Sunday, October 31, 2010

Newly de-Classified Report by U.S. Embassy Israel to State Dept on Yad L'Achim Activities against believers

This document was to remain classified until 2013, but was released after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents related to Yad L'Achim activities against believers in Israel. We can confirm the veracity of the statements made in this report, as this has been our beat for the past 10 years and it is according to weekly reports we receive from the indigenous believers in Israel.
- Donna Diorio, www.israelprayer.com


P 301043Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6911
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY VATICAN
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
USMISSION GENEVA RELEASED IN PART
B6, B1, 1.4(D)
C O N F I D E N T I A L TEL AVIV 001147

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/27/2013
TAGS: KIRF, PGOV, IS
SUBJECT: BIBLE BURNING HIGHLIGHTS GROWING ANTI-MISSIONARY
SENTIMENT IN ISRAEL

Classified By: DCM Luis G. Moreno for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The May 15 mass public burning of New Testaments in the Tel Aviv suburb of Or Yehuda highlights a growing trend toward anit-missionary incitement in Jewish neighborhoods throughout Israel. Other notable incidents include the October firebombing of a Jerusalem church shared by Baptists and Messianic Jews (i.e. Jews who believe Jesus was the Messiah) and the March 20 bombing of a Messianic Jewish home in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, in which a 15-year old boy was gravely wounded. Contacts in Messianic and Evangelical Christian congregations throughout Israel describe a worsening situation and allege complicity or complacency on the part of police, local government and the Interior Ministry. For their part, anti-missionary groups such as the ultra-Orthodox Yad l’Achim appear more determined than ever to escalate their campaign against Christian and Messianic congregations that they see as “cults” determined to “steal Jewish sould.” END SUMMARY
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Background




United States Department of State
Review Authority: Sharon E. Ahmad
Date/Case ID: 28 JUL 2010 200906086 UNCLASSIFIED
UNCLASSIFIED
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2. (SBU) While anti-missionary groups such as the ultra-Orthodox Yad l’Achim (“Hand to Brothers have long sought to uproot Messianic Jewish and Evangelical Christian congregations in Israel, their activities have gone largely unnoticed by mainstream Israeli society. Targeted congregations have suffered harassment and occasionally even vandalism or violence at the hands of Yad l/Achim activists, but such incidents rarely made the national press. Despite the harassment, the number of Messianic Jews and Evangelical Christians has grown in recent years through both immigration and conversion. In recent months, however, increased press reporting and complaints from religious freedom activists have indicated an increase in Yad l’Achim activism and a growing, wider backlash against the presence of Evangelical or Messianic Congregations and missionaries living in Jewish communities. Contacts describe a mounting sense of fear among Messianic and Evangelical communities, and allege a situation of near impunity where police fail to adequately investigate hate crimes against them. They also claim that the Interior Ministry arbitrarily denies benefits to people it identifies as Messianic Jews or Evangelical Christians. For their part, Yad l’Achim and allied activists appear increasingly determined to head off what they see as the “stealing of Jewish souls” by proselytizing “cults” that use deception and manipulation to prey on the weaker sectors of Israeli Jewish society. (Note: Proselytizing is legal in Israel, as long as people are not materially induced into conversion. Proselytizing of less-Orthodox Jews by ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects, such as Chabad, is done openly and without the constraints imposed on non-Jewish groups. End Note.)


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Recent Incidents Underscore Rising Tensions
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3. (SBU) While an undercurrent of anti-missionary sentiment has long existed in Israel, several recent incidents describe a dramatic worsening of the situation. As reported in the press, residents of the Tel Aviv suburb of Or Yehuda publicly burned hundreds of Christian Bibles distributed in the community by missionaries in recent months. The May 15 incident was reportedly organized by the Deputy Mayor of Or Yehuda, Attorney Uzi Aharon of Shas, after he received complaints about the Messianic Jewish presence in the area residents. After the incident, Aharon told the Israeli daily Ma’ariv that he sent a group of students from a

UNCLASSIFIED
UNCLASSIFIED

local ultra-Orthodox school throughout the town to collect the New Testaments, which were subsequently burned in front of a synagogue, while “hundreds” of students danced around the burning books. Aharon told Ma’ariv that the municipality operated a team of activists, available 24-hours a day, devoted entirely to uprooting missionary activity, and that the burning was a fulfillment of the commandment to “burn the evil from your midst.” While Aharon subsequently sought to downplay his comments by expressing regret for any damage done to Jewish-Christian relations, he continued to defend the burning, telling Israel Army Radio that it was necessary in order to “purge the evil among us.” (Note: Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, joined by Christian and Muslim leaders from Israel and the West Bank in the Council of Religious Institutions of the Hold Land, issued a statement May 27 condemning the Or Yehuda New Testament burning, while also condemning all attempts to convert a person from one faith to another.)


4. (SBU) PolOff obtained a flyer distributed by Aharon’s anti-missionary team in the months before the burning, exhorting residents to “Save your families! . . . Say no to missionaries who look for your soul . . . . Be careful! Reject them! Chase them away from the place you live!’ The flyer listed the cell phone numbers of Aharon and other members of the team, and was accompanied by leaflets with the names, photos and addresses alongside flyers with hysterical allegations about “soul stealing” and “brainwashing” is a favorite tactic of Yad l’Achim branches throughout the country.)


5. (SBU) Other recent incidents also highlight the growing threat to Messianic and evangelical congregations. On March 20, 15 year-old Ami Ortiz – a dual American-Israeli citizen and the son of a Messianic Jewish pastor – was seriously wounded when a bomb disguised as a gift basket exploded in his home in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. Earlier this month controversy erupted over the disclosure than an Israeli finalist in the International Jewish Bible Quiz was a Messianic Jew, prompting two Chief Rabbis to call for the cancellation of the quiz on the grounds that selecting the 15 year-old “cult member” represented a “transgression of Jewish law.” In October, arsonists fire-bombed a church in Jewish West Jerusalem shared by Baptists and Messianic Jews, while more recently, residents of the secular, upscale Jerusalem neighborhood of Rehavia threatened violence – an “all-out-war,” in the word of one


UNCLASSIFIED
UNCLASSIFIED

resident -- over plans by a Messianic Jewish organization to open an information center there.


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Bureaucratic Complicity and Police Complacency
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6. (C) -----------------------------------------4 ½ lines of redacted material -------------------------------------------
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--------------------------------------------------- Contacts in Messianic and Christian congregations in ----redacted ------- have long complained that police in those cities fail to take seriously hate crims against their members. Following the Ortiz incident, several member of other congregations throughout the country complained to the press of similar problems in their communities. In a recent meeting with PolOff -----------------------2 lines of redacted material ------------------------------------------------------------------
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noted a dramatic increase in violent assaults and other crimes against their members in the past year (up from 1-2 a month in early 2007 to 8-10 now), and complained of an almost complete refusal by police to investigate of apprehend the perpetrators.

7. © Messianic Jews and evangelical Christians also regularly complain of discrimination in the workplace and by officials in the Interior Ministry and local governments. -------------------------------------
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UNCLASSIFIED

1 comment:

Shlomy said...

We actually were leading a huge project of the witnessing of Messiah in the immediate and surrounding areas on that day when that New Testament burning broke out. Praise God we must have done something right for the enemy to get so mad the way it all came down and we are worthy for perscution for his name sake!. It is my herat's desire that more lifting up of his name would transpire. Let us hold forth His light and truth come what may.