Doesn’t it sound a little silly, not to mention paranoid, when we kvetch all day about the world being against us, and then when we discover people who actually like us, we work overtime to convince ourselves that they must really be out to get us and are covering it up with a smile?
I am very clear on my stand: I do not, have not and will not work with any group that has a missionary agenda targeting Jews. I will be happy to cooperate with friends of Israel, regardless of their theology, be they Muslim, Christian, Druze, Buddhist or whatever. The fact that there are some Christians who would like to convert Jews does not at all prove that all Christians embrace that agenda. There are about 5000 different schools of thought that all come under the “Christian” banner, and some of those totally appreciate the Jewish people’s unchanged “chosen” status and our Torah mission. There are probably others who believe that Jews must fulfill the rebuilding of the State and Temple to promote their own Messianic visions. That doesn’t worry or even interest me.
Some who claim the position of “anti-missionary activists” are not objective and manipulate information in an attempt to prove that any Christian who smiles at a Jew is doing so in order to convert them. I do not appreciate the harassment and bullying tactics they frequently resort to, but I am not afraid of them, either. I read and consider articles attacking Glenn Beck as a missionary. I’m sorry to say that they commonly show a very shallow understanding of the topic they are writing about. Beck, Waller, Gohmert and even Hagee are not missionaries. If they were, they would be really lousy ones, considering the fact that with all of the effort they have put into helping Israel, they have failed to make any Jewish converts at all.
If you believe sitting at home and reading Tehillim is all a Jew needs to do to deal with international pressures on Israel, then I wish you luck. But, if you think that we should actually try to build alliances with others outside the Jewish people, then I have news for you: people who are not Jewish have their own theological beliefs (that should be obvious – if they are not Jewish, then they are something else). If they appreciate the Jewish people and understand that helping Israel is beneficial to both sides, then there is nothing wrong with interacting with them. Of course, the Halacha and common sense guide us on ways to do so without compromising our Jewish identity and national respect.
With all of that said, and with no intention to insult our friends, we really should not have such an inferiority complex. If our own religion is the real thing, and so naturally superior to theirs, do you really think that some guy is going to say “the J word” and Jews are going to be so impressed by that as to question our own faith? Nu, b’emet. [Common, really.]
On one hand, if you come by a group that is offering a service – like a club with attractive facilities – but they are also offering classes in Christian faith for Jews, it is obviously a front, and they are probably taking advantage of you and trying to attract other Jews to their classes. But on the other hand, if a Christian offers you money to buy needed equipment and help produce books and discs, or for Jewish development of the land of Israel and asks for no involvement in your content whatsoever, only asking that you bless them by continuing your work, then they are helping you spread your message. In the second case, I would not even sweat worrying that they might come back some day and ask for something else – because even if they do, you can say “no” (and there is a good chance that they will not, because they are genuine lovers of Israel with no other agenda). Yes, we should always be careful with whom we do business, but I don’t have to tell you that there are other Jews who can lead you astray into dangerous avenues, as well.
No, not all gestures of friendship by Christians hide an intention to missionize us. I do not accept that as a given. I am not talking about a relationship in which one side is manipulating the other. Neither am I saying that I think I can trick them into helping us without allowing them the prize of converting us. I would not cooperate with Christians who wish to convert us any more than I would cooperate with Muslims who wish to slaughter us. I will gladly work with goyim who appreciate the Jewish people for who we are and wish only for us to become the best Jews we can be.
Believe it or not, there are goyim who believe in the words of the Bible – and they trust that G-d did choose the Jewish people for a special mission – to be a light unto the nations. They actually look to us for direction. But living in fear and exile for hundreds of years has corrupted us. Now that we have returned to our land and the nations are witnessing the fulfillment of prophecies and look to us as teachers, we go running for cover, fearing they mean us harm. We must seize our opportunities as they arise, stand proudly and teach the nations the truth of the Torah. We possess G-d-given greatness and blessing; we need not fear; G-d is on our side.