The Elijah Interfaith Institute has brought together Christians, Muslims and Jews to explore the power of supplication in the holy city.
(photo credit: ARIEL HENDELMAN)
In 2005, British writer Charles Moore wrote an article confronting his fellow Europeans for their tendency to criticize Israel at every turn.
“Are you happy to help direct the world’s fury at the only country in the Middle East whose civilization even remotely resembles yours?” he asked. “And are you sure that the fate of Israel has no bearing on your own?” It was a question well worth asking then, and is perhaps even more urgent now, as anti-Semitism continues to rise in Europe and throughout the world, as Islamic State terrorists continue their ruthless march across the Middle East laying waste to the region’s Christian and ethnic populations, and as Israel continues to be the subject of international scorn simply for taking reasonable measures to defend itself. Indeed, sometimes it seems like the more the threats of radical Islam and anti-Semitism rise, the more Israel’s critics, both in the Arab world and in the West, heap unfair criticism upon the Jewish state and solidify world opinion against it.
Israelis and Americans – and indeed anyone who treasures the values of democracy and liberty that are the backbone of any free society – should recognize this as a critical error. Israel and Western nations have a shared Judeo-Christian heritage. Though some Western nations have strayed from that heritage, it is the foundation upon which they are built, and is still reflected in their legal, political and social institutions.
It is long past time for Israel’s critics in the West to recognize that we share a common enemy – fundamentalist Islamist terrorists. Israel, because of its geographic location, faces the most immediate threat. But terrorists who vilify Jews and murder Christians in the Middle East because of their refusal to convert to Islam, and all those who subscribe to the hateful ideology of radical Islam, have ambitions that range far beyond the Middle East. We’ve seen this in the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo
offices and a kosher supermarket in Paris, in the gruesome beheading of a British soldier on the streets of London, in the Boston Marathon bombing in the US, and, of course on the fateful day of September 11, 2001.
In other words, the battle against terrorism is a battle that must be fought by all civilized nations. Former Spanish prime minister José Maria Aznar, a vocal and outspoken advocate for the Jewish state, said it best when he said of Israel and the West, “The West is what it is thanks to its Judeo-Christian roots. If the Jewish element of those roots is upturned and Israel is lost, then we are lost too. Whether we like it or not, our fate is inextricably intertwined.”
This is a message that we at the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews try to reinforce every day in our work, by bringing Christians and Jews together and strengthening their ties to Israel.
The Bible tells us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”
Today, because of the challenges we face, this verse from Ecclesiastes is more important than ever. We appreciate the extraordinary kinship between Israel and Western nations – particularly the US – and thank God that Israel stands as an outpost of democracy and liberty amid the oppressive and autocratic regimes of the Middle East. May all those who love the Jewish state and value our freedoms cry out with one voice, “Am Yisrael Chai!” – the nation of Israel lives! And let us together, Christians and Jews, work to make that vision a reality.
The author, a rabbi, is founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.