Israeli cable television is planning to pull the plug on a major Christian TV network, citing as explanation complaints against the network's missionary ads which targets Jews.
HOT cable TV's decision to stop broadcasting the Christian programs is still awaiting the authorization of the Israeli Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting, according to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
However, representatives of U.S.-based Daystar TV network have threatened to take legal action to retain its freedom to broadcast its programs if the decision is finalized.
"You cannot close down this station just because it is a Christian station," said Daystar's attorney Amir Witkon, according to the Israeli newspaper.
The HOT spokeswoman explained in a statement that the company's decision was derived from "editorial and content considerations," combined with complaints the company received for broadcasting the network.
Daystar, which has been on air in Israel since last year, has responded that removing it from the air is a violation of its freedom of expression.
The Christian network is also broadcasted on Israeli satellite TV, which has not requested to drop the station.
It is said that anti-missionary activists in Israel are partly responsible for the complaints against the Christian network. These activists reject connections with Christians, including Christian Zionists in Israel.
"The State of Israel must safeguard its Jewish existence which means preventing any non-Jewish authority that plans to wipe out the Jewish Nation spiritually from operating in the Jewish state," said prominent anti-missionary activist and Jerusalem city councilwoman Mina Fenton, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The current struggle over Christian media "proselytism" highlights the ongoing issue of Christian Zionists supporting Israel while Israel bans Christian evangelism in the state.
Some Christians have said that though it supports Israel's struggle to maintain its borders as an important Biblical-land, it is critical of its policies against Christians.
Recently, an award-winning Christian talk show host with a history of strong support for Israel expressed criticism of the state.
Janet Parshall – who has been profiled as one of the top 100 talkers in the talk industry – criticized Israel's parliament for condemning groups that share the Gospel. The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus – a group in the Israeli parliament that seeks to build cooperation between the parliament and Christian leader – does not associate with groups that share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In addition, an Israeli political party had introduced a legislation in the Knesset which would punish someone for sharing the Gospel in Israel for up to a one-year prison sentence.
"I thought, wait a minute, we can't just blindly support Israel," Parshall said, according to OneNewsNow.com.
Christian Zionists are often characterized by "a kind of blind support that says no matter what Israel does, Israel can do no wrong," the talk show host noted.
"I don't believe that of our government and I certainly don't believe that of the Israeli government. And friends tell friends, in love, when they see things that they think are wrong," she added.
Christians are arguably Israel's strongest and most vocal supporters in the world with American evangelicals making up 1/3 of American tourists that visit Israel – second only to American Jews.
According to The Jerusalem Post, Yoram Mokady, the chairman of the Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting, says there are regulations for religious programming such as misinformation, frightening programming and programs directed at minors, but there is no guidelines for missionary activity.
Daystar broadcasts a variety of biblical teachings from the New Testament, but also includes short 15-minute infomercials from the "Jewish Voice Ministries International" that targets a Jewish audience with the message of Jesus.
The Israeli Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting is tentatively set to meet next month, when it scheduled to consider the issue.
Daystar has some 128 million viewers in the United States and is available in more than 200 countries worldwide.