Daystar, a Texas-based
broadcasting company whose website urges Christians “to sow a seed to extend
the Gospel to the People of Israel,” launched its round-the-clock,
seven-day-a-week programming on
The Christian network’s entry into Israeli broadcasting comes at a time when evangelical Christians are establishing stronger ties with Israelis, both personally and financially.
The largest evangelical project to
date is a $50-million Christian heritage center and park slated to be built
Some evangelical ministries are actively encouraging their believers to invest in Israeli companies and products as a way to counteract periodic calls by anti-Israel groups to boycott Israeli goods.
While a succession of Israeli leaders, including Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, have long promoted warmer ties between pro-Israel evangelical Christians and have encouraged them to invest in the country, anti-missionary activists fear that many evangelicals simply want to convert Jews.
The issue of proselytizing is
extremely sensitive in
Israel Zinger, secretary to the director of the veteran Israeli anti-missionary organization Yad L’Achim, said that Daystar’s new channel is “very worrying.”
“We have watched several hours of
Daystar’s programming, and it’s obvious that they’re not only teaching about
Christianity. Their real purpose is to try to convince as many people as
possible to become Christians. They believe that unless that happens, their
Messiah — Jesus — won’t come. For [evangelical Christians],
In a video clip that appears on
Daystar’s website (www.daystar.com), Marcus Lamb, Daystar’s founder and
president, states that Daystar has just become “the first 100%, full-time
Christian channel in the history of the nation of
Lamb proclaims that the channel
“will go into every home in
Nearly 2 million Jewish, Muslim and Christian Israeli households can tune into either cable or satellite TV stations.
Daystar’s program schedule, which is in English and identical to the one American Christians receive, broadcasts prayer services and shows hosted by ministers like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, John Hagee and Pat Robertson.
Janice Smith, Daystar’s vice president for programming, said that the company has received requests for Hebrew subtitles and that the matter is under consideration.
The fact that several of Daystar’s
hosts are so-called Messianic Jews (Jews who have embraced Jesus) is
particularly upsetting to Orthodox Jews both in
Roni Levy, who describes himself as
Daystar’s Israeli partner, told the
Levy said that Daystar’s target audience in
Mokady added that
Above and beyond these democratic
ideals, Mokady believes that Christians have as much
a right to broadcast in
“We do have a Christian population
Ironically, few indigenous Holy Land Christians or Christian tourists appear to be aware that the Daystar channel even exists.
“I’ve never even heard of
Daystar,” said Legionary Father John Solana, director of the
Father Solana noted that local
Catholics, the vast majority of them Arabic-speakers, even have trouble
understanding Telepace, the Italian Catholic channel
that broadcasts via satellite to the
Due to this language barrier, Father Solana said, “The market here is very limited.”
For a Christian network to be
successful in the
“There are many different groups here,” Father Solana said of the Catholic, Orthodox, evangelical and other churches that call the region home. “The more choices of programming offered, the better.”
Father Humam Khzouz, chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said that most of the Church’s local parishioners watch Tele Lumiere via satellite.
Established in 1991 following the
bloody civil war in
The station is supervised by the
Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in
“There are Masses, children’s programs, Scripture, some interfaith shows between Christians and Muslims,” Father Khzouz said. “It provides our parishioners with spiritual benefits.”