A member of Jews for Jesus, Barry Barnett 50, born in Britain, was arrested last year in Beer Sheva during his “Behold Your G0d, Israel, ” campaign. Barnett, the only non-Israeli in the group and the only one arrested, was held in an immigration detention center for four days and was told by an immigration judge that he had violated the terms of his B-2 visa for doing “missionary work.” Barnett was released on bail, and when he returned to England, he was trying to get another visa to go back to Israel, but was informed that he was barred from entering the country for 10 years.
Barnett explained to Crossmap, “I went to the Israeli embassy, and they said, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t have done what you did. That was illegal. So I explained to them Israeli law. I explained Israeli law to the Israeli embassy, and said, ‘No it’s not illegal. Every person in Israel has the right to express their religion freely–to give out leaflets, to put up a banner–as long as I’m not enticing anyone with money or material benefit.”
Israeli law does allow for missionary activity as long as it is not to minors and is without financial incentive. Jews for Jesus appealed the case and lost in the lower court, with the judge declaring that Barnett was “acting in a way that wasn’t normal tourism.” Dan Sered, Israeli director of Jews for Jesus, thinks Yad L’Achim, an ultra orthodox counter-missionary group, was partly responsible for the treatment of Barnett. “I think Yad L’Achim used their power and influence to get the immigration police to do this. I don’t think it was at all a coincidence that those who arrested him were religious Jews.
A hearing for the Supreme Court is scheduled on February 9th. Barnett will not be able to attend because he is barred from entering Israel.