T. Belman. Israel treads lightly because it does not want to violate free speech norms and because she benefits from evangelical political and financial support. Its the same policy that has her standing by whenever the PA broadcasts antisemetic material. For my part Israel should draw the line without equivocation and take the position that missionizing and preaching antisemitism will not be tolerated. If Israedl can outlaw Naqba celebrations, it can outlaw the PA narrative.
Israeli regulatory authorities say God TV, one of the world’s largest Christian broadcasting network, failed to disclose true agenda
By Judy Maltz, HAARETZ
In a landmark ruling, Israeli regulatory authorities announced on Sunday that they are shutting down an evangelical Christian television station for not disclosing in its license application that its true agenda was missionizing Jews.
The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council notified Hot, the Israeli cable television provider, that its new Hebrew-language channel would be taken off the air within the next seven days.Shelanu, a new channel set up by God TV – one of the largest Christian broadcasting networks in the world – in partnership with the Israeli Messianic community, had been broadcasting on cable television since the end of April.
It is very rare for the council to take a channel off the air, and it is the first time a Christian channel broadcast in Israel is being shut down.God TV was told by the council that it was welcome to submit a new license application that provided a more honest depiction of the nature of its programming. Proselytizing, in certain circumstances, can be against the law in Israel.
Had he known that the target audience of the new channel was the Jewish community in Israel, wrote council Chairman Asher Biton in a letter notifying Hot of his decision, he would not have approved the application as quickly and would have first consulted with all the council members.
“A channel that wishes to spread the gospel of Jesus among the Jewish nation sitting in Israel had never been broadcast on Hot, and the heads of the channel knew that, as was clarified in the hearing we held,” he wrote. Biton noted that Christian programming aimed at Jews is a “complicated and sensitive matter” and, therefore, the broadcasters should have been more upfront about the nature of the new channel.
Biton already notified Hot a few weeks after Shelanu (Hebrew for “Ours,” as in “Jesus is all of ours”) began broadcasting that he was considering suspending the license, subject to a hearing. The announcement came after a fundraising video surfaced in which God TV CEO Ward Simpson said: “God has supernaturally opened the door for us to take the gospel of Jesus into the homes and lives and hearts of his Jewish people.”
Overnight, the video message that had caused the storm was taken down and God TV issued a clarification: The network had no intention of trying to convert Jews to Christianity, Simpson said in a new video message; it merely wanted them to accept Jesus as their messiah.
In his letter, Biton notes that in its application for a license for the new channel, Hot said that the target audience was the Christian community in Israel, when in fact it was Jews. Even after Hot was put on notice, the letter says, the channel continued to broadcast programs about Christianity aimed specifically at Jews.
“Therefore, whether it was a violation of the obligation for fairness, a deliberate cover-up or a decision to change the nature of programming after the license was approved, the channel should not be allowed to continue broadcasting based on the license it was given,” Biton wrote.
It is not necessarily against the law to broadcast Christian programs to a Jewish audience in Israel, he noted in his letter. It is, however, against the law to proselytize to individuals under age 18 without the consent of their parents. Had he been aware of the true nature of the channel, wrote Biton, he would have tried to establish whether Shelanu’s programming was targeting children.
In considering a new application for the Christian channel, the council chairman wrote, he would weigh the benefits of free speech against any possible harm to religious sensibilities in Israel.
Shelanu is not the first Christian channel to broadcast in Israel. Other examples include Daystar and Middle East Television. It is the first, however, to broadcast in Hebrew and to openly flaunt its missionary activities.
God TV signed a seven-year contract with Hot to host the channel. More than 700,000 Israeli households subscribe to Hot, which controls nearly 50 percent of the multichannel market in the country.
God TV was founded in the United Kingdom 25 years ago by two South African expats – Rory and Wendy Alec. Rory served as CEO from 1995 until 2014, when he resigned after confessing to a “moral failure” in his marriage. Wendy Alec held the position for two years before handing it over in 2016 to Ward Simpson – a car dealer from Barbados, now based in Orlando. Before taking over God TV, Simpson served as the network’s global operations manager, and prior to that headed the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry.
In 2002, the network moved its broadcast uplink to Israel, and from there began to expand around the world. Today, it broadcasts in 200 countries and claims to reach 250 million homes around the world.