Israel pulls the plug on GOD TV, claims it is trying to evangelize Jews

A general view shows the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem's Old City December 4, 2017.
A general view shows the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem's Old City December 4, 2017. | (Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Israel has decided to remove the U.S.-based evangelical Christian station GOD TV from the Israeli cable television provider HOT due to claims that it was trying to evangelize Jews.

Asher Biton, chairman of Israel’s Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council, said he told the station last Thursday that it has seven days to halt broadcasting.

“The channel appeals to Jews with Christian content,” stated Biton, as reported by the Associated Press, claiming that the station’s “original request” was to be a “station targeting the Christian population.”

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The GOD TV station for Israel, known as Shelanu, has denied that it is in violation of its terms. Ron Cantor, God TV regional director in Israel, told the Messianic Jewish news site Kehila News the allegations against the station are “simply not true.”

“From the first day we met with HOT, it was very clear what we wanted to broadcast: Messianic Jews sharing their faith in Yeshua in a variety of ways, from interviews, to music, to personal stories. And that’s what we do to this day,” stated Cantor.

“Our content providers are Israelis. Sabras. Serving in the Army. Paying their taxes. And we are people of integrity. If we really lied to get a license, of course we would have been caught. It does not make sense. It goes against everything we teach.”

In April, GOD TV launched a Hebrew-language channel on Israeli cable TV called Shelanu, under the condition that it not engage in missionary activities among non-Christian Jews. It had been given a seven-year license from the Israeli Communications Ministry.

Soon after it began airing programming, accusations were made that the station was trying to proselytize Jews, with GOD TV CEO Ward Simpson addressing the matter last month.

“The governing authorities that manage these things have been receiving numerous complaints about our content and about different things with the channel, especially as it relates to the rules and regulations of what can and cannot be said on TV in Israel,” stated Simpson at the time.

“As far as we have been told, the [Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council] would like to shut down the channel. We have a great team of lawyers over there, probably the best in Israel. So they are working with the council now to try and figure out what to do.”

Simpson insisted that the channel was not trying to convert Jews to become Christians. "Our attorneys and our staff over there have all told me that we are in compliance and that we are following the rules and regulations, that we are legal and that there is no way that they can really pull us off the air because we haven’t done it," he said then.

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