Reports are coming in that Arad missionary Edwin (Eddie) Beckford has been found guilty of assaulting a counter-missionary activist and of attempting to run-down volunteers from Yad l'Achim with his vehicle. The video footage of the assault can be seen here.
In a five month period the messianic Christians in Southern Israel have suffered two serious legal defeats, with the Nachalat Yeshua Congregation, led by Pastor Howard Bass, also losing a lengthy legal battle against Beersheva Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri and Yad l'Achim last June.
The Negev towns of Arad, Beersheva, and Sderot serve as a hotbed for messianic missionary activity. The high concentration of new immigrants, coupled with vulnerable citizens in the lower-income bracket , deems the population "ripe for the picking" for those in the business of harvesting Jewish souls.
This in turn has riled-up the Jewish community and drawn a number of counter-missionary activists to the areas, and the resulting street scenes and publicity are less than pretty.
Is there a better, more civil way to combat the missionary incursion? Are we winning the legal battles, but losing the PR war? Certain voices among Diaspora counter-missionary experts are asking these questions and are questioning Israeli methods and tactics. Others feel that political correctness and diplomacy have no place in the struggle to rid Eretz Yisrael from the missionary menace. Jewish Israel welcomes your thoughts.
The messiancs frequently take their struggle to the press. Last June, in a strange twist, they apparently recruited Jerusalem Post reporter Larry Derfner to do battle for them. Jewish Israel reported on how Derfner, an atheist and political leftist, became a cog in the messianic propaganda machine. Here’s an excerpt from our previous article:
Eddie Beckford: the Persecuted Icon
"What absolutely dwarfs Derfner’s column on the trial is his two- page spread on missionary Eddie Beckford from Arad. You may recall that Beckford is under house arrest for a brutal assault against a Jewish man. A video of the beating, which also includes Beckford’s attempt to run over Jewish protestors, can be viewed here. Derfner elevates a thug awaiting trial, and transforms him into a victim and a hero - a Christian martyr...
Derfner feels that Beckford has 'taken a lot in Arad'. It seems this 'tall, strongly-built Vietnam War veteran' who, 'with his thick white moustache and goatee, looks like a distinguished jazz veteran while his wife Lura looks like a youthful Middle American grandmother', attacked after his friend was 'surrounded' by a 'pack' of Gur Hassidim who had been in hot pursuit…. That’s certainly not what it looks like in the video."