Torah Observant Community condemns State Department's Religious Freedoms Report

Jewish Israel continues to receive significant coverage on our critique of the US State Department's 2009 Freedom of Religion report for Israel and the “Occupied Territories”.

Israel National News (A7) gave our commentary prominent coverage, and Hillel Fendel followed-up yesterday with another extensive report.

Michael Horowitz contacted INN after Jewish Israel identified the director of Hudson Institute's Project for Civil Justice Reform and Project for International Religious Liberty, as one of the key players in the formation of the 1998 Congressional Religious Freedoms Act. It’s that law, which Republican evangelicals supported, that is currently being used to
a) ensure that Christian proselytizing in Israel continues and b) prevents Israel from adopting and enforcing counter-missionary legislation.

Michael Horowitz, an Orthodox Jew, felt the State Department intrusion into the internal religious debate in Israel was “nothing short of outrageous”, and he contacted the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom over his concerns. However, he did admit to A7 that he had “actively criticized and helped stop” Israel from adopting measures to outlaw proselytizing.

This reminds Jewish Israel of the ambiguous stance which the ADL took back in 1998 when Israel was trying to adopt counter-missionary legislation:

In a letter to then Prime Minister Netanyahu, Abe Foxman penned:
“While we are concerned by efforts to convert Jews, we are also concerned by the implications such anti-missionary legislation would have on minority rights in Israel.”

And indeed ADL’s position, along with pressure from the U.S. government and evangelical and messianic groups, was instrumental in bringing about the defeat of the 1998 counter-missionary Bill in Israel - which had passed its first reading.

It sounds like American Jews are caught in some kind of “purgatory” between devotion to their Jewish heritage and loyalty to Amercan-style religious freedoms. But why do they have to export their dual-loyalty dilemma to us? And why do we Jews in Israel have to pay the price for this galut malady?

Israel is a unique nation, with uncommon obligations and challenges , and the Jewish people living here are certainly entitled to ensure religious continuity, seek moral clarity and formulate legislative solutions for our own people in our own way.

Meanwhile, Young Israel jumped on the bandwagon and condemned the State Department report criticizing Israel.

[Note: Agudath Israel of America had previously issued a statement which was critical of the State Department report].

But not everybody is criticizing the State Department’s report. The “Messianic” Christians of the Rosh Pina Project disapproved of Jewish Israel’s preliminary post on this issue and, true to form, they got down and dirty.

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