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Thursday, September 04, 2008

The pot calls the kettle black

Over at Commentary, John Podhoretz takes up the mantle of defending Sarah Palin from the charge that she didn't storm out of her church when David Brickner of Jews for Jesus gave the sermon on August 17 (Hat Tip: Memorandum).
Of all the arrant, preposterous, and ludicrous attacks yet launched on Sarah Palin, there is none more absurd than the notion that she should have stood up in a huff and stormed out of church in her hometown of Wasilla because her pastor had invited a Jews for Jesus nutcase to speak there. Jews for Jesus is an organization straight out of a low-comedy operetta about American religion, a street-level bunch of silly evangelists started by a boob named Moishe Rosen. Rosen figured out he could talk naive Christians — eager to bring about the conversion of the Jews so as to hasten the endtimes prophesied in Revelations – out of their hard-earned cash by promising to lead his co-religionists to Christianity. His chosen method of doing so was to publish colorful pamphlets sprinkled with Yiddish phrases and have them handed out on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, where they were greeted with disbelief and guffaws.

Pity the poor folk of Wasilla, Alaska, if they fell for this tripe. The man who spoke there, David Brickner, can’t even lay proper claim to being a Jew who converted to a belief in Jesus, since he was never even a Jew in the first place. Jews for Jesus is far too fringe-y an organization to be the subject of any kind of serious demographic study, but given the refusal of the group itself to enumerate the number of conversions it has managed in the forty years of its existence, my guess is that almost everyone involved in Jews for Jesus was, like Brickner, never a Jew at all. Indeed, it was from listening to a Jew for Jesus that Palin’s pastor — a Christian — decided to spend his life in service to Christ.
Unfortunately, I suspect that Podhoretz understates the influence that 'Jews for Jesus' has had on some Jews' lives. I can only hope his description is accurate.

On the other hand, even though I was one of the first to run this story, I wouldn't condemn Palin for two reasons:

First, Palin's pastor apparently knew all about Jews for Jesus and invited Brickner three years in advance. Did Palin know Brickner was coming? According to the McCain campaign, she did not.
A spokesman for the McCain campaign, Michael Goldfarb, said Palin did not know Brickner would be speaking that day and did not share his views.

Church pastor Larry Kroon confirmed that Palin, the governor of Alaska who was chosen last week by U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to join his GOP presidential ticket, would have had no way of knowing that Brickner was slated to speak.

“Governor Palin does not share the views he expressed, and she and her family would not have been sitting in the pews of this church for the last seven years if his remarks were even remotely typical,” Goldfarb wrote in an e-mail.
Second - and most importantly - the fact that these charges are mostly coming from the campaign and supporters of a man who sat and listened to Jeremiah Wright's anti-Semitic, racist tripe for more than twenty years. Let's remind ourselves what Obama said about Wright before he threw him under the bus:
“The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor.”
And Wright espouses an ideology that is every bit as pernicious as that of Jews for Jesus.
So the man who “introduced” Barack Obama to his “Christian faith” also teaches that Jesus was not a Jew, and that the white Jews exploited the “black Palestinians” in the Bible, and who espouses ISM and Sabeel religious terminology among his fellow Christians, particularly blacks, even against the wishes of his own synod. Jeremiah Wright certainly knows his market.
Read the whole thing.

Podhoretz is correct when he says
The nightmarish history of forcible conversion has led Jews to an understandable discomfort with the notion that anybody would want to seek their conversion in the present day.
I don't see 'Jews for Jesus' as quite as 'comic' as Podhoretz does. But I'd lay off Palin on this story. The other side has done far worse. The pot is calling the kettle black. At least.

More on this story from Noah Pollak (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).


At 5:03 PM, Blogger Judah Gabriel Himango said...

Folks speak ill of Jews for Jesus often.

As a Messianic Jew (I believe Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah), I sympathize with them on some levels.

I am against any organization that removes one's Jewish identity, whether by removing Torah observance or by erasing a person's love for Israel and the Jewish people.

Jews for Jesus are folks that love Israel and want to see it safe and see it prosper. Many of them keep the Torah and observe God's commandments. It is not their desire to turn Jews into gentile Christians. If it were, I would also speak against it.

Thanks for treating the situation more respectfully than Podhoretz.

At 6:30 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Jews for Jesus are traitors to the Jewish people, however many fanciful lies they throw at us, but that visit was not something Palin could have anticipated or prevented.

If she had sat still for decades of religious or racial hatred from her own pastor, we could begin to compare her situation with Obama's; however, that has not been the case.

At 10:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for your insight. I appreciate the time you took to investigate and inform.

At 8:47 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Liberal Jews fear Christians more than they fear Muslims. In the next few decades the latter is going to present more of a problem for Jews' future than the former. My point in terms of Jewish survival, the mainline Jewish organizations are fighting yesterday's battles.

At 12:01 AM, Blogger muman613 said...

J4J is a traitorous organization and should be resisted and ridiculed at all times. There is no such thing as a Jew who believes that Moshiach has come. Facts exist which prove that their false god is not Moshiach. I will state again the things which Moshiach needs to do in order for the Jewish people to know that Moshiach has come.

1) Gather all the Jewish exiles into the land of Israel
2) Bring about an era of peace and prosperity.
3) Fight a war against the nations.
4) Bring families back together

Their false messiah did not accomplish a single task and yet they ask that we just pretend that the prophecies say that he will do it in a second life. If that's the case, my grandma is Moshiach just as much as their false prophet.



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