Scientologists invade hospital after terrorist attack

The Jerusalem Post/April 19,2002
By Rosalyn Harari

Members of the Scientologists cult in Tel Aviv managed to get into the public information center set up at Ichilov Hospital immediately after the recent terrorist attack in Allenby Street, where they spoke to families of the injured and gave out propaganda material on their cult, reports Tel Aviv Hebrew weekly.

Shortly after the attack, around 10 Scientologists mingled with a group of social workers who were at the hospital to receive families of the injured. Wearing shirts bearing the tag "spiritual adviser Scientologist volunteer," they talked to the anxious relatives who had arrived at the center, where entry was permitted only to the hospital medical staff and relatives of the injured.

The cult representatives distributed a booklet written by the founder of the cult Ron Hubbard which promises its readers to help them reach "the path which leads to a much safer and happier life for you and for others."

One of the most persistent volunteers even managed to find her way into the emergency ward, where she was noticed by the hospital manager Gabi Barbash and asked to leave.

The Scientologists movement was started in the United States in the 1950s and claims to illuminate "great truths" to its disciples. The scientific and religious claims of the movement as well as its financial administration became a source of controversy in the eighties when it found itself faced with many law suits.

Nevertheless, the cult has around 10 million followers throughout the world, including celebrities such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise who according to cult rules must contribute a percentage of their earnings.

In 1993 the Knesset considered making it illegal but in the end it was not banned.

Amir Levi, who is responsible for public relations at the Center for Scientology in Tel Aviv explains that "this is the first time that such activity has been held after a bomb attack."

Ichilov Hospital said in reaction: "The hospital does not allow entry to activists of any cult. The members of the cult gained entry to the information center without permission. They were thrown out of the emergency ward as soon as it was discovered that they were carrying out missionary activity."

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