Bible Burning Targeted at Messianic Jews

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CWN.org - In Israel, there are reports that some ultra-Orthodox Jews burned New Testaments in the town of Or Yehuda.

It's the latest in a series of incidents within Israel against Messianic Jews -- those who believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.

Uzi Aharon, the deputy mayor of Or Yehuda, organized the burnings of the New Testaments, according to the Israeli newspaper "Ma'ariv," which first reportered the story. Some of the Bibles were printed by the Bible Society in Israel. Victor Kalisher serves as the director of the Bible Society.

"To see that such books are being burnt, it is shocking. as a jew, as a son of a Holocaust survivor when i see something like that, it only tells me that much dangerous things will probably follow if we really don't do anything now and as far as i know, a part of talking about it and writing about it no actions took place," he said.

Even though his picture appears prominently in the Israeli newspaper, Or Yehuda's deputy mayor claims he did not take part in the burning but simply stopped young Yeshiva students when he saw what they were doing.

Aharon apologized for the incident but blamed Messianic Jews for the problem.

Reaction has been swift.

The prime minister's spokesman called it "a despicable act," and to the anti-defamation league, it was "...a violation of basic jewish principles and values." The American Jewish Committee said "no provocation can justify such outrageous behavior. 

"Haaretz," a prominent Israeli newspaper said 'the burning of Christian holy books in Or Yehuda is especially worrisome in light of the continued harassment of Messianic Jews in the country."

The most violent harassment took place on March 20. A bomb disguised as a holiday gift exploded in the home of David and Leah Ortiz nearly killing their 15-year-old son Ami. It also destroyed much of their apartment.

Now, more than two months later, there have been no arrests. The family's attorney claims police are not pursuing their investigation. Earlier this week, police failed in court to stop an Israeli news channel from broadcasting a report critical of the handling of the case.

Within the current atmosphere, Kalisher is concerned attacks against Messianic Jews will be tolerated.

"If the leaders of religious groups, people of leadership, people who should be role models are described as people who initiate and support burning of books with students dancing around it, the next day we can have people hurt, we can have windows broken, we can have a burnt shop," he said. "We cannot ignore it. We cannot think that...it's an isolated incident. It is not"

The feelings of Victor Kalasha the director of the Israel Bible Society are shared by many Messianic Jews throughout Israel. They're asking people and belivers around the world to pray for them as they go through this time of increased persecution.

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Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

CBN News Reporter

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