Tuvya and Angelina, crowded and surrounded, but unprovoked

one of the opposition calls for reinforcements while another realizes he is being photographed

Tuvya makes a call hoping the police will intervene

Dan and Ofer (in red T-shirts) surrounded

Kiryat Shmoneh is a small town in the Upper Galilee region. Much of our Behold Your God outreach is public, and two of our staff were outside a shopping mall offering literature to those coming in and out. Three men approached, obviously agitated about our evangelistic activity. One advocated a peaceful counter demonstration, but another disagreed and assaulted both Dan and Ofer, kicking both of them and threatening to throw rocks. Dan called the police, who agreed to send a car. After five minutes of continued threats and no police car, another staff member phoned the police station and spoke to a different officer, who refused to send a car. He insisted that our people instead stop their activity and come to the station to make a complaint. Finally, an officer from the first call came to the scene, and went with one of our campaigners to look for the assailant. Failing to find him, they returned to find Ofer surrounded by Yeshiva students (young Orthodox men who are under the authority of their rabbi).

The police officer confronted the crowd, affirming the legality of Dan and Ofer’s actions. The crowd responded that Rav Drori (their rabbi) had the Torah on his side, and that was more important to them. They added that Rabbi Drori had pronounced “There will be no missionary work in Kiryat Shmonah” (which they apparently took to be a call to his followers to stop us). The crowd became more agitated and Dan and Ofer eventually got into the police car. The officer had to physically push away the students from the car. Dan and Ofer went to the station to make the complaint.

Meanwhile, veteran missionary Tuvya Zaretsky and Angelina Portnov (soon to begin missionary training) arrived at a different location to offer broadside tracts to the few people walking past. A man arrived on the scene and called the police emergency phone number to complain. After the police informed him that our activity was legal, he called Yad L’achim, an anti-missionary group. He then grabbed Angelina’s tracts and ripped them up. Before long, a few religious young men arrived and begin screaming “Missionaries, missionaries!” for some twenty minutes. Several more arrived, surrounding Tuvya and Angelina, insisting they leave, and screaming threats. The man who had assailed Dan and Ofer also showed up, kicking Tuvya’s feet and throwing pretend punches that stopped just short of his face, in an obvious attempt to provoke a fight. Tuvya did not raise his hands but called out in Hebrew, “Police!” and “Don’t touch me!”

A few tried to calm down the crowd of some eighteen people, including a man who waded in trying to dissuade those who were screaming and kicking. An elderly woman expressed concern for our safety. Three police cars drove past the crowd, yet failed to stop and intervene. Our people stayed until the time they had prearranged to leave, and then walked slowly to the police station. The crowd followed them to the gate of the station where Major Gadi Hava angrily declared that we are no longer allowed to be in Kiryat Shemonah, accusing us of bringing a demonstration to the doors of the police station. He told our missionaries to leave, and that if we ever came back we would be arrested for disturbing the peace.

When we showed the major a letter from a legal authority explaining our rights as Israeli citizens to proclaim the gospel, he replied, “This doesn’t mean anything to me. The only thing I’ll pay attention to is an order from a judge.” So we must either be willing to be arrested for telling people about the Lord Jesus or get a court order to continue to proclaim the gospel in Kiryat Shemonah.