Radio: No PSA on Missionaries

Israel Radio and Army Radio said they would not air an ad warning youths of the dangers of missionary activities at concerts and festivals.

David Lev, | updated: 18:19

Red Sea Jazz Festival
Red Sea Jazz Festival

For years, missionary groups have targeted young Israelis attending music “festivals” and other youth-oriented events, like major concerts. Several times a year – during the summer months and school vacations surrounding holidays – young Israelis are treated to various gatherings, music events, nature happenings, and the like. These events usually entail the participation of thousands of teenagers and college students, who leave home for several days and camp out in national parks and beaches.

And the attendees at these events are considered a perfect target for missionaries out to corral Jews for their cults. With the spirit of freedom and lightheadedness that prevails at the events, along with a lack of parental sanction, the likelihood that a youth will fall prey to the tactics of the missionaries is ever greater.

One of the groups active in preventing missionaries from spreading their message at such events is Yad L'achim, which sends out volunteers to intercept and intercede in exchanges between seasoned religious recruiters and naïve students. While the program has been successful, the organization says, it would be much better if attendees – and their parents – were aware of the dangers before they attend the festivals, enabling them to prepare accordingly. In order to help with this effort, the organization prepared several radio advertisements that would run before major festivals, warning those planning to attend of the dangers – and how they could protect themselves.

However, as of now, those ads will not be played, at least on the radio stations belonging to the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the IDF. An Israeli Radio official called up Yad L'achim to inform them that their ad was being rejected, while an official of Army Radio wrote to the group that its radio stations could not run ads that “may damage the religious sentiments of different groups.”

Attorneys for Yad L'avchim have filed suit demanding that the stations run the ads – if not as public service announcements, then as fully paid ads. In a letter to the court, Yad L'achim attorneys said that “a public service announcement or paid ad warning Jews not to fall prey to missionaries would not violate the religious feelings of anyone in Israel. It is the radio stations' social and legal obligation to broadcast the ads. There is, in fact, no more suitable message for Jews in a Jewish state than to tell them to remain strong in their identities and reject anti-Semitic missionary activity,” the letter said.

The letter conclude by saying that if the radio stations' management do not change their minds, Yad L'achim will file a discrimination claim with the High Court. So far, attorneys for the group said, neither Israel Radio nor Army Radio have responded to the letter.