The remarkable bonds of friendship that have been formed in recent years between the Jewish community and millions of pro-Israel, evangelical Christians in the US prove that even deeply entrenched divisions can be overcome. In this case, 2,000 years of animosity!
For Israel's part, this historic alliance has come not a moment too soon. As nations throughout the Arab world and even Europe reveal their willingness to stigmatize Israel and Jews everywhere, evangelical Christians have emerged as the Jewish nation's most steadfast friends. It is incredibly encouraging to have caring Christians tell me again and again: "Let the people of Israel know that we are standing with them in their struggle."
Jews should rejoice that these Christian friends' fervent belief in the Bible leads them to pour out their hearts in blessing to Abraham's descendants, as God said to Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you" (Genesis 12:3). I've spent years carrying this message to fellow Jews, whom I believe are "getting it" today as never before.
This development is particularly gratifying to me, after nearly 30 years of work forging ties of mutual understanding and cooperation between Jews and Christians. For much of this time, I felt like a "voice crying in the wilderness."
Many people told me that I was attempting the impossible. But a handful of friends urged me in 1983 to establish the work that has become the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. And today, The Fellowship is recognized in America, Israel and around the world as the leading voice of Jewish-Christian cooperation.
But none of us can rest on accolades and accomplishments. The Fellowship is redoubling its efforts to strengthen ties between Israel and the Jewish community, and Christians in America and throughout the world. I am also committed to building bridges to new groups of people in more countries to broaden this base of support.
Speaking at an evangelical church in Colorado during the Fellowship-sponsored International Day of Prayer and Solidarity with Israel earlier this year, I told these friends that in these dangerous times Jews and Christians must come together against forces that seek to destroy our Judeo-Christian heritage. Our two great faith communities must stand together.
We have the opportunity today - indeed, I would say the obligation and the responsibility - to extend true love toward one another. The Fellowship's supporters are a shining example of what can be done when people who share a common spiritual heritage and commitment to democracy come together. Our organization raises tens of millions of dollars a year for charities helping Jews in Israel and other countries in the areas of emigration to Israel, resettlement in the Holy Land, welfare, and security.
I believe the day may yet come when "push comes to shove" for the nations and peoples of the world concerning Israel. If the world is forced to decide about Israel, and by extension the Jewish people, we need friends who will stand with us no matter what!
Israel and the Jewish people cannot count many true friends in the international community. But compassionate Christians just like you have proven the sincerity of their commitment, helping fulfill the Bible's prophecy that Gentiles will assist in Israel's ingathering: "I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders" (Isaiah 49:22).
I can vouch for this commitment based on personal experience. Over the past three decades, I have seen the genuine, no-strings-attached love and commitment of The Fellowship's hundreds of thousands of Christian supporters demonstrated with consistency to needy Jews around the world.
This kind of friendship, I am convinced, can arise only from deeply-held beliefs about God and the veracity of the Bible. Christians in America and other parts of the world who are eager to express their support for Israel are proving to be the Jewish people's best friends. Let us, as Jews and Christians together, do everything in our power to strengthen these bonds of true fellowship!
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, President International Fellowship of Christians and Jews RabbiEckstein@ifcj.org