The Christians United for Israel dinner in Washington was an experience I won’t
quickly forget. Until you sit in a room with 5,000 Christian lovers of Israel
and absorb their enthusiasm for the Jewish state and the Jewish people, you
would be hard pressed to think it possible. But there I was, surrounded by
Christians from all over the nation waving Israeli and American flags, pledging
eternal love and support to the most vilified country on earth.
speeches came fast and furious, the statements bold and unapologetic. Israel
must never trade land for peace. Every attempt to do so has led to terror bases
for Hamas and Hezbollah. Israel is one of the freest and most democratic nations
on earth. President Barack Obama better stop pressuring Israel, or he’ll pay for
it at the polls. Iran is an existential threat to both Israel and the United
Those who treat the Jews poorly are abandoned by God, as history
has shown time and again. The American university campus has become a hub of
anti-Israel hatred. We’re deploying our legions to fight it.
could scarcely sit down. Nearly every line deserved an ovation.
was anything but monolithic. The head of CUFI’s campus operations is a
young African-American student who pledged his life to fighting for Israel.
People of all colors were to be found in the audience, with a smattering of
yarmulkes dotting the landscape as well. Glenn Beck, the keynote speaker, is a
Mormon, even though the vast majority of participants were evangelical
Christians, who are often suspicious of Mormonism. An Orthodox rabbi gave
the opening benediction.
My friend Dennis Prager addressed the crowd the
night before the banquet, and my friend Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the
United States, gave a historical account of Christians in the last century who
were moved to support Israel based on biblical teachings. Israeli music filled
the room, sung by Christians from Texas whom I could swear sounded
indistinguishable from Tel Aviv musical acts.
“I am an Israeli,” declared
CUFI founder Pastor John Hagee, swearing to forever defend Israel from attack at
the risk of life and limb.
“It’s not only the support we offer Israel
that matters,” said Beck. “The reason for doing so is also important. We can’t
do this because we think it will bring final salvation or for any other reason.
Rather, it’s about love. Why did Ruth declare to Naomi, ‘Where you go I’ll go;
your God is my God; where you die I’ll die, and there I’ll be buried’? Because
she loved her. This has to be about love.”
His words directly addressed
the discomfort some Jews feel with Christian support for Israel as being based
on End-of-Days prophecy, and a necessary precursor for the return of
I sat there thinking, if only the Jewish community could offer
such unequivocal support for Israel...
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS have
emerged as the Jewish state’s most stalwart backers. They have been at the
forefront of calling out Obama for his pressure on Israel to make concessions
while requiring little if anything of the Palestinians. While many Jews made
peace with the president’s reference to the 1967 lines, evangelicals have
refused to give an inch.
In December, I will, God willing, be publishing
my book Kosher Jesus through Gefen Publishers in Israel. It is a product of more
than six years’ research and writing, and it seeks to offer Jews and Christians
the real story of Jesus, a wholly observant, Pharisaic rabbi who fought Roman
paganism and oppression and was killed for it.
While many Christians will
be confused by its assertion that Jesus never claimed divinity and not only did
not abrogate the Torah but observed every letter of the Law, they should find
comfort in my tracing most of Jesus’s principal teachings back to Jewish sources
– this before he was stripped of his Jewishness by later writers, who sought to
portray him as an enemy of his people. This is especially true of his most
famous oration, the Sermon on the Mount, which is a reformulation of the Torah
he studied and to which he was committed.
A small sampling: Jesus (Matt.
5:5): Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Bible (Psalms 37): The meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in
the abundance of peace.
Jesus (Matt. 5:8): Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.
Hebrew Bible (Psalms 24): Who shall ascend the
mount of the Lord – the pure-hearted.
Jesus (Matt. 5:39): But if anyone
strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
(Lamentations 3:30): Let him offer his cheek to him who smites
Jesus (Matt. 6:33): But seek first his kingdom and his
righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
(Psalms 37:4): Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires
of your heart.
Jesus (Matt. 7:7): Ask, and it will be given you; search,
and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.
Bible (Jeremiah 29:13): When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me
with all your heart.
Jesus (Matt 7:23): Then I will declare to them, “I
never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.”
Hebrew Bible (Psalms
6:9): Depart from me, all you workers of evil…
BUT THE book is also for Jews who
remain deeply uncomfortable with Jesus because of the church’s long history of
anti-Semitism, the deification of Jesus, and the Jewish rejection of any Messiah
who has not fulfilled the messianic prophecies. We Jews will forever reject the
divinity of any man, the single most emphatic prohibition of our Bible. And we
can never accept the Messiah-ship of any personality, however noble or
well-intended, who died without ushering in the age of physical
Yet as Christians and Jews now come together to love and
support the majestic and humane Jewish state, it’s time Christians rediscovered
the deep religious Jewish commitment of Jesus, while Jews reexamine a lost son
who was murdered by a brutal Roman state – a state that sought to impose its
culture and rule upon a tiny yet stubborn nation that will never be severed from
its eternal covenant with the God of Israel.The writer is founder of
This World: The Values Network, was the London Times Preacher of the Year at the
Millennium, and is winner of the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest
Award for Excellence in Commentary. He is the best-selling author of 25 books.
On Twitter: @RabbiShmuley.