“Pray for Larry Derfner”: Israel’s ambassador for Jesus

The Lawsuit:
The lawsuit filed by the Nachalat Yeshua Messianic congregation against Beersheba Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri and counter-missionary organization Yad L'Achim, went to trial on June 10th. According to reports, back in December of 2005 “hundreds” – even “up to a thousand” - “Ultra-Orthodox” Jews tried to prevent the baptism of Jews to Christianity by breaking into the messianic church compound and causing a ruckus.

The suit alleges that the disturbance ensued after Rabbi Yehuda Deri called for the protest after being informed by Yad L’achim that several bus loads of Jewish children were about to baptized. Howard Bass the leader of the church ( one of seven messianic congregations in Beersheva), said the claims were wildly exaggerated, as "only two people were supposed to be baptized on that day” and “both were over 18…” (but we Jews measure souls qualitatively, not quantitatively)

Coverage and Prayer Intervention:
Dan Izenberg filed a report on the trial for the Jerusalem Post on June 21st which reported that a policeman who testified claimed that Rabbi Deri “had arrived at the scene of a clash between Orthodox Jews and Messianic Jews in December 2005 and calmed matters down.” Guess that didn’t go over too well with the Jesus crowd in Israel, and with the final presentation set for November 23rd, the messianic persecution PR machine swung into action…

On June 22nd Pat Robertson’s CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) news carried a feature video report on the incident. Note the map they use in the report. Our “Christian Zionist” friends sure did take a big chunk out of Israel. Also note that most of the protesters on the video do not appear to be “Ultra-Orthodox”

By June 24th, the pastor of Yeshua's Inheritance Congregation in Beersheba, Howard Bass, had an editorial published in the Jerusalem Post :

“The mind set that refuses to recognize believers in Jesus as the Messiah as a legitimate and historic faith group is reminiscent of the attitude of Israel's enemies, who refuse to recognize the Jewish state… blah... blah… blah…” and “Disturbingly, there has been virtually no Israeli media coverage of either the riot or the trial, which opened in Beersheba on June 10 and continued this week “.

The last week in June, the Jerusalem Post's Larry Derfner made the cover of The Messianic Times ,in an interview that has since been taken offline. The introductory paragraphs of the feature story seem to indicate that Larry had "changed his mind" about messianics....hmmmm...

Pray for Larry Derfner:
Meanwhile, calls and prayers went out to Larry Derfner, the Jerusalem Post columnist who brought us Jesus for Jews in a JPost feature four months ago . A report which Jews for Jesus just kvelled about, and Jewish Israel blogged about. That same month Derfner also ran a piece on the Messianic Christian Moshav, Yad Hashmona.

On June 23rd Israel Prayer.com issued calls to ”Pray for Jerusalem Post journalist Larry Derfner who is the lone media observer of this trial. Pray for his discernment of the truth and ability to communicate it to the public. Editors often slash the most important facts news reporters write. Pray this will not be the case for Derfner’s coverage.”

On June 24th Intercessors for America in Washington D.C carried Headlines: Historic Trial Underway in Israel and included Larry in their prayers…
“Pray for revelation of Yeshua, Jesus, as Messiah in Israel. Intercede for greater religious freedom throughout Israel. Intercede for this Beersheva trial and Judge Iddo Ruzin. Pray for Jerusalem Post trial reporter Larry Derfner…”

By June 30th the news was out that “JPost reporter Larry Derfner is expected to file his report in the weekend edition of July 3rd. Pray for many to see the truth from these trials.”

Jewish Israel would like to suggest that a significant percentage of the Jewish community in Israel is also praying for Larry - something akin to, “May the L-rd bless and keep Larry Derfner…far away from us!”

Larry Delivers the Goods
[note: Before we tackle Derfner’s JPost Magazine feature from Hell, please note that Jewish Israel contacted the news editor of the Jerusalem Post on July 5th and inquired as to whether Larry Derfner was covering the trial in any official capacity, either as an observer or a reporter for the Jpost . The answer received from news editor Amir Mizroch was that, “Dan Izenberg is the reporter on this”.]

Derfner did have a brief column on the trial, which basically reports that a rather unimpressed judge termed the incident “a terrible event”, but questioned “whether there's anything here that ties the defendants to it." Larry describes a video clip which was shown at the trial of “a crowd of black-garbed haredim overrunning the area, knocking over chairs, shouting and singing while a few police stood by and several non-haredim stood dumbfounded.” But you can view the video of the incident here, and it clearly appears to be a mixed crowd (lots of knitted kippot and children)– less than half recognizably hareidi - of rather boisterous, but non-violent Jews dancing, singing, yelling, and milling around. That is until the police show up, and then it appears that routine shouting , shoving and crowd dispersal begins. But, by Israeli standards, this incident appears to be nothing to write home about.

Eddie Beckford: the Persecuted Icon:
What absolutely dwarfs Derfner’s column on the trial is his two- page spread on missionary Eddie Beckford from Arad. You may recall that Beckford is under house arrest for a brutal assault against a Jewish man. A video of the beating, which also includes Beckford’s attempt to run over Jewish protestors, can be viewed here. Derfner elevates a thug awaiting trial, and transforms him into a victim and a hero - a Christian martyr. The gist of the article is that Ger Hassidim and other “Hareidim”– opposed to Eddie’s missionary activity - apparently use the “N” word and a bunch of other derogatory terms in their protests.

Derfner feels that Beckford has “taken a lot in Arad”. It seems this “tall, strongly-built Vietnam War veteran” who, “ with his thick white moustache and goatee, looks like a distinguished jazz veteran while his wife Lura looks like a youthful Middle American grandmother”, attacked after his friend was “surrounded” by a “pack” of Gur Hassidim who had been in hot pursuit…. That’s certainly not what it looks like in the video.

Larry’s Lexicon:
Larry does not like the “N”-word ( a lot of us don’t), but he is ever-so-fond of the “F”-word ( as in “fascist”). The guy in the street may not have the lexicon and ability to articulate like Larry, but honestly folks, look how many words it takes for Larry to spew his venom. Take it to the streets, Larry.

On Hareidim: “…they are brainwashed members of a cult … one led by absolute spiritual rulers, one that insists on utter conformity, that holds fanatical beliefs, and that views society at large and its instruments of power as demonic. “

On Settlers: “Yeah, I'm spreading fear, I'm inciting against the settlers, I'm besmirching an entire public. Let me tell you about that entire public – not the suburbanite "quality of life" settlers but the tens of thousands of mobilized settlers and their hundreds of thousands of soulmates in Jerusalem and elsewhere: They are the sea in which Jewish terrorists swim.”

On the Foreign Minister: “A former barroom bouncer, a lapsed Kachnik, a relentless Arab-basher, a warmonger, an enemy of the law in word and, allegedly, indeed - if this guy isn't a fascist, who is?...am I comparing Avigdor Lieberman, foreign minister of Israel, to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran? Yes, as a matter of fact, I am.”

A guy like Larry Derfner – a self-proclaimed atheist - has lost touch with his Jewish soul, but he has found commonality with Christian evangelists - as they both hold Hareidim ( and all of us who cling to Jewish tradition) in contempt. He has absolutely no idea how provocative and painful it is that the State of Israel allows missionaries to operate freely in its midst. One need not be religious or right wing to feel this. Bradley Burston of Haaretz penned an excellent heartfelt piece entitled, Why 'Jews for Jesus' is evil.

Jews cringe at people like Beckford who have the chutzpah to wear T-shirts – in the Jewish state - emblazoned with the name “jesus” within a Star of David, because that symbolism represents shmad -spiritual destruction for the Jew. It’s akin to allowing white supremacists to freely sport t-shirts in Israel with swastikas – a symbol of physical destruction for the Jew.

The presence and activities of missionaries in Israel causes an immeasurable degree of distress in the hearts of authentic Jews (secular and religious alike). And Christian”messianics”, who feign Judaism with the purpose of duping vulnerable Jews, present a very real spiritual threat to the Jewish people. The religious freedoms argument of our evangelizing “friends” holds no weight when compared with the gravity of this affront to Judaism. There are no greater grounds or better reason for the State of Israel to adopt immediate and inclusive legislation against missionary activity.

BREAKING NEWS: Beersheva messianic Christians lose lawsuit

RELATED POST: Missionary Beckford Found Guilty of Assault

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Comment by Jewish Israel on July 9, 2009 at 9:30am
From the video clips available that Christian sources are using in their news reports, it does look like a rather benign, very Israeli, gathering - hardly a riot. We don't know if that's the whole clip or the same clip that was shown as evidence in the courts. And of course, we haven't heard the evidence. But you've gotta wonder about the constant claims of church "persecution" coming from the "messianic" Christian groups in Israel. You can get a taste of just who is harassing who by checking out a good number of the Talkbacks in response to Penina Taylor's non-confrontational article in the Jerusalem Post on her counter-missionary objectives. Messianics and missionaries came out swinging. The comments are nasty.
Comment by Patty Abbatoy on July 9, 2009 at 4:42am
I just watched the "Riot in Beer Sheva" video on You Tube. I agree with your description of it. I wouldn't classify it as a riot in the least. I see a mixd crowd of Jews singing and dancing; goregous weather, nice and noticeable summer breeze.

I don't understand the description of the video on You Tube either--it reads "messianic persecution." What persecution?

I couldn't detect any pushing or shoving and all I could make out from what was spoken is "ani Yehudi" and "ani Goy." But a riot?? That's really stretching it a lot. It seems things got inflammed only after the police were called, but still nowhere close to being a riot.
Comment by Jewish Israel on July 7, 2009 at 10:32am
Hi Lynn,
A lot of us would like to know what happened to counter-missionary legislation in Israel. And Jewish Israel feels that we need clear laws on the books outlawing christian evangelizing efforts as soon as possible. This is a core issue which touches the very soul of the Jewish people, and nobody wants to see the situation on the street exacerbated. As you can see from this recent post, people are distressed and find missionary activity to be provocative
Read our synopsis of the current status of counter-missionary legislation in Israel, and a history about the efforts to pass legislation in a 1998 bill in the Knesset - and why those efforts were halted.
Comment by Lynn Risor on July 7, 2009 at 5:58am
>>On Hareidim: “…they are brainwashed members of a cult … one led by absolute spiritual rulers, one that insists on utter conformity, that holds fanatical beliefs, and that views society at large and its instruments of power as demonic. “
This comment by Larry is ludicrous at best, does he not realize that in that blurb above he has just described the "christian"? Insists on conformity (one MUST believe in Yeshka or you are doomed to hell), fanatical beliefs (that a man actually died on a cross and shed his blood, claiming that it is G-d's son) when G-d Himself says that the father cannot die for the sins of the son nor can the son die for the sins of the father HELLO! And last the demonic thing, that is so permeated throughout the christian belief its undeniable. The demon of this, the demon of that..... it goes on.
I thought it was against the law to proselytize in Israel??? What the heck happened. It's needs to be re-established!

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