Sunday, November 29, 1998
Enraged mob attacks Jews for Jesus meeting By Aliza Arbeli, Ha'aretz Correspondent
A mob of several hundred ultra-Orthodox Jews besieged an old Arab structure in Be'er Sheva yesterday after a rumor spread in the city's synagogues that missionaries were baptizing Jewish children.
The Haredim stopped their prayers to go to the house, where they found about 40 people, including women and children, who are members of the messianic movement Jews for Jesus. The movement has met in the same building for 17 years.
Police Chief Superintendent Kobi Cohen, who headed the police force that arrived at the scene, said police rescued the trapped worshipers and escorted them past the singing and dancing demonstrators.
A messianic Jew who was in the area described the experience as terrifying. "A mob of men in black surrounded us and were shouting and throwing stones and they tried to jump over the fence. We were especially scared for the children. We're not missionaries. We are Jews just like those who want to kick us out. We all believe in the same god, but we also believe in love and tolerance," he said.
A few days ago in Kiryat Malachi, several dozen youths from a Chabad high school attacked an American couple whom they suspected were missionaries. The boys hurled stones at the house of the new immigrants, who moved to the city three months ago. The couple denied engaging in any missionary activity and said they belonged to a humanitarian organization based in Switzerland and came to Kiryat Malachi to work with Ethiopian immigrants.
Two weeks ago, a mob of ultra-Orthodox men attacked and ransacked an apartment rented by three Swiss Christian women they accused of conducting missionary activity in Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She'arim. The women denied the accusations.