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Protests Against Violation of Religious Freedom

By Wolfgang Polzer
Special to ASSIST News Service
September 14, 2005

ARAD, Israel (ANS) — Messianic Jews have called for international protests against violations of religious freedom in Israel. Orthodox Jews have harassed a congregation in the desert town of Arad in Southern Israel for more than 18 months.

Messianic Jews number approximately 6,000 in Israel and at least 100,000 worldwide. They believe in the Messiah Jesus Christ. Orthodox Jews regard them as apostates.

An orthodox group called Gur Chassidim has been persecuting 30 messianic Jews in Arad. They have been insulted in public as Nazis, whores and dirty Christians. According to eyewitnesses the police have turned a blind eye or even sided with the persecutors. An assembly hall has been burnt down.

Leaders of the messianic congregation have written a letter of complaint to the police chief but received no answer. The mayor of Arad said he was dependent on the Gur Chassidim. He could not intervene unless there was bloodshed.

The Supreme Court has allowed the Gur Chassidim an annual demonstration in front of the pastor’s house with up to 100 participants.

As the authorities, the police and the judicial system seem unable to protect the messianic Jews they are calling for international solidarity. Three Christian organizations in Germany have pledged their support. Letters of complaint should be addressed to Israeli embassies.

Wolfgang Polzer (55), is senior news editor of the Evangelical News Agency idea, Wetzlar (Germany), which he joined in 1981. His previous work included four years in the editorial department of the Salvation Army in Germany. In all, he has spent 28 years in Christian media. Wolfgang can be contacted by e-mail at: Wolfgang.Polzer@idea.de.

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