At a time when international public opinion of Israel is at an all-time low, a
Jerusalem-based association that unites Jews and Christians in their support for
the Jewish state has expanded its operations to Asia.
Fellowship of Christians and Jews – of the country’s biggest donors to social
and education projects – officially opened its South Korean office in Seoul on
The significance of the September inauguration is to mark some
50 years of diplomatic relations between the State of Israel and the Republic of
“We have been planning to establish our work in South Korea for a
decade,” commented IFCJ founder and executive director Rabbi Yehiel
“It’s providential that we launch not only during the jubilee
of Korean-Israeli friendship, but also as we enter the holiest time of the
Jewish year,” he said.
Eckstein pointed out that more than 40,000 Koreans
visit Israel every year and that the opening of the international fellowship
office in Seoul will “widen the already significant bridge of friendship between
Korean Christians and Israel.”
Launched in 1983 to promote better
understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews, the IFCJ, which
raises more than $90 million a year from Christian supporters for social welfare
projects in Israel and humanitarian programs around the world, is one of the
largest charities in the Jewish state.
As well as its new operations in
Korea, the IFCJ also runs offices in the US, Canada and will soon open one in
“Our goal is to deepen Christian bonds with Israel and the
Jewish people and allow tangible and meaningful ways for supporters to express
their love for Israel,” Eckstein said to The Jerusalem Post in an earlier
Eckstein said the fellowship’s work is not only about
fund-raising but also about increasing tourism to Israel, education about the
Jewish state and Christianity’s ancient connection to Judaism without
emphasizing the political issues.
While some groups chastise the State of
Israel at every turn, the growing Protestant Evangelical and Pentecostal
movements often adopt a pro-Israel position, explained Eckstein, adding that he
has worked hard to develop that support.
In South Korea, where there has
been immense growth in Evangelical communities, the potential for pro-Israel
activities is tremendous, said Eckstein.
More than 1,000 guests attended
Thursday’s ceremony, which also included a symposium and a dinner at Konkuk
University in Seoul sponsored by the IFCJ and the Israel Cultural Center of
South Korea’s first ambassador to Israel, Dong Soon and
Israel’s current ambassador to Korea, Tuvia Israeli addressed the gathering. In
addition, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a video greeting; and musicians
from the IDF performed at the event.