Public figures gathered for the opening of a new Scientology centre in Tel Aviv last Tuesday.
Israeli academics and politicians attended the opening ceremony for the controversial religious movement, frequently attacked as a cult, at the former Alhambra theatre, a 1937 Art Deco building, in Jaffa.
But Meital Lehavi, a member of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa city council, said: “Jaffa is a house for everyone, accepting everyone.
“I am confident that by sitting together, thinking together and working together, we keep Jaffa the home for everyone. This new centre will have an important part in leading the way."
Dr Rimon Kasher, from the Department of Biblical Studies at Bar-Ilan university, said the centre made an important contribution to the region.
“I believe Scientology is the only religion that can create a connection or even affinity between the different faiths and the only one that can relieve the tension between religions.
“It is my hope that this will mark a turning point for not just the entire Israeli society, but for all of the Middle East.”
David Miscavage, Scientology's chairman of the Religious Technology Centre, spoke at the opening ceremony.
Israeli architect Eyal Ziv worked on the centre’s Alhambra theatre and called it a “Jaffa jewel.”