JERUSALEM (Christian Examiner) – In a country where only two percent of the population is Christian and Jewish-Christian relations are rocky, Christians can very easily be made into scapegoats.
Israeli police say that's what happened when three Jerusalem residents created an organization to combat a non-existent Christian cult they said preyed on Orthodox Jewish children, kidnapping and sexually abusing them before forcing them to convert to Christianity.
They then contacted members of the Jewish community to raise funds for their fake organization.
The Times of Israel's Tamar Pileggi reports that the arrest of the three running the scam comes after a two-year investigation initiated when people in Jerusalem's Sanhedria community – an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood – complained about the supposed sexual abuse of children by "a Christian group" identified by the scam artists.
In this case, reminiscent of the Middle Ages when Christians accused Jews of poisoning wells and using the blood of a Christian child to make matzos, police concluded that the entire story was fabricated for the sole purpose of soliciting donations from concerned Israelis and Jews abroad.
The police also said that, while there were some cases of sexual abuse in the Sanhedria neighborhood, none of them were related to one another or a Christian cult.
Two of the three suspects were placed under house arrest until their next hearing Aug. 16. The judge in the case also ordered the parties involved to case to avoid discussing it publicly.
Pileggi reports that this is not the first time Jews have pointed the finger at Christians and accused them of sexual abuse. A pedophile ring was exposed in Jerusalem's Nahlaot neighborhood in 2012 and Christian missionaries were accused. But, police discovered no Christian missionaries operating in the neighborhood and said later that a mentally-ill ultra-Orthodox man had become the focus of the investigation.
The man, Binyamin Satz, was later found guilty of sodomy and indecent acts against children. He was given a 15 year prison sentence.