News from Israel
by John Sode-Woodhead
Hanan Lokas (1948-2022)
Last week, we were all shocked to hear of the sudden death of Hanan Lokas while speaking in Italy. Hanan had been born in Italy to parents trying to make their way to Palestine two months before the Declaration of the State of Israel. This was the first time he was back in Italy and the Lord took him home. Hanan came to faith nearly fifty years ago and since then was active in the growth of the Messianic movement. He was one of those unsung hero’s who operated primarily behind the scenes, but had a major influence on the growth of the Body in Israel.
Few outside Israel ever knew of him, he influenced the lives of so many, including my own. For years he served as CEO of the Messianic Jewish Alliance in Israel and was an elder for nearly forty years in the Bethesda Messianic Congregation in Haifa. Hanan was one of the first Messianic leaders to give full support to the founding and development of the Student Fellowship, which I founded, and I was due to visit both him and his wife in two weeks’ time, as I often did. Hanan was constantly supporting and enabling others and on this occasion he was with his son-in-law Amir Tsarfati.
Political developments in Israel
Israel has recently experienced a rise in terrorist activity, however unlike on previous occasions, this time it is coming primarily from Israeli Arabs. Last May, during the last missile war with Hamas in Gaza, Israel was shocked by the reaction of its Arab population and deeply worried by a militancy within it. Although most who demonstrated were not militant, Israel was concerned by the future implications of the militants assuming that one day there would have to be a show down. The current rise of activity arises on that background.
A lot is happening in Israel in its Jewish-Arab relation, many contradictory trends. For the first time an Arab party is a member of the governing coalition, during a time when the Israeli Prime Minister has formed the most right wing party ever. Even though Israeli Jewish society drifts ever more to the nationalistic right, the High Court of Justice has been active removing barrier after barrier for the equalisation of Arab society in Israel. While the right wing parties are obsessed with defining Israel’s Jewishness, reality on the ground is producing an increasingly pluralistic society. At a time when greater numbers of Arabs are integrating into Israeli society and a growing number are choosing to serve in the IDF, there is a growing anti-Israeli drift in Arab towns and villages.
Hope and fear of the future are riding side by side and its unclear yet where things are going.