|Israel Resource Review
||31st August, 1999
Mother of Murdered Soldier Questions the Release of Palestinian Terrorists
by Greer Fay Cashman
The release of Palestinian terrorists would be "an obscenity" said Esther
Wachsman, the mother of Cpl Nachshon Wachson who five years ago was
kidnapped, held hostage and murdered by Palestinian terrorists.
Speaking independently to a packed hall at Beit Agron, Jerusalem, Wachsman
declared that it was her moral duty as a bereaved mother and a citizen to
speak out for justice and morality. It would be a travesty of justice, she
said, to see the sentences of killers and their accomplices overturned.
"Our children killed after Oslo are not victims of peace, they are victims
of terror - victims of evil" - she said."Peace does not have victims."
The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Wachsman said that it was
inconceivable at this date "that we are hunting Nazis and releasing
The people who carried out the illegal instructions issued by (then PLO
chairman) Yasser Arafat, were like Nazis obeying instructions, and like
Nazis also punishable, Wachsman noted.
Mohamed Deif who masterminded her son's kidnapping is alive and well and
free she said, recalling that three years ago, US President Bill Clinton
had sworn at Nachshon's gaveside on Mount Herzl in the presence of Shimon
Peres and then US ambassador Martin Indyk that he would not go forward with
the peace process until Mohamed Deif had been apprehended and sentenced.
The head of the Gaza Police Force in a meeting with Yehuda Wachsman,
Nachshon's father, had admitted that he knew where Deif was and said that
he could arrest him at any time, but was prevented by Arafat from doing so.
Like all his predecessors, Prime Minister Ehud Barak has said that he will
not release any Palestininan prisoner who has killed an Israeli or anyone
from Hamas. Esther Wachsman received a message to this effect on Sunday
from Barak's bureau chief Danny Yatom.
Wachsman said that she did not have too much confidence in that promise
"We have been lulled into a situation where we're tired. We want peace and
I'm afraid that we want it at any price," she said.
Return to Contents
Fundamentalist Christian Groups in Israel
A Warning of Things to Come in the Millenium?
by Allan Polak
The purpose of this paper is to identify and provide brief analysis of
members of two Christian fundamentalist groups which are currently residing
in the vicinity of the Mt. Of Olives. While these groups vary slightly
from each other in exact denomination and particular ideology, they share a
common expectation: a return of Jesus sometime in the immediate future.
This expectation has prompted the members who comprise these groups to
abandon their homes, careers, and in some instances families, so that they
might travel to Israel and await what they believe will be the Second
Coming of Jesus.
Affiliation of these individuals with their respective groups has
transformed what may have existed as a fairly isolated phenomena consisting
of several individuals spread throughout the Jerusalem area into sizable,
organized groups whose exact intentions and beliefs are not known by the
general public. The following is an attempt to present information
acquired through personal interaction with members of these groups over a
three-month period. Also, an important aspect of the research I conducted
of these groups was to provide a basic conjecture concerning their
capability for causing harm to Israeli society and to recommend what
action, if any, should be taken to prevent such harm. These conclusions
and recommendations will be included in this paper.
House of Prayer
The first group, and affiliated members, to be dealt with, The House of
Prayer, currently consists of approximately ten active members, each
residing in the town of Bethany (Arabic: Azaria). The patriarch, a man
approximately 55 years old, refers to himself as Brother David. Brother
David arrived in Israel 20 years ago from the U.S. where he claims to have
been a preacher, and proprietor of a trailer park. Brother David does not
utilize a last name, a common practice among ministry members, and has
destroyed his passport. His residence within Israel is illegal and has
resulted in his arrest on several occasions. The consequence of one such
arrest was a two-month imprisonment in a Jerusalem jail. During his jailing
Israeli police attempted and failed to ascertain Brother David's identity
and national origin. This failure resulted in an inability of the
authorities to process him for deportation; Brother David was released.
Following this incident, attempts by authorities to deport Brother David
were apparently abandoned and Brother David was allowed to continue
building the membership of his ministry with little legal interference. He
has, on three to four occasions been detained for questioning by Israeli
police although, to my knowledge, he has never been formally charged with
During this interval of time Brother David made the acquaintance of Sharon
(a.k.a.- Sister Sharon). Sharon, a woman approximately 50 years old, and
mother of seven, is a native of Iowa who later moved to Grass Valley,
California. Sharon, like Brother David attributes her decision to relocate
to Israel and await the rapture and Second Coming of Christ to a call by
G-d. During the imprisonment of Brother David Sharon assumed the
bureaucratic duties of the ministry and has since remained the
administrator of the ministry handling the money soliciting functions of
the group as well as the details of the ministry's charity functions.
Brother David has preferred to concentrate on the social aspects of the
ministry which include the leading of Wednesday night prayer meetings and
conducting occasional tours of the Jerusalem area for the benefit of
Brother David, with the aid of Sharon, relocated the ministry from a
religious Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem to the Arab village of Azaria
from which the ministry currently operates. The principal reason given for
the move was an attack by Haredi youth on David and Sharon during which
their residence was vandalized and partially set on fire; the occurrence of
this incident has not been confirmed by additional sources. The move to
Azaria allowed Brother David over time to acquire houses intended for
housing of visiting Christians and ministry members; ten houses in the
village are now rented or leased by the ministry.
While the ministry underwent changes in physical location its membership
also underwent transformation. Perhaps the most profound alteration to the
ministry membership was the addition of Brother Raymond, the son of Sharon.
Raymond is a tall, thin man roughly 36 years of age; tattoos displaying
crucifixes as well as the word G-d written in Arabic decorate his arms.
His eyes are the most striking component of his physical appearance as they
display an intensity which defies exact description yet affect all who make
his acquaintance. Raymond's personality is similarly striking. He
immediately greets a stranger with his witness and an offer to read his
poetry. Notable elements of Raymond's witness include his reference to his
twelve-year imprisonment for petty theft, and subsequent release from
prison and transformation into a born-again Christian. Raymond's spiritual
revival resulted in his travelling to Israel where he eventually joined his
mother to await the rapture and Second Coming. Both Raymond and Sharon
claim that he was not aware of his mother's exact whereabouts and that
their reunion was merely coincidental, or as they would prefer it be
described - a miracle.
Raymond is highly educated in New and Old Testament scriptures, theories
of government conspiracy, and he possesses a genuine talent in the delivery
of this knowledge to others. Raymond apparently struggles (see poetry) at
times to remain on his newly chosen path although I never personally
witnessed any major transgressions. Raymond smokes and occasionally drinks
but I have seen no evidence of alcoholism or substance abuse of any kind.
He has in one instance been accused of domestic violence. I saw no physical
evidence of abuse on his wife nor was I able to investigate the truth of
the claim. It is my opinion that Raymond is capable of violence if
provoked. Raymond does not appear to hold clear suicidal tendencies yet a
severe disruption in his life could result in such inclinations. Also of
interest concerning Raymond is a severe weight loss which I have observed
over the period of time I was in contact with him.
With the issue of personality at hand I would to describe Brother David in
more detail. David is approximately six feet tall with brown hair, a mouth
of missing teeth, and a larger than average build; features which combine
to produce a man of an imposing physical stature. In striking contrast to
his physical appearance is his generally gentle demeanor. Well educated in
scripture, New and Old, Brother David acts as the head of the ministry,
although no such formal title actually exists. Brother David occasionally
deviates from the soft manner in which he normally speaks during times when
he feels the need to reprimand ministry members. On one occasion I was
present when Brother David instructed a member to disconnect, in
mid-conversation, a cellular telephone call which the member received
during a prayer meeting.
While Brother David may be the official (or unofficial) director of the
ministry his authority is not unchallenged. It came to my attention that a
rift exists between him and Brother Raymond over the issue of what David
believes was Raymond's hurried decision to marry. Sharon also seems to
question David's authority although both she and Raymond do not openly
disobey his wishes; one example of this is their secret ritual of smoking
in Sharon's apartment. A power struggle does seem to exist though it is a
fairly quiet one.
In the event of David's passing Sharon would be the most likely candidate
to assume control of the loosely structured ministry. This may soon be a
possibility considering the fact that Brother David refuses to accept
medical treatment and at the time of my departure from Israel he was
suffering from labored breathing and high fever. Brother David does not,
to my knowledge harbor intentions to commit violent acts against himself or
others but would violently resist deportation if it appeared an actual
possibility, as would Sharon and Raymond.
Sharon's personality, in comparison to the other members of the group, may
be described as down to earth. It is not unusual to overhear Sharon
settling minor disputes or attempting to abate the concerns or fears of
David. It is also Sharon, as mentioned earlier, who controls the financial
aspects of the organization. Sharon believes strongly in the impending
rapture and Second Coming of Jesus and related government conspiracy
theories, but presents herself in a far more rational manner than the
Sharon is an attractive woman and it is unknown whether she or David were
ever romantically involved. At times it appears that Sharon humors rather
than respects Brother David but I have not known the two to argue openly.
It is my opinion that Sharon does not pose a threat to herself or the
Israeli public but, as previously stated, would violently avoid arrest if
she felt it would lead to deportation; a fact which she has personally
Continuing with the treatment of member personalities one is led to Karen,
Brother Raymond's wife. Karen is a 40-43 year old self-proclaimed former
Las Vegas showgirl, drug abuser and prostitute. It is the author's belief
that her claims are strongly exaggerated as it is the custom of born-again
Christians to stress the difficulties which they faced prior to their
'salvation' so as to emphasize their reformation. Karen claims to have
attended 'Christian Boot Camp' for a period of years before venturing to
Israel. She hails from a wealthy family yet rarely mentions this.
Shortly after her induction into the ministry Karen married Raymond in a
ceremony conducted by Sharon; the marriage holds no legal authority. This
marriage remains a sensitive issue between Raymond and Brother David.
Karen often appears distraught and ill tempered in Raymond's presence. It
is highly likely that Karen will undergo some form of severe emotional
trauma within the coming years. She should be closely monitored.
Al, an athletically built man about 45-50 years of age, arrived in Israel
from the U.S. approximately seven years ago, because of his strong
personality he also deserves close attention. Al is a learned man who acts
as a tour guide of Jerusalem and other Israeli sites but it is unknown
whether or not Al is a registered tour guide. He claims to have spent time
abroad in several other countries including Japan and he possesses a
blatantly arrogant attitude. While he clearly believes himself to be quite
knowledgeable, it is this author's opinion that he is of quite average
intelligence and attained no more than a high school education.
Al's most particular mannerisms surface when he is confronted by a person
or persons who do not share his opinions concerning Christianity. This is
a rather common occurrence as Al thrives and delights in confrontation and
considers his beliefs both unique and infallible . The author is at a loss
to give a concise explanation of his ideals although it is known that Al
does not accept Jesus as the Lord but solely as the messiah. Al claims
others in the House of Prayer share this belief yet refrain from expressing
it out of fear of being ostracized; this conjecture cannot be confirmed or
Al's attitude has proven potentially dangerous to other members of the
ministry; a claim which is based on an account of verbal abuse reported to
me by a ministry member. This person, Kathy Frank, a Messianic Jew, and
mother of three young children, was harassed by Al. His behavior concerned
Miss Frank to the point that she became concerned for her safety and
physically compelled Al to vacate her house after he refused to comply with
her verbal request. During the argument, Al made it clearly known to Kathy
and her family that he does not view them as true Christians. The account
was verified by Kathy's eldest daughter, Rebekah.
It is reasonable to assume that Al will continue to live in the village of
Bethany and remain an integral member of the ministry. As the power
struggle within the group escalates and Brother David's health continues to
worsen, Al may begin to establish himself as the logical replacement of
Brother David as the ministry head. It is unlikely that the core members
will accept this willfully and a significant upheaval, consisting of the
purging of members who hold views in opposition to those of Al, will take
place within the group. Such a shift could result in the complete
disintegration of the ministry.
As expressed in the preceding paragraphs, Al demonstrates potentially
violent behavior. His abusive behavior currently remains at the verbal
level but may intensify under any number of seemingly normal situations.
He should be monitored regularly and if possible, it would be beneficial
for the Israeli government to examine the legality of his role as a tour
guide and his visa status.
Sharing a strong friendship with both Al and Brother Raymond is Rod Higdon,
a 40-year-old former country singer. Rod initially emerges as a relatively
reserved personable Christian man of high values. However, his passionate
soliloquies, which discuss the coming rapture, destroy any notions one
might harbor of Rod as a reserved young man. Rod speaks to those who will
listen of the immediate need to accept Jesus or face a future in hell. He
also fervently offers advice to any person who refuses to embrace his
beliefs and therefore will not experience the rapture; "Do not allow the
mark of the beast to be put upon you!" Rod warns. "Better to have your
head cut off your body, than to serve Satan," Rod has explained. Rod
physically demonstrates his readiness for the future rapture by wearing a
robe that he has fashioned specifically for the event.
Despite Rod's attempts to present himself as a genuinely benevolent man,
sources within the group offered contradictory evidence. The House of
Prayer occasionally distributes used clothing to the local Arabs and
volunteers its services to a village orphanage. According to the source,
Rod has refused to work at the orphanage, choosing instead to pay other
members of the ministry to fulfill his philanthropic duties. Rod justifies
his refusal with the following statement; "My job here is to be in front of
the cameras. That is the only work I will do."
Also of extreme interest is Rod's unique relationship with Coby (Jacob), an
Israeli military intelligence officer stationed in the nearby settlement of
Moly Ad Amine. Coby has been visiting the House of Prayer in an official
manner since the arrest of the Denver 11, or the Concerned Christians, in
early January. As part of his routine observance of the group, Coby
conducts formal interviews with ministry members; all interviews have been
held at the Jerusalem Hilton. While the majority of the ministry offers
polite cooperation, Rod has become a paid informer of Coby's. In return
for weekly meetings with Coby at which Rod provides detailed information
concerning the group's activities, Rod receives monetary compensation. Rod
also communicates with Coby by telephone. The exact amount of payment
which Rod is given, is unknown; however it is this author's belief that the
pay is between 200-300 shekels per interview. Rod has also solicited and
accepted help from Coby in renewing his visa.
Rod is a man of subtle contradictions; the polite born again contrasted by
the fervent rapture awaiting fire and brimstone spouting man. The loyal,
friendly ministry member, is challenged by his role as a paid informer of
Israeli intelligence. Rod maintains close friendships with Al, Raymond,
and Brother David; his role as provider of information does not appear to
have affected these relationships. Al's behavior has, to this author's
knowledge, been challenged only by one fringe member of the ministry. Rod
will most likely continue to reside on the Mt. Of Olives for an extended
period of time, although he may travel back to the U.S. if he is in need of
money (Rod receives stipends from his father) or if such a return would
benefit his music career. As of early June Rod was considering a marriage
to a Florida Native. In closing this analysis of Rod, it should be stated
that he does not appear a physical threat by himself, but seems capable of
being influenced by group pressure.
The final members of the House of Prayer will be described as a social
unit. Said group consists of a widowed mother, Kathy Frank and her
three children; Rebekah, David, and Tamara; all natives of St. Petersburg,
Florida. Kathy's deceased husband was a messianic Jew and the family
identifies as such, although neither Kathy nor her children may be
considered Rabbinically Jewish.
Following the loss of her husband in 1997 to a rare form of brain cancer ,
Kathy Frank visited Israel with her eldest daughter Rebekah in what was
essentially an exploratory voyage to determine the feasibility of moving
her entire family to the State of Israel. Kathy and her husband had
considered such a move for several years although they had never
realistically explored it. Kathy and her daughter returned to Florida
invigorated from their journey but Kathy had not yet come to a final
decision regarding the relocation of her family. During the interval of
time, between Kathy's return to the U.S. and her ensuing decision to move
her family to Israel, Ms. Frank viewed a network news broadcast, which
highlighted Brother David and the House of Prayer. Kathy cites this
broadcast as having provided her the knowledge to contact Brother David
once she had returned to Israel with her family. Despite this fact, Sharon
vehemently denies that any person has ever been guided to the House of
Prayer by any power less than G-d.
The Frank family became formal members of the ministry in February 1999 yet
have essentially remained personally estranged from the larger group. This
may be attributed to both the Frank's tight family structure as well as
their personal identification as Jews. Members of the House of Prayer have
often commented about the obvious contradictions of Kathy Frank's wish to
lead a double life as both a fundamentalist Christian and as a Jewish
woman. Some members of the ministry fear that should Kathy's family be
presented the opportunity to make Aliya, the Franks would distance
themselves from the ministry in an attempt to be seen by the Israeli
government as suitable candidates for citizenship. Being known members of
a Christian cult would most likely have an adverse affect on the Franks'
The fears of the ministry concerning Ms. Frank are not unfounded. On
4/13/99, Mrs. Frank consulted the Ministry of Interior in reference to her
eligibility as a potential Israeli citizen. The immigration officer
informed Ms. Frank that she and her children may apply for Aliya pending
the presentation of a valid katuba, a Jewish marriage certificate. Since
this initial consultation Ms. Frank has begun to seriously consider the
option of Aliya and has discussed undergoing orthodox conversion if
necessary. She has also made attempts to conceal her ties with the House
of Prayer as she fears these ties may adversely affect her ability to make
Aliya. However, these attempts may be considered wholly futile due to the
frequent interviews Israeli intelligence officers have conducted with
Kathy, her children, and other ministry members.
Kathy Frank, a petite woman, roughly 45 years old, has offered reluctant
cooperation during such interviews. She has expressed concern for her
family's future well being as a result of meetings with intelligence
officers and has described these interviewers as extremely hostile. Frank
has considered ceasing cooperation with Israeli intelligence and has voiced
this view during ministry meetings. This topic has proven a cause of
disagreement with other members who have urged her uninterrupted
cooperation with authorities and dismissed her claims of harassment as
overreaction. Several ministry members have spoken directly to the author
in regards to this issue and appear extremely displeased with her behavior
during her interviews with Israeli officials.
Despite the adversities of attempting to raise a family in a foreign
country and at times being regarded as an outsider in her community, Kathy
has, to this author's knowledge chosen to stay both affiliated with the
ministry, and to remain in the country, more specifically in the town of
Bethany. Ms. Frank has on several occasions spoken of her attraction to
the Arab village regardless of its lack of aesthetic appeal, the mentally
retarded neighbor who often allows himself into the Frank apartment, and
the status of Bethany as Palestinian controlled area. Her decision to
remain in the village is most likely due to her position as a single mother
whose only social contacts are her children and the ministry. Kathy's
familiarity with the town may be another important factor in her need for
stability which she does not currently wish to abandon. Should Kathy make
contacts in a more favorable section of the country or make Aliya she would
undoubtedly remove herself and family from the village of Bethany.
Ms. Frank is a strong personality although she is quite naive. She has
little knowledge of current political affairs and seems oblivious to
seemingly simple precautions which one must take while abroad. One example
is that Frank and her children purchased food from local Arab street
vendors and only realized the connection between consumption of this food
and stomach ailments after being advised of the potential health hazard
associated in eating this type of food. Frank's knowledge of religion
pales in comparison to that of other ministry members and she is extremely
susceptible to suggestion. A statement spoken by one member or other
individual, no matter if factual or not, may easily be adopted by Frank as
In spite of these flaws, Frank remains an effective head of her family, all
of whom are home-schooled. The eldest, Rebekah Frank, a seventeen year old
whose appearance belies her age, seems to bear a large portion of the
responsibility for the household. Rebekah acts in many ways as the
representative of the family, scheduling appointments, making telephone
calls, and handling email. She is a reserved young woman and has a strong
aura of innocence which may be attributed to her sheltered childhood and
exclusion from both public and private school systems. Her quiet demeanor
may also be connected with the recent loss of her father.
Rebekah abhors the frequent media attention which has been given to the
family from the time of their arrival at Ben Gurion Airport. She avoids
the press when possible and is paranoid of their intentions. She may be
coaxed, at times, into appearing on film though immediately afterwards she
regrets her decision. Her avoidance of the media is based both on distrust
as well as a basic adolescent embarrassment of appearing on worldwide
Rebekah has adjusted relatively well to her surroundings. She has become
involved with a Christian youth group based out of King of Kings and has
begun babysitting for an orthodox family in the settlement Mole Adamin; she
has kept her babysitting secret from the ministry for fear of their
disapproval. Because of her exposure to the Jewish settlement, Rebekah has
shown increased interest in Israeli society and has begun to consider
Israel as a permanent home. She has also spoken of the possibility of
working on a kibbutz or joining the Israeli military.
Approximately three years younger than Rebekah is her brother David, a tall
boy of dark complexion and awkward mannerisms. David, like Rebekah has
assumed certain burdens as a result of the absence of a father figure. On
David's shoulders has been placed responsibility for the religious
leadership of the family. Ms. Frank encourages David to spend solitary
hours studying bible and she has often spoken of a vision which David
"received" during the family's first week in Israel. As David's stay in
Bethany continues he is likely to take on many of the beliefs shared by the
other ministry members concerning the end of times and rapture.
It should be noted that throughout David Frank's life he has lacked a
stable environment, a situation which was exacerbated by the passing of his
father and the recent displacement of his family. Lacking a strong male
role model and normal contact with peers David may face a difficult adult
life as a result. He is not entirely without friends though, David often
plays with children of the Branch Davidians, a primarily black ministry
located near his home. David, unlike his elder sister, does not attempt to
identify with Judaism or Israeli society, preferring to cling more to his
Christian fundamentalist identity. David's future is unpredictable and it
would be in both his and the Israeli government's best interests to
periodically monitor David's progression from adolescence to adulthood in
the coming years. It is possible that David could emerge in adult life as
a leader of another Christian ministry based on his early experience with
the House of Prayer.
The youngest of the three children is Tamara, aged nine. There is very
little to say about Tamara other than she is extremely shy and refuses to
appear on film. When visiting the Frank's apartment Tamara is most often
found hiding in the bedroom away from the cameras and journalists. Kathy
occasionally encourages Tamara to present herself to interviewers, yet to
the author's knowledge Tamara has never agreed to do so.
Two informal members of the House of Prayer also need to be mentioned in
order for this to be considered a thorough report. These persons, John
Wilbert and Steve Moshne stayed in the town of Bethany for short periods of
time before moving on to their respective locations. John and Steve's
extreme passion for scripture is the only basis for their association.
John Wilbert is an approximately 55-year-old ex-carpenter and native of
Florida. Wilbert is an extremely secretive and paranoid man with a
criminal history, which includes a charge of assault on an officer. During
his time as a member of the ministry Wilbert avoided all weekly meetings
and never appeared on film or spoke with any media representatives. He
often criticized Brother David's open dealings with the media. John is
extremely well versed in scripture and popular conspiracy theories and has
published a small pamphlet which deals with Christian fundamentalism.
In April, Wilbert abruptly left the ministry citing the unlawful marriage
of Brother Raymond and Karen as his main justification; Wilbert resided in
an apartment owned by Raymond and considered himself to be living in a
house of fornication. Wilbert then moved to the Tabasco youth hostel
located in the Old City of Jerusalem. He remained in this area for several
weeks; his whereabouts are currently unknown. Wilbert has exhibited
extreme paranoia and hostility, and his exact location should be
ascertained before the coming millenium. It is most likely that he could be
found in the Galilee region or that he will reappear near Yaffa Gate, in
The second short-term member of the ministry, Steve Moshne, is a unique
case. Born in Ramallah, Moshne was reared as a devout Muslim. Moshne's
family moved to the United States during his adolescent years and Moshne
began to question his Muslim faith. Moshne's questioning eventually led
him to the conclusion that his Muslim faith was false and that Christianity
is the only true faith. Moshne embraced Christianity wholeheartedly, has
participated, and intends to continue participating in mission activities
whose general focus is on Palestinian Muslims; he is a fluent speaker of
Steve speaks with a stutter at times and seems to have trouble
communicating his ideas clearly. He struggles between his identity as a
Palestinian Christian and as a fundamentalist American Christian. At the
heart of this internal struggle is the benevolent view towards Jews held by
the majority of ministry members and fundamentalists in general. Steve
realizes the need to respect Judaism if he wishes to remain a member of the
community but his impression of the Israeli as a conquering force over his
Palestinian brethren creates extreme difficulties for him. Steve's Arab
identity denies him the luxury of viewing the Arab/Israeli situation
neutrally as the other ministry members must.
Steve appears at times emotionally unbalanced and has admitted that he is
willing to risk his life in his attempts to convert Palestinian Muslims.
During this author's last visit with Steve, he explained his intentions to
relocate to a Palestinian Church outside of Ramallah. From this base, he
intends to pursue his proselytizing goals. His whereabouts are currently
unknown and his safety should be considered in extreme jeopardy if he is
indeed attempting to convert Ramallan Palestinians.
Having closely examined all core and auxiliary members of the House of
Prayer, a clearer picture emerges of the common traits which members share.
All members share a common belief of an imminent second coming of Christ,
they share a strong knowledge of Bible when compared to general society,
and they have an intense distrust of the U.S. Federal government,
reinforced by frequent exposure to books and audio tapes which deal with
government conspiracy theories. All members expect the occurrence of the
rapture within their lifetimes, although some may not admit this.
Currently, the House of Prayer is loosely structured and its membership and
leadership may undergo radical changes in the coming years because of the
instability of the member's psychological makeup and internal and external
House of David
The second Mount of Olives based religious order whose members the author
scrutinizes are followers of the 7th Day Adventist Branch Davidian
movement; members of this group are predominantly black. This group which
will hereon be referred to as "the Davidians" has stationed itself in
Israel to await the rapture and Second Coming of Christ, just as the House
of Prayer. The Davidians, under the leadership of Brother Solomon, a.k.a.
Winston Rose, are affiliates of the greater Davidian organization which
spans the world and strictly follows organizational dogma. The Davidians
are legalistic Christians, observing kashrut laws as well as fasts and
other Jewish holidays, although many of the dates of these celebrations
have been readjusted by Brother Solomon to correspond with what he believes
are the correct lunar based dates. Approximately 10-14 Davidians,
including Solomon's wife and mother, reside in the town of Bethany; the
author was unable to gain sufficient access to members other than Solomon.
At the core of the Davidian's organization is the leadership of Brother
Solomon, a Jamaican native and well-educated former English teacher.
Solomon goes to great lengths to ensure that he is at all times properly
groomed and he will not appear on camera in clothing other than a full
suit. His tall stature, booming accented voice, and well trimmed full
beard, all act to form the outward appearance of a calculated and
authoritative leader. This outward appearance is matched closely with a
superb intellect and astounding knowledge of scripture supplemented with a
thorough understanding of complex Davidian texts. Solomon believes that he
has been appointed by G-d to serve as the next and final prophet in a line
of Davidian prophets. Based on his status as a prophet Solomon cites
scripture which states that G-d does not withhold information from his
prophets, specifically information concerning the end of times. Acting
under this assumption Solomon has implemented a complex mathematical
formula whose product produces several important dates. He claims to have
received heavenly guidance in the determination of these dates, most
importantly the date of the rapture, which he calculated to July 20, 2001.
All Davidians outwardly accept this date as valid. In the case that the
rapture does not occur on July 20, 2001 Brother Solomon has stated that he
will then rework his formulas and arrive at a new date; According to
Solomon, the failure of the rapture to take place could be due to G-d
having chosen to allow mankind additional time to prepare for the end of
Members of Solomon's ministry, formally "The House of David" are, for the
exception of two transient members, black Americans. These members, like
Solomon, pay great attention to their outward appearance and take pride in
a certain level of self-denial and strict obedience to Biblically based
laws. While race does not appear as an issue to Solomon, members identify
strongly as a black group and have complained of racist treatment by their
Palestinian neighbors. This author had the unfortunate opportunity to be
present during such an incident. Following a special Friday evening
Passover service, I accompanied Rebekah and David Frank and a Davidian
youth to the Frank's home, located at the bottom of the hill. While
walking, our group was approached by two Palestinian plainclothes police
officers. At the sight of the officers, the Davidian youth, age 14, began
to walk quickly. One of the officers roughly seized the youth by the arm
and pulled him near. The Palestinians, in broken English, accused the
Davidian of committing an act of vandalism at a nearby school; two boys had
been reported near the area. Despite the presence of David Frank who also
fit this description the police focussed their attention solely on the
black youth. Eventually the situation was resolved by the author and the
boy was remanded to my custody. Following the incident I questioned the
Davidian youth and he revealed the frequency with which such harassment has
been levied upon the black ministry members. Similar incidents have not
been reported by any of Brother David's congregation.
The House of David has received a great deal of publicity recently,
although much of it fails to recognize the actual beliefs of the Davidians,
focusing instead on their connection with the Davidians of Waco, Texas.
The Mt. Of Olives Davidians are unique in their own right, as they are the
only ministry in the vicinity which has specified a date on which the
rapture will occur. Though Brother Solomon may be capable of coping with
an error in his calculations of this date, it is likely that such an error
could adversely affect his leadership status and general stability of the
ministry. The group should obviously be monitored with increasing
intensity as July 20, 2001 approaches; if Waco serves as any indication of
their possible behavior in times of stress, human lives may be at stake.
One additional note concerning the House of David, members vary radically
from those of the House of Prayer in one major area. Davidians do not
place great emphasis on conspiracy theories and rarely talk, if at all,
about threats posed by the U.S. government. Unlike House of Prayer
members, Davidians are not exposed to outside propaganda; instead they are
inundated with various booklets published by Solomon and 7th Day Adventist
Prayer books. In this way the House of David is much more insular than the
House of Prayer. Also, membership does not fluctuate often, primarily as a
result of the presence of Solomon's immediate family as ministry members.
However Brother Solomon expects a surge in membership during the coming
months due to the proximity of the millenium.
Shared Characteristics of Both Ministries
The examination of both ministries reveals that while the two groups vary
in certain aspects, their core beliefs are nearly identical. In addition
to the common factors listed in the preceding analyses all members of both
ministries hold the following as truths: (The following utilizes quotes
taken directly from Hebcom Report, David Ramati 1999).
- The end times as prophesized in Daniel, Ezekial, and the Book, of
Revelations are near.
- Jesus will gather the faithful in the "rapture of
the true Church".
- The ingathering of the exiles (Jews to their homeland) is a certain sign
- The reign of the anti-Christ and the false prophet are about to start.
Additionally, members of both ministries as well as many fundamentalist
- The Pope is the anti-Christ or the false prophet.
- The Temple must be rebuilt; in order to do so the Mosque must be removed
(either by Divine intervention or by man) from the Temple Mount.
- It is the duty of every true Christian to "witness" against the false
prophet, and the anti-Christ and to ready himself for the rapture of the
true church which will occur simultaneously around the world and on the Mt.
Furthermore, ministry members and many Christian fundamentalists give
credence to the following government conspiracy theories:
- The U.S. is slowly establishing a New World Order, the culmination of
which will put the U.S. under United Nations Control.
- The U.S. government created the AIDS virus as a biological weapon.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency, under the guise of preparing for
the Year 2000 computer bug, is building concentration camps for the
internment of Christian Americans.
- The Oklahoma Federal building was not bombed by Timothy McVeigh. The
building was destroyed by government officials in an effort to destroy
documents which were threatening to the President.
- Foreign soldiers have begun to be stationed in the U.S.
Finally, the fundamentalist Christian community, which is inclusive of both
ministry memberships, believes that alien sightings do take place.
However, the visitors are not aliens but agents of the devil.
A set of common beliefs such as the above creates a strong bond between the
majority of Christian groups which have chosen to establish themselves in
Israel and elsewhere. Though various ministries in Israel may differ in
their ideologies concerning scriptural interpretation and the exact dates
of the rapture and Second Coming, they remain a united force in the
encouragement of the establishment of Christian based ministries in the
Contrary to the impression relayed by many media sources, these groups are
not anticipating the end of times to occur on January 1, 2000. Contrarily,
the House of David, the one group which has allocated a specific date,
expects the destruction of the world to take place in the year 2001. A
seven-year period of calamity, specified in the book of Revelations, must
begin before the rapture and Second Coming are permitted to transpire. The
House of David believes that the world has already entered this stage
(which will conclude Jan, 2001) while the House of Prayer does not feel it
has yet experienced the beginning of the seven years. Rather, they feel
the millenium may serve as a point of reference from which the world will
embark on the period of destruction and horror which these groups await.
Return to Contents
Questions Placed to the "Rabbis for Human Rights"
(They will respond in the
next issue of Israel Resource Review)
The Rabbis for Human Rights aims to educate Jews, especially Israeli
citizens, that they bear a burden of moral responsibility in the area of
human rights and civil liberties, especially in regard to Palestinian Arab
In a recent interview, the director of the Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi
Arik Asherman recalled that he began his career in human rights as a
student, when he helped organize student protests to boycott
representatives of regimes that were oppressive of the human rights and
civil liberties of their own people.
The context of Palestinian Arab civil rights and human rights
today is that the five-year old Palestinian Authority now rules
96% of the Palestinian Arab population, with the state of Israel
providing 63% of the funding for the operating budget of the
Palestinian Authority. Israel also provides direct aid for the
PA schools and PA security forces, while helping to facilitate
aid from the US, Canada, the EU and other nations for the PA.
That means that Israeli citizens bear a heavy responsibility for everything
that transpires within the PA.
Yet what epitomizes Israel's human rights policy in this regard is that the
Israeli government has facilitated a provisional Palestinian regime that
remains devoid of human rights and civil liberties.
This is not coincidental nor happenstance. This policy occured with malice
The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin openly stated in the early stages of
the Oslo process that Israel would establish a Palestinian Arab regime that
would be devoid of human rights and civil lilberties. Bli bagatz vebli
bitzelem were Rabin's rallying call that formulated the Israeli attitude
to the Palestinian entity in formation, declaring that Israel would
establish a Palestinian Arab regime that would be devoid of human rights
and civil liberties to the Arab population that would come under its
Where was the outcry of the Rabbis for Human Rights when Rabin announced
such a policy? I recall no press conference convened by the Rabbis for
Human Rights after Rabin announced such a policy. Only adulation for Rabin,
before and after his death.
Yet after meeting with Arafat in 1995, Rabbi Asherman acknowleged that
Arafat rejected the call of the Rabbis for Human Rights for improved human
rights and civil liberties within the PA.
Previous to that, the letter sent to Arafat by the Rabbis for Human Rights
in August, 1994 that objected to Arafat's policy of executing Arabs who
were too friendly to Israel was also rejected out of hand by the same
Rabbi Asherman explained that the Rabbis for Human Rights addresses itself
to the behavior of Israeli Jews, not to the behavior of Palestinian Arabs.
Since that is the case, how can the Rabbis for Human Rights continue to
support the policies of the Israeli government to mandate that the Israeli
taxpayer continue to finance an Arafat Pinochet regime?
How can the Rabbis for Human Rights support continued Israeli financing of
the PA, when the PA announces support for legislation that declares the
death penalty for anyone who sells land to a Jew in Jerusalem?
How can the Rabbis for Human Rights continue to support Israeli funding for
PA humanitarian efforts, when the PA will provide little accountability for
the funds that the PA receives?
How can the Rabbis for Human Rights not ask for a cessation of Israeli arms
to the PA after a human rights group like LAW documented that tens of
people have died due to the abuse of firearms since the establishment of
How can the Rabbis for Human rights not call for a cessation of aid to the
PA when Arafat's policies of summary execution and kidnapping of political
opponents have been so widely documented?
How can the Rabbis for Human Rights not question Israel's participation in
the funding of UNRWA, which continues to force Palestinian Arab refugees to
remain in the squalor of refugee camps, under the specious premise and
promise of the right of return to homes that no longer exist? Is that not
a violation of human rights of the worst degree?
It goes without saying that Israeli government complicity with PA and UNRWA
policies that deny civil liberties and human rights to Palestinian Arabs
should not be tolerated.
The sensitivity of the Rabbis for Human Rights for Palestinian Arab civil
liberites is well understood and deserves much respect. Yet how can the
Rabbis for Human Rights confuse respect for Palestinian human rights with
continued Israeli taxpayer funding of the Palestinian Authority?
And considering the fact that many of the Rabbis for Human Rights happen to
be American citzens, how can the Rabbis for Human Rights support continued
American taxpayer funding for Arafat's Pinochet regime?.
Following the concerns that I have mentioned about the relationship of the
Rabbis for Human Rights to Israel's policy of funding Palestinian Authority,
despite the PA record on human rights and civil liberties towards
the time has come to pose five questions concerning the actions of the
Human Rights in relation to policies of the PA towards Jews.
The Palestinian Authority has adopted a policy of welcoming murderers
within its midst and then freeing them. What is the reaction of the Rabbis
for Human Rights to such a policy? Will the Rabbis for Human Rights convene
a press conference and public forum to condemn such a policy?
The Palestinian Authority has introduced a new school curriculum that
inculcates a new generation of Palestinian Arabs to make war on the Jewish
state and on Zionism. This curriculum also denies the holocaust and
portrays Israel asa a Nazi-like entity. The curriculum can be found on the
website of the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, at
What is the reaction of the Rabbis for Human Rights to such a policy? Will
the Rabbis for Human Rights convene a press conference and public forum to
condemn such a policy?
The Palestinian Authority refuses as a matter of policy to amleiorate the
squalor of the UNRWA refugee camps, under the premise and promise of the
"right of return". What is the reaction of the Rabbis for Human Rights to
such a policy? Will the Rabbis for Human Rights convene a press conference
and public forum to condemn such a policy?
As matter of policy, Arafat continues to praise those Palestinian Arabs who
have murdered Israelis.What is the reaction of the Rabbis for Human Rights
to such a policy? Will the Rabbis for Human Rights convene a press
conference and public forum to condemn such a policy?
On August 4, 1999, Arafat called for a Jihad to liberate all of Palestine
and all of Jerusalem.What is the reaction of the Rabbis for Human Rights to
such a policy? Will the Rabbis for Human Rights convene a press conference
and public forum to condemn such a policy?
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