By Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi
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The audience was treated to a lecture on Rudolph Steiner's occultist philosophy of education and greeted it with serious attention. This presentation was reported in the media as another "scientific" point of view, albeit an "alternative" one. Ben-Aharon skillfully managed to avoid any mention of the group's beliefs in reincarnation or its ties to Christianity, which would have aroused a negative reaction in Israel, naturally. The Interministerial Commission of Inquiry on Cults This commission was appointed by Education and Culture Minister Zebulun Hammer on February 5, 1982.
No similar campaign is to be found in the Israeli press until 1982 or 1983, when no group is singled out, and the topic is cults in general. This second wave of media coverage, totally negative in tone, coincides with the creation of the government commission of inquiry on cults, and the increased activity by Yad La' Ahim, the Orthodox anti-missionary organization. It also coincides with the formation of the Concerned Parents Against Cults organization, active since 1980. The articles range from news reports covering the new religions and their relations with the community and government authorities to interviews with professionals and academics and reports on lectures by professionals with different orientations.
We will look at reactions in the media, community and religious organizations, and government agencies, including the police. In response to the growth of new religions in Israel since the early 1970s, a countermovement has appeared in the form of an anticult movement and lobby, modeled after parallels in the United States in some ways. We will survey the history of the movement by looking at its various components, including the Israeli government, the National Police, and nongovernmental organizations.