Dudi Amsalem
Dudi AmsalemKobi Richter/TPS

A new Hebrew-language cable television channel which went on the air last week will not be permitted to continue operating if it broadcasts missionary content, Communications Minister Dudi Amsalem (Likud) vowed Tuesday.

Following reports on the opening of GOD TV’s new Hebrew-language channel in Israel, the Communications Minister urged the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council, which issued a license to the new channel, to investigate the GOD TV network and remove the channel if it is found to be violating anti-missionary laws.

“We will not allow any missionary channel to operate in the State of Israel at any time or in any way,” said Amsalem.

The minister distanced his ministry from the decision to grant a license to the new GOD TV channel, but added that he had urged the council responsible for granting the license to take the look into the matter and remove the channel if it violates the prohibition on broadcasting missionary content.

“It is important to point out that the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council is an independent, sovereign body which makes its own decisions – though from the moment that I was made aware of the matter I immediately turned to the chairman of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council to open a deep and comprehensive investigation into the matter, and to make sure that no channel violates the terms of its license, and that if it is a missionary channel, that it is immediately taken off the air.”

The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council also responded to the reports Tuesday on the opening of GOD TV’s Hebrew-language channel, and the comments by GOD TV CEO Ward Simpson regarding the channel’s intended use as a means for spreading the Christian gospel.

“For years, the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council has ensured pluralism in broadcasting, allowing broadcasts with religious content for all religions, in keeping with religious freedom and freedom of expression – in accordance with the council’s policies regarding religious broadcasts,” the council said in a statement Tuesday.

“The council granted a license to “Arutz Shelanu” last month, allowing it to go on the air on the HOT cable television provider, provided it adheres to the rules of the license and regulations of the council; rules which state that there is no prohibition on religious, traditional, or heritage-based content which includes support for religious precepts, faith, or a way of life – but the broadcasts cannot include material meant to have an inappropriate influence on viewers.”

“Recently, a video has been released from the CEO of the parent network in the US. The video has been examined by the council’s inspections department, and it was found that the video was not broadcast on the Israeli channel, and was only released over the internet.”

“Despite this fact, the chairman of the council has called the relevant parties in to discuss the character of the channel and its adherence to the terms of its license, while bringing in the council’s inspection officials to examine the channel’s own broadcasts. If it will be determined that the channel’s content does not follow the terms of the license, including the council’s rules on religious broadcasts, we will consider taking immediate and decisive action in the matter.”

Earlier on Tuesday, it was reported that the chairman of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council, Asher Biton, claimed he was unaware that GOD TV, an international Christian media network, had planned to use its new Israeli channel to missionize Israeli Jews.

On the network’s website, GOD TV says that the new channel is intended to help “local Messianic leaders to share the gospel freely in Israel” and to encourage Israeli Jews to become Christians.

“We want Jewish viewers to embrace the fact that Jesus is theirs.”

The CEO of GOD TV, Ward Simpson, said that the new channel’s purpose is to preach “the gospel of Jesus”.

GOD TV has been given government permission to broadcast the gospel of Jesus Christ – Yeshua the Messiah – in Israel on cable TV in the Hebrew language. Never before, as far as we know in the history of the world, has this ever been done,” Simpson said in a video statement.