Messianic Christians and Jews face growing hostility from ultra-Orthodox radical Jews in Israel. Recently, militants from the Lehava and Or l’Achim organizations physically attempted to block people from attending a Messianic Jewish convention in Jerusalem.
The Lehava – meaning “flame” – and Or l’Achim organizations oppose Christian presence and proselytization in Israel.
Lehava is an Israeli organization whose main objective is to oppose marriages between Jews and non-Jews, in particular the marriage of Jewish women with Arab men (in other words, Palestinians). Or l’Achim is an Israeli Orthodox Jewish organization, fighting against sects and mixed marriages in Israel.
The deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Arieh King, recently led a group of religious Jews chanting “missionaries, go home” as a group of Christians gathered at the Western Wall for a prayer service.
Israeli law enforcement went to the scene to disperse the militants and ensure the security of the event, which led to one activist’s arrest.
King opposes allowing “Christian missionaries to hold a Christian worship and ceremony designed to prepare a missionary effort directed at Israeli residents.” King also stated that he did not oppose a Christian presence in Israel per se but rather Christian proselytization.
Although there have long been occasional incidents of hostility and even violence against Christians in Israel, there has been an increase in recent months.
Some analysts believe that the increase in hostility and violence is linked to the current ruling coalition in Israel, which is largely supported by radical factions strongly protective of the Orthodox Jewish character of Israel and opposed to Christianity in the public square.
A number of high-ranking Israeli figures have condemned the violence against Christians, including the chief Sephardic Rabbi of Jerusalem and the leader of the opposition party in the Jerusalem city government.
These incidents occur in the context of ongoing civil unrest in Israel, where protests against proposed judicial reforms by the current Israeli government have led to widespread riots.