She attempted to hand me the flyer as soon as I exited the train station, despite my borderline desperate attempts to avoid eye contact. Thanks to the paper boys (who are rarely under the age where I hope to be enjoying a long overdue retirement) who hand out the Israel’s rival “free” newspapers during the morning train commutes, I had already been broken of my conditioning to automatically take anything that was positioned so as to touch my hand. But I still dislike being forced to say no so early in the day, when it has the potential to become the first breach in my dam of positivity.

I looked down at the insubstantial leaflet, and even with my poor Hebrew, I could tell it was not something that fell within my sphere of interest. First of all, it had a picture of a dove on it. No good ever came from a flyer with a dove on it. The only flyers with doves on them belong to Christians, or people who don’t like hunting. Not that there is anything bad, per se, about Christians, or people who don’t like hunting. It’s just that the types of Christians and anti-hunting propagandists who are motivated enough to walk around with flyers are not usually armed with anything more than slogans, which makes for some pretty lame conversation.

“Accept Jesus as your Lord and savior!”
“Savior from what?”
“Your sins”
“Well, I just bought this new ‘Sin a Day’ calendar, so now is really not a good time for me. But tell him I said hi!”

The easiest way to spot the difference between a Christian flyer and an anti-hunting flyer, especially when you are (debatably) functionally illiterate like I am, is by comparing the other imagery on the paper. Christians will put a picture of someone happy. Anti-hunters will put a picture of someone looking angry. After working in marketing, I think the Christians are definitely onto something. I don’t want to take your leaflet if it shows someone angry on it. Life’s too short. I can’t even tell if the angry guy is representing the hunters or the anti-hunters. Although, from what I know about hunters, which is basically from watching Ted Nugent on PBS, they seem pretty happy.

The train station lady’s flyer had doves and a smiling guy So, I said no thanks, and kept moving along. As I walked along the path to my bus stop, I saw little heaps of flyers on the ground. I pondered for a few minutes who was at fault for the littering, the missionaries or the people who take flyers that they aren’t going to read? I think I blame the missionaries more because of their unimaginative flyer design. Instead of doves, put some Victoria’s Secret models. The angel ones. You can even leave the smiling guy. That way, you still bring in the people who are into birds, but you get more engagement. Now, that’s a flyer you take home…

I know a lot of people get mad at missionaries here in Israel. My husband yelled at two teenaged Jehovah’s Witnesses who knocked on our apartment door, saying that what they were doing was illegal. I pointed out that it’s only illegal if they give us something, and I asked hopefully if they had brought any bribes. They hadn’t, but apparently they thought discretion was the better part of valor, so they left.

I think Israel’s version of Christian shaming is wrong. We live in a democracy, and every idea that doesn’t promote illegal behavior should be tolerated. The best way to keep Jews Jewish is to teach what Judaism is about. And the best way to keep the weak from being seduced into joining a new religion is to support them ourselves. Why rail at evangelicals who spread their beliefs to Holocaust survivors over a hot meal? Instead, make sure that your neighbors are taken care of. In that kind of world, when a Christian knocks on the door, the only response that will be needed is “Oh, it’s just another boring missionary.”