Reports of ill-treatment of Jehovah's Witnesses and response by government authorities (2005 - 2007) [ISR102088.E]

Information on the treatment of Jehovah's Witnesses in Israel was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. According to the Jehovah's Witnesses Official Web Site, there were 1,223 Jehovah's Witnesses in Israel in 2005 worshipping in 17 congregations throughout the country (Watchtower 2005).

Media sources of 2005 and 2006 report allegations of harassment of Jehovah's Witnesses by members of the Yad L'Achim organization (Hindustan Times 30 Oct. 2006; The Jerusalem Post 29 Apr. 2005). In April 2005, The Jerusalem Post published a feature article describing the efforts undertaken by the anti-missionary Haredi [ultra-Orthodox] organization Yad L'Achim against Jehovah's Witnesses and Messianic Jews (Jews for Jesus) (ibid.). According to The Jerusalem Post, Yad L'Achim uses a variety of tactics to discredit Jehovah's Witnesses, including distributing leaflets and demonstrating in front of their meeting rooms, using connections with kashrut [dietary laws] inspectors to threaten to revoke kosher licences of hotels and restaurants renting to Jehovah's Witnesses, and publicizing their identity on posters or in newspaper ads (ibid.). On one occasion, a physician who had become a Jehovah's Witness was surreptitiously tape-recorded while speaking of his faith by a patient, an undercover Yad L'Achim agent, which led to the doctor's reprimand by his health-care fund (ibid.).

In October 2005, The Jerusalem Post, citing an article by Yediot Haifa, reported on several high-ranking Jewish religious leaders who held a meeting in Haifa that was organized by Yad L'Achim to coordinate a united front against the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses in the city (28 Oct. 2005). Among the measures proposed by the group was a complete boycott of Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav because he had allowed Jehovah's Witnesses to rent space in the city's convention centre, where they held prayer services, evangelized, and baptized dozens of Jewish residents (The Jerusalem Post 28 Oct. 2005). The rabbis also proposed national and municipal legislation banning missionary activities in public buildings (ibid.). Information on the results of this meeting, however, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


Hindustan Times [New Delhi]. 30 October 2006. "Anti-defamation League Condemns Leaflet Forbidding Renting Apartments to Arabs." (US Fed News/Factiva)

The Jerusalem Post. 28 October 2005. "Religious Coalition Against Jehovah's Witnesses." (Yediot Haifa/Factiva)

_____. 29 April 2005. Larry Derfner and Jonathan Bloom. "A Matter of Faith." (Factiva)

Watchtower. 2005. "Statistics: 2005 Report of Jehovah's Witnesses Worldwide." http://www.watchtower.org/statistics/worldwide_report_statistics.htm [Accessed 20 Nov. 2006]

Additional Sources Consulted


Oral source: Watchtower did not provide information within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International (AI), Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Christian Science Monitor [Boston], European Country of Origin Information Network (ecoi.net), Freedom House, Haaretz [Tel Aviv], Human Rights Watch (HRW), United States Department of State, World News Connection (WNC), Ynetnews.