Dozens of Israelis, mainly Orthodox Jews, protested on Sunday morning against a group of Christians that calls for "communities of worshiping disciples to be raised up everywhere," claimed by the protesters to be a missionary organization.
The event, which took place at the Davidson Center near the Kotel, was titled "Pentecost 2023 - A Global Day of Prayer for Jerusalem and the Nations." The protesters yelled “Missionaries go home,” among other things.
The official website of Pentecost said that they are “a coalition of believers in Israel and the Nations, denominations, missions and prayer organizations,” which are “calling believers everywhere to set aside an hour to pray both for Jerusalem and the Jewish people and for the Gospel to go to the ends of the earth and communities of worshiping disciples to be raised up everywhere.”
כך נראית עליונות יהודית וייהוד ירושלים - עכשיו ליד הכותל - סגן ראש עיריית ירושלים אריה קינג מוביל הפגנה נגד נוצרים שזקוקים לליווי משטרתי כדי להיכנס, כשברקע ההמון קורא להם מיסיונרים לכו הביתה. שבוע שעבר זה היה מצעד הדגלים, עכשיו זו קבוצה של נוצרים ומה יהיה בשבוע הבא? pic.twitter.com/hGYdAepTyL— עמק שווה (@EmekShavehHeb) May 28, 2023
The organizers explained in the invitation that the event “will mark the beginning of a decade of prayer, evangelism and discipleship, launching a ten-year journey of global collaboration between believers in Israel and the nations, churches of all denominations, mission organizations and ministries responding to the Commission of Jesus to see that all the world has an opportunity to hear the Good News of the Kingdom, hear and understand the Bible in their own language and be connected to a gathering of believers in a discipleship context by 2033.”
This, as well as other texts published on the website, is what caused senior Israeli rabbis to call for their followers to demonstrate.
Senior Rabbis among the protesters
Among the rabbis who signed a petition against this organization are Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba, Israel Ariel of the Old City of Jerusalem who established the Temple Institute, and others.
The head of the Har Hamor Yeshiva and one of the leading rabbis in ultra-orthodox Zionist communities, Rabbi Zvi Thau, also participated in the demonstration. Thau is the spiritual leader of the extreme-right Noam Party in the Knesset.
The protesters who spoke to the Post quoted texts from the Pentecost 2023 website in order to prove that they are missionaries. “From this beginning with a belief that salvation must come to the Jew first,” is one of these sentences, followed by the call for leading to a Global Day of Prayer “for Jerusalem and the Jewish People worldwide, with the desire for the salvation of not only Israel, but the whole world.”
“Missionary terrorism is as dangerous as Islamic terrorism.”Jerusalem deputy mayor Aryeh King
One of the demonstration organizers is Aryeh King, deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. He told the Post on Sunday that “these organizations are Christian missionary organizations from Israel and abroad who haven’t hidden their intentions.” King continued saying that these Christians “chose to hold this event in a place that has nothing to do with Christianity, but actually with Judaism.” He explained that similar events took place in the past but they were behind closed doors and not in religious sites that are holy according to Jewish heritage.
“Missionary terrorism is as dangerous as Islamic terrorism,” King said, adding that he has met “at least three of the participants at today’s demonstration who are Israelis that converted to Christianity.”
King asked: “Do you think they would have allowed the Jews to hold a prayer service at the entrance to the Vatican? Or in Mecca? This is a provocation,” he said.
Israel's Foreign Affairs Ministry reacted to the demonstrations and said on Sunday night that it "condemns any violation of freedom of religion and worship in Jerusalem and any violence against religious officials in the city. The State of Israel considers freedom of religion and worship in Jerusalem which is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, a central value to the fabric of life in the city."
Deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum tweeted in response that she condemns "the demonstration today against our Christian Zionist friends who come to support our country and our eternal capital Jerusalem."
The Anti Defamation League (ADL) responded to the incident and said that "the undeniable Jewish connection to the holy city must never justify excluding others from practicing their own beliefs and express their heritage."