Avner Boskey, a Messianic leader in Israel, as well as a respected worship leader and theologian, wrote an op-ed in Israel Today last week, trying to separate myth from fact surrounding Israel’s vaccination campaign.
The “news” coming out of a small part of Israel’s Messianic community is filled with dire and apocalyptic predictions about the “true” nature of the nation’s efforts to vaccinate as many Israelis as possible. Their conspiracy theories and videos have circled the globe, as they label the program as “diabolical,” “evil,” and on par with the Nazi holocaust. Boskey waded into the controversy, hoping to shed some light on the dark forecasts.
“There is a traditional Yiddish proverb, ‘Two Jews, three opinions.’ We Jewish people are known for the richness of our expressions…in Israel, everyone has a strong opinion about nearly everything, and sometimes it may seem that everyone is right. Messianic Jews in Israel also have intense opinions about many issues, especially about perspectives concerning the coronavirus pandemic and its ramifications.”
Boskey urged fellow believers to take a broader, not so “Israel-centric” view of the virus. “The virus did not emanate from Israel, nor is the Jewish state the only country to be affected by this disease. A balanced take on this pandemic requires adopting a planet-wide view…”
A handful of voices, according to Boskey, are insisting the Israeli government is being deceitful in its coronavirus policies and that the COVID-19 vaccine is a plot of Satan, and because the Jewish nation is taking the inoculation, the world will be cursed. The advocates of this viewpoint draw parallels to the rise of German Nazism and warn that this will lead to many Jews perishing. And anyone who does not buy into this theory is supposedly ignoring their own history to their peril.
Of course, the comparisons are absurd. For instance, when Hitler allowed scientific experiments on Jews, they were inhumane. They froze Jews in tubs of ice and then heated them (the ones who lived) in boiling water. They used poison gas and then studied the corpses. If you survived, they killed you so that they could study your corpse. The vaccine in Israel is meant to save lives, not take it.
[read more on what the Nazis did to Jews here]
Furthermore, Netanyahu and every other member of the Knesset has taken the vaccine. Hitler never participated in the experiments. Lastly, the vast majority of Jews, including 100,000 Holocaust survivors, received the vaccine with joy! The survivors were freed from a year of hiding in their apartments, unable to hug their grandchildren or go to the store. If we really want to go there—i.e., comparisons to the Holocaust—for them, the vaccine was less like Mengele and Hitler and more like the Allied Forces setting them free from concentration camps!
Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School, recently said that “ignorant and bigoted comparisons [ed. between Nazis and vaccinations] are not-so-subtle forms of Holocaust denial…No [such analogies] should ever be made.”
Boskey says that most Messianic believers in Israel would agree with Dershowitz, and he likens the handful who wouldn’t agree to the ten spies who had the evil report and spread confusion among the people (Numbers 13-14).
And we can already see evangelical leaders in the US jumping on the Israel/Nazi comparison. Recently, a prayer call led by influential evangelical leaders claimed Israel was violating the Nuremberg Code. The Nuremberg Code was introduced after the Holocaust so that experiments, like what we discussed earlier, would never happen again. It has nothing to do with vaccines in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
They also said that the Israelis who happily received the vaccines were deceived, just like Germans were deceived by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister. In other words—these leaders in the US know exactly what is happening in Israel, but Israelis (who live in Israel) are too dumb to realize it.
Boskey believes that these few Messianic “prophets of doom” are doing harm to the way that Israelis view the mainstream Messianic movement. “Such irresponsible declarations by a few unstable Messianic voices have the potential to bring real harm to the body of Messiah in Israel. These appalling declarations are neither apostolic nor prophetic. As Paul exhorts us, ‘Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all. Hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22)”
An estimated five million Israelis—80 percent of the adult population—have been inoculated. There are about one million Israelis who are taking a “wait-and-see” approach or have a hesitation due to a medical condition or ideological reasons. Some secular Jews also have reservations about the vaccine or legal objections to the “green pass” program that reserves access to gyms and indoor dining, cultural events, and worship for those who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.
Have the government actions been “100 percent kosher”? No, Boskey says. But he adds, no government on earth has handled COVID perfectly. Is it conspiracy or incompetence? Boskey sides with the late Charles Krauthammer—”whenever you’re faced with an explanation of what’s going on – the choice between incompetence and conspiracy – always choose incompetence. Grafting paranoia onto a trunk of conspiracy theory is not a healthy way of dealing with reality or with any crisis.”