By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
JERUSALEM (Worthy News)-- A British messianic Jew deported from Israel last year for participating in an evangelistic outreach will appeal his case to the nation's supreme court, according to Morning Star News.
Banned from Israel for 10 years, Barry Barnett was forced to leave under a deportation order issued by the Ministry of the Interior that is now under appeal. But Barnett believes his case is really about the right to religious expression.
"If we win in the Supreme Court, not only does it get me back to Israel instead of waiting 10 years after having been deported, it means that every single Christian has the right or every religious person has the right to express their faith freely without intimidation."
Barnett was arrested Nov. 20 near the city of Be'er Shiva by immigration enforcement officers at a Jews for Jesus "Behold your God, Israel" rally, after which he was interrogated for four full days at an immigration detention center. Barnett then had a court hearing with an immigration judge during which Interior officials successfully claimed he had violated the terms of his B-2 tourist visa by doing "missionary work."
Lawyers for Jews for Jesus in Israel appealed the case in March, but lost in the lower court because the appeal's judge thought Barnett was "acting in a way that wasn't normal tourism." But in Israel, missionary work is considered "normal" if no material incentive is given and no minors are evangelized. Further, Israel is a signatory to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, which affirms the validity of tourism for the purpose of exchanging religious beliefs.
A hearing with the Supreme Court is set for Feb. 9, but Barnett can't attend because of his travel ban.
Dan Sered, Israeli director of Jews for Jesus, said he is hopeful that they will win the case, but he sees the entire incident as something of a contradiction.
"I was always raised to see Israel as a democracy where justice is blind. This is the difference between Israel and Iran. This is exactly why we are the only democracy [in the Middle East]."