On the March 20th program of Newsmax’s “Wake Up America”, Jerusalem correspondent Daniel Cohen discussed legislation being put forward in Israel that would prohibit Christians from spreading the gospel in Israel.
“Two ultra-orthodox members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition have introduced a bill that would punish believers for sharing the Gospel of Jesus with prison time,” Cohen began. He cited United Torah Judaism (UTJ) Knesset members, Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Asher, as the principal authors of the legislation.
Cohen noted that the legislation has the aim of warning Christians to halt evangelizing in Israel lest they want to face a one- to two-year prison sentence if they share the gospel with Israelis below the age of 18.
This law would criminalize people’s ability to disseminate religious views apart from Judaism“in conversation, or to produce content online in print or by mail,” per Cohen’s report.
This Newsmax segment went on air a few days following Joel C. Rosenberg broke this shocking development on his TBN show, “The Rosenberg Report” last week.
Cohen introduced Rosenberg in the segment and noted that “He’s also a Jewish follower of Jesus.”
“Obviously, Jewish people don’t agree with Christians, Evangelicals or others about who Jesus is, right? We all know that there’s a theological difference,” Rosenberg stated in the segment. “But Evangelical Christians, and other Christians, have been so supportive of Israel and the Jewish people, so to silence, to muzzle and gag, even Israelis like myself and others…to say you can’t talk to another person about your faith and why you believe – that is terrible, that is not freedom.”
Cohen stressed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not agree theologically with Christians but has still maintained good relations with the Christian world and backed freedom of speech.
“Should the new bill gain traction, it could spark a serious clash with the 60 million Evangelicals in the United States and 600 million around the world,” Cohen said, by quoting Rosenberg.
Gafni, who has been in the Israeli Knesset since 1988, first introduced the prohibition on evangelism in 1999. This bill was introduced in Netanyahu’s first stint as Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999, which ended up rejecting the proposal. The bill was not passed in subsequent years.
However, this time around, the UTJ party has grown more prominent as the country’s Orthodox population grown significantly in the last few decades, which has translated into more political clout. The two authors of this legislation are members of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, which features new Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox elements that must be catered to.
Nevertheless, Netanyahu announced on March 22, 2023, that he would not be enacting this kind of law. That said, as Israel’s Jewish population becomes more religious and of more Middle Eastern extraction, it will start to transform into an Oriental despotic state that will look wildly illiberal in comparison to its Western counterparts.
Will this make the United States reconsider its special relationship with Israel? Time will only tell.