Google, YouTube Sued for “Missionary Ads Targeting Children in Israel”
Lawsuit against media giants takes aim at Messianic Jewish proselytization on online platforms
The anti-missionary organization Yad L’achim has filed a lawsuit against Google and YouTube for allowing Messianic Jewish content on their sites that purportedly targets minors.
Lawyers filed the complaint for the father of a 16-year-old boy who had shown a keen interest in videos produced by the media arm of the Messianic-run Israel College of the Bible (ICB) in Netanya. The lawsuit demands the college remove all materials that teach that Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel, or at the very least bar access to those under the age of 18.
According to Israeli law it is illegal to convert minors to Christianity, which in Israel includes the Messianic Jewish faith. The lawsuit further claims that the 16-year-old minor who belongs to a religious Jewish family now suffers from social and psychological problems.
The family’s lawyer asserts that “the minor came across an ad that attracted his attention on Facebook and began watching the college’s videos. He hid his contact with the college from his parents for a long time.” The lawyer claims that the minor began to believe in Jesus and see himself as a “Messianic Jew.”
“This is a gross and blatant interference in the autonomy of the parents to educate their children,” the lawsuit states. “The college makes use of all social networks – TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Telegram – and all the content on social media is presented to appeal directly to minors or as animated films for children,” the claim contends.
The petitioners say they have a video in which ICB Media Director Eitan Bar, who they describe as “one of the most senior missionaries operating in Israel,” states: “We can bypass the Orthodox rabbis. We no longer need their approval or permission. Behind the parents backs, we penetrate directly onto the children’s phones or computers.”
Israel Today asked Bar about this. “They have purposefully mistranslated and misrepresented this quote. I wasn’t saying ‘kids’ (as in minors), but ‘children’ as in the generation that today lives on social media. That includes anyone born in the 80s onwards, such as myself. But even if we did, there’s nothing illegal in our content for any age,” he said.
We asked Bar concerning the 16-year-old who the anti-missionaries claim professed faith in Yeshua and has now rescinded his Messianic beliefs. “We have no idea who they are talking about. There are no names or details” in the charges being leveled, he explained.
Messianic Jews in Israel continue to preach and teach that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah with limited success. As their movement grows, so does the opposition, including ongoing persecution and attempts by anti-missionary organizations and Orthodox religious parties in the government who keep trying to pass laws hindering their activities.
We will follow up on this latest case against Google and YouTube.
For a comprehensive history of Israel’s battle with Messianic Jews and the missionary laws see: Can Israel Stop the Christian Gospel?
See also our series on Messianic Jews in the Eyes of Israel