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Jehovah’s Witnesses



Israel Overview

Jehovah’s Witnesses have been present in the territory of modern Israel since 1920 and generally enjoy religious freedom. In 1963 and in 2000, the government registered legal entities used by Jehovah’s Witnesses to carry out their religious activities. The Witnesses applied for official recognition as a religious community in 2000 and in 2014, but the application is still pending.

The law in Israel allows all religious groups the right to manifest their religious beliefs publicly. However, ultraorthodox Jewish religious groups oppose the religious activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses, leading to various abuses—including religiously motivated acts of harassment and violence against the Witnesses.

These ultraorthodox groups have at times succeeded in influencing some government officials to deny the Witnesses their rights, including the right of assembly. When municipalities have canceled Witness events at contracted public facilities, the Witnesses have appealed to the courts for relief. The Haifa District Court (in 2007) and the Supreme Court (in 2015) acknowledged that municipalities had discriminated against the Witnesses on religious grounds. The courts upheld the Witnesses’ right to peaceful assembly without harassment. Yet, discriminatory acts against Jehovah’s Witnesses remain an ongoing concern.