David Ha'ivri Services

Jerusalem Post report: Support for Israel from younger evangelicals dropping

David Ha’ivri, an independent strategist who has worked closely with Christian Zionists for years, said the movement is challenged with being interesting and exciting for the younger generation.“Another factor is that within the movement there are all kinds of evangelicals who are pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian,” he said.He noted that many families struggle to pass on their values to the next generation, using techniques like home schooling. “They bring them to Israel and are connected to remembering the Holocaust and the historical injustice done by Christians to Jews.”Ha’ivri wonders whether the findings of the current survey would have been similar 20 years ago, simply because younger people tend to change as they mature.


Are Christian Zionists a Threat to Israel?

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.

Bar or Bat Mitzvah is the time of coming of age

A Bar Mitzvah Message for Judah,

In the Jewish tradition, Bar or Bat Mitzvah is the time of coming of age, when an individual is considered big enough to be responsible for their own actions. Until this age, a child is taught by their parents to abide by the laws of the Torah on the basis of the parent’s obligation to educate their children. From this point on, the individual is accountable for his or her own deeds.

To mark this transition from childhood into the world of adult responsibilities, it is customary for the young man to be called to read from the weekly Torah portion during Shabbat morning prayers. In this week’s Torah reading, we will learn of two righteous gentiles – both of whom were of great assistance to Moses. Their help was instrumental in the path of the future leader of the Jewish people. Bitya, the daughter of Pharaoh, saved Moses’ life by taking him out of the waters of the Nile and raising him as her own. Although growing up in the royal palace, Moses would not forget the suffering of his people. Forced to flee to the desert after taking matters into his own hands, Moses again encounters a stranger named Yitro, who will not only become Moses’ father-in-law, but also a friend of Israel.

Both cases are seen as phenomenal; how much more so during the period of great oppression of the people of Israel by the superpower of the time – Pharaoh of Egypt. Based on a long historical narrative of oppression, the Jewish people have become accustomed to gentiles not liking us, to say the least, and not appreciating our laws and customs. So, understand that for the Jewish reader, these events seem out of the norm and even extraordinary. A “goy” came to the rescue – while Pharaoh had instructed all Egyptians to throw our children in the river, one Egyptian woman reached out and saved a Jewish baby. While Moses was on the run from the authorities for acts of vigilance for the Jews, a gentile priest gave him refuge and married him to his daughter.

When you read this Torah portion, consider the special challenges that each of these Biblical figures went through and how they each made the right decision to fulfill G-d’s will – even in very difficult situations. Choosing to do the right thing is not a given, but rather our ongoing challenge in this world. Your family has made extraordinary choices by deciding to align themselves with the people and G-d of Israel. Like the righteous gentiles we read about in Parashat Shemot, they could have taken the easy path and been just like everyone else. But instead, they choose to dig deeper and work harder for the real thing.

I have great appreciation for your family, their values and their true dedication to Israel. You are gifted to have a solid foundation. Now it is for you to take this foundation to use as a guide to take you through adulthood. I am sure that you will be a fine example for your younger siblings and a source of pride to your parents.

My blessings to you and best wishes of “Mazel Tov!”

David Ha’ivri

Appreciation for the supporters of Israel

Yesterday at the central Sukkot event in Har Bracha in Shomron, celebrating the dedication of yet another new neighborhood for the community, I had the pleasure of hearing a speech from a bright young man, a 14 year old American boy who has come to Israel with his family as part of a group of Christians who are dedicated to expressing their support for Israel’s rights in Judea and Samaria.
I must say from my experience traveling around on behalf of Israel, that such straightforward support for Israel is extraordinary. Unfortunately, even most pro-Israel groups are afraid of appearing not politically correct and lack the courage or understanding needed to support Israel’s claim to its own heartland.I would like to thank Josiah Hilton and the HaYovel group for their commitment to the Jewish people and the land of Israel. May HaShem show you the way and give you the platform to teach the nations love for Israel.
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed and David Ha'ivri

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed and David Ha’ivri

Josiah Hilton speaking at Har Bracha

I would like to say “thank you” to Rabbi Melamed and the community of Har Bracha for allowing us to be here on this very special occasion.  

My name is Josiah Hilton, and I’m 14 years old.

I’m here as a part of HaYovel, our group of Christian volunteers that have come from all over the world to volunteer in the vineyards and olive groves of Judea and Samaria.

I first came to Israel with my family when I was 11 years old, during the harvest season of 2010. Even though I was younger, and may not have grasped the entire significance of the volunteer work that we were doing, for me, there was a special connection to be made here. As a Christian, I have heard the stories of the Bible all of my life: about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. When I came here, I realized that this is where the history of the Bible all took place; this is the land of the covenants; this is the heartland of Israel.

Our group of 300 volunteers is here to serve you, the Jewish people and make a statement to the world. We believe that HaShem gave you this land as an everlasting covenant. No matter what international pressure you receive, we will stand with you. We feel that Christians have too long either stood by and been silent, or have helped in the evils that have been done against you. We are here to say “no more!” Today, whatever part we can have to help here in this Land, that is what we want to do!

Thanks to Rabbi Melamed, Gershon Mesika, Nir Lavi, Erez Ben Sa’adon, and many others, we have had the incredible honor to not only witness prophecies that were spoken 2,000 years ago, but to take an active part in their fulfillment! For us, as foreigners, this is truly an amazing privilege and honor. We cannot thank you enough!

Towards ‘Tikkun Olam’

When it comes to relations with Christians, Jewish people tend to be suspicious and a bit paranoid, which is not very surprising when reviewing the mutual history of the two peoples.

Jews have been physically and spiritually targeted by the Christians for the better part of the past 1700 years. Ever since the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine adopted the cross and turned it into a sword, the sword has been at the throats of Jews in the name of the Church.

This grim history has included Crusader soldiers bearing the emblem of the cross on their chests as they rampaged through the cities of Europe rounding up Jewish communities in order to burn them alive in their synagogues along with their Torah scrolls.

Blood libels emerged repeatedly, accusing Jews of murdering Christian children and using their blood to bake their Passover matza.

The terrors of the Inquisition included offering Jews of Spain a choice between accepting the Christian faith and burning at the stake, among other forms of torture.

While many Jews fled Spain, others chose to outwardly convert to Christianity and continue to observe Judaism in hiding. Still others fully embraced the Church as a refuge (which later proved useless as the hatred of Jews followed them, in spite of their having left the Jewish faith).

In the last century, the Pope and the Vatican at best ignored the plight of the Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

In the new world, without violence, Christians have gone to great lengths to persuade Jews to leave their ancient faith and embrace Christianity, from Jews for Jesus to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses randomly knocking on doors.

History has left its impression on the collective Jewish memory that we are prime game being hunted down in one way or another.

For ages, Christian replacement theology has taught that Jews have been abandoned and un-chosen by the Creator as punishment for not accepting the Christian Messiah. Pastors and their flocks felt a responsibility to help prove that the Jews would always suffer disgrace and would never rise to greatness again.

In 1948, a turnaround occurred that would literally toss replacement theology out the window of history. The Jewish people came out of exile, returned to their historic homeland and re-established our nation and country. The world witnessed unexplainable victories of the few against the many, as in the days of Yehuda the Maccabee.

1967 saw Israel’s heartland, the land of the Bible and the capital city of our King David returned to the People of the Book. The promises of the prophets began coming to life, just as if they were a script for the events taking place.

These realities caused a fundamental crack in a mistaken Christian theology and kicked off a shift towards simple belief in the Bible.

In the Jewish faith as written in Biblical sources, we anticipate the gathering of the Jewish people back to our land, the re-birth of our nation and the blessings of the fruit of the land as signs of the beginning of the promised redemption.

What we need to realize is that the redemption of Israel is not detached from the rest of the world. It is actually “Tikkun Olam,” the fixing of the world or putting the world back on its rightful track. The nation of Israel has been given its own commandments, but also a special mission in this world to be a light unto the nations. When the nations recognize that special mission and respect it, that too should be seen as a clear sign that the redemption is on its way.

When nations begin looking to the people and land of Israel as the source of blessing in this world, the fulfillment of Tikkun Olam is at hand.

It is understandable that Jewish people find it strange that non-Jews offer their hands in friendship and wish to assist. We can hardly find such gestures in our collective memory, and it seems so unexpected after centuries of oppression.

Normally, a Jew would expect that when a non-Jew shows his hand it would be a fist striking him. So when that hand is offered in friendship, the Jewish reflex is to question the motive of the gesture. We ask, “What is the Goy trying to achieve? What could be the hidden agenda?”

Yes, there still are Christians who have been trained in an outdated but lingering replacement theology, who think that their responsibility is to convert the Jews. We must check and be sure that those with whom we interact are coming to us because they understand the truth of G-d’s word in Bereshit 12:3, “those who bless Israel will be blessed . . . ”

Once we confirm that their motives are pure, although that may not be easy to do, we should then accept their offer of friendship. Only on the platform of such friendship can we begin to carry out our G-d-given responsibility to the nations and share with them the light of the Nation of Israel.

Photo Credit to The Groat Family

An outpost carved in bedrock

By Lela Gilbert published in Jerusalem Post

Photo Credit to The Groat Family

Sunrise in Shomron by Groat famly

In recent weeks, US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have placed the words “Israeli settlements” on the front pages of global newspapers. In the administration’s rush to revive the Middle East peace process, both have demanded a freeze on settlements, including “natural growth,” which to the ears of some Israelis amounts to a ban on childbearing and room additions.

This leaves one asking, first of all, what is a settlement? The definition of this hot-button political term has always been a little confusing to me. A couple of years ago, I was invited to visit a rabbi and his family in Kfar Etzion – part of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc (population 60,000). This rabbi is the son of a friend back in California, and his pleasant home is situated in what a Californian like me would call a “gated community.” Kfar Etzion was rebuilt near the scene of a 1948 massacre of Jews; the survivors vowed to return, and after the Six Day War they did. Today, along with its brave history, Kfar Etzion boasts a population of 400, two identical synagogues and a communal spirit. Granted, the guard at the gate is heavily armed, and an IDF base bristles with weaponry just across the valley.

But my mental image of Wild West outlaws squatting on illegal land bore no resemblance to the child-friendly gardens and streets I saw, and the peace-minded modern Orthodox residents I met. Then I got to know a family from Ariel – friends of friends – whose daughter, a promising jazz singer, frequently performs in Tel Aviv. These folks are anything but religious settlers. They are, in fact, self-described agnostics. They moved to Ariel decades ago when it was the only place in which they could afford to buy a flat or raise a family. The father is a brooding Holocaust survivor who lost more than 40 family members in the camps and made aliya from the Balkans as a young man. The mother is a pretty and cheerful sabra. They have three daughters, one in the IDF, and earn their living in the hi-tech industry. Finally, a couple of weeks ago I moved into a close friend’s guest apartment in Har Adar – a lovely and quiet suburb of Jerusalem, verdant with flowers and trees, blessed with spectacular views of Jerusalem and of surrounding Arab villages. Har Adar, although barely across the Green Line, is also a settlement. I arrived for the summer just in time to hear Obama’s demands that all settlement growth must cease. As fate would have it, I had just increased Har Adar’s population by one.

FORMER AMBASSADOR to the UN Dore Gold recently explained in a column in The Jerusalem Post that “Israeli settlements in the territories captured in the 1967 war date back more than 40 years. They began as military and agricultural outposts that were located for the most part in strategically significant areas of the West Bank, which Israel planned to eventually claim. These settlements were also situated in areas from which Jews had been evicted during the 1948-49 war…” Other settlements were later erected deeper in Judea and Samaria for ideological reasons, in an effort by religious Zionists to put down Jewish roots again in such biblical places as Shiloh, Beit El and Efrata. But as Gold pointed out, it was not until the Carter administration that the US State Department declared settlements to be in violation of international law. Yet Carter’s policy was then reversed by all of his successors, who deemed them problematic but not illegal. This official approach persisted until 2001, when George Mitchell authored the “Mitchell Report,” which recommended that, as a part of confidence-building measures between the parties, “Israel should freeze all settlement activity, including the ‘natural growth’ of existing settlements.”

Clearly the size, character, appearance and reputation of the various cities, towns, regional councils and neighborhoods within the settlement enterprise vary significantly. There is, however, one kind of settlement that really seems to embody the gun-toting, Wild West stereotype – the “outpost”; and especially if it is populated by the most unruly of all the settlers – the “hilltop youths.” In 1998, on the eve of the Wye Plantation talks that were to divide up the West Bank, then-cabinet minister Ariel Sharon famously told the settlement movement that “everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements, because everything we take now will stay ours… Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”

Inspired by this command from their erstwhile hero and by the religious vision of a Greater Israel based on biblically defined borders, a band of religious nationalists began to occupy the barren, windy hilltops of Samaria. The first such hilltop outpost was established by a settler from Itamar, overlooking the ancient city of Shechem (today’s Nablus), who began parking each of his sons on the successive peaks of a ridge running eastward down towards the Jordan Valley. In the wake of that move, he has since become head of the entire Samaria Regional Council, which includes 60,000 residents spread over more than 30 communities.

I HAVE heard and read a range of arguments about the hilltop youths – some commentators defend their patriotic courage and commitment to Judaism; others describe them as troublemaking anarchists with no respect for parents, rabbis or the State of Israel. They have grown up under a failed Oslo peace process, a horrific wave of terrorism in the second intifada and the August 2005 uprooting by prime minister Sharon of the very settlements in Gaza that he had helped to establish. As some explain it, among this third generation of settlers are those who no longer listen to or trust anyone. So when I was invited to visit a few of them in their far-flung communities, I was eager to go. In my mind, when it comes to settlers, these sounded like the “real thing,” unlike my secular suburbanite neighbors in Har Adar.

We met first with David Ha’ivri, a liaison for the Samaria Regional Council from the far-right community of Kfar Tapuah. He had agreed to take us to one of the more established hilltop outposts – Givot Olam – several peaks over on that ridge east of Itamar. He described it as a thriving “ranch” that is not only the largest producer of organic eggs in Israel, but also provides goat milk for retail establishments throughout the country. Givot Olam also contains the largest ancient Jewish winepress and wine cellar ever found in the region, dating back 3,200 years – almost to the time of Joshua’s conquest of the land. Ha’ivri first guided us to the central feature of the outpost, a light-filled community center with a spotless kitchen, dining room and outside tables that provide a gathering place for the 50 young and industrious residents who build its structures and tend to its animals. Yes, there are guns around, and we were quietly informed that we weren’t particularly welcomed by all who were there – less because we were Christians than because we were journalists, and therefore assumed to be hostile. “They’ve been burned by reporters before,” Ha’ivri explained. Nonetheless, after a cup of coffee laced with goat’s milk and sugar, we went out to see the place. I’ll leave it to politicians and rabbis and scholars to argue the pros and cons of outposts such as Givot Olam and will simply describe what is there.

OUR FIRST stop was at a stone memorial dedicated to Joshua, the biblical hero. The mild-mannered young artist who designed it, Asaf Kidron, was deeply grieved by Sharon’s disengagement from Gaza. Here, on one of the very hilltops Sharon had encouraged Israelis to settle, Kidron has fashioned a monument out of stones from every place mentioned in the Bible where Joshua set foot. His handiwork includes a lengthy tribute to the Israelite leader, who challenged his people to have courage and strength as they took possession of their God-given land. We stood in an ancient winepress carved in bedrock circa 1,200 BCE, while Ha’ivri told us about award-winning boutique wines now being produced in Samaria. We also descended a narrow stone staircase for a quick look inside a centuries-old wine cellar nearby. From there we walked to small but beautiful synagogue, also decorated by Asaf Kidron. It was the first building constructed in Givot Olam after its gifted and controversial founder, Avri Ran, pitched tents on the hilltop. Since that time electricity and water and public transport have arrived. An “at-risk youth” program has been set in motion, small children with colorful backpacks walk safely to and from school and the organic farming enterprise has prospered. Across the valley, Ha’ivri pointed out a Chabad yeshiva on another hilltop. As to Givot Olam’s peace and security, in 2005 Avri Ran said, “The Arabs are not afraid of me. They revere me. They are wary of me, yes. Have I set out regulations? Certainly. There is not one Arab in the Nablus region who dares to work contrary to my rules. Every Arab knows this. What does this say? This says that there is a Jew in town, a son of Abraham our father – that the ancient Jews have returned a little to the Land of Israel. And a Jew must be respected…” IT WAS Friday, and our hosts had to finish their duties before Shabbat, but on our way back we stopped briefly to see the goats in one of the ranch’s immaculate barns. I walked into a surreally tranquil scene, with sun filtering through skylights, and singing birds flying in and out of the broad doorways.

Ha’ivri pointed toward a loft above me as I stood inside the barn. “Do you see that piano?” he asked me. “Someone plays the piano while the goats are being milked, to soothe them.” Minutes later, we headed for Har Adar. I left Givot Olam with the idea that I’d probably return. For one thing, I’m curious about a local wine and goat-cheese tasting event scheduled to take place there in coming weeks. But I also hope to learn a little more about the people who live on the windswept hilltops: What do they hope for and what do they fear? How they will react to President Obama’s hard-line stance against settlement growth, and to the government’s response? Just how serious are they about their vow that there will be no more uprooting of settlements or outposts “without a price.” Their answers may be as unyielding as the ancient Samarian stones. Because if what I’ve read about these settlers is true, in recent years they have drawn a few hard lines of their own.

The writer has authored or coauthored more than 60 books, primarily in ecumenical Christian nonfiction, including the award-winning Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion (Oxford University Press, 2009). She is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute.

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