For the first time, a major Israeli newspaper has accepted an ad from an open missionary group.
The economic daily Calcalist on Wednesday featured a large ad placed by Jews for Jesus offering readers an app that leads them to the organization’s website, where there is a “hard sell” in Hebrew on why Jews should believe in Jesus.
The ad is printed on a background of the flag of Israel, clearly associating the ad, and the organization, with Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen IDF soldiers, being commemorated on Wednesday.
While the ad does not appear to directly proselytize Calcalist readers, it does feature a mnemonic based on the Hebrew word for Jesus, “Yesh > Yeshu > Yeshua,” modeled after the popular mnemonic used by followers of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, “Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me’Uman.”
The word “Yeshua” in Hebrew means “salvation,” and is used by Christian missionaries to justify their position that Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah. Jews, of course, reject this position, using as proof the fact that the prophecies in the Hebrew Bible associated with the Messiah, such as the arrival of an era of world peace, have not been fulfilled.
Early Christians changed the commandments, a further halakhic proof of a falseprophet.
Direct proselytization with the promise of a material benefit is against the law in Israel. However, there is no law against urging people to adopt a new belief or religion based on spiritual or philosophical principles.
The ad includes a QR code that readers can scan with their smartphones that installs an app produced by the group. The app directs users to the group’s web site, where “issues of the day,” including politics and Jewish history, are discussed from a Christologic viewpoint. Among the claims made on the web site is that the Jews are to blame for the persecution they have experience over the generations, and especially for the Holocaust, because of their rejection of Jesus.
Anti-missionary groups slammed Calcalist for running the ad, with one activist saying they planned to sue Calcalist for printing an ad that was clearly misleading. “The ad implies that it is in memory of fallen IDF soldiers, but its real purpose is something else entirely. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
Calcalist is a part of the Yediot Achronot publishing group, which is headed by Arnon Mozes