The Jerusalem Post May 21, 22, June 1; HaModia, Yom L’Yom May 21; Yated Ne’eman May 22, 29 1998
A new anti-missionary bill has passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset, by a vote of 37 to 28. The bill, written by Shas MK Rafael Pinchasi, calls for a 3 year prison sentence or NIS 50,000 ($14,000) fine for anyone convicted of “preaching with the intent of causing another person to change his religion.”
In contrast to the previous bill introduced by MKs Zvilli and Gafni, the current proposal was backed by PM Netanyahu and his cabinet, causing concern among Messianic Jews and Christians both here and abroad. There was also a sense of betrayal by the PM, who following the furor over the previous bill promised Christian leaders that “the government … will act to ensure that it does not pass.”
JUDGE BARS YAD L’ACHIM PROTESTS AGAINST JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
HaModia & Hadashot Mishpaha, May 14; Yom HaShishi & Shisha Yamim, May 15 1998
Three Yeshiva students were arrested at a Yad L’Achim protest outside a gathering of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tel-Aviv, after the police received a complaint that oil had been poured on the stairs of the building. Despite their insistence that they had done nothing wrong, they were detained overnight and brought before a judge the next morning. At the hearing, the police stated that the three men had been following and harassing members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for quite some time, and asked the judge to bar them from contacting or even approaching the group in the future. The judge released the suspects on bail (which was paid by Yad L’Achim), and forbade them to contact Jehovah’s Witnesses either directly or indirectly.
The leadership of the anti-missionary movement is very angry with the police, who they claim are conspiring against them and siding with the missionaries, instead of stopping missionary activity themselves. MK Pinchasi, who tabled the proposed new anti-missionary bill, told a meeting of the Knesset’s orthodox lobby that Public Security Minister Kahalani informed him that the pressure to stop anti-missionary protests came from the Foreign Ministry. This, reportedly, is because of the fear that these protests will harm relations between Israel and overseas Christian organizations. Members of the orthodox lobby decided to join anti-mission demonstrations in order to stop the arrests, and to expedite the passage of MK Pinchasi’s bill.
A later article (Yom L’Yom, June 4 1998) states that another judge released 4 orthodox protesters who were detained by police, after finding no evidence that they had broken the law in their demonstration against the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In a related story (HaModia June 11 1998), police dropped the charges of harming others’ religious sensitivities which were filed against Rabbi Lifshitz, chairman of the Yad L’Achim anti-missionary organization. Rabbi Lifshitz was questioned in the matter of the publication of photographs of suspected missionaries (see May Media Review).
ORTHODOX PREVENT BAPTISM OF JEWS
HaTzofe, June 7 1998
A group of 30 ultra-orthodox activists rallied to stop the planned baptism of Jews at the Sataf springs near Jerusalem. Having received advance notice of the baptism, they waited at the springs and met the missionaries and their prey with a barrage of stones. The latter returned to their vehicles and fled the scene.
WARNING! MISSIONARIES IN DISGUISE!
Yom L’Yom, May 7 1998
Residents of Jerusalem are the intended prey of the latest missionary tactic: masquerading as orthodox Jews, and distributing “non-kosher” mezuzahs and phylacteries. These charlatans offer unsuspecting home-owners fancy new religious paraphernalia, which contain heretical writings instead of the requisite OT scriptures.
WHY IS JERUSALEM SACRED TO CHRISTIANS?
Makor Rishon, May 22 1998
The following excerpts are from a Hebrew translation of an article by S. Goodenough of the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem:
“Jerusalem is sacred to us because she is sacred to the Jews. We know that Jerusalem was never the capital of any nation other than Israel. …. Different branches of Christianity would answer differently… the Orthodox would say that they value the city because of the important events that happened here: Jesus’ visits and especially his death. … The roots of the Christian faith are in Jerusalem … but for the millions of Christians represented by the International Embassy of Christianity in Jerusalem, the holiness of Jerusalem goes a lot deeper than the 2000 years that have passed since Jesus lived here. … Jerusalem is the center of Israel, and the Temple Mount is the heart of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the place that God has chosen for the arrival of the Messiah of Israel… We believe that this is possible only if Jerusalem is under Jewish rule.”
CHRISTIAN TELEVISION IN ISRAEL?
The Jerusalem Post, May 25 1998
A report in Newsweek that Pat Robertson’s CBN may be relocated to the West Bank town of Ariel has drawn sharp criticism from the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The spokeswoman for the council is quoted as saying that “While we welcome anyone wishing to support the people of Israel, … in the past there have been blatant attempts by missionaries seeking to convert Jews… we must determine what their true intentions are.”
Ariel Mayor Ron Nahman was much more positive about the possible move, declaring that he hoped to turn Ariel into a communications and technological center and denying that CBN would encourage missionary activity.
The Jerusalem Post: National English language daily, published in Jerusalem. Tends to the religious right, but careful and relatively fair towards believers (has a large Christian readership). Friendly towards right-wing political Christianity.
Ha’Modia: Jerusalem religious daily. Very hostile to believers.
Yom L’Yom: Jerusalem religious/political weekly. Hostile to believers.
Yated Ne’eman: National religious/political daily published in Bnei Brak. Very hostile to believers.
Mishpaha/Hadashot Mishpaha: Jerusalem religious weekly.
Yom Ha’Shishi: Jerusalem religious weekly. Hostile to believers.
Shisha Yamim: Jerusalem religious weekly.
Ha’Tzofe: Tel-Aviv religious/political daily. Hostile to believers.
Makor Rishon: B’nei Brak weekly.