Israeli city asks court to OK ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses event

Ra’anana municipality petitions judiciary over Christian gathering following fears of adherents proselytizing

An aerial view of Ra’anana, a city in central Israel. (photo credit: Flash90/Moshe Shai)
An aerial view of Ra’anana, a city in central Israel. (photo credit: Flash90/Moshe Shai)

The city of Ra’anana in Israel’s center petitioned the country’s high court to allow it to prevent two gatherings by some 1,000 followers of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian sect.

The petition, filed Thursday, follows a district court’s ruling against the municipality’s ban on the events, one of which was scheduled to take place two weeks ago. The second event is slated for Saturday at a municipal event hall that the city leased to the organizers of both events, Ynet reported.

Activities in Israel by Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose members engage in door-to-door proselytizing, have raised vocal opposition by Jewish groups and communities opposed to such practices.

The city of Ra’anana, a relatively affluent suburb of Tel Aviv where one in every five residents is Orthodox, cited the prospect of “serious disruption of the public’s sensibilities and offense to their beliefs” in its petition to the high court to allow it to ban the events.

In the petition, the city also claimed that the Jehovah’s Witnesses concealed the exact nature of the events before striking the contractual agreement with the city for the use of its event hall. The city received $4,800 after the contract was signed in January.

The religious sect’s attorney petitioned to the district court to order the city to honor the contract, saying a ban was an attack on freedom of worship and a violation of the contract.

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