Haredi men caught on security camera spray painting the Beit Hallel Congregation building on September 12 2018 .
(photo credit: ISRAEL POCHTAR)
The messianic Jewish community in Ashdod has suffered two acts of vandalism in recent days, which it says was perpetrated by two ultra-Orthodox men. The perpetrators sprayed painted graffiti on the Beit Hallel Congregation’s new building with the words, “The mission is a national danger,” and “not to the mission” sprayed repeatedly on various parts of the building.
Founder and Senior Pastor of the Voice of Judah Israel and Beit Hallel Congregation Israel Pochtar noted the building is private property, surrounded by a fence.
“A few days ago, several ultra-Orthodox [people] entered illegally into our property and decided to vandalize private property in broad daylight,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Monday, accompanied by pictures of two ultra-Orthodox men who appear to be spraying the graffiti.
“They sprayed all over the property graffiti making [it] clear it is an act of hatred against Messianic Jews,” Pochtar said. He added that they returned the following day to continue spraying more graffiti. According to Pochtar, the perpetrators vandalized steel doors, walls, marble and windows, causing the congregation financial damage.
“We immediately extracted footage from our surveillance cameras and went to press charges. Obviously, the police tried to minimize the events as something insignificant, but we insisted that according to the law, vandalism and graffiti spraying on private property can be penalized with up to a year in prison. We showed we had evidence of the perpetrators, and the police was basically forced to take our complaint seriously,” Pochtar said.
Lachish district police spokesman Shimon Cohen told The Jerusalem Post that after receiving a complaint, the police opened an investigation into the incident.
The congregation comprises some 300 people, and since 2011, Pochtar says they have faced systematic harassment, bullying, shaming and threats from ultra-Orthodox residents of the city.
“All we want is to live with mutual respect, peace and quiet with everyone, but we do not get treated like citizens with equal rights,” Pochtar said in a press release. Pochtar accused the police in Ashdod of not taking the threats and crimes committed again the Messianic Jewish community seriously.
“We live in a democratic country with freedom of religion for all, and it cannot be that they harass us for years every week, threaten our lives and the police ignores it. There are members of the community who fear for their lives and fear that they will be physically harmed,” he continued, issuing a call to police to put a stop to harassment of the community.
The press release highlighted that in addition to holding spiritual meetings and Hebrew classes, the community has for years distributed food to some 1,200 needy families of new immigrants, Holocaust survivors, single-parent families, the disabled and the elderly living in Ashdod through a network of 100 volunteers who carry out this work on a weekly basis.Messianic Jews are continuously ostracized
both by mainstream world Jewry and by Israel with an almost blanket rejection of Messianic Jews, or Jews who believe in Jesus.