[Prior to issuing this report, Jewish Israel contacted Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman's media spokesperson, Koby Amzaleg. Jewish Israel conveyed to him the concerns we express in this report. Jewish Israel has the utmost respect for Rabbi Grossman's outstanding work and efforts. It is our sincere belief that up until our contacting the offices of Migdal Ohr, Rabbi Grossman remained unaware of Pastor Hagee's missionary affiliations with Daystar and Maoz Israel.]
Rav Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, Chief Rabbi of Migdal Ha'Emek and founder and president of Migdal Ohr Institutions, is currently involved with the Hareidi media network Hidabroot, "the only 24-hour-a-day Torah cable TV in Eretz Yisroel." Hidabroot is dedicated to reaching out to secular Israelis and bringing them closer to Judaism. The station, which enjoys the endorsement of major rabbinic figures in the Hareidi world, such as Rav Chaim Kanievsky, is especially alarmed about Christian missionary programming being liberally and legally televised throughout Israel. To quote Hidabroot’s campaign article:
"So now there are Christian missionaries with unlimited funding behind them fishing for Jewish souls for 24 hours day! Hidabroot is no longer just an option (if it ever was…). It’s a must! "
Rav Grossman frequently appears on Hidabroot programming. He is currently featured in Hidabroot’s promotional video, which highlights a disturbing message from Daystar Christian Television Network's co-founder and president Marcus Lamb. Lamb can be seen and heard in Hidabroot’s video bragging about his agreement with Israeli authorities, which grants him the ability to televise "into every home in the land of Israel 24-hours-a-day, 7 days a week, preaching the gospel 100% of the time."
Daystar's presence in Israel and their support of missionary activities in the Jewish state should be of particular concern to Rav Grossman, because that missionary TV network enjoys a multi-faceted relationship with Pastor John Hagee and Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Rav Grossman's organization, Midgdal Ohr, is a major recipient of many millions of dollars in contributions from CUFI and Hagee. In addition, funding for Migdal Ohr has been raised via Hagee's programming on Daystar.
Apart from his extreme generosity and support towards Israel, Pastor Hagee is first and foremost a powerful evangelical missionary who uses Christian mass media as a vehicle to spread the gospel of jesus. Hagee has financially and verbally expressed his support for Daystar's missionary programming in Israel. A significant selection of Daystar's programming targets Jews for conversion.
In addition, Pastor Hagee, and a number of CUFI executives join Marcus Lamb of Daystar and top evangelical and messianic leaders in endorsing Maoz Israel, one of the largest and most aggressively proselytizing missions in Israel, which targets Jews and promotes oxymoronic "messianic Judaism".
Exploiting the "Rav Grossman Hechsher"
Numerous Jewish community activists and leaders, who seek and receive Christian donations, often validate their actions by flaunting Rav Grossman's acceptance of Hagee's and CUFI's fundings. Rav Grossman's example has, for many, become a carte blanche standard or "hechsher" for receiving evangelical funding because, "Rabbi Grossman takes, and he's a tzadik."
[Note: As far as Jewish Israel knows, Rav Grossman has never issued a public halachic pronouncement approving of the acceptance of such funds from Christian groups. The issue over whether or not to accept evangelical funding is complex. Anyone considering accepting such funds should consult a qualified rabbinic authority.]
Jewish Israel is concerned that Rav Grossman and many others may be uninformed about the CUFI–Daystar money trail and missionary activity collaboration.
Jewish Israel has created the following chart to help readers navigate through this "Missionary Boomerang":
"A dream come true" for Hagee
What the Hidabroot video doesn't show is that it was Pastor John Hagee who was the studio guest when Lamb made that menacing announcement in May 2006. According to the Daystar Press Release, Pastor John Hagee, President of CUFI, and a guest on the show when the announcement was made, stated: "This is like Christmas day. This is a phenomenal event. This is a massive announcement to the body of Christ."
At that time, the JTA reported that Hagee exclaimed “It’s just all I can do to keep from getting up and dancing…It’s a joy and it’s a dream come true. If we are able to preach the gospel [in Israel] without reservation... it’s a major breakthrough… Hagee noted that the Bible 'talks about the gospel going forth from Jerusalem, and if this is in fact the announcement that the gospel can go forth without any limitations, without any editing and so forth... This is a first'.”
It was further reported that Pastor Hagee provided Daystar with their first significant on-air public donation towards spreading the gospel in Israel by purchasing a $1000 "Friend of Israel" Certificate. Everyone who followed suit received - from Daystar - a copy of John Hagee's book, "Jerusalem Countdown".
Not Just a Hareidi Issue:
The Hidabroot English website alludes to Daystar's rocky history in Israel by stating, "Christian missionaries had a cable TV show, but were taken off the air for proselytizing (which is against the Israeli law). Wouldn't you know it, the Israeli High Court put them right on air again. You see, 'It isn’t democratic.' Indeed … "
Jewish Israel would like to make it clear that, unfortunately, proselytizing and other forms of missionary activity are legal in Israel, save for two ineffective laws on the books.
While there may be an unofficial sort of agreement between the Israeli government and certain Christian leaders which discourages blatant proselytizing, an awful lot of evangelical groups are simply disrespecting and disregarding the "unwritten word"- because it's not properly legislated.
Jewish Israel has reported extensively on the sanction and censure of Daystar in Israel. In 2007 the Israeli Cable service HOT stopped broadcasting Daystar due to a public outcry – both in Israel and the Diaspora - against the network's missionary ads which targeted Jews.
Back in 2006, it was the modern Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU), representing 1000 rabbis and congregations worldwide, which issued a forceful letter of protest to then President Moshe Katzav, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and Ambassador Daniel Ayalon. The letter expressed "shock and dismay that the Israeli Communications Ministry has granted TV broadcast privileges to an evangelical organization whose apparent purpose is to convert Jews to Christianity", and urged the government to find a way to "revoke this license and thus to restore the self-respect of the Jewish state".
That was over five years ago. Today Daystar is back in Israel along with other patently missionary networks such as the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and God TV - all carrying extensive "messianic" missionary programming to Jewish households throughout Israel via cable, satellite and Internet. In addition, these networks all enjoy studio privileges in Jerusalem, and they all feature the preaching of Pastor John Hagee.
Hagee and Daystar – A love affair
Rabbi Grossman and others who accept John Hagee Ministries' or CUFI donations, and who claim those donations are missionary-free, should be aware of the snug and mutually cooperative relationship between the Daystar missionary network and Pastor Hagee's endeavours :
· Daystar has been a major contributor and promoter of Pastor Hagee's organization, CUFI. Watch this video of Pastor Hagee delivering a blank check to UJC Dallas. It's blank because Hagee is awaiting a generous donation from Daystar. Note that the podium has a cross within the Star of David, which is a Christian "messianic"symbol.
· Broadcast time on Daystar has been used as a prime incentive for companies to buy sponsorships for CUFI's Washington-Israel Summit.
· Hagee helps raise funds for Daystar projects in Israel by participating in Daystar’s Sharathons.
· Funding for Migdal Ohr is raised on Daystar via the "John Hagee Today" program.
· Hagee's interfaith theological endeavors in Israel are given air time on Joni and Marcus Lamb's Daystar Celebration program.
· CUFI events are regularly broadcast on Daystar, literally alongside and along with the gospel according to "messianic Jews"
By the way, "Giving to Daystar" allows donors to not only "reach souls" in Israel, "but it will also do wonders for your tax bill." In addition, Daystar also raises funds via Facebook to spread the gospel in Israel.
Hagee and CUFI executives sanction aggressive missionary activity in Israel
While Pastor Hagee and Daystar are giving generously to Migdal Ohr Insitutions and Assaf Harofeh Hospital to benefit Israel's orphaned and sick, by sanctioning MaozIsrael/IStandWithIsrael, Hagee and Daystar are also making sure that Ethiopian Jews, new immigrants and the handicapped in Israel are getting a full dose of Jesus and abandoning Judaism.
It's no surprise to see Daystar's Marcus and Joni Lamb at the top of the Maoz Israel endorsement list, nor is it surprising to see the founders of that virulently missionary organization featured as guests on Daystar TV.
But some may be surprised to find John and Diana Hagee, CUFI executive board member Michael Little, and CUFI Regional Director Robert Stearns prominently listed as endorsers of that notoriously "messianic" and anti-Orthodox Maoz Israel organization, especially since John Hagee and CUFI, as a purported policy, disavow targeted proselytizing of Jews.
Stephen Strang, another CUFI Regional Director, who is the founder of Charisma Magazine and publisher of John Hagee's books, admitted to financially supporting the "messianic" Maoz Israel organization in this article written to champion Pastor Hagee's and his Nights to Honor Israel. Excerpt:
"Ari Sorko-Ram is the son-in-law of Christ for the Nations co-founder Freda Lindsay. I met with him and his wife, Shira, when I was in Israel several years ago and know how valuable and important their ministry, Maoz Israel, is. I have personally supported this ministry financially, as I urge you to do by visiting their Web site. It's important for Christians to stand with our Messianic brothers and sisters at this time."
If that article is too dated for you, rest assured that CUFI's Strang and his Charisma Magazine continue to bolster the messianic movement.
Maoz Israel claims that IStandWithIsrael.com is their "humanitarian aid division", but IStandWithIsrael content carries a very different message, and the IStandWithIsrael brand name is promoted on blatant missionary content.
The Maoz Israel blog entry for the close of the year 2010 features a "lost and found" soul who claims he is the son of an Orthodox rabbi.
Look at the path and read the "messianic" map. Even if a widely recognized and honored rabbi accepts humanitarian aid from the very best of evangelical pastors - with the finest intentions on all sides - it will nevertheless exact a cost in Jewish souls.
It is inevitable that without stringent counter-missionary legislation and enforcement, accompanied by ethical accountability and rabbinic guidelines; dependency on evangelical philanthropy will entangle Israel in an intractable missionary web.
Jewish Israel is fully aware that the Jewish philanthropic world is challenged at this time, and that turning to Christian aid is increasingly being considered as a viable, albeit complex, option. It is therefore obligatory that Jewish leaders, who do choose to engage in partnerships with devout evangelicals, admit to themselves and to their communities that they are by definition working with missionaries.
It must be acknowledged and considered that encouraging fundamentalist Christian political, economic and humanitarian involvement in the Jewish state will exact a cost in the form spiritual destruction and apostasy - shmad.
Furthermore, those Jews accepting Christian funding and assistance cannot expect or rely upon devout evangelicals to adhere to Jewish red lines in such a relationship. Sharing jesus is a Christian’s raison d'etre – especially for evangelical Christians. So, it is especially incumbent upon those members of the Jewish community who are embracing Christian support to rectify any consequential or "collateral" damage by calling for stringent counter missionary legislation and clear rabbinic guidelines – even at the risk of alienating "our best friends".
Jewish Israel has learned that the Jewish community of Hebron is considering accepting a large donation from Pastor Hagee, and that Hebron’s leaders are under pressure from the Diaspora Jewish community to do so.
We urge the leaders of the Hebron community to look "this way and that way" [i] and to consider all consequences before encouraging a Christian foothold or influence in the Holy City of our Patriarchs.
“Who is wise? One who sees the future [consequences of present activities].” – Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Tamid, 32a
[i] Moses' concern with future generations teaches that one must consider all facets of a complex situation before acting (Art Scroll Chumash, the Stone Edition, commentary Parashat Shemot 2:12)