(the following editorial piece by Ellen Horowitz, Content and Research Director of Jewishisrael.com, appeared in the December 9, 2011 edition of the Jerusalem Observer)
When they hand out the "wise men of Chelm awards" for this year, Likud MK Danny Danon may walk off with the lion's share. He and messianic/evangelical attorney Calev Myers have just founded a Knesset caucus to battle international anti-Semitism.
Evangelical born and bred attorney Myers is the founder and chief counsel of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ), an organization which fights for the rights of "Judeo-Christian minorities" in the Jewish state, especially of the messianic and evangelical varieties. That would include efforts to legislate changes in Israel's Law of Return to enable Christian/messianic immigration. Myers has facilitated in the establishment of a branch of a missionary university in Israel. Additionally, Myers regularly partners with some of the most aggressive missionaries in Israel, all under the guise of "fighting for justice and democracy in Israel".
Myers doesn't take kindly to "extremist religious bodies that want to uniquely define who is a Jew" and he deceptively uses democratic doublespeak to fuel his crusade for Christ in Israel. In what can be described as verbal terrorism, Myers frequently derides – in the strongest of language - the Torah observant community and those who resist messianic overtures and moves towards assimilation in Israel.
Two years ago, Myers, the crusading attorney, pushed the verbal envelope a bit too far when his organization, JIJ, released a hateful tirade against the Orthodox anti-assimilation organization, Yad l'Achim. The essay entitled, "Conversions and the religious Gestapo" concerned Yad l’Achim’s investigation of dozens of converts to Judaism who apparently went through the conversion process while covertly retaining their belief in Jesus. Myers' organization accused Yad l’Achim of promoting “an agenda of religious-ethnic cleansing” and employing tactics “eerily similar to methods employed by the KGB and the Gestapo.” Myers issued a petition comparing Yad l’Achim’s rhetoric and activities to that of the Ku Klux Klan. Myers later followed up with another newsletter referring to Yad L’Achim as “an ultra-orthodox supremacy organization”.
At the time, JewishIsrael.com showed Myers' essay to our academic advisor, Professor Richard Landes. Professor Landes is a scholar of medieval history and millennialism, who has delved extensively into the deceits of history and anti-Semitism and has published a number of books on those subjects*. He referred to Myers' rant as "an appalling piece of hate speech."
Yad L'Achim's attorney penned the following response to Calev Myers: "It has come to my attention that you put out an anti-Semitic flyer, filled with lies, nonsense and incitement to hatred, [reflecting the] most despicable strain of anti-Semitism…" Though the essay was very quickly removed by JIJ from JIJ’s website, it remains on the website of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA).
Clearly, Attorney Calev Myers has no business sitting on a Knesset Caucus which fights anti-Semitism, yet Likud MK Danny Danon is doing his best to legitimize Myers. In September 2011, dozens of Jewish community leaders and organizations in America dropped out of the Israel NOW Durban 3 protest when they discovered that the effort was being orchestrated by Calev Myers. Diaspora Jewish leaders were alarmed by the prospect of a "messianic christian", with a loaded "religious freedoms" agenda for Israel, leading the charge against Durban 3. Nevertheless, Danny Danon spoke at the event and other Israeli parliamentarians continued to endorse the event.
Israelis leaders and activists need to grapple with the far reaching consequences when they woo evangelical political support and funding. Such Israeli leaders need to ask themselves whether articulate Christian advocates, such as Myers, are great defenders or destroyers (in the spiritual sense) of the Jewish State.
Some readers may be confused, because Calev has valiantly served in the IDF, pays his taxes, and is up to his neck in good works for the downtrodden sectors of Israeli society. That doesn't make him Jewish. He is and remains a devout Christian residing in the Jewish State, here on a faith-based mission which is detrimental to Judaism.
Calev Myers is a creative and very clever Christian attorney who is hell-bent on changing the very core of Judaism and the definition of who is a Jew. He may not fit the classic profile of an anti-Semite, but his agenda is most certainly anti-Jewish. And this is where the currently accepted equation does not add up. Christian Zionists and members of the purported right-wing camp regularly hoist banners declaring that "anti-Israel = anti-Semitism". That may very well be true. However what is increasingly apparent is that some of Israel’s evangelical partners are striving to swallow the Jewish State via spiritual assimilation and the establishment of a "Judeo-Christian" Promised Land, making them simultaneously pro-Israel and anti-Semitic.
Once again, this writer turned to JewishIsrael.com's academic advisor, Professor Richard Landes for his assessment of this situation:
"Antisemitism is a protean virus. It mutates in order to survive; it finds new combinations of themes and new hosts to inhabit. So the 21st century has seen it appear in new forms - with unwonted intensity among Muslims, on the left (traditionally in favor of religious tolerance), and even, among Christian Zionists, some of whom cannot just support Jews in their desire to "be a free people in their own land," but have to "fix" and "perfect" Judaism and that land according to their own imaginings. Like so many anti-Semites in the past, they begin with the best of intentions, convinced they're doing this "for the Jews," when actually they're doing it for themselves, and end up spewing hate at everything Jewish that they perceive as an obstacle."
Danny Danon and his Knesset colleagues should take a deeper look at such alliances. They may find that Israel's evangelical crusading knights in shining armor are really galloping Trojan horses. People like Calev Myers, who can simultaneously play the roles of friend and foe, throw a very special light on the true meaning of Jacob's prayer in this week's Parasha: "Save me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau."
*recent Publications by Professor Richard Landes: