(UPDATED: Oct. 23, 2013) When evangelist Mike Evans' Jerusalem Prayer Team Weekly Update proclaimed, "Bomb Shelter at Righteous Gentile Heritage Center Gets National Recognition", it linked to a praiseful article in the Jerusalem Post by Daniel K. Eisenbud, describing how Evans' gift of $400,000 was used to create "The Ritz Carlton of bomb shelters" for Shoah survivors -with a grand opening taking place in time for Succot.
What Evans surely didn't expect was journalist Judy Lash Balint's account of the grand opening of the shelter, which was published and featured in the Ops and Blogs section of the Times of Israel, under the headline Christian love: Buying their way into Jerusalem. In addition to an accurate account, and photos of the event, Balint did the unexpected – she penned the truth about missionary Mike Evans.
Balint's article, which drew upon and linked to JewishIsrael’s research and report on Evans, was something of a showstopper and came as a shock to some of those benefitting from Evans' mammoth generosity. So it was not surprising that Dr. Lillian Glaser, the head of the group of Holocaust survivors for whom Evans dedicated the $400K shelter, attempted to come to Mike Evans’ rescue with a counter-post of her own, "Let us not judge our real friends".
The pervading attitude of "the evangelicals are our best friends, so don't ask questions and don't bite the hand that feeds you," has permeated Israeli society and that includes academic, government circles, and the media. Leading scholarly and popular works published on the evangelical-Israel relationship, which have been written by Jews, mention Mike Evans as a Christian Zionist leader. However they fail to expose Evans’ history as a man who gained notoriety targeting Jews for conversion while serving for several years as a leading figure in the messianic missionary movement.
A full feature in-depth profile on Evans, which appeared in the Jerusalem Post Magazine in June 2012, was also devoid of any information that "Israel's best friend" was a Christian proselytizer extraordinaire whose organization, Bnei Yeshua, rivaled Jews for Jesus back in the 70's. In the days when Jewish leaders cared about spiritual continuity, Evans was listed as a sort of spiritual enemy number one on the Diaspora community's list of concerns.
Today, Israeli writers either fail in their research or they make calculated decisions to dismiss Evans' past as well as his present evangelistic agenda. Perhaps that is because they feel it is not relevant to their stories, or perhaps it is because it does not keep with the impression of Christian Zionism that such columnists wish to convey. The fact that the roots and motivations of Christian Zionism have always been missionary in nature is both terribly inconvenient and uncomfortable for the Jew and it gets in the way of a match made in heaven.
Is this remarkable amnesia among Jewish writers and academics due to an overdose of "Christian love" or is it a sober and calculated attempt at revising history in order to ensure the continuation of the current "philo-Semitic" windfall?
The obligation to remember is fundamental to Judaism. It is essential for Jewish spiritual and physical survival. So it's especially surprising and disturbing that the very institutions and individuals which place a value on history and heritage have championed Dr. Mike Evans as an "international best-selling author, journalist and humanitarian". Yet these same people fail to honestly address Evans’ past and present agenda as an evangelist who has the Jewish people in his sites.
Institutions such as the Menachem Begin Heritage Center promote Evans' endeavors, such as Evans’ book launchings. The Begin Center itself seems to have no reported records of Evans' bold evangelical advances towards the late Prime Minister Begin. A representative from the Begin Heritage Center told JewishIsrael that:
"The archives have been checked. There are a few mentions of Begin by Evans (but no Begin material on Evans). Therefore, we have no documentation, visuals or voice that can confirm what you are asking."
Yet Evans himself has numerous accounts and photos attesting to his personal and spiritual relationship with Begin. Some of the material is downright inappropriate (for example, see links and photos in this report). Evans regularly uses tales of Jewish leaders to peddle himself as a prophet, sell his wares and simultaneously proclaim that jesus is an integral part of the great prophetic plan for Israel and the Jewish people.
JewishIsrael has been in correspondence with Judy Lash Balint. We understand that a follow-up to her original piece may be in the making and there are some intriguing developments. Evans claims that the renovations of the bomb shelter/community center was "funded entirely through the Jerusalem Prayer Team organization". But is it possible that the very same renovated bomb shelter already had a previous grand opening back in 2012 - attended by Knesset members - with a different evangelical Christian organization claiming to have financed and managed the renovation?
(UPDATE –October 23, 2013): Other sources covering the 2012 opening of the shelter report that the messianic Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ) partnered with Evans' Jerusalem Prayer Team (JPT) on the project.
There are a number of questions and JewishIsrael will keep our readership abreast of developments.