Israel pulls the plug on a new TV channel from GOD for not revealing its missionary gospel agenda, local regulators announced Sunday.
The Hebrew-speaking “Shelanu” channel, which was broadcast in late April on GOD TV as part of a seven-year deal, will cease to be broadcast this week, according to an announcement by Asher Biton, president of the Israeli cable broadcast and Satellite Council.
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“The channel appeals to Jews with Christian content,” he wrote. “His original request,”
Shelanu, part of one of the world’s largest Christian broadcasting networks, with presence in at least 200 countries, said he was “disappointed” by the Council’s “non-professional decision” and plans to apply for a license again.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported that it is “very rare” for the council to remove a channel, noting that the Christian channels Daystar and Middle East Television are already on the air. This is the first time that a Christian channel broadcast in Israel has been closed.
Ron Cantor, Shelanu’s spokesman in Israel, said that the existing license “unequivocally stated” that it would pass on its Hebrew content to the Israeli public. He said the station management hopes the council will approve the request “and thus avoid a serious diplomatic incident with hundreds of millions of pro-Israeli evangelical Christians around the world.”
Proselytism is not against Israeli law, as long as it is not aimed at minors and does not involve economic coercion.
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GOD TV announced in April that it “made history” as the first “Messianic TV channel … broadcasting the Gospel through Israel in the Hebrew language”, adding: “We want every person in Israel to know, not a foreign Messiah, but a Jew! His name is Yeshua and he has not forgotten his people. “
In early May, Israeli communications minister David Ansalem threatened to remove Shelanu “immediately”, calling it a “supervisory” issue. Days later, Ward Simpson, president and CEO of GOD TV, announced that they were working on solving the problem.
“We at GOD TV choose to bless Israel,” Simpson said in a video statement.
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The controversy could become part of a larger diplomatic problem as Evangelical Christians are some of Israel’s strongest supporters against anti-Semitism, BDS and other anti-Israeli sentiments around the world.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.