Israelis Detain Two Messianic Jews

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JERUSALEM -- Israeli authorities detained two American Messianic Jews trying to enter the country this week.

Interior ministry officials detained Jamie and Stacey Cowen at Ben Gurion Airport and held them for more than eight hours.

They were coming into the country to visit their daughters, one of whom is an Israeli citizen.

Cowen is a former president of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations in the U.S. and the couple has made many trips to Israel.

Officials said they detained the Cowens because on a previous trip to Israel, they broke a law forbidding certain kinds of evangelism.

Cowen told CBN News those charges are baseless.

"They're claiming that they have evidence that we participated in, what they call criminal missionary activity, which means seeking to convert minors or seeking to convert somebody through bribery," Cowen explained.

"To be honest, I had no idea what they were talking about and here I am now being jailed from something I didn't do," he said. "We just came as tourists. We just came to visit our children."

Israeli officials released the Cowens after they signed a document promising not to evangelize anyone while in the country.

The Cowens have made ten trips to Israel, and they have been active in social ministries, bringing more than $100,000 in aid to the country.

Cowen says this incident could be part of a larger pattern of resistance to Messianic Jews in Israel.

Jews who believe Jesus is the messiah have faced hardships here from the very beginning.

Israel is the birthplace of the Christian faith and many believers come to the country at this time of year to celebrate Jesus' birth.

CBN News visited a recreation of an ancient Jewish village to get a sense of what it was like for Mary and Joseph on that fateful night.

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