There Is No Such Thing as a “Messianic Jew”

Nov. 20 2018

Last month, at a rally in Michigan for then-congressional candidate Lena Epstein, a self-styled “messianic rabbi” (who was in fact defrocked fifteen years ago by the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations) delivered a benediction in honor of the victims of the Pittsburgh massacre, offending the sensibilities of many American Jews. David Wolpe explains why the terms “messianic Jew” and “Jew for Jesus” are deliberately misleading, and why the vast majority of Jews are justified in seeing them as outsiders:

According to the strict [talmudic] legal standard, a Jew, no matter what practice or belief he adopts, cannot leave Judaism. But as a communal, practical matter, of course one can. . . . [T]he clear bright line between Jews and Christians is, and has always been, belief in Jesus as divine. It was over precisely this question that early Christians separated from Jews. They were Christians because they accepted Jesus. In the first few centuries of Christianity that conviction split the new religion from its Jewish parent. If you ask why Christians persecuted Jews in the ancient, medieval, and modern period, that is the answer, because they accepted Jesus, and Jews refused to do so. . . .

After thousands of years of understanding this simple difference, in 1970, Moishe Rosen came to the strange realization that tweaking the message of Christianity was a successful strategy and “Jews for Jesus” or “messianic Jews” gained currency. It is a very attractive marketing scheme. You can stay Jewish! No need to abandon the faith of your ancestors. All you need do is make a small adjustment. Of course, that adjustment is precisely what has always divided you, but no matter. Of course, there are no Christians for Muhammad, but no matter. Be a Jew for Jesus, and when Jews object, just disparage their sensitivities.

A “Jew for Jesus” is an insult to Judaism and to Christianity. It takes the central tenet of a faith and pretends that you can hold it without being part of that faith. It is a strategy for conversion, . . . and a transparent one at that, . . . a marketing scheme dressed up as theology, a faith-based oxymoron that no one should believe. . . . [I]t is a disgrace and an offense to the countless Jews who remained faithful in the face of unimaginable suffering and gave their lives for refusing to accept Jesus as their savior.

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More about: Christianity, Judaism, Messianism, Religion & Holidays

How to Prevent Saudi Arabia from Getting Nuclear Weapons

Skeptics of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran warned that it could prompt a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. As they predicted, Saudi Arabia has been seeking assistance from the U.S. in obtaining civilian nuclear capabilities, while also speaking—in imitation of the Islamic Republic—of a “right” to enrich uranium, something it pledged not to do in a 2008 agreement with Washington. Were Riyadh to begin such enrichment, it could also produce the fuel necessary for nuclear weapons. Emily Landau and Shimon Stein warn of the dangers inherent in Saudi proliferation, and discuss how the U.S. and Israel should respond:

So long as the motivation to go nuclear remains strong, states are likely to find a way to develop [nuclear] capabilities, even if they have to pay a price for doing so. In Iran’s case, the major motivation for going nuclear is to enhance its hegemonic power in the Middle East. . . . But in the case of Saudi Arabia, if strong international powers . . . were to take a harsher stance toward Iran’s regional aggressions and missile developments and were to cooperate in order to improve the provisions of the [2015 nuclear deal], this would most likely have a direct and favorable impact on Saudi Arabia’s calculations about whether to develop nuclear capabilities.

A decision by the U.S. administration (or for that matter any other supplier) to allow Saudi Arabia to have enrichment capabilities will confront Israel with a dilemma.

On the one hand, it has been Israeli policy to do its utmost to deny any neighboring country with whom it does not have a peace treaty the means to acquire and develop a nuclear program. If Israel remains loyal to this approach, it should seek to deny Saudi Arabia enrichment capabilities. In practical terms this would imply making its opposition known in Washington.

On the other hand, given the “tactical alliance” with Saudi Arabia which has been primarily developed in response to the common Iranian threat, Israel could consider sacrificing its long-term interest in denying nuclear capabilities for the sake of its current interest in cultivating relations with the Saudis. Israel, [however], should support the traditional U.S. nonproliferation policies that allow states to have access to nuclear fuel for civilian purposes, while denying them the option to produce it themselves.

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More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Nuclear proliferation, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia