The Israeli government is threatening to take off air a Christian television channel that launched in the country to preach to Jews, warning that it will be barred if it breaks strict rules around proselytising.
GOD TV, an evangelical media network that broadcasts across the world, signed a seven-year deal with a major Israeli cable television provider, HOT, to host its new Hebrew-language channel that began airing last month.
In a video message, Ward Simpson, the CEO of God TV, said: “God has supernaturally opened the door for us to take the gospel of Jesus into the homes, and lives and hearts of his Jewish people.”
Many in the Jewish state see the conversion of Jews as a threat to the relatively small global population as well as their majority status within Israel. While the country’s laws do not place an outright ban on proselytising, it is forbidden to preach to a person under 18 without the consent of a parent.
Myriad evangelical charities and organisations are active in Israel but clearly state they are against missionary work, even if many carry it out quietly.
However, when announcing the new channel, called Shelanu TV (Hebrew for “Ours”), GOD TV said it intended to produce shows “geared specifically towards the younger generation of viewers”.
Communications minister David Amsalem threatened last week to shut down the channel if it was confirmed to have broken the rules. “We won’t allow any missionary channel to operate in the state of Israel, not at any time and not under any circumstances,” Amsalem, a member of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party, said in a statement.
The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council, the Israeli regulatory body, also said it would close down the channel if it broadcast “content that has the potential to influence viewers in an undue fashion”.
Ron Kantor, GOD TV’s Israel director, told the local Haaretz newspaper his company had been given an “emphatic yes” to its work by HOT, who he said told him the “laws have changed”.
“We are not ashamed of who we are and what we believe,” Kantor was quoted as saying. “Certainly, if we were doing something sneaky, we would not have announced it to the world.”
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris sworn-in to lead new America
Joe Biden is sworn-in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential inauguration at the US Capitol.
Democrat Joe Biden, a fixture in Washington for nearly a half century, was sworn in Wednesday as the 46th US President in a time-honored ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol.
Biden, at 78, becomes the country’s oldest leader ever after serving 36 years as a US senator and eight as vice president. He took the presidential oath of office, swearing to uphold the US Constitution and defend the country against all enemies, foreign and domestic, on a chilly, wind-swept day.
Shortly before, Kamala Harris, a former US senator from California, the country’s most populous state, was sworn-in as vice president, becoming the highest ranking female official in more than two centuries of US history. She is of Black and Indian heritage.
In his inaugural address, Joe Biden said “The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day in history and hope, of renewal and resolve,” he added. Biden also emphasized that “unity is the path forward.”
Three former presidents attend
The swearing-in ceremonies were witnessed by three former presidents — Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton – but the country’s outgoing chief executive, former President Donald Trump, ignored 152 years of tradition of presidents attending their successors’ swearing-in ceremonies and left Washington early for his Atlantic coastal mansion in Florida.
Former US President Barack Obama and wife Michelle Obama arrive before the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington.
Also missing was the vast crowd of thousands of well-wishers that is normal at US presidential inaugurations, both for security reasons and the fear that people jammed together on the National Mall in front of the Capitol would add to the soaring number of coronavirus infections in the US. Instead of people on the Mall, there were thousands of red, white and blue American flags whipping in the wind.
The usual throng of Washington dignitaries witnessing a presidential inauguration was sharply limited in the seats behind Biden and Harris, and their spouses — first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. Chairs for the invited guests were widely spaced in line with coronavirus restrictions recommended by health authorities.
The ceremony was conducted amid extraordinary security, with tall metal fencing topped by razor wire surrounding the inauguration site after intelligence reports warned that Trump supporters angered by the congressionally certified outcome of the ex-president’s defeat could attempt to disrupt the ceremony.
Blast in a multi-storey building in Madrid; Two killed and several injured
Madrid: A bomb exploded at a multi-storey building in the Spanish capital, Madrid. The initial conclusion was that the gas leak was the cause of the explosion. Madrid Mayor Jose Luis has announced that two people have been killed in an accident. Several people were reportedly injured. Rescue work is progressing on the spot. The bomber struck shortly afternoon in front of a police station.
Madrid emergency services said they had deployed rescue workers, firefighters, and police at the scene. Nine fire crews and 11 ambulances were dispatched to the scene with hundreds of police and rescuers filling the street, which was completely closed off to traffic and pedestrians, AFP correspondents said. “At least four floors have been affected by the explosion in the building in Calle Toledo.”
A witness told local Madrid newspaper that “everything shook like a bomb” and that “much of the facade has fallen.”
Local resident Leire Reparaz, 24, told the Associated Press that she heard a loud explosion: “We didn’t know where the sound came from. We all thought it was from the school. We went up the stairs to the top of our building and we could see the structure of the building and lots of grey smoke.”
Firefighters, police and specialized emergency workers were at the scene and and the surrounding area was evacuated. However, firefighters were reportedly unable to enter the building due to an ongoing fire.
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