CBNNews.com - GALILEE, Israel - A local Israeli radio station broadcasting in the north pulled a Jews for Jesus ad after scores of listeners called in to complain.
Jews for Jesus is an evangelistic organization headquartered in California.
"Shortly after we broadcast it, we received dozens of angry phone calls from listeners telling us they were hurt by the crudeness of the ad," station manager Haim Hecht said.
"The truth is that even before it hurt my listeners, the ad hurt me," he said. "It was simply too aggressive and blatantly missionary," Hecht said.
The offensive ad consisted of a phrase using three related Hebrew words: Yeshu, Yeshua and yeshuah.
Israelis generally refer to Jesus as "Yeshu," the acronym for the phrase "may his name and memory be wiped out," reserved for the dregs of society.
From childhood, Israelis are taught to refer to Jesus in this derogatory way.
In Hebrew, names are usually pronounced with the accent on the first syllable.
Thus Jesus' name in Hebrew, Yeshua, is pronounced differently from the same word meaning salvation, yeshuah, pronounced with the accent on the last syllable.
The radio ad went like something like this: "Yeshu equals Yeshua equals yeshuah. Confused? Call for more information."
In response to the hullabaloo over the ad, Dan Sered, head of the Israeli branch of Jews for Jesus, said people should be able to inquire for themselves.
"All we are trying to do is share out faith," Sered said. "We just want to provide Israelis with an opportunity to know that Jesus died for our sins and rose on the third day. Most Israelis have never gotten the chance to hear about Jesus. If they do not want to hear, that's fine. But if they are interested, why shouldn't they be given the opportunity?" he asked, adding that a minority of Orthodox Jews were denying the rest of the population their freedom.
"Jews who believe Yeshua is the Messiah are a minority in Israel, but so are the Orthodox," Sered said. "Why should they be allowed to prevent secular Israelis from hearing Yeshua's message of love and peace?" he reasoned.
Meanwhile, the Orthodox community is fighting the outreach, which includes ads in weekend papers of two Israeli newspapers, Ma'ariv and Yisrael Hayom.
Jews for Jesus staffers, easily identifiable by their tee shirts, have been passing out tracts in several northern cities, including Haifa, Nahariya and Kiryat Shmona, enraging Orthodox Jews, who aren't shy about cursing, pushing and threatening them.
"I believe we have a right to prevent these people from entering our town and distributing New Testaments and missionary literature," Kiryat Shmona Chief Rabbi Tzfania Drori told Jerusalem Post correspondent Matthew Wagner.
"It is tantamount to a woman performing a striptease in the middle of a public place," he said.
Source: The Jerusalem Post