Shalom from Tel-Aviv,
A five year investigation of cults in Israel has just been completed by an inter-ministerial government committee. The conclusions of this 500 page report are, to put it mildly, a cause for alarm and consternation.
The report estimates that a minimum of 50,000-60,000 Israelis have been involved with some cult in the last 15 years. The cults first entered Israel in the early 70's.
Knesset member Miriam Glazer-Ta'asa, head of the committee, along with a team of experts lists 20 cults in Israel, 10 of which they investigated in depth.
Glazer-Ta'asa reports that her committee excluded from its frame of reference all the recognized monotheistic religions, such as the Jewish back-to-Orthodox religion movement (Teshuva), Christian fundamentalists or Moslem fundamentalists.
Obviously, Messianic Judiasm being a monotheistic expression of religion was also excluded.
She states that dealing with the above religions would be treading on dangerous ground, since there are serious distinctions between the monotheistic religions and the many cults making their debut in the Holy Land.
THE ATTRACTIONS OF A CULT
Glazer-Ta'asa stresses that those most susceptible to the use of the Cults are young people from middle-class family backgrounds, including children of professionals and intellectuals and Kibbutz members. The joiners also tend to have higher than average education.
The earmarks of the cults, says the report, are generally the same. Some clearly have their origin in oriental mysticism, while others define themselves as new religions. Yet others insist that they are non-religious and are therapeutic, scientific or even political societies. Every single one of them insists that it is not a cult.
They all tend to affect every facet of the member's life and claim to offer a total answer. At first, they are all nice, loving, comforting, caring and caressing. They offer ultimate happiness, peace of mind, meaning and purpose.
But, as soon as cult joiners are entrapped, they are subjected to one or more of the following techniques: hypnosis in various forms; severe group pressure; physical and cultural isolation (no newspapers, books, TV); physiological deprivation (little food, drink and sleep, even refusal of toilet facilities for prolonged periods); conceptual confusion (the use of a private esoteric vocabulary which distorts the accepted meaning of words) and "noise" immersion (constant exposure to speeches, tapes, conversations, confessions). These techniques, the committee maintains, often cause radical personality changes.
For example, there is a cult called Emin, whose headquarters is in Ramat Hasharon (the same suburb of Tel Aviv that our Congregation is in). The Mayor of Ramat Hasharon, whom we have sued for slander, among other things, tried to lump our Messianic Congregation together with Emin).
Emin was imported in 1977 from Britain where the cult was founded seven years earlier by an Encyclopedia salesman and a security truck driver. He is known by his followers as Leo, and is deified by them. Hypnosis and meditation are used to induce hallucinations. Emin's aim is "the study, research and development potential." This can only be achieved through Leo, who is in holy communication with the angels.
COUNT EVERYTHING YOU SEE
One of the examples given by the committee of Emin's operations is as follows: A young member of the Emin cult was ordered by the guru Leo, "you must start counting all that you see; birds, people, dogs, cats, anything at all...ceaselessly, every minute, all the time...think of nothing else After five days, this will pass from the conscious mind into the subconscious, and still you must go on counting. After three more days, you will be able to guess at things accurately, because you will have succeeded in teaching the higher parts of your mind to do it for you."
But just three hours of counting and adding were enough to make the young cultist feel "totally numbed." Eventually she was hospitalized in a psychiatric institution, related Glazer-Ta'asa.
Flooding the mind with detail is a type of do-it-yourself mental overload that the cults employ. Emin's idea of breaking up all the incidental details of life into their minutest components, and bringing these into heightened awareness to arrive at the hidden order of the universe and the great truth, derives from the notion that everything is interconnected in some vast intricate system, to which only Leo is privy.
In 1983, the Glazer-Ta'asa Committee was told that the group had some 700 hard core members in Israel along with 1,200 more who participated in the early initiation stages. But the Committee records that actual membership is higher in view of the cult's expansion in the past few years.
SCIENTOLOGY AND EST
Another cult which the Committee listed as one of the "less" enslaving is Scientology. Yet, listen to the witness of Israeli parents of children who are Scientology members.
One mother says that her 25 year old son, who is a committed Scientologist, does not work and lives on what he calls "purification pills," which are given by the Scientologists. He hardly eats, and is emaciated and physically debilitated. The mother called the Committee for help when she caught her son trying to take her 16 year old son to a Scientology meeting.
Another father, with Whom Glazer-Ta'asa spoke, reported: "My third daughter is now totally cut off from reality, hovering somewhere in the clouds. She doesn't work. She doesn't think of the future. She comes home, opens her mouth, bares her teeth and emits shrill, strange, animal-like laughter. Getting into a conversation with her is useless. She doesn't react, and if you try to influence her, she just severs contact."
The cult numbers some 2,000 members in Israel and has graduated 10,000 people in its Scientology courses and workshops.
EST, called here Israel Centre for Breakthrough, has a primary introduction seminar which lasts four days for almost 17 hours a day. Booster sessions are then given the next two consecutive weekends. All doors are closed and all personal effects, even wrist watches, are removed from the participants, who are greeted with a shower of the foulest four-letter words in the dictionary.
Following an aggressive sales campaign, a large number of Israel TV employees showed up for EST seminars. Attempts were also made to enroll Communications Ministry and Health Ministry employees. Both in Israel and overseas, there are records of EST seminar participants who required hospitalization as a result of the training.
There are lesser known groups in Israel, such as Bhagwan Rajneesh which was named after the Guru of free sex. To them, the family is "the most regressive factor in human development."
This guru dislikes all religions and displays particular animosity towards Jews, saying "they are in constant search for Hitlers to murder them, because they do not accept Jesus. They are a guilty nation, and their guilt is great." Half of the guru's followers worldwide are thought to be Jewish.
Then there is Ananda Marga, whose guru is barred from the U.S., and advocates the violent enforcement of supreme bliss. In its rites are guns, daggers and skulls.
There are even several dozen Krishnas who promise salvation through devotion to the god Krishna and an eradication of illusions of the material. They lead a life of devout austerity in communes, and are seen in their exotic clothing, meditating and begging on the streets of Tel Aviv. They have several hundred sympathizers.
T.M. THE LARGEST CULT
But without a doubt, the largest cult in Israel is T.M., which has trained a numbing 40,000 Israelis in its courses. This cult was brought to the U.S. from India in 1959 by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
With headquarters in Tel Aviv, T.M. has about 1,000 trained and active sidhas -- those who have attained the higher stages of the practice.
Dr. Rafi Corasso, head of the Neurology Department in one of our major hospitals, and senior lecturer in psychology at Bar
Ilan University and in medicine at Tel Aviv University is very familiar with T.M. and its effects. He declares, "Without a shadow of a doubt the meditators - those who engage in real, not make believe meditation -- bring themselves into a hypnotic state. There is no thought and the hypnosis is brought on by the repetition of a code phrase -- the Mantra ..."
All psychiatric hospitals, he says, have patients whose defenses were eroded by meditative, self-hypnotic practices. Speaking of cults, in general, Dr. Carasso explains that people become addicted to the system-- "some end up in psychiatric wards; others continue as bizarre types" who daydream and hallucinate on the sidelines of life, yet others stay in the cults and become fanatics."
CULTS FINANCIALLY PROFITABLE
We have not even mentioned the financial aspect of the cults. The Committee reports that many of the cults are extremely wealthy, owning properties and businesses. They state that most of the profits go into the pockets of the leaders. Indeed kids are sent to make money for the cult, by selling door to door. At the same time, members pay thousands of dollars for the courses, training, workshops and the like, in which they must participate to keep up with the cult's wisdom. They sign a binding financial obligation to pay for these and so cannot get away from the cult.
Obviously, some of the people described in these reports show all the signs of having become demon possessed -- complete personality change, with no outside interests of any kind, except their cult, and an inability to communicate with family and society in general. Many of these cults, of course, include drugs, alcohol and community sex in their rites.
Even though Rev. Sun Yung Moon of the "Moonies" has not yet been able to attract any significant number of Israeli recruits, he has gained notoriety here by stating that he despises Jews who, he says, were the agents of Satan in Jesus' crucifixion. This is the reason for the Holocaust, according to Moon. The State of Israel is to be replaced with a country run by his followers.
The "Moonies" held a symposium on terrorism in Jerusalem last year. A large number of top Israeli army officers attended, not knowing at the time who was behind the symposium.
The cults' methods to attract potential people are many and varied. They hide their true identity and slowly reveal the secrets of the cult only after the new member is thoroughly brain-washed and has undergone personality changes.
However, to the public, they are all light and smiles. Some, for example, have held campaigns to encourage people to use their seat belts, and they have established roadside centers to give coffee to weary drivers. They volunteer to engage in public service activities, such as cleaning up historical sites.
Notwithstanding, they also have long lists of felonious charges, including fraud, extortion and threat. Almost all ex-cult members were extremely fearful to testify to the Committee.
“NO COUNTRY CAN LIMIT ITS CITIZENS' RIGHTS"
Glazer-Ta'asa still concludes that "no country can and no country has the right to limit its citizens' rights to believe what they wish. But each country must protect its people from victimization. We must, at least, warn the innocent seekers..." They play dirty...they don't tell the truth.
It is right for a free society to defend itself against mind destroying drugs. It is likewise right for it to defend itself against mind stealing cults.
From the perspective of the Messianic believers in Israel, we can certainly see the plan of Satan, who is in constant warfare with the Jewish people to destroy them one way or another. If he does not succeed in physical extermination, then he attempts to destroy through mind bending cultic religions from the east, and to confuse through counterfeiting some of the positive elements of the faith that come through the knowledge of the Holy One of Israel and His Son, Yeshua.
Yet, this report must show us something else - that orthodox and traditional forms of Judaism are so dead, so spiritually bankrupt, and the Jewish soul so famished for spiritual food, that they are turning in large numbers to the first alternative they meet.
Note this: Although U.S. Jews comprise only about 2% of the American population, it is estimated according to the Jerusalem Post, that about 40% of American cultists are said to be Jewish.
What a condemnation of traditional Judaism! And what a challenge for Bible believers, who are returning to the roots of true, and vital Judaism as revealed by Moses, the Prophets, Yeshua the Jewish Messiah, and the "Shlichim" (Apostles) who wrote the New Testament.
How different the Israelis in the Messianic Congregations, Who have come out of drugs, sex and enslavement to mysticism that the cults seek to impose.
One may wonder why the cults have gained so many thousands of followers, While the born again Israeli believers number only a few thousand.
Perhaps one reason is that Messianic believers have been greatly persecuted in Israel, being hindered on every front from securing meeting places and adequate facilities even for small groups of believers. W1ereas the Israeli public looked at the cults, until now, with a sort of bemused indifference. Only now with the publication of this report is there a public outcry!
Furthermore, the Messianic believers in Israel did not charge thousands of dollars for courses to learn about Yeshua or demand that their adherents sign over all their material goods. Messianic congregations in general are poor.
The greatest hindrances have come, of course, from spiritual forces of the evil one who is determined to keep the Kingdom of God from Israel. For example, orthodox fanatics work unceasingly trying to keep Jews who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah from immigrating to this country.
Yet, we have in the last few years seen a definite mini-revival in the number of people turning to the God of Israel through His Son. For example, last night six Jewish people received salvation in our congregation's meeting! We are seeing Israeli leadership being developed. Today there is not only the absolute need, but also the possibility of legally buying facilities large enough for our growing Congregation.
But most of all, we know the revival is coming, because the Bible says it is coming. It is as sure as that -- nothing will stop its coming!
We, who desire, can participate in its arrival...for arrive it will! Do you want to work with us?
In the vineyard of Israel,
Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram