A district convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or in Hebrew – the witnesses of Adona’i (The Lord) – is conducted in these days in Nokia Arena, Tel Aviv. It is a closed community that doesn’t let the media in, but Raphi Barbiro, our writer, succeeded to enter and speak with the believers while the Haredim (Orthodox Jews) were having a demonstration outside. (video 01) (video 02)
Nokia Arena seems full of mystery this morning (July 5). People dresses in suits along with police officers and guards welcomed the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ convention participants. The passers-by in the neighborhood of Yad-Eliyahu didn’t even know what it is all about.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses? No, I have no idea.”
“I think it’s a kind of a sect… Maybe of the African-Hebrews…”
“Are they after Jesus or before Jesus?”
Inside the hall, thousands of people, or “brothers” as they call one another, listen to talks in three different languages aimed to strengthen and encourage the believers.
Eran Katri – Spokesman of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Israel: “They are people from many different backgrounds. They believe in what is written in the Tanach (Hebrew Scriptures) and in what is known as The New Testament. We see ourselves as the followers of the first disciples of Jesus.”
The brothers that came to Tel Aviv from around the world said that the fact that the convention is held in the Holy Land is like a dream coming true for them.
Like other religions, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in a Divine Program.
Katri: “There will be a war soon, a great war made by God, a great universal war that God will use to cleanse the world from evildoers.”
Political and religious opposition toward Jehovah’s Witnesses caused many physical damages to the community members. Today too, a demonstration is made outside Nokia Arena.
Orthodox Jew: “They are the Apostates of HaShem (literally – The Name = Jehovah)! Not the Witnesses of HaShem!”
Benny Wolcan – Organization of Yad LeAhim: “It is a disturbance because they go each evening all trough Israel, two by two, and knock on peoples’ doors, put [their tracts] in mail boxes, knock on doors even in religious and traditionally-inclined areas. People expel them out.”
Katri: “I can understand their concern, but they have to see things from our point of view too; There is no massive influx to the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses because of our activity.”
The convention will end tomorrow, but the hatred between the Haredim (Orthodox Jews) and Jehovah’s Witnesses will apparently last forever. And we say: “live and let live”.