Missionaries Lobby Israeli Gov´t to Stop Demonstrations in Arad

Christian missionaries, primarily from the United States, have been pressuring the Israeli government to prevent demonstrations against their activity.

Scott Shiloh , | updated: 2:18 PM

Missionaries, who attempt to convert Jews to Christianity, have recently stepped up their efforts in Arad, a city in the southeast Negev, with a large immigrant population of Jews from Russia and other former Soviet republics. These immigrants, and others lacking in Jewish education, are considered susceptible targets for missionary activity.

Under Jewish law, converting to Christianity is virtually synonymous with destroying a person’s soul. According to Israeli law, offering material benefits as an inducement to convert to Christianity, is a criminal offense.

Hareidi-Torah Jews, who have attempted to protest missionary activity in Arad, were denied permits to demonstrate by the police department.

While the Hareidi protestors have appealed to the High Court to overturn the police decision, a missionary publication in Hebrew says missionaries have been lobbying government ministers and senior police officials to ensure that demonstrations against their activity do not take place.

The publication, called “Kivun” (or “Direction” in English), says that the missionaries have been enlisting Christian supporters of Israel in the United States to pressure the Israeli government to stop the demonstrations.

The extent of the missionaries’ activities in Israel and their attempts to influence the Israeli government, can be learned from an article published in a recent edition of Kivun.

The magazine writes: “The demonstrations, threats, shouts, and scheming against Messianic Jews [“Jews for Jesus”] in Arad have been continuing on and off for more than a year and a half already. All this began when the Yad L’Achim organization [a Jewish anti-missionary organization] became aware that a youth, a local resident, was baptized.

“At the same time, we opened a chess club that distributed messianic [Christian] material. These two events enraged Yad L’ Achim activists, and they started inciting Gur Hasidim which have a large yeshiva in the city.”

The magazine goes on to explain that the missionaries “began writing to their friends abroad” about the problems in Arad. “They began to apply pressure on the [Israeli] government” to stop what they termed “religious persecution.”

“They wrote to government ministries, the Prime Minister’s office, the Internal Security Ministry, the Interior Ministry the police…[saying] that that if the offices get inundated with letters from Christians around the world, who are demanding safety for believers in the Messiah [Jesus] in Arad, the offices will not be able to claim later that they did not know” about the situation, writes Kivun.

“Write to your Senators,” the magazine exhorted, “about how this situation is such a great injustice, and that they who persecute us are absolutely evil and primitive.”

The magazine reports that in a letter to Chief of Police Moshe Karadi, the missionaries demanded that he act aggressively against the Haredi-Jewish community in Arad.

Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifshitz of Yad L’Achim said, in response to the quotes from the missionary magazine, that “the words of the missionaries and their activities speak for themselves.”

He said his organization was waiting for the High Court to decide on their right to demonstrate against the missionaries in Arad.