The Anti-Israel Launch of the Balfour Apology Campaign

David Collier 

Nov 15, Dec 8, 2016

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On Oct. 25, I witnessed an event at the House of Lords (the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom) in which the Jews who died during the Holocaust were staggeringly held accountable for their own fate.

While public meetings of this kind are typically innocuous enough, this one was different. The event at the Palace of Westminster was put together by the Palestine Return Center, a United Kingdom-based non-government organization that focuses on Palestinian refugees. It was hosted by Baroness Jenny Tonge, a life peer in the House of Lords and (at the time) a member of the Liberal Democrat Party. She resigned soon after because of massive worldwide criticism of the event and of her apathy. Tonge is no stranger to controversy about the land of Israel. During the past 12 years, she has been rebuked and sanctioned several times because of her comments about the issue. After Israel sent medical help following a disaster in Haiti, she was linked to claims that the Jewish people had taken that opportunity to harvest organs.

This particular House of Lords meeting was called to launch the “Balfour Apology Campaign.” Nov. 2, 2017 will mark the 100th anniversary of United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour’s letter to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The letter said that Britain “viewed with favor” the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.

This letter started the international political process that would result in the mandate, partition and eventual creation of the State of Israel. For Israel, the upcoming 100-year anniversary is a cause for celebration. For the Arabs, it is an entirely different matter. Palestinians have asked the British to apologize for Balfour – for what they view as Britain’s giving away their land.

I was shocked at the anti-Semitism in the air at the event. There is no point in being directed by anger, nor in losing one’s self in the creation of an irrational inhuman enemy. These methods merely provide a lazy way out; a system of avoiding uncomfortable moments of self-reflection. There is a line that can be drawn between the civil war in 1948 and those who sat in the House of Lords demanding an apology from the British government. The line can be drawn farther back than even the 1917 letter that the House of Lords created this event to discuss.

I looked around and felt sorry for the Arabs in the room. They have tied their flag to yet another pole that will bring only additional wasted years and more bloodshed. I cast my mind back to my Arab family and friends in Ramallah and Nablus, Jericho and Bethlehem, Qalqilya and Tulkarm. It has been 16 years since the outbreak of the second “intifada;” since all of those bridges were burned. Another generation wasted. I could not help but feel sympathy for a desperate people who depend so totally on this, the hopeless cast of a thousand who lead them.

The PRC event

I was not the only Zionist in the room. Tonge publicly welcomed someone from “Israel radio.” She took the opportunity to score points by thanking the reporter for the publicity his articles had brought her in the past. But her welcome also warned everyone that Zionist ears were in the room. From that moment on, I knew that Tonge would be on her best behavior.

The central thrust of the event was to discuss the activity that will take place during the next 12 months. An online petition asking for a British apology for Balfour is expected to launch within days; its target is 100,000 signatures by late spring. There are also plans to have a large public demonstration in London’s Trafalgar Square on the 100th anniversary.

One of the event speakers introduced himself as a “British Palestinian.” Karl Sabbagh was born in Worcestershire in the early 1940s as a British passport-holder, not a refugee. His mother was British, of American and Irish parentage. He asked the international community to create an alliance of power to remove the “invaders” and replace the Jewish State. A mirror image of the Zionist monster he imagines in his head, Sabbagh is on a strange personal mission.

The first two talks were nothing special; they served up the same fare I have heard 1,000 times: Balfour was a “mistake.” The telling of a narrative held together by sticky tape with a C.S Lewis or Enid Blyton signature. The third talk was by Betty Hunter, honorary president of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the U.K.’s largest pro-Palestinian organization. There was also a “special guest speaker” who had not been listed on the program: Yakov Rabkin, a “professor of history at the Université de Montréal.” A rabid anti-Zionist Jew.

After the speakers finished, the audience got its turn, leaving the scripted, careful talk behind. There were four incidents that I need to describe to expand on this issue of growing anti-Semitism. But first, the groundwork:

The failure of a science

The pro-Palestinian reasoning is built on falsehoods. It is why “anti-Israel” is a more fitting description of the movement. In truth, it does nothing to help the Palestinians. Yes, it supports the British Palestinian. And yes, it waves the flag of an emotional cause. But to assist the future of the actual Palestinian family? To invest, build infrastructure, help carve the groundwork for a future nation? To encourage sacrificing some of the “principles” to gain future prosperity for the children? These are things that nobody in the anti-Israel camp ever does.

The narrative itself is founded upon too many myths to withstand rigorous investigation. The conclusions and assumptions built from within this paradigm are also false. This creates major issues for those who have become emotionally invested in the Palestinian cause.

Prior to 2000, there was room to maneuver. As the Oslo process presented a two-state option, it was possible to be both “for the Palestinians” and – in theory at least – a vocal supporter of Israel. This possibility collapsed in September 2000 during the violence of the second intifada.

The Israelis and most of the rational world understood the causes and implications of the failure of the Oslo process. Sure, Israel hadn’t been the perfect partner; it had not stuck precisely to the letter of the agreement. But this didn’t cause the intifada. The violence was strategy; a Palestinian choice. The leaders (such as they were) remained unable to provide an end game. They left the negotiating table. Today, the weakness of the Palestinian leadership is amplified tenfold.

This was a dilemma for the opposing camp. The outbreak signaled a major flaw with the underlying assumptions. Enough to cause a shift. This fundamental challenge destroyed the Israeli peace camp and ended most support for the Palestinian cause. For the Arab narrative to hold true, additional adjustments needed to be made to the basic principles. Thus, the narrative of “demonic Israel” began to enter the mainstream.

Demonic Israel

Anyone familiar with Thomas Kuhn’s structure of scientific revolutions understands that there is always strong resistance to change from within the established community, which will continue to add ever more elaborate dimensions to the paradigm in an attempt to hold it together. The Israeli left collapsed because it was no longer able to maintain scientific cohesion. If the Arabs had to be absolved of blame entirely – despite the evidence at hand – Israel needed to turn from a nation seeking to defend itself into a demon state capable of committing all evils. The Israeli left knew this was not true.

This “demonic” element is now a primary pillar on which the entire movement is built. People such as Ben White in the U.K., Max Blumenthal in the U.S. and Ronnie Barkan of Israel have made careers out of it. So as expected, during the House of Lords event, Israel was demonized at every turn.

When Hunter discussed the label of democratic Israel, she said,

A crucial point is put in the media all the time: that is Israel is not a democracy. It is not a democracy because not all the citizens have the same rights. They can’t live in the same places, they can’t get the same jobs, they can’t go to the schools together, they don’t get the same amount back from the taxes – which are equal. That’s very equal between the Palestinian Israelis and the Jewish Israelis, but the benefits do not go to the Palestinian population, and we heard about what happened (as Karl said) to the elected representatives to the Knesset. We just have to remember the campaign that has been going on all year about the Bedouin people who are being driven from their land by the 10,000s. There have been many more already driven from their lands, but this is the current catastrophe. So it is not a democracy. And that is another issue that we have to explain to the British public.

This is nonsense. Israel is a vibrant democracy. When placed against the majority of nations on this planet, its liberal values simply sparkle. But the demonic label is not restricted to Israeli policy inside the lands taken in 1967. It is vital for the “cause” that the very nature of the Israeli state be called into question. Thus came about the ludicrous labels of “apartheid,” “settler colonial,” “genocidal” and so forth, which attempt to force Israel to question its right to exist. This is why the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has to focus on Israeli citizens.

Although this demonizing process was crucial to the anti-Israel movement’s maintenance of its integrity, the scientific “bolt-on” created another issue within the ranks: the accusation of anti-Semitism. The overwhelming majority of Jewish people are Zionists. According to a recent poll, more than 90 percent of Jewish people believe that Israel is a part of their Jewish identity. The fringe anti-Zionist Jews are split between Communists and a single strange, ultra-orthodox sect. Those who demonize Israel and Israeli supporters effectively tarnish almost every single Jew.

How can the cause maintain integrity while also allowing for the horrific accusation of anti-Semitism to be leveled toward the humanitarian groups of the left? Never underestimate the innovation of adherents desperate to maintain the inherent structural logic of their own particular paradigm. It was time to split the Jewish people.

The Zionist and the Jew

As questions were asked, another Zionist Jew, Mike Abramov, presented himself. In the room full of vitriol, he was one of the brave individuals who would not sit by idly as lies were spread. He spoke up for Israel. The woman sitting next to me muttered, “There is always one.”

Then, a “Palestinian writer and political analyst” said that Balfour was deliberate, rather than a mistake. He added,

What a difference between the Jew and the Zionist’! [Applause] Most Jews who admit that Israel does not stand for them should come forward and stand with us, because what we want is coexistence. We don’t want to throw anyone into the sea. We want to reclaim our rights, and we want the world to stand with us for claiming our rights.

He was referring to the difference between what he deemed the acceptable Jewish anti-Zionist professor and the Zionist Jewish attendee who stuck up for the democratic Jewish State. His comment denied the Jewishness of the Zionist. It created a good Jew – a real Jew – and, on the other side, the Zionist. The clear message was, “Real Jews are ones who hate Israel. Only if you hate Israel will we accept you as Jewish.” The anti-Israel camp clearly defined what it considered Jewish and what it did not. During the meeting, my Jewish identity was deliberately and specifically attacked. But that’s not all.

The Zionists who caused the Holocaust

Four ultra-orthodox Jews from the Neturei Karta showed up at some point during the event. As relevant to Judaism as some esoteric Christian sect is to Christianity, these same Jews are at the front of every anti-Israeli action.

The spokesman of the group began his speech by comparing Israel to the Islamic State:

ISIS is a perversion of Islam, just as Zionism is a perversion of Judaism. One of the main Zionists in America, Rabbi Stephen Wise, a reform, a heretic so-called rabbi, he spoke in The New York Times in 1905 that there were 6 million – note the number – bleeding and suffering reasons to justify Zionism.

I cannot stress strongly enough the implication of the instruction to “note the number.” This is from a Holocaust denial script. The explanation given by neo-Nazi sites is that this quote is evidence that the Jews had already decided on the 6 million figure 40 years before the Holocaust. Therefore, the Holocaust is a hoax.

Not done with regurgitating the Holocaust hoax argument, the man continued by saying that the Jews antagonized Hitler, pushing him over the edge and into becoming a madman. By stating that Zionist actions caused Hitler to go mad and kill Jews, this speech placed the blame of the Holocaust squarely onto the Zionists.

Jewish power

Another member of the audience said, “Chaim Weizmann did a confidence trick back in 1917/1918. He made the British establishment think that world Jewry had power that it just didn’t have. The trouble is, 100 years on, I am not talking about world Jewry. I am talking about ‘that segment’ which we call the ‘Zionist movement’ has that power, and it has it over our own parliament.”

This is the transference of classic anti-Semitic tropes from the hands of the Jew to the hands of the Zionist. This comment makes no sense outside the existence of anti-Semitism. How can the “Zionist movement” control anything? I have met most of the local leaders of the Zionist groups. As nice as they are, world controllers they are not.

Worrying times

And the evening was over. I went home physically sick. This was not the first time I had witnessed such an event within the central estate of one of the greatest democracies on earth.

It is important to understand that anti-Semitism is a natural by-product of the anti-Israel position. Further, to maintain integrity, several new myths must be propagated. Many people tell the strange tale of the Khazars, suggesting that Jews are not even Jewish, but rather obscure converts. Interestingly, they apply the Jewish label freely onto anyone who will demonize Israel. Only Zionist Jews have a fake heritage.

Many anti-Semites argue that Zionism isn’t Jewish at all. Rather, they seem to believe that the Zionists – with their Jewish status now removed, of course – are evildoers who must be opposed. “Real Jews” oppose Zionists. Through this method, they define “Jewishness.” They create a type of Jew that can be legitimately hated; a brilliantly created necessity to prop up a narrative full of holes. Jews must pay the price. At some point during the event, a member of the audience commented that “if anyone is anti-Semitic, it is the Israelis themselves.” That remark was applauded by the rest of the audience.

Zionist power. Every insult that was once thrown at Jews is now safely directed toward any Jew who supports Israel. Zionists control the banks, the media and – as we heard at the House of Lords – the government. How is this not anti-Semitism?

Zionists have evil intent. Every Zionist action is driven by greed or bloodlust.

These are groups of people with major emotional investment in their cause. They will not simply let go. It is getting worse because it must get worse. The anti-Zionist movement cannot maintain integrity without further fueling the split between Jew and Zionist. The longer this goes on, the louder the accusations of anti-Semitism will become.

Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism as we have seen it before. This is a new breed. A mixture. It is dangerous and it is scary because it cannot survive without carrying anti-Semitism along with it.

So, Jewish Zionists – the vast majority of Jewish people in the world – become targets. Until someone in a position of power puts a stop to this, preferably through an internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism, the vast majority of Jews remain “legitimate” targets of hate crimes.

On Oct. 25, I witnessed a Jew-hating festival at the heart of the British estate. Balfour is a cause for celebration. The only apology necessary must come from those responsible for feeding anti-Semitism.

This article originally appeared on Philos Project, November 3, and reposted with permission.





David Collier

David Collier has been writing about Israel for 18 years and blogs from "Beyond the Great Divide." He spends much of his time undercover inside the anti-Zionist camp, and is researching rising anti-Semitic forces in Europe.





The American Church Needs Revival

Jamie Cowen 

Nov 12, and Dec 5, 2016

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For the first time in forty years I voted for a Democrat in the US Presidential elections. I do not share many of the social and economic values of the Democratic Party. Had the Republicans nominated a mainstream Republican at their convention, I would have voted Republican. As Donald Trump gained support in the early Republican primaries, I increasingly spoke out against him and challenged Christian support for him. I was and am shocked that a person with no political experience, who denigrates the marginalized and disenfranchised and who boasts of sexually attacking and conquering women could be elected President of the United States.

Consider these comments from John Winthrop, one of the founders of the American colonies: “We shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.” The passengers, Puritans from England, who joined Winthrop were determined to be a beacon for the rest of Europe, “a model of Christian charity,” in the words of the governor. Almost four hundred years later the United States has become the most influential nation in world history, and people from all over the world seek to come to her. Now, that so-called model is becoming a mockery, largely due to the influence of the evangelical church, which publically and overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump’s candidacy.

Many Trump supporters countered moral objections to his candidacy by claiming the United States was not electing a pastor. While, of course, that is true, character counts in any leadership position. I well remember the outrage against former President Clinton because of his sexual dalliances with Monica Lewinsky. Many Christian leaders supported his impeachment. Intuitively, any serious follower of Yeshua knows he or she should not condone moral and ethical failure.

Notwithstanding the above, I understand Trump’s popular support. Many in the United States are frustrated with a big and intrusive government. Many rightfully are concerned about rapid cultural change where almost any behavior is claimed as a constitutional right. Many blue collar workers have experienced stagnant or shrinking wages for three decades. All of these groups and more resent Wall Street and Washington, DC elites from imposing upon them a lifestyle they either reject or are not a part of. Thus, Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” resonates with these people.

What makes America a great country is the power of the people to vote for change. We saw it in 2008 when Barak Obama was elected President, and we see it again this year. Consequently, everyone is free to vote for whom they wish without the need to justify it. As I have written before, what I find objectionable, however, is Christian leaders endorsing and publicly supporting candidates, as if that places God’s imprimatur upon those individuals. The worst example of this occurred this year with Christian support of a man who is the antithesis of a follower of Yeshua. Hear Yeshua’s words to his disciples, in part captured by Governor Winthrop above:

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.”

We are called to be different, behave differently and speak differently, to showcase the God Whom we serve. Can you imagine Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney and Billy Graham, the three most prominent preachers from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, publicly supporting someone like Donald Trump? It’s laughable. Rather than endorsing political candidates, a religious leader should instruct his constituents to examine candidates’ characters, experience and policies and then seek the Lord for guidance as to how to vote. In this way, the leader avoids the natural association that the congregants make among the leader, God and the candidate the leader prefers. With the election over, let’s pray for the success of the new government just as we should have been praying for the old one. Nevertheless, the American church needs revival, where it once again becomes light and salt to those around about it. Sadly, publicly endorsing someone for President who flaunts ungodly behavior and speech undermined what little credibility it had left.



Jamie Cowen


Jamie Cowen

Jamie Cowen is a Partner at , Cohen, Pex, Brosh Law Offices, Petach Tikvah, Israel; Former Rabbi, Tikvat Israel Congregation, Richmond, Viriginia; Former President, Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations; Former Chief Counsel, US Senate Subcommittee 1978-1986




End times general consensus

Daniel Juster 

Nov 24, 2016

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Eschatology is teaching on the Last Days and the Age to Come.

A consensus has developed in the doctrine of eschatology in the Christian world. We could almost call these points truisms today, though not all are aware of them. Here is the general consensus: The Last Days began with the coming of Yeshua and continued to progress with his death, resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Shavuot). The Kingdom of God has come, but its full manifestation will come with the second coming of Yeshua.

Cataclysm and Intervention

The Last of the Last Days now refers to the events that will take place shortly before the Second coming of Yeshua. This time will include a very difficult trial for God’s people, as they are resisted by the powers of darkness. In Jewish thought this time is called the birth pangs of the Messiah (Sanhedrin 98). Classical Jewish eschatology pretty much tracks with the Church on this issue of a great trial at the end of this age. I call this view Cataclysm and Intervention.

However, at the end, God’s people will be delivered and we will enter into the Age to Come. This broad consensus is even reflected in the Roman Catholic Catechism that states,

Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. 675

The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil…677

What About Israel?

Our teaching is very much in accord with this consensus, but we believe it is missing the end times piece connected to Israel and the Jewish people. Concerning Israel, the Hebrew Scriptures constantly give reference to a final battle (Joel 3, Isaiah 25-27, Ezekiel 38, 39, and so many more) connected to the Jewish people in Israel. Let us just reference one.

Zechariah 12, 14 – Here we read of the invasion of the nations and the battle for Jerusalem. This leads to an amazing time of repentance after the battle, and Israel looks upon Him whom they have pierced (12:10) which classically is looked at as Israel turning to Yeshua. At the end of this great battle the nations all turn to God and worship God annually in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).

Thankfully, we are seeing Israel and the Jewish people becoming a general consensus in the church’s end time theology in our day — just as they were a central focus for the Hebrew prophets as they spoke of the events of the end times.

This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, November 17, 2016, and reposted with permission.





Daniel Juster

Daniel Juster

Dr. Daniel Juster, founder and director of Tikkun International, has been involved in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972 and currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel, from where he serves and supports the Messianic movement worldwide. Dan was the founding president and general secretary of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations for 9 years, the senior pastor of Beth Messiah congregation for 22 years, and a co-founder of the Messiah Bible Institute in several nations. Dr. Juster serves on the board of Towards Jerusalem Council II, provides oversight to 15 congregations in the USA as well as overseeing emissaries in Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Daniel has authored about 20 books on topics ranging from theology, Israel and the Jewish people, eschatology, discipleship, and leadership.





***The pot and the kettle***

The pot and the kettle

Jews and Arabs at the bittersweet intersection of Israel and the Church

David S. 

Nov 6, 2016

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Have you ever heard the expression “the pot calling the kettle black?”

It means accusing each other of faults we ourselves have.

To our great sorrow both Israel (Yisra-El) and the Christian Church and have been a very “mixed bag,” reflecting El-ohim and Christ rather intermittently and dimly throughout the centuries.

Here in the “Holy” Land the shortcomings of both Israel and the church are keenly felt—both by Messianic Jews and by Arab Christians.

Puzzled at Israel

Many Arab Christians are puzzled at the modern state of Israel. On the one hand the Old Testament obviously says much about the people of Israel returning to their land. On the other hand, Arabs living in this land have suffered in real ways because of the Jewish state, the “holy people.” The paradoxical question arises: “How can the country of Israel be a fulfillment of Bible prophecy if it has many elements that are downright ungodly?” Many Arab Christians have negative associations with Israel. They feel like second class citizens here. Therefore some have concluded that all those promises to Israel in the Bible must not apply to the present day state!

Puzzled at the Church

In just the same way for almost two millennia, Jewish people have been puzzled at the church. On the one hand the church has adopted both the Jew from Nazareth and the Hebrew Scriptures as their own. On the other hand Jews have suffered at the hands of the European Church establishment from the very beginning. Century after century Jews asked: “How can Jesus be our Messiah if ‘His’ church hates us, discriminates against us, expels us, tortures us and kills us?” Instead of making the Jewish people jealous (Deuteronomy 32:21, Romans 10 & 11), the church has often made the Jewish people nauseous.

An Ancient Conundrum

How can Israel and the “church” be so sinful?

How can His people, called by His name, be so broken and imperfect?!

How can those who were called to be a light to the nations have been, so often, sputtering candles?

Just as modern Israel is a very mixed bag, so also ancient Israel was a very mixed bag. There were godly kings and there were ungodly kings (the majority). The Hebrew prophets conveyed scathing indictments and rebukes of the sins of both Israel and Judah.

Even in sin, Israel was referred to as the (emerging) “kingdom of the LORD” on earth (I Chronicles 28:5)! Even in idolatry, Israel was called (by faith prophetically) the “virgin” daughter of Zion—in the midst of her wayward, adulterous unfaithfulness toward God (Isaiah 37:22, Jeremiah 31:21).

A Bride Being Purified

In Ezekiel 16 and Hosea 1-3 we read parables of Israel as the adulterous woman whom the faithful bridegroom God woos back, purifies and betroths again to Himself.

The New Testament echoes this language in referring to the church as a betrothed woman—not yet purified—but now in a process of preparation, to be given clean garments before her marriage to the bridegroom Yeshua (II Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 19:7-8).

Mercy to All

Romans 11 describes both Israel and the Gentile believers, as being branches of the olive tree.

In the precise context of prophetically predicting and describing dynamics between the church and Israel which are valid to this very day, Paul says: “For God has enclosed them together in disobedience, in order that He might show mercy to all…” (Romans 11:32 mod. CJB).

So here we are, two communities living a bit awkwardly side by side at the intersection of Israel and the church— God’s peoples in this earth, flickering with an unsteady, wavering light. The Messianic Jews and the Christian Arabs in this land are inextricably connected to both. Indeed we are all very much “works in progress.” Thankfully, “…He who has begun a good work in you will complete it…” (Philippians 1:6).


This article originally appeared in Oasis Newsletter by Tents of Mercy, November 2016, and reposted with permission.




The Earth as in the days of Noah

Elhanan ben-Avraham 

Nov 5, 2016

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‘The earth also is polluted under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the Law, violated the statute, and broken the everlasting covenant’- Isaiah 24:5-6.

The earth’s waterways carry human and industrial waste to the sea, corrupting much of the life therein. Water- that basis for all life- is in shortage to an increasing world population, often defiled and undrinkable in many regions of human population. And the air is choked with pollutants of every kind, leading to ‘global warming,’ some contend. All this is affecting all flesh, all living things.  Wars and insurrections are abounding, to only exacerbate the environmental situation across the globe.

The above quote from the Biblical prophet Isaiah continues: ‘Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty’ (24:6). The original Hebrew word there for ‘curse’ is allah (ki allah achla aretz), interestingly the homonym to the deity of Islam, Allah. The entire chapter 24 describes a dire and mirthless situation on the Earth due to that curse- or allah– that has spread upon it. Islam, with its Jihad– or holy war- is fomenting violence around the world, while at the same time the fastest growing religion worldwide, due to forced conversion and high birth rates, now spreading stealthily throughout Europe and the West, especially with the vacuum being created by the decline of Christianity and the rise of Secular Humanism in the West.

It is similar to the days of Noah, which are described as “the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the Earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). The Hebrew word used there for violence is hamas, which denotes violence, deceit, corruption. Hamas is the reason, according to the Bible, that G-d brought the flood upon the Earth in the days of Noah, and ‘the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually; God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth’ (6:12).

It may be less of a coincidence, and more of an indicator of the times in which we live, that one of the most violent organizations in the Islamic world is called Hamas. And the Messiah has indicated that the latter days upon the Earth before his return would be “as in the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37).

‘The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind’ (Psalm 115:16). Therefore, let mankind now living upon the Earth take account and responsibility for these admonitions, and wisely discern the times in which we live, and “Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are about to die” (Revelation 3:2).




Elhanan ben-Avraham

Elhanan ben-Avraham

Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.




A Clear-eyed American View of Palestine in 1939


November 17, 2016, 6:37 pm chell Bard


Mitchell Bard Dr Mitchell Bard is the Executive Director of the nonprofit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and a foreign policy analyst who … [More] lectures frequently on U.S.-Middle East policy. Dr. Bard is the director of the Jewish Virtual Library, the world’s most comprehensive online encyclopedia of Jewish history and culture. He is also the author/editor of 24 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and the novel After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine. [Less]

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Israel’s detractors would have you believe that U.S. support for the establishment of Israel, and the special relationship that has evolved in the succeeding decades, is something new, contrary to U.S. interests and a sole function of the mythically omnipotent Jewish lobby. This is nonsense.

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A few months ago a correspondent sent me an interesting historical document that sheds some light on the attitudes of Americans, and members of Congress, nearly a decade before the establishment of Israel. It displays a sophisticated understanding of the Jewish people’s connection to their homeland that today’s propagandists seek to erase.


The following excerpt is from a speech given July 6, 1939, by Massachusetts Congressman John William McCormack (1891-1980) on a ‘Jewish Homeland’ in Palestine. McCormack, a Democrat who later served as Speaker of the House, criticized the 1939 British White Paper restricting Jewish immigration and praised the achievements of the Jews in Palestine.

When the Balfour declaration was issued, it was not intended to establish another ghetto in Palestine. To add to what has already been quoted on this subject, President Wilson’s statement of March 5, 1919, found in the Palestine Royal Commission’s report on page 34, ought to make this matter clear to Americans. President Wilson said:

I am persuaded that the Allied Nations, with the fullest concurrence of our Government and people, are agreed that in Palestine shall be laid the foundation of a Jewish commonwealth.

The Jewish population of Palestine has grown from 55,000 in 1918 to its present figure of 450,000. The Arab population has risen from 400,000 in 1920 to about 950,000, an increase of over 50 percent in 17 years. Under Turkish rule the population was almost stationary.

From all this it follows that since the Jewish population will not be allowed to increase by more than 75,000, and since there will be no restriction placed upon Arab immigration, the Jewish National Home will soon be swamped by the surrounding non-Jewish population, and Jews will properly feel that they have been led into a trap by promises that they would be able to build up a commonwealth, and instead find themselves an ever-decreasing minority, subject, as in Europe, to the whims of an often unfriendly or hostile majority.

McCormack also recognized the dangers minorities faced in the region – Jews and Christians.

Technical protection that is given the Jewish homeland may very well turn out to be of no more value than the proverbial scrap of paper. Minority rights have come to be a phrase without any real meaning. Jews have had ample experience in this direction.

There is precedent for believing that a minority in an Arab-dominated Palestine would not fare well, regardless of what form their legal rights might take. There is the glaring example of what has occurred to the Assyrians in the neighboring country of Iraq. The Assyrians are a remnant of that proud race which once ruled Mesopotamia. Their ancestors established the great empires of that region. Greatly reduced in numbers, they occupied territory in the kingdom of Iraq. Unlike the great majority of the inhabitants of that country, they are Christians whose Christianity dates back to the second or third century. They have suffered terrible persecutions on account of their religion for centuries, but it was under the kingdom of Iraq that they faced extermination. The interference of the League of Nations saved a small remnant of 10,000, who are now living in Syria, and these people are disturbed at what may happen to them when France leaves Syria and they are again a small minority in an Arab state.

It is idle to suggest that if the British could remain in Palestine they would be able to protect Jewish rights. The British were still in Iraq and were unable to save the Assyrians. It is too slender a thread upon which a people can hope to continue its existence. If the world is in earnest regarding its promise to the Jewish people, and the acceptance of the mandate by 52 nations includes most of the world, then the least that can be done is to permit the work of building the Jewish National Home in Palestine upon the firm foundation of the provisions of the mandate.

Although it is not directly connected with the discussion of the Jewish homeland, it might be well to point out to the Christian Arabs of Palestine that they should consider seriously this experience of the Christian Assyrians in the neighboring Iraq. The Palestine Christians are a minority, a much smaller and a much weaker minority than the Jews of Palestine. It does not seem to be the height of good judgment and good tactics for the Christian Arabs of Palestine to be the forefront of this struggle to bring about the Mohammedan domination of Palestine.

One of the nonsensical arguments promulgated by the British was the notion of the “absorptive capacity” of Palestine. This was used as an excuse for limiting Jewish immigration at a time when the Jewish population was 450,000. Their lack of imagination could not have foreseen modern Israel with its population of more than 8 million. McCormack, however, saw through the British argument:

One of the arguments advanced for the curtailment of Jewish immigration into Palestine is that the country is already overcrowded. This was the tenor of a report by Sir Hope Simpson as far back as 1930. The government at that time rejected this report, and time has shown that this rejection was correct, as 150,000 Jews and an equal number of Arabs have entered the country since that time, and there are still large stretches of vacant land in the country capable of development and settlement by large population.

The Jewish development of the country has demonstrated as correct the figures on population possibilities of Palestine as set out in the Zionist declaration, submitted to the peace conference. This document reads as follows:

The population of Palestine in the days of Christ, before the present scientific methods of cultivation were thought of, and when the external trade was not comparable to that now enjoyed in Palestine, amounted to 4,000,000. Evidence was given at the peace conference that in the population of Lebanon, which resembled Palestine in many respects, had a density of 160 per square kilometer. The population of Palestine is only about 50 per square kilometer. On that basis there is room in Palestine for an increase of 3,000,000 without encroaching on the legitimate interests of the people who are now there. Italy, where the conditions are not unlike those of Palestine, in that it is a mountainous country with no minerals, has a population per square mile three times that of Palestine. On the Italian basis, Palestine ought to provide accommodation for a population of 4,000,000.

From this it is apparent that it is entirely within the bounds of possibilities to absorb within 1 year the 100,000 refugees which the Jewish Agency for Palestine says can be accommodated, and also the 10,000 refugee children for whom homes are already provided.

Finally, McCormack reminds us that support for the creation of Israel was not a thoughtless effort by imperialist nations to create an outpost in the Middle East — as Israel’s detractors today sometimes assert:

The establishment of the Jewish National Home has been endorsed by the 52 nations which approved the mandate. They acted after long and careful study. The American Congress unanimously adopted the Lodge-Fish resolution after an extended hearing before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Five Presidents of the United States have spoken in unmistakenly [sic] glowing terms of the accomplishments of Jewish Palestine. American legislatures, including my own State of Massachusetts, have adopted resolutions favoring the reconstitution of the Jewish commonwealth. Distinguished Americans from all walks of life have expressed their approval of the work that Jews have done in Palestine toward the upbuilding [sic] of the Jewish homeland. All these responsible nations, high government officials, legislative bodies, and distinguished personalities have acted with great deliberation. It is impossible to believe that such a distinguished company can all be wrong.

Dr. Mitchell Bard is the author/editor of 24 books including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and the novel After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.


The Writing is on the Wall – “First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People”

David Silver 

Nov 6, 2016

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A photo of the knives found on the persons of two Palestinian children, 8, near the West Bank settlement of Migdal Oz on October 26, 2016 (IDF spokesperson's office)

On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all of the surrounding nations. Whoever tries to move it will surely hurt themselves. – Zechariah 12:3 

I do not read Arabic, but I have heard from a number of reliable sources that there is a lot of graffiti in East Jerusalem and the Arab villages that are slogans which make the above statement. This is a Islamic declaration which makes the intention of Muslim Arabs and Muslims everywhere, to first of all wipe out the Jewish people and then to wipe out the Christians. These are not just words intended to create fear in the heart of their enemies. The terror campaign against Israelis continues almost daily. On Wednesday this week two 8 year old Arabs who were carrying knives, confessed to police that they had been sent by their elders to attack Israelis. And in keeping with their slogan, the Muslims are killing Arab Christians in almost every Arab country, and driving the Christian communities out. Se we need to take that slogan very seriously.

Israel does not just have to defend herself from the Muslim enemies, but as we are seeing in the news the United Nations and the European Union have aligned themselves with the Islamists and are attempting to destroy Israel. The UN and EU have been hijacked by the Muslim nations to become Israel’s “public enemy No. 1.” What sort of ignorant people are the representatives of the nations that voted with the Muslims to deny the Jewish people’s Biblical and historical connection to the land of Israel and more specifically the Holy city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. The nations that voted for that resolution just knifed the Jewish people in the back.

But the God of Israel is not blind. The Bible tells us that Israel is the pupil or lens of God’s eye. (Zech 2:8). He has seen it all and He is not impressed. In siding with the Muslims the Western nations are directly opposing the God of Israel, who is a God of love, but also a jealous God (Exodus 20:5), a God of war (Exodus 15:3), and a consuming fire. (Deut 4:24). These nations have doomed themselves to destruction. The question is not a matter of if, but when. How much more will YHVH put up with, before Isaiah 26:21 is fulfilled The LORD will come out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquities (anti-Semtism, abortion, sexual immorality, idolatry). And He may well use Islam to vent His wrath on these rebellious Western nations.

Today Islamic terrorists are active or preparing to become active in almost every nation, but most political and religious leaders have chosen to turn a blind eye to the reality of this modern day Jihad that is well under way against Israel, the Church and the Western way of life. Last Friday thousands of Muslims gathered to pray at the Colosseum in Rome. This was not just an Islamic prayer meeting, it was a declaration of war. The well-known preacher Yussuf al Qaradawi said that the day will come when Rome will be Islamized. It remains to be seen whether it will by the word or by the sword. As that prayer meeting was taking place in word, ISIS released a video in which the Coliseum is burned and bombed.

The Western nations and Europe are in serious trouble. American philosopher Lee Harris said a most important thing: “The glory of the West has been the eradication of the virus of fanaticism, but perhaps we have achieved it at the price of our defeat.” While the West continues to side with those who intend to take over their nations for Allah, and continue to deny the God-given rights of the Jewish people to live in the Promised Land and worship the One True God on His Holy mountain, their troubles will surely increase to the point of their destruction, and unless they repent, that cannot expect any help from Heaven. The heavy stone of Zechariah 12:3 is aleady on the roll.

Speaking about heavy stones, click on the video below that takes you to the Western Wall showing you the Jewish history very clearly there.

David together with his wife, Josie, founded Out of Zion Ministries, whose mission is to fulfill God’s call on Israel as His ‘Chosen Nation’ to be a light to the Nations as well as to encourage the Church to fulfill God’s call to the Gentiles to assist in the spiritual ingathering of the Jewish people




Jerusalem Interfaith Conference: Ecumenically Correct, Intellectually Dishonest

 Hannah Weiss

Nov 3, 2016

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PM Netanyahu meets with East Asian and Israeli religious leaders in Jerusalem, September 12, 2016. (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

When Buddha Met Abraham” was the byline chosen for the Interfaith Conference hosted by Israel’s Foreign Ministry from September 11 to 15 in Jerusalem. It was the first indication that this religious outreach was not global, but rather between Judaism and Asian religions.

Sure enough, the invited guests were 20 spiritual leaders of the major East Asian faiths (Hindu, Buddhist, Taoism, Sikh, Jain, Shinto, Zoroastrianism), among them some of the most senior spiritual personalities in Asia.” Representatives of the Jewish faith were identified only as rabbis from all the streams of Judaism” along withleading intellectuals in the fields of interfaith dialogue and Jewish thought.” The Asian guests had the option of meeting with leaders of Israeli Muslims and Christians outside the Conference framework.

A survey of the Conference organizers, however, raised interesting questions. This religious gathering was hosted by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, not Religious Affairs. Even more strange, Jerusalem’s dialog with Eastern spirituality was sponsored by groups from the US rather than Israel, some of which are not connected to Judaism… or even to religion. Conference sessions were held at the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, a conflict-resolution organization located on the Hebrew University campus but founded largely by Americans. Other partners were the ecumenical World Council of Religious Leaders (WCRL), headquartered in New York City; and the American Jewish Committee (AJC), also based in the USA.

The physical and/or spiritual distance of these organizations from Jerusalem would suggest Manhattan or Washington DC as a more logical venue. Instead, they chose a city whose only significance is derived from Biblical history, to host an affirmation of Biblically forbidden teachings.

Nevertheless, the Israeli government enthused about the Conference as a history-making event. That being so, it was odd that the interfaith implications received almost no attention, even from its own organizers.

The WCRL was presumably the most sympathetic religious player. This obscure organization has been trying to merge Jewish and Hindu faith in past years, and its General Secretary was present at this gathering long enough to make a statement. But this “first-time” Conference did not even make it into their calendar of events. The politically-oriented Truman Institute likewise did not mention the Conference taking place in its halls, either beforehand or afterward.

The Jewish sponsors considered the religious exchange as just a platform for mutual political-cultural support. The AJC reported it as an opportunity to give the non-Jews a deeper understanding of Judaism and Israel, and to promote global interreligious awareness” for a morepeaceful world.” According to the Foreign Ministry, the hot items on the agenda were the purpose of religion in modern society, safeguarding the planet, the rights of the individual and a just society, [and] the place of religious leadership in advancing peace and the global welfare.”  The meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was published as a photo-op.

In the rare cases where faith-based aspects of the gathering were touched on, political correctness prohibited any real dialog in comparing the God of Abraham with Eastern religions. The remarks of Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin to Conference participants included a reminder of the September 11 terror attack on New York as “a disaster created directly by distorted religious belief”; an appropriate comment, even if he was unwilling to name Islam as the common threat to all the religions represented. But Mr. Rivlin went on to suggest that our traditions have much in common; we all share a deep concern for human life and dignity…” which set the stage for dishonesty on all sides.  

The ecumenically correct diplomacy of President Rivlin, in proposing joint prayer and meditation, for a better and healthier world, and for a peaceful and tolerant global society”, was answered by similarly warm wishes for world peace and harmony” from leaders of the (Indian) Hindu and (Chinese) Buddhist communities. Aside from the heartwarming expressions of mutual tolerance, the impression was one of “Abraham” seeking Asian cooperation in supporting Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, and “Buddha” offering to share the Eastern secret of how to live in harmony with the rest of the world.

Not only did this encounter fail to proclaim the Jewish message of world peace and harmony under the rule of YHVH, the one and only God; it allowed these Eastern religions to claim a spiritual superiority which they have yet to demonstrate in practice.

Hinduism has a long history of disdain for human life and dignity, embodied in the caste system, which one native of India says has been adopted by the Sikhs. And the Hindus are as far from peace and harmony” with the Muslims as the Jews are; perhaps even farther, since there is nothing in Israel comparable to the religious riots in India. The Jains likewise have fought bitterly with the Hindus over holy sites in India, which would imply that Israel’s handling of the holy sites under its care might be a more apt model for a tolerant global society”.

Shinto is focused on Japanese traditions for placating demons, it boasts of having no absolutes”, and it denies the existence of human evil… which makes that faith irrelevant for addressing issues of social justice and human rights. Taoism (Daoism) is a Chinese moral code that applies only to the individual; since it discourages human intervention to stop evil, and teaches that man is not obliged to make the world a better place,” the high priority placed on both by Jewish faith is definitely not a shared concern” for Taoists.

Zoroastrianism is a monotheistic religion that originated in pre-Islamic Persia and closely resembles Judaism and Christianity, with conflicting theology but similar ethics and values. It has less than 300,000 followers worldwide at best, most of them Iranians, Indians and Kurds. Since this faith has no central leadership, it’s not clear how the (unidentified) participant was selected as a “leader”.

Last but not least is Buddhism, marketed as the most compassionate and tolerant of all faiths, which nevertheless has various sects condemning one another. The religion is united, however, in its private prejudice against non-Buddhists. Added to that is the unsavory partnership of Tibetan Buddhists with the Nazis during the Holocaust, and the ease with which today’s Dalai Lama keeps company with the Hitler-worshipping mystic Miguel Serrano. (The Dalai Lama was not invited to this Conference, probably for political reasons; but he is welcomed to Israel separately every few years.)

The President of the Buddhist Association in China went so far as to claim, All these five major religions [recognized in China: Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism] emphasize mercy and compassion, peace and freedom; we can exist peacefully.” This was a bold denial of the fact that China is flagged for persecution of Christians (even government-sanctioned” churches) as well as certain Buddhist and Muslim groups.

The slogan “When Buddha Met Abraham” was presumably meant as a welcoming gesture to the leaders of the Asian religions. In cultural terms, we might assume that the descendants of Abraham were trying to emulate his reputation for showing hospitality to strangers (a Jewish tradition based on Genesis 18). In terms of geopolitics, Asian religious leaders do have an interest in mutual cooperation, particularly in a united stand against Islam, the system of political-spiritual conquest that masquerades as a religion.

But the common ground ends there. Like the imaginary meeting of Abraham and Buddha, the shared spiritual values that were proclaimed between the two faiths is pretense.

There are light-years of distance between the message of Abraham the first Jew, who was pronounced righteous because of his trust in God (Gen.15:1-6), and the message of Siddhartha the Buddha (“enlightened one), who proclaimed his attainment of salvation by superior self-effort. The Ten Commandments, the cornerstones of Judaism, begin with two prohibitions that negate the Eastern religions: You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them….”

Even rabbinic tradition implies that if Abraham had ever met Buddha in real life, our forefather would have tried to persuade his guest to embrace the one true God, El Elyon, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Until our nation returns to the faithfulness of Abraham towards God, our spiritual dialog with other nations will continue to be crippled by the dishonesty displayed at this Conference, which sacrifices eternal truth for temporary acceptability.




Hannah Weiss

Hannah Weiss

Hannah Weiss lives in Israel with her husband Hillel, their three children and two grandchildren. Besides writing on issues relevant for followers of Yeshua, she also works as an English writer, editor and translator for Israeli exporters and academics. Hannah is part of a small home fellowship, Restorers of Zion, which serves the Body of Messiah by focusing on neglected or dysfunctional areas of Scriptural teaching and practice.




Newt Gingrich: Seven questions for the New York Times

Newt Gingrich

By Newt Gingrich

Published November 16, 2016

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The facade of the New York Times building is seen in New York. (REUTERS)

The facade of the New York Times building is seen in New York. (REUTERS)

On Sunday, the publisher and the executive editor of the New York Times published a letter to the paper’s readers, promising to “rededicate” the paper to its “fundamental mission”. That mission, they said, is to “report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you.”

This is as close as the Times is likely to come to apologizing to its readers for a year and a half of unbalanced–and often unhinged–coverage of the presidential race.


I grew up in an era when the New York Times was the greatest newspaper in the world. Throughout my political career, there were plenty of moments when I thought the paper’s coverage had an unfair slant. But I knew it remained America’s most revered newspaper, and that generally its reporters held themselves to the highest standards.

It was sad to see a 165-year-old paper destroy its credibility over one election season. But the Times’s complete abandonment of its old standards was obvious to anyone who read its coverage.

Thus I watched with some regret as all of that went out the window this election cycle. It was sad to see a 165-year-old paper destroy its credibility over one election season. But the Times’s complete abandonment of its old standards was obvious to anyone who read its coverage.

The paper wrote stories that were unrelentingly hostile to Trump and his supporters.

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It allowed reporters to include their personal opinions and political analysis in news coverage.

It allowed political reporters to spew their animosity to Trump on social media. (I am old enough to remember when reporters maintained the conceit that they did not have political opinions.)

It published stories about Trump in which it distorted the accounts of interviewees, according to the subjects’ own testimony.

It published front page stories and editorials with headlines that accused Trump of “lying”–but never so characterized any of Hillary Clinton’s well-documented lies.

And now the same publisher and the same editor that oversaw this partisan assault are promising to “rededicate” themselves to reporting “honestly”. Perhaps even the paper’s liberal readership has tired of reporting that increasingly resembles the state-controlled propaganda of totalitarian regimes.

Before readers take the paper at its word, they should ask its leadership some of the following questions:

1. Does the Times have any reporters, editors, or columnists who will say they voted for Trump, and has it hired any new ones?


2. Has it hired any reporters who are even Republicans?


3. Has it changed its policies that allowed journalists to express their opinions about the events and people they covered in their news stories?


4. Will it ask the Pulitzer Prize board to withdraw, and its reporters to return, any prizes that might be awarded for news stories that contained reporters’ personal opinions?


5. Have its editors retracted misleading news headlines that expressed opinions or pure speculation–such as the paper’s coverage of Trump’s tax returns?


6. Has it fired reporters who admitted to writing politically motivated “news” stories and encouraged interview subjects to talk to them so they could stop Trump?


7.  Has it retracted its shameful election-eve front-page story “reporting” on Trump’s innermost thoughts and feelings, virtually every sentence of which is filled with reporters’ opinions and speculations–featuring claims like “he is struggling to suppress his bottomless need for attention”?

If the answer to all of these questions is “no”–why would anyone believe that the paper is now “rededicated” to honesty? And why would anyone trust the New York Times to report on American politics?

Newt Gingrich, a Republican, was speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. He is the author of the new novel "Treason" (Center Street, October 11) and co-author, with his wife Callista Gingrich, of "Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation's History and Future" (Center Street, May 17, 2016).



Was Mary Magdalene ever a prostitute?

Dr. Eliyahu Lizorkin-Eyzenberg 

Nov 3, 2016

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Mary Magdalene meets Jesus (screenshot Youtube)

Mary Magdalene is definitely one of the most well-known female characters of the New Testament; popularized in dozens of films, stories and even once in popular rock opera – Jesus Christ Superstar. In almost all popular presentations she is portrayed as a former prostitute who comes to Jesus in the spirit of true repentance. While the gospels are known for its graciousness towards persons (both men and women) with moral failings; in our interpretation of the Bible, I believe we have misrepresented the person we call Mary Magdalene.

There are several Marys – not least, of course, Mary the mother of Jesus. But there are also Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus; Mary the mother of James and Joseph and Mary the wife of Cleopas. Equally important, there are two unnamed women who are expressly identified as sexual sinners – the woman who anoints Jesus’ feet with costly perfume, and an adulteress whom Pharisees bring before Jesus to see if he will condemn her (this incident is not found in most ancient manuscripts).

Do the Gospels actually support the notion that Mary Magdalene was once a prostitute? The answer is, surprisingly – “no.” Quite the opposite. In the gospels Mary Magdalene is afforded a very high status indeed, one might even argue higher than that of the twelve.

So who was Mary Magdalene? Well… we don’t know much of her story, but there are some things we do know for sure.

Mary is a traditional Jewish name (Mariam) and Magdalene is a form reflecting the Hebrew original, which means “a tower” (Migdal); referring either to a place with that name or to her character as observed by her community. So, for an experienced reader, her name should already give a hint of her towering personality that is yet to be revealed.

The association of Mary Magdalene with prostitution (albeit repentant) is the result of post-New Testament interpretations; identifying the actual Mary Magdalene with several other women; at least one of whom was indeed a prostitute. Mary was one of the, if not the most, common Hebrew name at that time. So simply because someone named Mary was a prostitute does not mean that Mary Magdalene was in fact one as well. The long and short of it is that there is simply no scriptural basis to link these “sinful women” stories to Mary Magdalene.

The interpretation hinges on a reference in Luke 8:2 that speaks of Jesus casting demons from Mary Magdalene, sometime prior to her becoming his committed follower. However, when demons left people (men included) in no case was there a demon of sexual addiction or of sexual immorality cast out. Why then, in the case of this woman, do we need to immediately think that the spirits Jesus cast out were of a sexual nature?! Have we made the same interpretive mistake here as we did with the Samaritan woman of John’s Gospel labelling her too – a woman of ill repute? Have we also allowed the chauvinistic hermeneutics of the past to influence our modern interpretation? The answer is – yes, probably, so.

But is there more to the story? Did this Mary have a particular status in the early believing Jewish Jesus-following community? Think about it! Mary Magdalene heard his teachings, saw his miracles, witnessed his shameful and torturous death. And… are you ready? She was given the honor of being the very first one to witness his resurrection. As if this were not enough, this righteous woman was given the privilege of announcing the news of good to Jesus’ discouraged male disciples. (Jn. 20:18)

Why Jesus, dying on Calvary’s cross to redeem God’s people, had to be a male is an extraordinary theological question; but no less important is the significance of the fact that the very first witness of the resurrection of the Jewish Christ had to be a woman and not a man (contrary to the contemporary conventions of witness acceptability).  You see… just as the first woman in the garden of Eden spread the news of the evil to humanity, Mary Magdalene in the Garden of Gethsemane spread the news of “the good” – the news that the Jewish Christ has risen, and Israel’s God now was reconciling humanity to Himself.

This article originally appeared on Israel Study Center and is reposted with permission.




Dr. Eliyahu Lizorkin-Eyzenber

One of Dr. Eliyahu Lizorkin-Eyzenberg's greatest passions is building of bridges of trust, respect and understanding between Christians and Jews, overcoming centuries of difficult, but almost always joined history. He strongly believes that both Hebrew Bible and the New Testament scriptures have much to teach both communities. Outside of his expertise in the ancient languages (Biblical Hebrew, Koine Greek, Syriac and Old Church Slovanic), he has a command of three other modern languages (English, Russian and Hebrew).