A video uploaded to YouTube earlier this month that shows the host asking random members of the Israeli public what they think of Messianic Jews seems to indicate that Israelis are generally okay with Jews who believe in Yeshua.
The interviewer, Cory Gil-Shuster, casually presented this question to men and women from a broad spectrum of the Israeli demographic. The filmed responses were uncensored and candid, the answers a fair indication of how Messianic Judaism is perceived in Israel.
Albeit the people interviewed were not a comprehensive representation of all Israelis, the answers ranged from ignorance and interest to indifference. Sometimes Gil-Shuster used the help of a translator or modified the question so that interviewees could understand what was being asked. For some he played Devil’s advocate.
The video’s purpose was not meant to educate Israelis on Messianic Judaism. In fact, the interviewer is himself unfamiliar with Messianic Judaism and he admits this openly at around the 5-minute mark of the video. At 2:27 minutes, Gil-Shuster elaborates on the original question by adding, “Does it bother you that people try to convince Jews that Jesus is the Messiah?” And at 5:07 minutes he asked if it is acceptable for Messianic Jews to convert others to Messianic Judaism, clearly unaware that “conversion” is not a Messianic tactic.
Aside from ignorance of Messianic Judaism, the video did not present it in a negative light. The responses were interesting and Gil-Shuster and the respondents were engaging. Not one individual interviewed was openly opposed to Messianic Jews. The majority did not know what Messianic Judaism is and didn’t know any Messianic Jews personally, but the responses indicated a lack of opposition and hostility as long as no coercion is involved.
Some didn’t know that Messianic Judaism generally means Jews who believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the promised Messiah. Gil-Shuster posed the question in Hebrew using the derogatory form of Yeshua’s name, Yeshu, which is based on an accepted rabbinic acronym in Hebrew meaning “may his name and memory be obliterated.”
One of the interviewees asked him if Messianic Jews are like Jehovah’s Witnesses. Gil-Shuster couldn’t answer definitively and admitted he didn’t know, but equated the two belief systems with each other.
The video about Messianic Jews is part of Gil-Shuster’s series, “Ask an Israeli, ask a Palestinian Project.” His channel description says, “Want to know what Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East really think about the conflict? Ask a question and I will get answers.”
Gil-Shuster says that he takes question suggestions from his viewers and then poses them to randomly chosen individuals. He claims that all answers are included and unedited and he reserves the right to make sarcastic comments.
“What do Israelis think of Messianic Jews?” was the question suggested by viewers Miles, Jon, Ange, Adam, Kayla, and Joahanna from the U.S., U.K., Guatemala and the Philippines respectively.
Some other related videos from the project include Israelis: Who is Jesus to you?, Israelis: Who is Mohammad for you? and Israelis: What do you think of Jesus, Mary and Christianity?
According to his Facebook profile, Gil-Shuster has an MA in Conflict Studies and is the director of an international program in conflict resolution and mediation. His YouTube channel, which has almost 67,000 subscribers, is an initiative that was birthed out of his interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.