As you know by now, a controversy is emerging in Israel as some Messianic Jews are choosing to defend antisemitism, in the name of “reconciliation”.
Salim Munayer, the leader of Musalaha was a key player in a recent antisemitic conference. He then denied it were possible for an Arab to ever be antisemitic. Munayer then blamed post-Holocaust guilt for the Vatican’s decision to respect Judaism – because liberalism to Jews is bad. Meanwhile, he apologised to Muslims that some Christians don’t respect Islam enough – because liberalism to Muslims is good.
When Mati Shoshani wrote an article in his personal capacity to praise Musalaha, the organisation then posted Shoshani’s job title on its website, as Shoshani is the COO of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice. Musalaha realised the significance of associating themselves with a flourishing Zionist outfit in world politics, even though Shoshani wrote his article in a personal capacity. What a great cover for their antisemitism!
Ignoring Munayer’s recent concerning behaviour – which includes signing an agreement calling for helping Hamas resist Israel– Mati Shoshani claims that Munayer is actually a great guy. According to Shoshani, Munayer is “truly a man of integrity“.
Responding to RPP, Shoshani seemed not to understand the awfulness of his support for Salim Munayer, and how obviously this clashes with the politics and the Israel advocacy of his own legal organisation. Rather, Shoshani found it disturbing that Messianic Jews should dare to criticise Salim Munayer.
Some of Shoshani’s remarks (“As a foreigner, you are obviously blind to such nuances”), chimed strangely with reconciliation between people of different nationalities.
Now here’s the thing.
Antisemitism does not just affect Israeli Messianic Jewish believers.
One of Salim Munayer’s friends, and fellow Christ at the Checkpoint organisers, is Stephen Sizer, a vicar who can’t help associating with terror-supporters and Holocaust deniers. Sizer’s book was the first Christian book to be translated by the Iranian government into Farsi – by the Ayatollah’s daughter, no less- as the regime throws house church leaders into gaol.
When I uncovered many of Sizer’s links to unsavoury characters, he sent the police to my doorstep, which was intimidatory and seen by many campaigners as an authoritarian action and a blow for free speech in the UK.
Sizer has never publicly or personally apologised to me for this. Yet he was welcomed by Salim Munayer at Christ at the Checkpoint, and the two men continue to campaign together.
Munayer recently completed a tour of the UK, using “reconciliation” as a theme in order to push his friendship with people like Sizer, and his own anti-Zionist politics. This would not have been possible, if all Israeli Messianic Jews would disassociate from Munayer until he himself retracts his past antisemitic and duplicitous statements, and distanced himself from Stephen Sizer and Christ at the Checkpoint.
To put it simply, the relationship between Messianic Jews in the Diaspora and in Israel is not one way. Most Messianic Jews I know in the Diaspora go to great lengths to support fellow believers in Israel. For most, their Zionism is bound up in protecting and showing solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Israel.
But the relationship must go both ways, and Israeli Messianic Jews too have a responsibility to take antisemitism seriously, and not to make fellowship with antisemitism in the name of “reconciliation”.
After – in my view – unfairly critiquing Israeli Messianic Jews in his parents’ generation, Shoshani would then sneer at me as a Messianic Jews outside of Israel, for not being informed enough to comment on internal Israeli affairs.
Location does not determine wisdom.
But when part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers – no one part is more important than another.
Shoshani probably has noble intentions, and accordingly, I respect the fact that he wants in some way to make things better in Israel, somehow. But this is not the way.
Mati Shoshani and other Israeli members of Musalaha are ultimately making a poor choice: to needlessly strain some relationships between Diaspora and Israeli Messianic Jews, because they think in this way they can improve relationships between Palestinian Christians and Israeli Messianic Jews.