Intimidation of Messianic Jews is nothing new: Orthodox Jews filming outside a Messianic church in Arad, 2006 (WWM)
Intimidation of Israel’s Messianic Jews is nothing new: Orthodox Jews filming outside a Messianic church in Arad, 2006 (World Watch Monitor)

An Orthodox Jewish group shouted abuse as they protested outside a meeting of Messianic Jews in Arad, southern Israel, reports Middle East Concern (MEC).

At the end of August the Messianic group, Hasdey Yeshua, were meeting in a warehouse when 20-30 members of the ultra-Orthodox group, Gur Hassadim, arrived and started swearing and shouting religious slogans, said MEC.

Earlier reports of the protest against Hasdey Yeshua, who have been meeting in Arad since 1999, suggested a far larger number of residents had protested against the “dangers” of the Christian message, and that the Messianic congregation had been prevented from entering their church building. But, according to Israel Today, that report was “an unfortunate example of ‘fake news’, aimed at curtailing the growing presence and influence of Messianic Jews in Israel”.

The incident came amid a background of tension in Arad, where secular Jewish residents of the city have opposed the presence of a growing community of Orthodox Jews. On Saturday (9 September), four arrests were made following violent clashes between the two groups.

Meanwhile Jerusalem-based churches have condemned what they believe is a move to weaken the Christian presence in the city. A statement signed by the heads of the Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Coptic, Lutheran and Anglican Churches expressed concern over a draft law that affects church property, referring particularly to the sale of two hotels owned by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. According to a report in Al Monitor, “Palestinians and the churches are worried that the hotels will be used to house radical Jewish settlers, who will create tensions in the largely Palestinian area inside the walls of Jerusalem”.