TORONTO — Jews for Judaism, the counter-missionary group, is taking B’nai Brith Canada to task over a full-page advertisement in the Toronto Star in which B’nai Brith partnered with several Jews for Jesus-type groups.
The Aug. 2 ad, taken out by B’nai Brith and eight Christian Zionist organizations, linked the Jewish fast day of Tisha b’Av with calls to end the “desecration” by Muslims of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
“Now under the control of the Islamic Waqf, [the Temple Mount is] being used as a playground while access is arbitrarily and severely restricted for non-Muslims who wish to pray there,” the ad stated. “Today, all of Israel’s holy sites, for all religions, face the modern-day threat of Hamas’s terrorist missiles.
“For Zion’s sake,” it continued, “the desecration must end, and Jews and Christians must be allowed to freely and openly worship G-d on the Temple Mount.”
The full-page colour ad in the Saturday Toronto Star’s A section was signed by B’nai Brith Canada and the following Christian groups: Christians United for Israel, Christian Friends of Israel, Sojourners Ways Christian Ministries, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, Jewish Christian Alliance, Christians for Israel Canada, the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, and Bridges for Peace.
Jews for Judaism believes some of these groups target Jews for conversion to Christianity and that B’nai Brith’s partnership with them was inappropriate.
This ad ran Aug. 2 in the Toronto Star.
“While it is effective to have a multi-faith effort here, it is impossible to imagine that B’nai Brith would have been comfortable having Jews for Jesus or Chosen People Ministries, sign on to the ad as partners,” Jews for Judaism said in an Aug. 11 statement posted to Facebook.
“It is therefore shocking and disappointing to see the inclusion of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry as a partner with B’nai Brith. They are an aggressive Christian missionary organization that for decades has worked tirelessly to convert Jews to Christianity… They have the very same goals as groups like Jews for Jesus.”
Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry “is an in-your-face missionary outfit that makes no bones about their goals and activities,” Jews for Judaism said.
Other organizations listed in the ad, while showing no obvious missionary agenda, are nevertheless also problematic, Jews for Judaism went on.
“Several have stated that their support of Israel is intended to ‘provoke the Jews to jealousy,’ and another states that its main objective is ‘to take the love of Jesus back to the people who brought it to us.’ ”
The CJN was unable to determine whether Sojourner Ways Christian Ministries and the Jewish Christian Alliance actually exist.
Christians United for Israel (CUFI) says it is the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States, with more than one-million members. “We believe that the Jewish People have a right to live in their ancient Land of Israel, and that the modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of this historic right,” the group states on its website.
One of the ad’s sponsors, Christians for Israel Canada, or c4i, notes in its statement of faith: “We believe that Jesus was and is the long-awaited Jewish Messiah (Christ) of Israel who died and rose again, and who will return to Israel at God the Father’s appointed time.”
Perhaps the most recognizable group, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, is “not on a street corner handing out pamphlets like Jews for Jesus are,” conceded Jews for Judaism founder Julius Ciss.
However, Ciss said he sat in on meetings that founded the ICEJ in the late 1970s when he was a so-called messianic Jew, “and I remember the message that I got for the reason they were establishing the [ICEJ]. [It] was to provoke the Jews to jealousy, to the love of Jesus.
“Do they do things that overt? No. [But] I don’t think any of that changed.”
As for B’nai Brith, “I’m concerned about any Jewish organization that does programming with evangelical Christians that have a mission to see Jews convert to Christianity,” Ciss said.
In response, B’nai Brith Canada CEO Frank Dimant scolded Jews for Judaism for taking the issue public: “I regret that two days after Tisha b’Av and at a time when the Jewish community is so united, that Jews for Judaism would seek to profit from what it alleges was a mistake by our organization.”
Jews for Judaism “should not seek to destroy Jewish unity at this time or to profit from the destruction of Jewish unity.”
Dimant told The CJN that the “appropriate” action would have been to phone B’nai Brith to discuss the matter.
Dimant also denied that Friends of Israel Gospel Ministries missionizes to Jews. Its website “indicates that it is primarily set up to support Israel, as evangelical organizations do. It does not deal with reaching out to Jews to convert them.”
However, he added, “Jews for Judaism may be correct, and we will do further explorations and investigations on this group to ascertain if we will partner with them in future ads.”
He said the ad “wasn’t 100 per cent vetted, but the people who brought the names to us were people we trusted. We are going to double check for the future [so] that we don’t have any embarrassing situations.”