The missionary organization MaozIsrael is reporting that the Nachalat Yeshua Messianic congregation, led by Pastor Howard Bass, has lost their lawsuit against Beersheva Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri and the counter-missionary organization Yad L'Achim. The trial concerned a disturbance which allegedly ensued when members of the Beersheva Orthodox community tried to prevent the baptism of Jews to Christianity by breaking into a messianic church compound.
Last July JewishIsrael reported on the wide and one-sided coverage and publicity given the trial by the Jerusalem Post and Evangelical and messianic Christian news outlets like Pat Robertson’s CBN (the Christian Broadcasting Network). Reportedly Bass had demanded either a public apology for the attack or roughly $400,000 from the defendants.
CBN , Charisma Magazine, and the messianic community were on the edge of their chairs awaiting the outcome of the trial just over a month ago. But now that the verdict is in, there is remarkable silence.
The decision was handed down on May 31 but there have been no major reports, as of yet, in the mainstream press or major Christian media outlets. Jewish Israel has written to the Editors of the Jerusalem Post inquiring as to the lack of coverage (we will let you know when and if we receive a response).
In the meantime Maoz Israel as well as a few other messianic blogs are posting a letter from Pastor Howard Bass.
"A verdict has been handed down by Judge Iddo Ruzin in our lawsuit filed against the Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yehuda Deri, and against the anti-Messianic organization, Yad L'Achim. The judge did exactly what we have been praying and hoping . . . that he would not do! Judge Ruzin has determined that the two defendants are innocent of any wrong-doing concerning the events before, during, and after 24 Dec 2005, and that we did not produce sufficient evidence to prove any personal liability on their part in our civil suit against them. Judge Ruzin has ordered that we pay 1000 ILS to each of the defendants, and that we pay the legal fees of each of their advocates, which will come to tens of thousands of shekels. (We have not yet been notified of this amount.)"
Pastor Bass does cite a victory of sorts:
"We believe that, at least in this latter regard, we were "successful": even the judge in his decision referred to the Lord as "Yeshua", and not by the acronym commonly used by many in this land."
Bass goes on to make a plea for funding to cover the court costs.
UPDATE: June 16th 2010 from Yad l'Achim
In his lengthy ruling, the judge pointed to several contradictions and outright lies in the missionaries' claims:
1. In their original suit, they said Yad L'Achim had falsely claimed that
a baptism was being held in the facility. During the trial, they
retracted that charge.
2. The missionary Howard Bass claimed that Rav Deri had entered the premises
of the Messianic congregation, but later admitted that he never saw the
Rav inside the facility. He conceded that his "knowledge" of the Rav's
whereabouts came from the radio and Internet.
3. Bass also claimed that Yad L'Achim incited the crowd against him and
his cult and that all the damages resulted from this incitement. His
"proof" was a newspaper article publicized after the
event on Yad L'Achim statements regarding the dangers of missionaries.
Bass had no logical answer to the judge's question of how an article
appearing after the event could have incited violence at the facility.
Moreover, the judge said the missionaries failed to prove any
connection between Yad L'Achim and that article.
4. The judge further ruled that the missionaries had failed to verify the
extent of damages they allegedly incurred. They claimed NIS 1.4
million, but could prove only damage to a projector and glasses, which
totaled NIS 7,000.
The judge asked why the missionaries didn't sue the people they claim were
directly responsible for the damages, rather than Yad L'Achim and the
Rav of the city. They had no answer.
Not one of the plaintiff's witnesses could prove a connection between those
who allegedly caused damage and Yad L'achim and Rav Deri.
The judge ruled that the transfer of information between Yad L'Achim and
Rav Deri – regarding an upcoming baptism of Jews in Be'er Sheva - is
He also made two rulings on general matters of principle:
Messianic Judaism is a religious stream within Christianity, and this stream is
not recognized as a group within Judaism; one of the main tenets of the
Messianics is missionary activity...more
For those wishing to delve further into this case. The court protocol is posted here in Hebrew.