Anti-assimilation NPO Yad L'Achim says it has received hundreds of complaints regarding missionaries taking advantage of the election campaign in Israel to try and convert Jews out of their religion.
Cult members from abroad – including those belonging to J's Witnesses and Messianic Jews – have arrived in Israel to distribute missionary material in the guise of campaign brochures, the group said.
Yad L'Achim says the foreigners have bolstered the already sizeable contingent of local missionaries canvassing in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Lod, Petach Tikvah, Haifa, Ramle, Yavneh, Be'er Sheva, Rishon Letzion and many other cities.
The "election" brochures they hand out appeal to confused voters, desperate for strong leadership for the country, to connect to "that man" (as devout Christians often refer to Jesus), whose name appears on a voting ballot.
One alert citizen who called Yad L'Achim over the phenomenon was none other than the deputy mayor of Haifa, Rabbi Aryeh Blitental, who was shocked by the brazen behavior of missionaries circulating in his city.
"Missionaries in Haifa are acting in a very conniving way," Rabbi Blitental wrote. "Their dubious activities include placing Hebrew flyers in residents' mail boxes. They take advantage of innocent Jews, who are not knowledgeable about Jewish practices, to preach to them about abandoning their religion. They act with cunning and deceit, and, to our great sorrow, have seen no little success.
"I would be very grateful if you could help us, may Hashem reward you for your deeds that are known in our city and across the country in putting the brakes on these ploys which badly offend the sensibilities of a city that is known for its tolerance."
In response to Rabbi Blitental's appeal, Yad L'Achim launched a PR counteroffensive. Teams of activists spread out in areas teeming with locals and distributed material that exposed the lies of the missionaries. They also handed out clippings taken from Searching, a new journal put out by Yad L'Achim, that provides convincing arguments to counter missionaries' false claims.
At the same time, Yad L'Achim this week announced plans to expand the activities of its Haifa branch in order to serve as a counterbalance to the mounting missionary presence in the city.