Professor Richard Landes: The Jewish Right to Reject Proselytizing in Israel

JewishIsrael's Academic Adviser, Professor Richard Landes reaffirms his take on religious freedoms and proselytizing.

[Note: The following quotes attributed to Professor Landes originally appeared in an article by Diane Bederman, posted on her Times of Israel blog. The article was removed at the behest of Israeli evangelical/messianic attorney Calev Myers, who was the subject of the article at the time.]:

“Given that the US began as an overwhelmingly Christian nation, and Christianity is a quintessentially missionary faith, it would have been hard for American notions of religious freedom not to have included the right to missionize.

Since Jews have rarely if ever been a missionary religion (preferring example to preaching as a means to communicate religious values) it is entirely within the rights and values of a Jewish interpretation of religious freedom not to include the freedom to missionize.”

“Given that no other religion has ever held sovereignty in Jerusalem and given all religions the rights and freedoms to practice their religion there, it seems somewhat inappropriate to be giving Israel lectures on the matter. And given that Israel’s Muslim neighbors not only missionize aggressively, but punish with death anyone who tries to convert Muslims and any Muslims who convert, it seems entirely fitting and just that the US should, if it wishes to advance religious freedom on this troubled planet, find another whipping boy than Israel.”

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[Since its inception JewishIsrael has expressed concern that "due to Israel's close alliances with American and Western Europe she is prone to importing prototypes of democracy and personal freedoms which run contrary to the national aspirations and values of the Jewish people. In addition Israel often finds herself at the mercy of religious freedoms legislation which was formulated to promote ideas that run counter to Jewish tradition." The quest for uniquely Jewish democratic solutions which will lay the foundations for, and enable, Israel to be a true "light unto the nations" is an integral part of JewishIsrael's mission.]

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