London (Jan. 3)
(By our London Correspondent)
Zealous Christian missionaries who are affiliated with the international Missionary Council are placug much hope for a new era of their work among Jews in the forthcoming session of the Council which will be held in Jerusalem from March 24 to April 8.
A world survey of conditions pertaining to missionary possibilities among the Jewish populations in the various countries was prepared for the Council session. The views current among the missionaries on this subject and the reasons on which they base their hopes for greater success are given in the last issue of the “International Review of Missions.” The issue is devoted entirely to the forthcoming meeting in Jerusalem and aims at convincing those who finance the missionary work of the existence of a process of cisintegration among Jews which provides an excellent opportunity for missionary work. “The Jews as a race are at the present day more open to Christian influence than at any earlier period,” they assert.
In the course of the survey the “Review” speaks at length of the conditons in Palestine. The Government, it says, is still obliged to function without Arab co-operation, but the political position is improving and far less bitterness exists now than a year or two ago. In the opinion of careful observers, the stage of mutual toleration as between Arabs and Jews is almost reached. The Arab finds he has nothing to lose and much to gain through the general prosperity of the land through the Jewish colonist. The earthquake which occurred in Palestine by the fellowship both of a common suffering and of a common practical sympathy has further served to draw the Arab and Jewish communities nearer together.
Palestinian nationality is applied for cautiously by Jewish colonists, probably from a fear of burning their boats, but is becoming appreciated by other classes. The proposal to dam the Jordan to obtain electric power for the whole of Palestine and the concession to develop the rich potash resources of the Dead Sea area indicate material prosperity in the future.
As regards medical work, the Government has opened hospitals and organized welfare work, supplemented by widespread Jewish provision for their own race, the survey states. The physical need for medical missionary work has in consequence become less urgent and mission opinion is in favor of concentrating on existing work, increasing staff and developing the evangelistic side of mission hospitals. Missionary education work suffered severely during the war and the had to be built up afresh in the last decade. The Arabs as a rule prefer to send their children to the newly-established Government primary schools where the Koran is taught. The Jews, where possible, provide their own schools. The mission primary schools, therefore, chiefly serve the Christian community.
Since the Balfour Declaration about 150,000 Jewish emigrants from Europe alone entered Palestine, the Review states. In 1924-25, the number of emigrants was unusually large. As funds for which they had hoped were not forthcoming and many of them were unsuitable as colonists, many left Palestine later, as many as 10,000 in 1926. Decidedly the colonists as a whole are making good, in spite of the high price of land and the heavy customs on imports.
There is a delay in the publication of Christian literature for the use of Palestinian Jews, the Review states, due to a lack of knowledge of Hebrew among writers and translators, but the difficulty is being overcome.
Speaking of the Jews generally, the report alleges that a revolutionary spirit is working throughout the whole of Judaism. Politically many Jews are found within the ranks of Bolshevism. Intellectually, the leaven is at work, driving them in such large numbers into the universities of America and Europe that the authorities are becoming disquieted.
Spiritually, it proceeds, the old authority of Talmudic teaching is gone, and there is a distinct break-away from the synagogue, in many cases towards rationalism. There has been a great movement of Jews into the Christian Church in Hungary during the years since the war, and many in America have joined the Christian Science body. The Jews as a race are at the present day more open to Christian influence than at any earlier period.
Evangelistic work among Moslems, the report states, meets with far less hostility than at any previous period, especially in country districts, but with a greater readiness to hear goes a reluctance to accept Christianity and converts are few.