


4. The Jewish community in Israel needs to identify its real friends. Mishlei (Proverbs) also speaks of " a friend who sticks closer than a brother ." That involves reciprocity. It also means extending that friendship in some very traditional Jewish ways. The Jewish concept of charity " Tz'dakah, " involves being a neighbor. It means acts of kindness administered in the Name of the Lord - which builds up the community. As Jews and Christians unite as friends, the result will be meaningful alliances forged on strategic common causes.


The most amazing people to walk the face of this earth are at a crossroads in their history. The forces fueling the destruction arrayed against Israel need to be countered by the uniting of genuine friends of Israel. Through unity, prayer and speaking out, those holding to the standard of true Jewish identity will quell myopic sideline issues, overcome internal divisions and mobilize boldly with a thrust to face the world with a genuine hope and a future.


"' For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord , 'plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope .'" Yirmeyah (Jeremiah) 29:11


Mr. Ruddick is a Christian Zionist who has been a board member of two Israeli humanitarian NGOs (amutot). He works with the Jewish community in putting on business startup workshops from Israel to anti-Semitic regions in the Former Soviet Union. He is the author of God's Economy, Israel and the Nations .


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