“To most of us nothing is so invisible as an unpleasant truth. Though it is held before our eyes, pushed under our noses, rammed down our throats- we know it not.”- (Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind, and Other Aphorisms, Section 59- 1955)
I’ve written ad nauseum about the problem of evangelical volunteers providing free labor for Jewish vintners in Israel. I’ve documented time and again, how these volunteer organizations have theologically dangerous ideas and agendas, and how the free labor is a curse for Jews and the State of Israel, because it opens the door for evangelical missionaries into Israel. I’ve given attention to the many Jews who enabled these groups to set up shop in Israel. In this article, I want to take a general look at the Jewish vintners who benefit directly from this free labor.
Hasbara organizations like to boast about Israel’s burgeoning wine industry, and how many Israeli wines are winning prestigious awards on the international scene. So, on the one hand we have a story of financial success, yet ironically like much of hasbara, it must be married to a story of struggle. In this case, the purported plight of the struggling Israeli vintner, to justify the problematic evangelical free labor many are reliant upon. Personally, these Jewish vintners who use Hayovel’s “free” labor in the vineyards (it costs more for Am Yisrael) get zero sympathy from me when they whine about the hardships of running a vineyard, or the fact that Jews ‘won’t do the labor’. Several points come to mind:
If you cannot afford the cost of running such an enterprise, don’t do it. And a basic cost is paying employees. For example, I don’t own the Jeep company I believe I may have deserved when I resided in the Negev Highlands, nor have I started a bear-watching enterprise in Alaska. (Even though I would be so good at it!) Those are the breaks in life. If you cannot afford the venture, abandon it for something else.
Their hardship, whether real or imagined, doesn’t give them a heter to use missionary labor. Now of course they vociferously deny that Hayovel are missionaries. But Hayovel’s own words and actions disprove this lunatic assertion. There are thousands of documents, emails, FB posts, web screenshots, videos, audios, and articles from Hayovel and their friends proving that they are missionaries. The evidence is abundant unless one is a fool or a liar. By no means does personal financial struggle justify the recruiting of halachically prohibited labor.
With all the evidence out there, anyone who defends these unscrupulous sorts will have to answer to G-d one day. Consider that even noted Hebron activist David Wilder (whose views on evangelical relations are certainly different from my own) was honest enough to admit his mistake several years back, when he did an about-face and declared that Tommy Waller, Hayovel’s smiling, bearded, patriarch; was indeed a missionary. Unfortunately, this revelation didn’t have the same effect on many friends of Tommy Waller who continue to make excuses for him, and for the occasional mishaps when Hayovel representatives stumble and speak too freely.
As far as the oft mentioned claim that Jews won’t work the fields, it is nonsense. Plenty of Jews need employment. Plenty of Jews enjoy physical labor. The fact that many Jews DON’T WANT TO, doesn’t change the fact that the generalization is false. In truth, these owners don’t want to pay Jewish workers an honest wage, and free labor is something these unprincipled types cannot refuse. Many of them would use Arab labor, but the security issues make this a non-option. And even the hard-working Thais want to get paid SOMETHING. (Naturally, from a halachic perspective, the issue of any gentile labor in Israel or residence is problematic.)
I want the reader to consider that those who use this tempting free labor also create problems for those principled Jews who refuse to use such labor, and/or who desire to employ people. By benefiting from this problematic free labor, these vintners are financially harming those Jews who reject this labor on halachic grounds. It’s hard to compete with those who don’t have to pay for labor. Hint: This would be an interesting expose by itself.
Furthermore, there are all sorts of creative programs that could be created to offset costs, including using college-age Jewish volunteers. What a novel idea! Singles who might meet another Jewish single and start a family! All could be done within the framework of a dignified, responsible, halachic program. Surely this beats the reality of attractive and affable Christian singles roaming the fields of Jewish yishuvim.
But such things would require effort, initiative, and some money, and the evangelical missionaries give it for free. Or so they say. The leaders of Hayovel are making a pretty penny off their scam, it is the foolish paying pilgrim volunteer who gets nothing save the delusions of his lunatic beliefs. (There is documented proof that Hayovel receives percentages of the sales.) How else could they afford a new million-dollar plus compound in the U.S?
In any event, the price of such forbidden “help” costs a lot more than money, but these vintners and other unscrupulous Jewish activists, advocates, tour guides, and general hasbara shills, don’t seem to give a damn. In their eyes, it is profitable and pragmatic, and they can cloak it within the ideology of a skewed Jewish notion of the end-game. No matter how much evidence you show them, the forbidden fruit is too sweet. And strange wines are often intoxicating.
The contemporary false assertion of many religious Zionists, that these gentiles are fulfilling prophecies, is a disgrace. What Torah Jew read prophetic texts through a christological prism? As I’ve noted many times, the authentic Jewish Moshiach will be a man of flesh and blood, and he will not come by misreading Jewish texts and applying them to those who don’t satisfy the criteria, nor will the true redemption actualize itself by such hostile groups strengthening their own skewed beliefs rather than abandoning them, and drawing closer to Hashem. In short, verses from I Kings 8:41-43 were clearly NOT referring to evangelicals who call out in the name of Jesus”
41. Moreover concerning the stranger that is not of Thy people Israel, when he shall come out of a far country for Thy name’s sake—
42. for they shall hear of Thy great name, and of Thy mighty hand, and of Thine outstretched arm–when he shall come and pray toward this house;
Nor can the verses of Isaiah 61: 1-5 where the “strangers” stand and pasture our flocks, and “aliens” act as our plowmen and vine-trimmers refer to evangelical missionaries who believe they are witnesses to the “Second Coming” and a “Restoration”. Ironically, the next verse (verse 6) concludes by noting that “you shall enjoy the wealth of nations and revel in their riches.” It is hard to accept that this prophecy has materialized when hard-working middle-class Israelis struggle just to stay out of the “red.” Not to mention the self-effacing behavior of the State of Israel who grovels before the United States for foreign aid, with the dignity of a pan-handler. Finally, those who quote Zechariah 8:20-22 as another proof-text to equate the nation which will come to Jerusalem to pray to Hashem, is clearly not referring to those evangelical volunteers who continue to worship and believe in their role as witnesses to “that man”. Those who come to Jerusalem will be motivated by truth and to learn from Am Yisrael about the One True G-d. These are the authentic readings of our holy Torah, not the forced, strained, distortions of Tommy Waller and his ilk, which more than one religious Rabbi has accepted. Time and again, Waller and his cronies speak of yeshua (Thanks to blogger “Tomer Devora” for posting this video). For all the years of exposure to Jews, they have learned nothing about Hashem, nor are they drawing closer to truth. They are as certain in their belief of “that man” as when they first came to Israel. If anything, they are more confident in their falsehood, because they see how far they have come. The volunteers went from living in tents to living in cottages.
As I’ve noted before, this tendency exposes a dangerous strain of Jewish false messianism (not related to a belief in Jesus) relating to their perspective on Zionism and our contemporary age. Ironically, Rav Soloveitchik of blessed memory, who supported the State of Israel and the Mizrachi party, was concerned about this tendency to make assumptions about the consequences of the formation of the modern state. In our times, we see how a nationalism devoid of Torah ideology can become warped even among the camps of the religious and the learned. One worships Hashem through a warped prism, may end up worshipping baal.
The “foreigner” of the Torah (whoever he may be) cannot be an evangelical missionary. Any retaining of Christian doctrine is proof that he fails to meet the criteria. Such a person fails the test of the prophecy and is a false proof.
The “foreigner” is a person of truth who desires to come closer to Hashem. Consider the personality of a Noachide who draws close to Hashem like a dying man reaches for water. Clearly such a righteous personality differs considerably from sneaky evangelicals who smile and speak of relationships and yet continue to lecture and meet with messianics when not picking grapes in Israel.
The Jewish supporters of this evangelical labor speak of these people as Christian friends. These deceitful duplicitous types are not our friends. Far from it. They are the spiritual equivalent of Mahmoud Abbas who speaks with a forked tongue and orchestrates the Arab jihad against our people. From a Torah perspective, these people are deadlier than “Jews For Jesus” because they mask their missionizing agenda. Not wanting to kill us outright, but wanting to convert us, is just another manifestation of Christian anti-Semitism. Ironically, many religious Jews foolishly believe that the abandonment of overt anti-Semitism, removes the classic Jewish prohibition on interfaith-dialogue. It completely ignores the true root of the classic refusal to engage on such matters, which is based solely on halacha, and has nothing to do with acts of physical anti-Semitism.
Nevertheless, a handful of us are committed to exposing this horror, no matter the cost. And very slowly, more Jews are waking up to the problem. In response, many of our detractors’ rant about us and defame us. With libel and slander. It doesn’t matter. Let them continue to lie and spread their poison. As I’ve noted before, when you let asps into the house, some of us are going to raise hell. You better believe it. I am far more concerned with what The Almighty wants.