HOPE AND FUTURE
Morris E. Ruddick
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.
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
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
" 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."
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Responses to Radical Times
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
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:
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.
Believing Jews and Christians have a responsibility to be mobilizing
and gathering together for prayer.
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
Bet (2 Chronicles)
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.
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)
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 .