Israelis Spurned Koresh Attempt to Establish Cult Branch There

David Koresh, the cult leader who died last month in a blaze of fire with dozens of his followers in Waco, Texas, tried to establish a branch of his sect in Israel three years ago, but failed, according to Rabbi Avraham Peled, who is involved with stemming cult influence on Jews.

Peled, who actively works to “win back” Israelis and Jews who join missionary sects, said he had first met Koresh when Koresh was on a recruiting mission in Israel in 1990.

Peled, in an interview with the Ma’ariv newspaper Wednesday, said he found Koresh playing guitar in the streets of Jerusalem, singing songs about Jews, Judaism and Jesus.

The charismatic cult leader had managed to recruit 12 young Israelis, persuading them to return with him to his Waco ranch by offering them free plane tickets and music-connected jobs there.

Peled said he befriended Koresh and the young recruits, persuading most of them to give up the idea and warning Koresh to abandon his efforts “telling him he would anyway not succeed in making any followers here.”

Koresh managed to win only one convert here, Pablo Cohen, who perished in the April 18 fire in Waco.

Peled said he had discussed Koresh’s activities with the Interior Ministry and, in coordination with the ministry, had sent Koresh a letter, informing him that his visa had expired and that he should leave the country immediately.

Peled said that to his knowledge, there are currently scores of Israelis belonging to about 10 missionary cult groups in the United States.

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