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July 04, 1986 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-07-04

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Moshe Dann: Missionary manual targets Reform Jews.

Ex-Detroiter Fighting
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8

Friday, July 4, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Row

s the fate of religious freedom
in Israel the crucial point
around which swirls the cur-
rent "Mormon Controversy?"
Moshe Dann thinks not.
"Nobody is objecting to the
Mormon Church in Israel," Dann,
a native Detroiter now living in
Jerusalem, told The Jewish News
last week. "Pluralism is well ac-
cepted in Israel," he says, turning
to the religion page of the
Jerusalem Post and pointing to
the list of Mormon Sunday serv-
ices. That is not at issue."
What is at issue, according to
Dann, an activist with Am Yis-
raelChai, is the Mormon's
Brigham Young University
(BYU) Study Center, which is set
to open on the Mount of Olives
next to the Hebrew University,
and across from the Temple
Mount.
"There are a dozen Mormon
families in Israel," Dann con-
tends. "They can't be building this
building for themselves. They're
building it to accomodate an ex-
tensive system of missionary ac-
tivity in Israel. We looked at the
plans and said, 'This doesn't make
sense!' That's what sparked this
whole .thing."
Dann has been trying to make
sense of the Mormons' intentions
for some two years now. Yet it
seems that the deeper he digs, the
more questions he raises about
Mormon missionary work in Is-
rael.
Two Israeli groups are cur-
rently fighting the study center's
opening. Yad L'Achim, whose
members, Dann says, are mainly
ultra-Orthodox, and Am Yisrael
Chai, which formed around the
Mormon issue. "We're connected
with the data (Orthodox) kibbut-
zim and moshavim, and hesder
yeshivot (combined Torah study
and army duty)," Dann explains.
Am Yisrael Chai is also affiliated

I

with the Gush Emunim settle-
ment movement, according to the
Jerusalem Post.
Are the Mormons now, or have
they ever, proselytized in Israel?
Says Dann: "On the one hand,
we had sworn statements from the
Mormons, and assurances from
Israeli officials, that the Mormons
were not proselytizing. Then we
started receiving these docu-
ments . . ."Dann has a ream of
them. He will not say who his
sources are, but the documents
cast a suspicious light on Mormon
activities, past and present, and
suggest, at best, naivete on the
part of Israeli officials and duplic-
ity on the part of Mormon leaders.
In a letter dated March 23,
1977, Jerusalem Mayor Teddy
Kollek advises David Galbraith,
director of the BYU program in
Israel: ". . the Jewish nation
(will not) tolerate any missionary
activity." The letter concludes:
"I have noted with satisfaction
that you and other Mormon repre-
sentatives . . . agreed . . . that in
establishing your center you
would refrain from mission activi-
ties here."
Yet, despite this "agreement,"
Galbraith writes in a letter to
someone only identified as "Dan,"
on April 25, 1977, that, because of
Kollek's warning against pro-
selytizing, "This supports our
feelings that we must approach
missionary work in this land
differently than anywhere else.
Surely a visitor's center would be
part of the answer."

"In Israel's Mormon Dilemma"
April 11),
(Jewish News,
Jonathan Hart writes: "All public
statements by the Mormon
Church and BYU since 1980 have
included a positive declaration
that no Mormons would engage in
missionary work in Israel."
"We have the name of one fam-
ily who was approached by the
Mormons as late as 1983," Dann
counters.
He points to a document
entitled "BYU Fact File" which
offers these statistics:

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