Israel Orders Deportation of Jews for Jesus Missionary

Christianity Today

Messianic group worries legal precedent could be used to expel more missionaries.

(MSN) An Israeli immigration judge has ordered the deportation of a Messianic Jewish man from England who was arrested last week for taking part in an evangelistic event in southern Israel.

Barry Barnett, 50, a worker with Jews for Jesus UK, was ordered on Sunday (Nov. 24) to leave the country by Dec. 3. Barnett, who is based in England, was volunteering at the Jews for Jesus “Behold your God Israel” campaign around the city of Be’er Shiva when he was arrested Wednesday (Nov. 20) at about 4 p.m.

According to his wife, Alison Barnett, six immigration control officers took him from Be’er Shiva, 125 kilometers (78 miles) south of Jerusalem, to an immigration office in Omer, just outside of the city. He was held there for several hours without charge, then transferred to an immigration-holding unit of a prison in Ramle, near Tel Aviv. He spent four days in jail before his court hearing.

The team present at the time of the arrest was made up of Israeli citizens except for Barnett. Dan Sered, Israel director for Jews for Jesus, said in a press release that the arrest was “outrageous.”

“As an Israeli, I have been proud that our country allows for freedom of religion,” he said. “Yet those who seized Barry and took him to prison have done a shameful thing.”

According to Sered, the presiding judge ruled that Barnett was not allowed to engage in “missionary activity” while in Israel.

“They did not really give a reason why they detained him,” Sered told Morning Star News. “All they said is that he was doing ‘missionary activity.’ That is correct, he was doing missionary activity, and that is legal to do in Israel.”

The reason the state of Israel gave for his deportation, he said, was that Barnett was engaging in missionary activity and not regular tourist activity on a B2 tourist visa.

“But the global ethics code for tourism, which the state of Israel signed and even advertises on its own Ministry of Tourism Web page, states that tourism for the purpose of exchanging religious beliefs is not only valid but also should be encouraged,” Sered said. “Therefore, his deportation and arrest by the state of Israel was done without a real legal cause.”

Sered said Jews for Jesus would fight the deportation order. If the order is not overturned, there is a risk that it will become a legal precedent that could be used to expel missionaries or any expatriate engaging in religious activities deemed unacceptable by the Israeli government – or by government officials acting alone.

The immigration officers who arrested Barnett seized a banner he was holding with a group of Israelis who were campaigning with him. Julia Pascoe, UK branch leader for Jews for Jesus, said there was nothing inherently offensive on the banner. The banner read, “Salvation equals Jesus,” which Pascoe said was an explanation of Jesus’ name and declared him the source of salvation. It also had a telephone number to contact Jews for Jesus.

Pascoe conceded, however, that, “The gospel is an offense to those who don’t want to hear it.”

Alison Barnett said that the ultra-Orthodox, anti-Christian group Yad L’Achim had followed the Jews for Jesus teams to their campaign sites in Israel since the event started. Yad L’Achim has a long-standing history of links with sympathetic government officials who issue legal actions on their behalf.

Jews for Jesus members fear there is a troubling possibility that immigration officials under the influence of Yad L’Achim may have an unwritten directive to arrest foreign religious workers as part of a general crackdown on missionaries.

Yad L’Achim has worked to deny Messianic Jews (who believe Jesus is the promised Messiah) the right of return to Israel and to deny spouses of Messianics immigration visas. They also picket and severely harass Messianics at their homes and their congregations and have been linked to different government agencies revoking the licensing of Messianic-owned businesses.

Informing on Barnett would fix a pattern of cooperation between Yad L’Achim and the government that has been well documented by the Israeli media. On Yad L’Achim’s website, the organization reported about interfering with the Jews for Jesus outreach’s “spiritually poisonous propaganda.”

“Yad L’Achim has been dispatching beefed-up teams of activists wherever the missionaries are taking up positions in order to alert the public as to their nefarious goals,” the ultra-Orthodox, nationalist organization stated….(more at link)

Update: Jews for Jesus David Brickner on Missionary In Prison

8 comments on “Israel Orders Deportation of Jews for Jesus Missionary

  1. PJ, you think that is strange? I know a man, a co-worker minister friend who a number of years ago was not allowed to leave Ben Guron Airport on his scheduled return flight because Iraeli agents wanted to talk to him first.

    They brought him to a holding room inside the airport and searched all his luggage and personal effects. The meeting lasted several hours and eventually centered on his Bible.

    Apparently because he was a frequent visitor to Israel the security forces tagged him and followed him as he travelled through the State watching his activities, what hotels or people’s homes he’d stay while visiting and who he met. They observed how he would meet people at sidewalk coffee shops and sit and talk with them randomly. They observed how at times he’d open his Bible and write things on its pages or highlight words and portions of text. He told me they took his Bible and opened it and would make him explain why he’d make a highlight mark on a word and phrase in the Old Testament books. They wanted him to explain what he did that for and why and if this was some code language he developed?

    Ha! He was very surprised and after a period of this interrogation realized they thought he was a spy for the United States. Once he put two and two together and realized this he shared with them what he was doing and why. Apparently that was enough for them. They kept his Bible though, wouldn’t let him have it and let him go making arrangements for him to leave back to the US on the next available flight out of Israel! He still continues going there and they don’t prevent him entry.

  2. History repeats itself. The Jews persecuted Paul because he was spreading the gospel. But the Spirit will not be bound, and usually when persecution comes the church grows stronger.

  3. If i’m not mistaken the article says this is the first time Jews for Jesus has met with this type of action. Hope it’s not a peek at what the future may hold for them, or any other missionary group in Israel.

    While i may not agree with Jews for Jesus concerning their Christian Zionism-beliefs, i do have respect for them in that they have always actively worked to evangelize those lost in Israel.

  4. This is simply life in a theocracy. China takes a similar approach (they could be considered and athiest (godless) theocracy. But all of this pales in comparison to the treatment one receives in an Islamic theocracy. Christians getting the treatment there PRAY TO BE EXPELLED. If a Jew in Israel renounces Judaism and embraces Christ, life goes on. They may suffer some degree of abuse, but life does go on. If a Muslim, on the other hand, in an Islamic theocracy, OR even in many secular Islamic states, embraces Christ, their temporal life is OVER, and I mean that LITERALLY. Its a death sentence in terms of life in this world. If they are EXTREMELY fortunate, they will lose ALL of their FAMILY and FRIENDS FOREVER. So I understand the concern about Israel and what they are doing is wrong. But it has to be understood in context. That is why Israel receives so little condemnation for their behavior. Because it is seen against a backdrop of Islamic Jihad and all of its surrounding darkness.

    • But it has to be understood in context. That is why Israel receives so little condemnation for their behavior. Because it is seen against a backdrop of Islamic Jihad and all of its surrounding darkness.

      Both are in darkness…this is what is so tragic.

      I believe though, the reason why Israel receives more “slack” in this area, is because of the false teachings/doctrines which have convinced so many Christians, many of them well-meaning, that to speak any word of criticism concerning Israel’s government, actions, etc. is sin. The same cannot be said for any other state or nation on earth. I can (and have) went on many Christian websites and been critical of “such n such” action taken by the United States, and not a peep–but if i write one word against any action taken by the Israeli government, all ‘hell’ will (and has, many times) breaks lose: All at once i’ll have 20 people, fellow Christians, tell me im antisemitic or i hate Israel or worse yet, im no Christian because i obviously hate God.

      It all goes back to and revolves around believing God’s chosen people (today) are ethnic Jews, not those in Christ.

      When you start your theology with this false belief, then you end up with what we see in many Christian circles today: Christians afraid to speak out when international laws (which affects another ethnic group negatively, daily) are broken over and over again without any repercussions, persecution is being “winked” at, and nations (like the United States) continuing to be lobbied by these same Christians and their organizations, in favor of Israel, because of this false belief George. AND in many instances, holding the Gospel back from these same people, because their false theological beliefs have taught them, “2/3s of all Jews in Israel will die anyway at the battle of Armageddon, and the other 1/3rd will automatically be saved–so why take the gospel to them?!”

      And that’s barely touching on the topic…there are many other repercussions, such as: how Christians in the west ignore Christians in the middle-east, Israeli and Arab both, how many Christians in the US are not the least bit interested in evangelizing Muslims either, but for a different reason: why? because they are all perceived as enemies of “God’s chosen people-Israel” (in the minds of these Christians), so they are automatically hated.

      What heresy! What a horrible, tragic, lie Satan has contrived of, and convinced these Christians to believe is truth!

    • Lets just recognize that a combination of “Christian” Zionism, disproportionate global Jewish influence, and “Islamic” brutality that has not been matched since the brutality of ancient “Christian” empires is effectively dooming any chance for Gaza to overcome its misery. Gaza faces a perfect storm both politically and militarily that no amount of activism will fix. The only hope they have as a people is mass repentance that would change hearts on all sides, and that is no more likely to happen than mass repentance in Israel (or the USA for that matter). Its a heartbreaking situation that defies any attempt at a solution.

    • The only hope they have as a people is mass repentance that would change hearts on all sides, and that is no more likely to happen than mass repentance in Israel (or the USA for that matter). Its a heartbreaking situation that defies any attempt at a solution.

      Amen George. All we can be grateful for are the individual cases of true repentance…and rejoice over each and every one of those continuing to occur.

  5. This is a new story concerning this incident at Israel Today:

    Yeshua Campaign Causes Buzz in Southern Israel
    Friday, November 29, 2013 | David Lazarus

    When an Israeli army general noticed the Yeshua placards along the highway on his way to base in Beersheva, he called his battalion to a special meeting and explained to his soldiers who these “Messianic Jews are and what they believe about Yeshua.”

    While the gospel campaign by Jews for Jesus created a lot of buzz among local residents, not everyone was as sympathetic toward the Messianics as the general.

    “May his name be cut off forever,” screamed Ofer Karadi, a member of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, when a Messianic Jew dared to mention the name of Yeshua (Jesus) on the Radio Darom morning program.

    With all the commotion stirred up in the Negev by the campaign, the popular radio station was interviewing the local Shas representative together with the deputy mayor of Beersheva and a local Messianic Jew.

    “Are you so degenerate as to allow this impious infidel to even speak on the radio,” shouted Karadi in reference to his Messianic co-guest. “It is unacceptable to allow these degenerates to speak about these things in our city.”

    “These are all lies. Let them (Messianics) go to the Bedouins and tell them about Yesu. You should never give these infidels a microphone. You should hit him over the head with the microphone!” shouted the orthodox Shas representative.

    Pleading to give others an opportunity to respond, the host asked Karadi to “please show some respect to others.”

    “I respect everyone,” responded Karadi. “How degenerate can you people get. These people are criminals of humanity. They have nothing. No intelligence. Where do they get this stupidity. They should be sent out of the country.”

    “What do you say about this campaign to tell people about Yeshua?” the host was finally able to ask his Messianic guest.

    “Some within the Messianic community are opposed to this kind of public campaign. Although every believer is commanded to tell others about our faith. Everyone should at least have the opportunity to check for himself what the Hebrew Bible teaches about the Messiah,” said the local Jewish believer.

    “How can you give a platform for these empty-headed people,” cut in Karadi. “They are extremists. They are causing a civil war here in Israel!” (what this really means is that if Messianic Jews keep preaching the gospel in Israel, the orthodox will rise up with violent resistance).

    “Is Judaism so weak that you need to make these kind of threats to Jews who believe in Yeshua?” retored the host.

    When Karadi continued shouting his anti- Messianic slogans, the announcer finally had enough and said “good-by” before turning off his microphone.

    “What do you say to all this?” he asked the Messianic Jew, who responded:

    “Yeshua is like Joseph in the Torah portion we read this week. He is still hidden to his own people. But the day is coming when he will be revealed. Everyone should be allowed to read for himself what the Scriptures teach about the Messiah and come to his or her own conclusion. We are Jews who believe that Yeshua is the promised Messiah for Israel. We are here to give everyone at least an opportunity to decide for themselves if Yeshua is our Messiah.”

    “What do you say about all this, Mr. Deputy Mayor?” asked the host.

    “I represent all of the citizens of Beersheva,” he said with some trepidation. “I want to be friends with everyone on all sides.” Not an easy task given the religious fervor stirred up when Jews believe in Jesus.

    This incident sure appears to be making news. PRAISE GOD!

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