Missionary Books for Children Removed from ‘Nature and Parks Authority’ Sites Following Yad L’Achim Appeal
Disturbing calls began coming into Yad L’Achim’s hotline, reporting that a store run by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority at the Stalactite Caves near Beit Shemesh was selling a missionary book written for children.
Yad L’Achim field director Rabbi Binyamin Vulcan was quickly dispatched to the area and revealed, to his shock, that the book in question was My Treasury of Bible Stories, published by the “Company for Holy Writings” whose people are identified with the Messianic Jews missionary cult. It contains stories from the Tanach mixed together with stories of Christianity, R”l, and was prominently displayed by the cash register.
Yad L’Achim’s investigation further revealed that the missionary book was the only one on display that didn’t have tourist content connected to the authority’s sites. A check of additional Israel Nature and Parks Authority sites, like Caesarea, Mitzpeh Ramon and others, revealed that the missionary book was being sold there as well.
Yad L’Achim’s leadership quickly sent a letter to the administration of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, with a copy to the tourism minister who is in charge of the authority. In the letter, headed “Activity to Proselytize Among children at Sites of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority,” Yad L’Achim exposed the identity of the missionaries who are behind publication of My Treasury of Bible Stories. It stressed that the books represented not only a spiritual risk to children but a violation of the penal code that punishes with imprisonment those approaching minors to convert out of their religion.
“It is our duty to clarify to you that there is suspicion here of a transgression of the penal code, Clause 368 (b): ‘One who proselytizes, with a direct appeal to a minor to convert out of his religion can be punished by six months in prison.’ ”
A few days after receiving the letter, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority understood its mistake and clarified that it would not replenish the supply of the missionary books. An examination conducted by Yad L’Achim’s field workers revealed that even the books that were in stock were removed from the shelves. According to sales clerks, this was done at the direct order of the head office of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
Yad LAchim announced that it would continue to monitor compliance with the order and that it expects the tourism minister to issue clear directives on the matter.