Christian proselytizing is illegal in Israel

Israeli officials announced on Sunday that they had revoked its broadcasting license from a US-based evangelical television station that they claim hid its missionary agenda while applying for a license.

The chairman of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council, Asher Biton, said in his decision that he and the Israeli cable broadcaster Hot informed the parent company “GOD TV” on Thursday that their Hebrew-language broadcaster “Shelanu” had seven days to stop broadcasting .

Haaretz daily reported the judgment for the first time on Saturday, thus closing a Christian broadcaster in the country for the first time.

Biton wrote in a letter to Hot that he would not have approved the station's seven-year contract anytime soon if he had known that the target audience was the Jewish community. The chairman said the original application for the station, which aired in late April, was a "station aimed at the Christian population". The Associated Press reported.

"A channel dedicated to spreading the gospel of Jesus among the Israeli-based Jewish nation has never been aired on Hot, and the channel's leaders knew this, as was made clear in the hearing we held," he wrote aloud Haaretz.

The chairman said Christian programs aimed at Jews were "a complicated and delicate matter" and broadcasters should have been more open about the station. Proselytizing children under the age of 18 is illegal in the country, which leads Biton to say that if he knew what the channel would broadcast, he would have determined if it was aimed at children.

“Whether it is a violation of the obligation to be fair, an intentional cover-up, or a decision to change the type of broadcast after the license is approved, the broadcaster should not be allowed to broadcast on the basis of the license granted continue, ”he said.

The controversy over Shelanu's mission began after Ward Simpson, CEO of GOD TV, said in a since-deleted fundraising video, “God supernaturally opened the door for us to bring the gospel of Jesus into the homes, lives and hearts of His Jewish people bring to . ”

Israeli communications minister at the time, David Amsalem, accused GOD TV of being a “mission channel” shortly after its launch in April, according to AFP.

GOTT TV released a statement after the video was removed that the broadcaster was not trying to convert Jews to Christianity but, according to Haaretz, wanted Jews to accept Jesus as their Messiah.

Shelanu said in a statement that it was baffled by Biton's "unprofessional decision" which "clearly stated" that it would be broadcast in Hebrew rather than Arabic, which is what most Christians in the Holy Land speak.

Ron Cantor, Israeli representative for GOD TV, said the broadcaster would reapply, which the council would welcome and hope to be approved, “avoiding a serious diplomatic incident involving hundreds of millions of pro-Israel evangelical Christians worldwide."

Cantor said in a statement that GOD TV had not broken its agreement.

“Our license issued by the State of Israel states in Hebrew that our target audience is the audience of Israeli viewers,” he said, according to Haaretz. “There is no provision that we must address Christians. I've read the license. " over and over and it's very clear. "

He added that "the average Israeli is not threatened by our channel".

Cantor posted a Facebook video on Sunday in which he once approached Biton and said, "If I've cheated on you, my whole message, my whole life, everything is a cheat."

Founded in 1995 in the UK, GOD TV has expanded into a 24-hour network, the broadcast licenses of which are held by a Florida-based nonprofit, according to the AP.