Israel’s two state-run radio stations refused to broadcast Yad L’Achim advertisements on the grounds that they offended the “religious sensibilities” of the missionaries.
Last summer, Yad L’Achim received information that missionary groups were planning to come to Israel for Sukkos to circulate among the many festivals that are held for secular youths during chol hamo’ed. Yad L’Achim approached Israel Radio and Army Radio, the country’s leading radio stations, with a 20-second ad urging young people to take pride in their Jewish identity and to resist the entreaties of missionaries that they convert out of their religion.
Despite the fact that Yad L’Achim was prepared to pay in full for the ads, both stations rejected them. Army Radio’s deputy marketing manager, Keren Gonen, responded that “we can’t air a broadcast that offends the religious sensibilities of this or that segment of the population.”
Yoram Sheftel, of Yad L’Achim’s legal team, fired off a letter to the managements of both stations, claiming that the reasons for rejecting the ad were unfounded.
“The service announcements warning Jews of the anti-Semitic, missionary activity in their midst does not harm the religious sensibilities of any portion of the Israeli population and therefore the radio station must air them,” Sheftel wrote, stressing that “the state of Israel, may we remind you, is a Jewish state. And there is no more worthy broadcast for a radio station in a Jewish state than to warn Jews of missionary, anti-Semitic activity.”
In his letter, Sheftel appeals to the Jewish feelings of the radio stations’ managers. “As a radio station in the Jewish state of Israel, not only do you have no right to prevent the broadcast of an announcement warning of missionary, anti-Semitic activity among Jews, but you have the obligation to initiate such broadcasts.”
Shefel concludes his letter with a threat to take the radio stations to court.
Yad L’Achim chairman Harav Shalom Dov Lifschitz said in response: “To our great sorrow, this shows that the missionaries have been granted legitimacy even in the state-run media. This proves how urgent it is to pass a law in the Knesset aimed at curtailing missionary activity in Israel.”
Rav Lifshitz concluded by calling on all religions MKs to enlist in the cause and help push through such legislation.