|Israel Resource Review
||9th November, 1999
the Israel Resource
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Groups Who Were Expelled This Past Month
by Allan Polak,
Israel Resource News Agency Research Associate
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 and.
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 congregants,
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 reign of the anti-Christ and the false prophet are about to start.
Additionally, members of both ministries as well as many fundamentalist
- 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 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.
I came to meet, and later gain a modest understanding of the before
mentioned groups as a result of a fact finding mission conducted by Israel
Resource Agency. The Agency's goals were twofold, provide suitable advance
information to an Israeli film producer who had contracted with Israel
Resource, and to acquire intelligence concerning the activities of
individuals and groups whose activities could prove harmful to the State of
Israel; this information would ultimately be shared with the proper
authorities. I was assigned to conduct the relevant research.
Before the fieldwork began, it was anticipated by all involved that the
ministries which the Agency had chosen to focus on would openly proclaim
intentions to commit violent acts, or engage in mass suicide. Such
documented plans would provide both the necessary footage for an
undoubtedly interesting documentary as well as the evidence required to
deport the members of these and other Christian "cults" who have the
propensity for damaging Israeli society.
While groups such as the Concerned Christians, do exist I was not able to
study them as a result of time constraints. The following descriptions
offer a brief glimpse into several cults which have created an underlying
fear in the Jerusalem area and abroad. As one reads these descriptions the
similarities between these groups and those previously described should be
noted as they are indicative of the potential harm the House of Prayer and
the House of David are capable of. The following shall also serve as a
conclusion to this paper
Christian Identity is the name of a religious movement uniting many of the
white supremacist groups in the United States. Identity's teachers promote
racism and sometimes violence. Their roots are deeply embedded in
movements such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. They consider themselves
the true Israel and view the Jews as half Devils and archenemies. They
believe all but the white race are inferior creations. Identity's
religious and political views are often informed by conspiracy theories.
According to this group, at the head of the world conspiracy that will lead
to a final battle is ZOG: Zionist Occupation Government. Zionist
Occupation Government is a term used to describe a clandestine group a
Jewish leaders, extremely similar to those describe in The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion, whom some fundamentalist groups believe will attempt to
assume control of the world.
A secretive Japanese group said by former members to spread neo Nazi, anti
Semitic dogma, it has established itself as a charitable organization in
England. A group leaflet states that as the year 2000 approaches, mankind
might be annihilated by the baptism of fire. Similar language was used in
Aum Shinrikyo materials; Aum Shinrikyo was the cult famous for the deadly
sarin gas attack in Tokyo. A spokesman for Sukyo Mahikiri has denied the
cult is linked to Aum Shinrikyo or that it is anti Semitic.
The House of Yahweh
A former kibbutz worker named Jacob, now Israel, Hawkins started the House
of Yahweh, a group that prophesizes the end of the world will arrive very
soon if the laws set down in the Bible are not universally obeyed, and the
temple in Jerusalem not rebuilt to lie side by side with the Dome of the
Rock Mosque. Hawkins has about 3,000 followers who believe he will announce
the Second Coming of Jesus before being murdered by Satan.
This group, whose members were ordered deported from Israel, was begun by
Monte Kim Miller, who used to run an anti cult network in Denver. Persons
who know the cult say Miller believes he is the last prophet on Earth
before Armageddon. Miller, who reportedly believed he talked to G-d each
morning before he went to work, was said to claim that American was Satan
and the government evil. Miller has predicted he will die on the streets
of Jerusalem in December 1999 but will rise from the dead three days later.
Order of the Solar Temple
Since 1994, more than 74 members of the order have committed suicide in
Canada, Switzerland, and France, leaving behind rumors of gunrunning in
Australia and money laundering in Canada and Europe. The Order was founded
in 1977 by Luc Jouret, then thirty, a Belgian born in Zaire who believed he
was a third reincarnation of Jesus Christ and that his daughter Emmanuelle,
whom he said was immaculately conceived, was the cosmic child. Although he
killed himself, the order still exists. The cult teaches that life is an
illusion and after death followers will be reborn on a planet revolving
around the dog star Sirius.
Church of the Final Testament
Started in the early 1990's by a former Russian police sergeant named
Sergei Torop who was dismissed from the force after he had a series of
religious visions, the group holds particular fascination for former
Communist Party members. Torop, who took the name Vissarion, rejects
prohibitions on suicide. He tells his followers he is Jesus Christ, and
attempts to physically portray him with flowing dark hair and a wispy
beard. Currently building a city of the Sun on Siberia's Mount Sukhaya,
the Vissarionites are estimated to be the largest cult like group in Russia
with thousands of followers. Russian politicians have recently warned that
the Church members may commit mass suicide as the millenium approaches.
In the Cookson Hills of eastern Oklahoma lies the fortress town of Elhohim
City, where about 100 heavily armed inhabitants work, pray and conduct
paramilitary drills. A former Mennonite preacher named Robert Miller, 73,
who envisions a white Christian nation in North America, runs Elohim City
in anticipation of an Asian and invasion of the United States, an attack he
considers inevitable. Miller, inspired by fundamentalist Christians, K. K.
K. style racism and astrology, believes that Christ has been revealing
himself for the last two millennia. He also preaches that a series of
disasters is about to strike, probably soon after the year two thousand,
during which time the unworthy and wicked will be cleansed from the earth.
Convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh phoned friends of his in
Elohim City before the before the blast.
A 1997 Associated Press poll reported that nearly 25% of American adult
Christians, more than 26 million people, believe that Jesus Christ will
return to Earth in their lifetimes. His return, they believe, will set
into motion the horrific events laid out in the biblical books of
Revelations and Daniel. Events include the scorching of men by fire, a
period of complete darkness, and the turning of the seas to blood.
Glossary of Terms:
Fundamentalist Christian: In most cases a born-again Christian. These
persons usually do not affiliate with any specific Church. Their view of
the Bible is literal.
Rapture: The time, according to the Book of Revelations, when the true
Church will be physically taken from the Earth and left to dwell with Jesus
Christ. The rapture is intended to serve as a reward for faithful
Christians, as it will physically remove them from the conflict which will
be take place on Earth proceeding their rapture.
Christians vary in belief on the permanence of the rapture, some maintain
that it is eternal while others claim their bodies will return to Earth,
although spiritually altered, following the period of conflict.
Armageddon: The final battle between G-d and Satan as detailed in the book
The Second Coming: The return of Jesus Christ as the political messiah,
rather than as the suffering servant. Christian ideology cites the book of
Isaiah as well as Revelations in reference to this prophecy.
The True Church: According to fundamentalist Christians, genuine born
again believers in Christ. Catholics are not considered members of the
Mount of Olives: The geographic location in the State of Israel located
outside of Jerusalem. In the New Testament, the location to which Jesus
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Editorial of The Forward, New York
October 22, 1999
"Isaiah & Solender"
"Information published today about a decision to present Yasser Arafat with
the United Jewish Communities Isaiah Award misrepresents the facts and is
misleading. There was never any intent to issue the award to Chairman
Arafat. In addition, Stephen D. Solender, president of United Jewish
Communities, stated that he is very concerned that inaccurate information
has circulated. He plans to review internal procedures so thatthis type of
situation does not occur in the future."
* * *
That is the complete text of a press release issued by the United Jewish
Communities on October 15. On October 18, the Jerusalem bureau chief of the
Israel Resource News Agency, David Bedein, wired a letter to the Jewish
leadership in America. In it he asserted that his news agency had
"received, reviewed and verified the authenticity of correspondence sent
out by the UJC office to the Jewish Agency, in which they affirm that they
had purchased the award and were intent on granting it to Arafat." In other
words, Mr. Bedein is confirming the essence of the report two weeks ago in
The Jewish Advocate newspaper of Boston, which added additional
details in its most recent issue. Mr. Bedein goes on to say that
Israel Resource News Agency interviewed officials of the
Palestinian Authority, "who affirm that they have been informed
by the UJC that it expects to grant the award to Arafat at a
And so the issue becomes not so much the question of whether Mr. Arafat
merits an award in the name of Isaiah from America's largest Jewish
charity. Our own soundings suggest that, even among doves, the idea is
dumb, if not offensive. Now the issue has become the candor -- to put it
kindly -- of our leadership. Is the United Jewish Communities telling the
Somehow we get the feeling that The Jewish Advocate and the Israel Resource
News Agency are more accurate here than our own leadership. Is there more
to this than Mr. Solender suggests in his terse press release?
An October 14 memo to federation presidents and executives from Mr.
Solender concedes only that Mr. Arafat's name "was one of several
considered early on." Why haven't we heard from Charles Bronfman and the
other members of the lay leadership of the UJC? One lay leader, Joel
Tauber, has been quoted as saying that he had no knowledge of remarks
drafted for him to recite in presenting Mr. Arafat the award. What did the
lay leaders know and when? Most broadly, how are we going to get any kind
of reform in our institutions here at home if we can't get a straight
answer out of our leadership?
previous analysis article by David Bedein.
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Article in the Forward
by Elissa Gootman
Israel Resource News Agency Bureau Chief, David Bedein, has
refused to disclose his sources to the "United Jewish
Communities" concerning his investigations of the UJC's proposed
grant of the "Isaiah Award for Peace" to Arafat. Bedein's
refusal to disclose sources has therefore prompted the "UJC" to
hire a private detective . . .
The article in the Forward, published in New
York this past week, speaks for itself:
Charity Hires a Gumshoe To Discover Who Leaked Its Plan To Honor Arafat.
Celebrated Detective, Jules Kroll, Raises Eyebrows Among UJC Bigs.
"Everyone Knows That a Terrible Mistake Was Made".
by Elissa Gootman,
The Forward, Nov. 4, 1999
JERUSALEM -- The United Jewish Communities is engaging a top
private-detective agency to uncover who leaked the story about the charity's
plans to honor Yasser Arafat with its Isaiah Award.
The newly appointed president of the United Jewish Communities, Stephen
Solender, confirmed to the Forward that Kroll Associates has already begun to
investigate "where our system broke down," though he stopped short of
acknowledging that the purpose of the investigation is to locate and plug
news leaks. UJC officials have denied "any intent to issue the award to
Chairman Arafat" and said that Mr. Arafat's name was one of many being
considered for the award. Reports by The Jewish Advocate of Boston and the
Israel Resource News Agency, however, say that Mr. Arafat had been notified
of the charity's plans to honor him and that the award had actually been
purchased and a speech drafted for the event.
The hiring of Kroll Associates is prompting further outrage from Jewish
leaders who were already upset by the news that the UJC was considering
honoring Mr. Arafat. The UJC, an umbrella organization of federations that
raise $790 million a year, was formed last April from the merger of the
United Jewish Appeal, Council of Jewish Federations and United Israel Appeal.
In part because the charity is new and untested, its moves are attracting
scrutiny. Already, the focus on public relations and information
dissemination is drawing criticism from those who say that the UJC should
focus on content issues, of which there are many.
The newly appointed chairman of the UJC's Campaign-Financial Resource
Development pillar committee, Richard Wexler, called the hiring of Kroll
"preposterous." "This is not a matter worthy of investigation, seeing as I
believe everyone knows that a terrible mistake was made. We ought to go about
our business," Mr. Wexler said. Mr. Wexler said that his committee's first
order of business will be to prepare a "set of procedures" to ensure that a
flap such as the one over the Arafat award doesn't ever happen again. Mr.
Wexler said his committee had been assigned that task by the chairman of the
executive committee of the UJC, Joel Tauber.
The first words that the president of the Union of American Hebrew
Congregations, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, uttered when hearing that the UJC would be
using the services of Kroll Associates were, "Oh, for crying out loud." Rabbi
Yoffie said, "The point here is that Jewish organizations, particularly large
and important Jewish organizations that are in the public eye, really can't
expect to maintain a high degree of secrecy....For us to bring in private
investigators to try to maintain a government-like atmosphere of secrecy --
as if the security of the free world depended on such matters -- I think is
destructive of any organizational culture."
"By and large, the problem in the Jewish world is that we want more
openness . . . . There's something unseemly about rushing around
trying to block leaks or something, unless you're dealing with
something in which issues of security of Jewish lives are at
stake," Rabbi Yoffie said, adding, "It's important that the UJC
When informed that the UJC had hired a private investigator to discover how
the Arafat story leaked, the president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies
of Greater Boston, Barry Shrage, said the news conflicted with his previous
estimate of the intelligence of the UJC's president, Mr. Solender. "Let me
put it this way: I don't believe it. I think that Steve and his group are way
too smart to do that, and I just don't believe it," Mr. Shrage said. "We want
to focus on the future. If we've made a mistake, we ought to say we've made a
mistake and just move on. It's just time to move on and to think honestly
about how to tighten up the process to make sure that we do the right thing
in the future. It doesn't take a lot of consulting to figure out what the
right process ought to be," he said.
Mr. Solender confirmed to the Forward that Kroll Associates began to look
into the Isaiah Award affair late last month. "So far it's pro bono," he
said, adding that after the firm prepares an initial report, the charity will
decide "whether we need to study this further or whether that's sufficient."
Mr. Solender explained that Kroll is "looking into our internal
procedurclarified so we can operate more effectively next time."
When asked whether Kroll Associates was being employed at least in part to
uncover how the story leaked to newspapers, he responded: "I want to find out
where we made mistakes so that we don't make them again." When asked again,
he said, "Part of what I want to find out is where our system broke down."
While Kroll Associates is known to videotape the subjects of its
investigations, Mr. Solender said that the UJC investigation will involve
"nothing that dramatic."
When asked if he supports the hiring of Kroll Associates to uncover who
leaked the story about the Isaiah Award, the chairman of the UJC, Charles
Bronfman, responded via facsimile: "I do support the decision to ask Kroll
Associates to look at UJC's security measures." Mr. Bronfman wrote that he
became aware of the "Arafat business" only "when I was given a heads-up about
a story the Boston paper was carrying." He continued: "I believe that such an
award would have been inappropriate at this time, and I would have said so."
Mr. Tauber said he supports the decision to have Kroll Associates look into
where the UJC went wrong with the Isaiah Award report and how the charity can
improve its process.
The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, said he
can "understand" the UJC's decision to hire Kroll. "I think any organization
is entitled to make decisions within its institution to ensure
confidentiality" and to have its decisions "respected until they want to go
public with them," he said. Mr. Foxman said that organizational leaders
should feel free to make tough decisions without being "pressured on that
decision" by leaks emanating from the dissenting camp.
Some federation leaders are also voicing support for the UJC's decision to
engage Kroll Associates. "I think an organization has a right to determine
who speaks on its behalf and how information is disseminated. I don't find it
hard to understand that an organization would take steps to ensure that it
can act accordingly," the executive vice president of the Jewish Federation
of Greater Washington, Ted Farber, said.
The executive vice president of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland,
Stephen Hoffman, said he had not heard about the decision to hire Kroll
Associates in the wake of the Isaiah Award matter, but that it is a decision
with which he empathizes. "If there was something about Arafat and if
somebody leaked it inside the organization, I would be concerned about how
people inside my organization are dealing with sensitive issues. And I would
probably take appropriate steps to determine where things broke down," Mr.
Mr. Hoffman said that if he had employees who "didn't have the discipline to
know how an organization deals with sensitive issues," he would no longer
want them in his company.
Kroll Associates, founded by Jules Kroll, has grown from a small
private-detective agency founded in 1972 to an international investigative
and security agency whose stock is traded publicly and whose businesses have
included manufacturing armored limousines and tracking Saddam Hussein's
hidden assets. Mr. Kroll's wife, Lynn Korda Kroll, is on the board of the
UJA-Federation of New York and is a member of its commission on Jewish
Return to Contents
UJC VP Gail Hyman on Award to Arafat
8th November, 1999
IMRA interviewed Gail Hyman, Vice President of Marketing and Public
Affairs at the UJC - United Jewish Communities - the major
fundraising organization in the American Jewish Community.
IMRA: I understand that there is an investigation underway of the
source of the leak within the UJC (United Jewish Communities)to the
press of the UJC's plans to present an award to Arafat. You can take
the story from here since the last time I followed this story the UJC
was still denying that it planned to give Arafat an award:
Hyman: On October 25 Steven Solender, President and CEO of the UJC,
issued a statement. Basically what happened was that there was some
decision done at the mid level of the organization and there were
some inappropriate unauthorized steps taken to begin to present the
award to Chairman Arafat and once it became known to the top
leadership and management at UJC that action was halted and it was
never formally approved by the right people.
So that's what happened. It wasn't that it was leaked in a sense.
It was more that people rushed to leak it.
IMRA: It came to the attention of the people who stopped it after it
became knowledge in the community or did they find out about it
through internal channels?
Hyman: They became aware of it as an issue through the media-press
interest. In other words it got out to the press even before it got
to top management here.
IMRA: So in terms of timing is it conceivable that Arafat would have
received the award even before top management learned about it?
Hyman: I guess it is conceivable.
IMRA: Well in terms of the schedule it was reported by the press
only days before the award was slated for presentation. Top
management would have, perhaps, been unhappy about it after the fact,
but it would have already happened.
Hyman: I guess anything is conceivable. I wouldn't want to
IMRA: Let's move on to the other piece of news - that a detective
agency has been hired to detect the leak.
Hyman: A detective agency has been hired, for minimal money, to
understand how our operations here could allow for such poor
management and poor control and to insure that proprietary
information not ever intended to be part of the public record could
be made available to the media in advance of its approval internally.
The investigation is funded from a special fund - not contributor's
IMRA: So the issue is not how it happened that the UJC was about to
present an award to Arafat without the top management knowing about
it but rather how the story was leaked to the press.
Hyman: I didn't say that. The investigation is limited in scope.
It is to insure that only accurate and complete information is
disseminated to our constituents.
Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645
Return to Contents
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