At first glance, they appear to be American-financed do-gooders, going into poor neighborhoods and helping addicts regain control of their lives. But Yad L’Achim investigators revealed last week that Victory House, in the heart of Haifa, is actually a missionary center which, in typical fashion, targets a vulnerable sector of society.
According to Yad L’Achim investigators, Victory House, run by missionaries David and Keren Davis, is a well-oiled machine that provides assistance to hundreds of addicts and alcoholics. But, say the investigators, the missionaries take advantage of the economic and psychological distress of these down-and-out people to push their poisonous message.
The Davis couple were sent to Israel by Times Square missionary church in New York and have received the cooperation, wittingly and unwittingly, of the Israeli courts, police and social affairs agencies. Victory House’s program includes heavy doses of missionary activity during and after the detoxification process.
As part of its fund-raising apparatus, Victory House sends regular newsletters to its backers boasting of its successes at the center. Yad L’Achim managed to obtain copies of all the newsletters, one of which, titled “Mission From Mt. Carmel,” reads: “By the start of the year, there were 300 addicts in Victory House. Some of them today are active missionaires.”
Other issues of the newsletter share the personal stories of individuals who came to the center and after an extended stay converted out of Judaism. Some went so far as to become missionaries themselves.
In another newsletter, an item entitled “And you shall choose life” tells the story of Micki, a young Israeli, next to his picture. “I’m Micki. I’m 20 years old and was addicted for two years. I was arrested by the police. The Beersheva court released me to Victory House. They prayed for me that I should go in the right path of J.”
This innocent statement reveals the connection between the legal establishment in Israel and the missionary center. Indeed, Davis, the head of the center, makes no secret of this connection. In a recent interview with a missionary magazine in New York, he said, “The Israeli courts, police and social workers regularly send us people for detoxification.”
But Davis isn’t content with his successes with addicts. “We have begun missionary activity among young people in the area, and there are good results,” he said in the interview.
Yad L’Achim founding chairman Harav Shalom Dov Lipschitz, releasing Yad L’Achim’s findings in the case, said, “We have solid proof as to what’s going on in the missionary detoxification center. It is intolerable that the mission takes advantage of people who are in such distress and whose addictions have left them with no self-confidence. In their state, they will warmly embrace any assistance extended to them.”
Yad L’Achim’s legal counsel Yoram Sheftel said the organization would take “all legal options which are open to us in response to the criminal activity going on in Victory House.
“The material in our possession shows clearly that there is daily a clear violation of the law forbidding getting someone to leave his religion for financial gain.
“We are witness to the intolerable cooperation between the elements charged with enforcing the law in Israel and between the scandalous center in Haifa. This cooperation cannot continue.”
Yad L’Achim refused to reveal further details on how it plans to fight Victory Center. “We are acting in legtimate ways,” Yad L’Ahim Director General Rabbi Yosef Ganz said, without elaborating.