In an unlikely coincidence, the Reform movement and the Scientology cult both recently asked the attorney general to disband Yad L’Achim on the provocative grounds that it “acts against religious minorities.” The written requests were submitted within days of one another.
In response, Yad L’Achim chief legal counsel, Yoram Sheftel, fired off a letter to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz citing Yad L’Achim’s ceaseless efforts to combat assimilation. “It is this work, led by prominent Rabbanim, that upsets the Reform movement, whose essence is assimilation and intermarriage.”
As regards the Scientology cult, Sheftel pleaded guilty as charged. “It’s true that Yad L’Achim acts vigorously against the cult, but that’s because it engages in missionary activities aimed at entrapping innocent Jews through deceit. Yad L’Achim’s campaign includes a significant component of education aimed at inculcating Jewish values.”
Yad L’Achim’s claim that Scientology is a dangerous sham was supported by Time magazine, which, in a 1991 cover story, wrote: “The Church of Scientology, started by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard to ‘clear’ people of unhappiness, portrays itself as a religion. In reality the church is a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner.”
Hundreds of former Scientology faithfuls have sued the cult for causing them physical and spiritual harm; not a few have won in court. In those decisions, the judges described Scientology as “schizophrenic and paranoid and corrupt, evil and dangerous.”
Some 20 years ago, a report was published by the Israeli Education Ministry on cults. The report said that Scientology is one of the most dangerous, revealing, among other things, that “many who are caught up in Scientology don’t have the guts to leave out of fear that they will turn into objects of extortion because of the vast amount of information the cult has assembled on them.”
Scientology’s founder, in an internal document, revealed the cult’s cut-throat approach: “The purpose of [a lawsuit] is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway … will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly."
Yad L’Achim chairman Harav Shalom Dov Lifschitz affirmed that his organization would remain on the front lines against all that the Reform movement stands for, including mixed marriages.
At the same time, in light of the mounting aversion in Israel to Scientology, Rav Lifschitz called on the Knesset to outlaw the cult. “At this time, it’s obvious to everyone that there is no alternative,” he said.