The Messiah came to Tel Aviv, was beaten and arrested by police

Arkady Hayakar, a cultish figure famous for wearing a red robe and explaining to passersby that he is the Messiah, was arrested by police for allegedly abusing his followers.

By
October 30, 2019 19:41
2 minute read.
Itamar settlement

Jewish youths hold an Israeli flag as they ride a donkey during a rally march outside the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near Nablus. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Arkady Vimgok Hayakar, a cultish figure who spent years walking around the streets of Tel Aviv with a red robe claiming he is the Messiah, was arrested by police in early October due to an upcoming television program that claims he abuses his followers and is the leader of a cult.

He was arrested by police after reporter Nesli Barda recorded, in her new Keshet program Israel’s Dangerous Cults, how he recruits followers.  The program will be aired on Thursday.

Hayakar is suspected of recruiting spiritual seekers to a cult devoted to him. He was linked to several cases of financial exploitation and even death.

Not much is known about Hayakar or his philosophy. According to the available reports on Israeli media, he doesn’t seem to have any coherent philosophy or ideology. He is listed on the web site of the Israeli Center for Cult Victims – alongside Scientology, Rabbi Eliezer Berland and Rabbi Adam Sinai – as cults to be wary of. 

While Israel has a law against actively preaching for religious conversion, either of Jewish people to another faith or anyone else changing his or her religion, there is no clear legal distinction as to what is a cult, a sect, or a spiritual study group.

For example, modern Orthodox Jews might view some Hassidic courts as cultish or even mistaken in their understanding of Jewish culture, yet in a free society nobody attempts to curb how people express their religious convictions.

Berland allegedly promised terminally ill people that he could cure them for large sums of money, which they paid and never recovered. But it is unclear if that’s a crime, since people have a right to believe what they like and do with their money as they please. Berland was also the focus of an earlier program by Barda.  

Sinai allegedly uses his insights from Jewish mysticism to cultivate a cult around himself.

The most violent incident in Israel so far involving sects is a 1994 armed standoff taken by followers of Rabbi Uzi Meshulam against the police.

Meshulam, who argued that the Israeli establishment was involved with kidnapping Mizrahi children and given them to European Jews for adoption in the early years of the country, was arrested along with 11 of his students.

In the house where they barricaded themselves for several weeks, guns and bombs were found. One of his followers, Shlomo Asulim, was shot dead when police raided the house.

The following year, 12 people died and over a thousand were injured in a sarin gas attack in the Tokyo Subway. The attack was carried out by members of Aum Shinrikyo. the cult's founder, Shoko Ashara, was executed, along with six of his group's members, by the Japanese justice system in 2018 for his involvement in this act of domestic terror.

 
 


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