Christian legislators gather on Capitol Hill to garner Israel support

13 countries form pro-Israel parliamentary lobbies in partnership with Knesset Christian Allies Caucus.

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
May 22, 2008 15:22
2 minute read.
Christian legislators gather on Capitol Hill to garner Israel support

christian solidarity . (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

A delegation of Christian parliamentarians from around the world whose countries have formed pro-Israel parliamentary lobbies gathered Thursday on Capitol Hill in an effort to buttress support for the State of Israel across the globe. The two-day conference, which was hosted by the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, brought together pro-Israel lawmakers from nine countries around the world whose parliaments have formed alliances with the Knesset's increasingly-influential Christian Allies Caucus, which works to garner Christian support for Israel worldwide. "If you have legislators speaking up and getting engaged, then you have a profound impact on national politics," said US Rep Dave Weldon (R- Florida), co-chairman of the US Congressional Caucus. Weldon said that the aim of the bipartisan American caucus, which was established last year in the wake of the powerful Knesset lobby, was to bring about grass-root support for Israel globally on a nation by nation level through dialogue and education. The event, Israel at 60 and Looking Forward, comes at a time of burgeoning relations between Israel and the largely supportive evangelical Christian community around the world. In all, the cross-party Israeli parliamentary caucus has formed - or is in the process of establishing - sister caucuses with 13 countries around the world, including the US, Canada, Uruguay, Brazil, South Korea, The Philippines, Malawi, Japan, Switzerland, South Africa, England, Norway and, most recently, Germany. "Christianity is rooted in Judaism and we cannot separate ourselves from our roots," said South African MP Rev. Kenneth Meshoe, the president of the African Christian Democratic Party, who is planning to launch an Israel caucus in the South African parliament in the coming months. "Many Christians in South Africa fear speaking out for what we believe in and what our convictions are, and so there is a real need in our country for a caucus to stand up in defense of Israel," he said. "We are trying to teach our people how to preserve the history of the people of Israel and help them be strong as a nation," said Manoel Ferreira, a member of the Brazilian parliamentary lobby who is also a pastor of a church with six million members. "The Bible teaches us that we must bless the people of Israel," he said. The chairman of the Canada-Israel inter-parliamentary group, which includes both Christians and Jews, said that it was logical for Israel to reach out to evangelicals, who are among Israel's strongest supporters, as the country struggles to deal with fateful and existential challenges and threats. "These are complex issues which are not amenable to superficial solutions to which people from afar want to apply 'band-aid solutions,'" Canadian MP Dr. James Lunney said. "Illusions ultimately lead to disappointments," he added.  "If there is a just solution than it has to be based on history and truth." "We have a lot of work to do to counter-balance the pro-Palestinian attitude of both the Swiss government and public opinion," said Giovanni Isella, a former chairman of the Swiss Christian Political Party, who hopes to launch a pro-Israel parliamentary lobby in Switzerland this summer. "We want to bring about a change and we have the faith that we can do it," he said. The Capitol Hill conference, which is being attended by MK Benny Elon (NRP/NU), who spearheaded Israel's relations with the evangelical Christian world, and MK Amira Dotan (Kadima), will include a discussion Thursday on the peace process with the Palestinians with Israeli Ambassador to the US Sallai Meridor, as well as a session on the controversial role of UNRWA in dealing with Palestinian refugees.


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