For the first time, a Christian evangelical station is broadcasting from Israel — seven days a week, 24 hours a day — with the declared aim of reaching 1 million Russian immigrants.
The station, which began broadcast in May, will have its official launch next month at the Davidson Center, at the foot of the Southern Wall, near the Kosel. The event is to be attended by leaders of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, representatives of the Jerusalem Municipality and 3,000 Christian immigrants who are arriving especially for the launch.
“For the first time, we will be broadcasting our program from the holy land,” said the president of Rodnoy, the evangelical channel, adding that the programs aim to influence the million Israelis who immigrated from the former Soviet Union.
Absorption Minister Sofia Landver, of Yisrael Beiteinu, has welcomed the arrival of the Russian Christian station. “The information that you will provide is very necessary for immigrants, and I wish success to the new channel,” she said.
Yad L’Achim reports that this is the first time a Christian organization has received such an official endorsement for its activities in Israel. The counter-missionary organization has learned that the first official program, to be held after the launch, will be hosted by MK A. Michaeli of Yisrael Beiteinu.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, also of Yisrael Beiteinu, has encouraged Rodnoy to begin operations in Israel.
The connection between the Christian network and Yisrael Beiteinu apparently has deep roots. One of the heads of the network related in internal newsletters that came to Yad L’Achim’s attention, that “only a year ago, when we prayed for the success of Yisrael Beiteinu, it was impossible to foresee that its leaders would play a key role in the government of Israel.” The official expressed satisfaction at the fact that “many members of the ruling party relate very positively to evangelistic believers.”
Yad L’Achim officials are stressing the severity of a Christian network being operated from Israel, with the endorsement of government leaders. In particular it is concerned about special programs aimed at children that include Christian content. It has set up a legal team to examine whether this is a violation of the law banning incitement to convert that is directed at children.
Rabbi Sholom Dov Lipshitz, chairman of Yad L’Achim, expressed shock at the government’s endorsement of a Christian station. “It wasn’t bad enough that the State of Israel allowed many non-Jews to immigrate to Israel. Now, we want to convert even the Jews among them to Christians? What more has to happen for the Knesset to come to its senses and amend the missionary law?”