The Jewish people do not stand alone - opinion

The struggle against antisemitism, for Israel and the Jewish people is a struggle for justice. It’s about standing up for what’s right.

 THE WRITER addresses the Pathfinder Retreat hosted by the Philos Project. (photo credit: Hannah Garces/Philos)
THE WRITER addresses the Pathfinder Retreat hosted by the Philos Project.
(photo credit: Hannah Garces/Philos)

Israel, and the Jewish people, seem to face one storm after another. Boycotts, the UN Human Rights Council annual smear campaign, attacks against Jews and their communities worldwide, and much more. It all seems too much to bear at times.

Though much-maligned, Zionism is simply the expression of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. Yet, it stands at the epicenter of anti-Israel campaigns, orchestrated often by those purporting to spearhead those very rights. 

But amid these storms, there is a beautiful ray of light: the Jewish people do not stand alone.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking at a Pathfinder Retreat hosted by the Philos Project. Philos’ mission is “to promote positive Christian engagement in the Near East by creating leaders, building community, and taking action in the spirit of the Hebraic tradition.” They are unapologetic about their support for Israel, stating openly that the Jewish people have the right to live in our ancient homeland and that “the State of Israel is a legitimate expression of Jewish nationhood.”

There, I stood side by side with the Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm, chief executive of Bnai Zion, and with dozens of Christian leaders and Philos’ leadership and staff. Together, we delved into Jewish history and values, as well as the history of antisemitism, and we examined the foundations of standing up for the Jewish State.

 RABBI DR. ARI LAMM, CEO of Bnai Zion: ‘It is our obligation to look for friends who can help us transform society  for the better. (credit: Vitaly Manzuk) RABBI DR. ARI LAMM, CEO of Bnai Zion: ‘It is our obligation to look for friends who can help us transform society for the better. (credit: Vitaly Manzuk)

As someone who’s been standing up for Israel for decades, experiencing much of the hostility we are sadly used to, I was overwhelmed by the joy of being surrounded by friends who were eager to engage, to learn – and to do. Support for them is not just words, but deeds.

And there is much to do. The 225th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the PCUSA, is taking place between June 18 and July 9 in Louisville, Kentucky. Traditionally, the PCUSA’s General Assembly has Israel at its focus and has shown great hostility toward the Jewish State over a long period.

In 2018, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) condemned PCUSA in the harshest words, stating unequivocally: “The Church remains obsessively critical of Israel in its national utterances. For many years and in myriad ways, the PCUSA has gone beyond legitimate criticism of Israel and embraced demonization of the Jewish State.” 

During this upcoming session, this “Israel hatefest” is expected to continue by, among other things, promoting a resolution “On Recognition that Israel’s Laws, Policies, and Practices Constitute Apartheid Against the Palestinian People” that questions the Jewish state’s very democratic nature.

OUR FRIENDS at Philos have no intention of allowing this slander to pass by uncontested. During the retreat, I learned Philos intends to show up at the PCUSA General Assembly and to protest its blatant antisemitic stance. And that is not the first time they’ve acted. Last March, PCUSA was scheduled to host a webinar titled, “Is Israel an apartheid state?” Philos quickly gathered dozens who registered for the event to counteract the narrative. The webinar was canceled.

Philos’ active support isn’t limited to the PCUSA. In the last three months, its members showed up after a bomb threat was made against a synagogue, to let the community know they were not alone. When a Jewish man was beaten in Williamsburg, they came to the neighborhood to express solidarity. When a group of Jewish teens was threatened on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, they went to that very spot with flowers and stayed to educate passersby about the incident. 

On April 20, when anti-Israel protesters approached the Israeli Consulate in New York, Philos staged a counter-protest. It was not “just the Jews” standing alone this time. A similar counter-protest took place in Tampa on April 23. 

Later that month, they mobilized their members worldwide to participate in remembrance of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Members brought bouquets of white roses to Holocaust memorials, museums, and their local synagogues. Philos members even traveled as far as Israel. When a deadly terrorist attack took place in Tel Aviv, they laid flowers at the scene to show their love for the people of Israel.

The struggle against antisemitism, for Israel and the Jewish people is a struggle for justice. It’s about standing up for what’s right. It is not – nor should it be – the struggle of the Jewish people alone. It is the struggle of us all. And as we strive for a just society and a better world, none of us should be alone in this fight.

The writer is a former spokesperson of Israel’s Consulate General in NY, a strategic consultant and senior vice president at JBS-Jewish Broadcasting Service.