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A major Christian TV network offered on Israeli cable and satellite television is broadcasting missionary advertisements directed at Jews.
The Dallas-based Daystar TV network, which is part of the basic cable program on both YES and HOT, broadcasts a medley of teachings from the New Testament, and includes 15-minute infomercials from the Jewish Voice Ministries International that targets a Jewish audience with the message of Jesus.
The network, which is similar to many Christian religious stations in the US, is broadcast on Channel 110 on YES, and is available upon request on Channel 98 on HOT.
A HOT customer service official said that because of the sensitivity the station poses it is available, as part of the basic cable program, only on request.
The Christian TV network, whose broadcasts have been on the air in Israel for about a year, has 128 million viewers in the US, including 60 million on cable and satellite, and is now available in more than 200 countries.
A summation of the Christian TV network by YES available for viewers on their TV screens defines the station as "an American channel broadcasting mostly talk shows. In addition, you can enjoy diverse programs on various subjects such as family, children, music, health, finance etc."
The Phoenix-based Jewish Voice Ministries International calls itself "a worldwide outreach that is dedicated to bringing the Gospel of Jesus to the Jew first and also to the Gentile throughout the world," according to its Web site.
Yoram Mokady, the chairman of the Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting, said Sunday that the issue would be investigated.
He added there were very clear regulations for religious programming, including misinformation, frightening programming and programs directed at minors, but that there were no guidelines for missionary activity.
The broadcasts were immediately condemned by anti-missionary activists in Israel, who have long been wary of any connection with Christians, including Christian Zionists in Israel.
Jerusalem city councilwoman Mina Fenton, a prominent anti-missionary activist from the National Religious Party, said that the approval of the broadcasts in Israel by the Communications Ministry represented "the corruption of Jewish morals," and was indicative of a country facing a "crusade of money."
The ever-sensitive issue of TV missionary activity comes amid burgeoning ties between Israel and the evangelical Christian world and follows a recent decision by YES to drop Star World and by HOT to discontinue BBC Prime, moves which have triggered a firestorm of protests by the English-speaking public in Israel.
The issue also underscores the delicate balancing act that many Evangelical Christians face between their support for Israel and their hard-core beliefs.