Right of Reply: Truly a holy alliance

We stand with Israel because we see God's promises at work in its journey.

evangelical girls 311 (photo credit: Courtesy of Faith Bible Chapel)
evangelical girls 311
(photo credit: Courtesy of Faith Bible Chapel)
Last week, David Newman’s opinion column assailed the growing ties between Evangelical Christians and Israel in“An unholy alliance”, February 23. In concurring with Rabbi Shlomo Aviner that Israelis should reject Christian support outright, he merely demonstrated that people on both the Left and Right can be equally intolerant.
After centuries of Christian anti-Semitism, a new day has dawned in Jewish-Christian relations and organizations like the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem have been in the forefront of this historic change. Our credentials and track record of engagement and support for Israel are impeccable and thus stand up well to his feeble challenge! For decades now, Jews have asked disturbing questions concerning the Christian anti-Semitic underpinnings of the Nazi Holocaust and why so few Christians were willing to speak out during the darkest days of the Shoah. Sadly, their point is valid. However, now that Christians have sought to rectify this wretched history and have extended a genuine hand of friendship to Israel, we are branded an “unholy” ally. In such a vise, we are left with no way to win.
Yes! We are Christians and thus we have a Christian view of how history ends. But we cannot dictate that to others nor would we ever try. Likewise, most Jews foresee a “Jewish” end to history, as should be expected. But this does not mean that the friendship being forged between us is insincere. This begs the question: Is friendship only possible when two groups hold identical views? I think not! Both groups view our respective Scriptures as fully inspired by God. Jews cannot ask me to be their friend on condition that I debunk my Scriptures and deny my faith. This is precisely what Christians did to Jews for centuries and it is called anti-Semitism or at best manipulation. Certainly, I will not ask Jews to deny their beliefs in order to be my friend. I know that no Jew would do this.
ACTUALLY, THE fact that we each are faithful to our belief systems does not make our friendship unholy and fraudulent. Rather, that is what makes it so unique and special. And even more so in view of our tragic history together! Neither does my adherence to my beliefs make me a closet missionary who fantasizes about the Apocalypse, as Newman suggests. The truth is, we are Israel’s friends not because of some radical right-wing view, hidden missionary agenda or some future eschatological scenario. It is because of the past. That is, God gave the land of Canaan to the Jewish people 4000 years ago as an everlasting possession. We believe that the Jewish return to the land in our day is testimony to the faithfulness of God to His covenant with Israel – pure and simple.
Newman is also wrong in his blunt portrayal of the Evangelical community in America as lacking the “values” of a “liberal, open, democratic society.” The pro-Israel Christian demographic in the US is a very broad constituency made up of decent, kind-hearted folks and has even included such Democratic presidents as Harry Truman and Bill Clinton. Yes, there are a minority who mirror Newman’s bigotry but from the Right. And this includes even some big name leaders who pedal sensational “end-time” speculations regarding Israel. But one should not paint with so broad a brush in making such sweeping condemnations.
As head of the broadest based pro-Israel Christian ministry in the world, I can attest that our global constituency stands alongside Israel not because of some radical right-wing political goal or dark apocalyptic vision, but because we see the promises of God to Abraham at work in Israel’s journey back to the land of your forefathers.
We do not seek to make Jews disappear; rather we desire to see you live in peace and security in the land bequeathed to you by God Himself. He will, in good time and in His mysterious ways, fulfill all the good He has planned for Israel. We will leave this to Him! For now, we have far more in common that unites us than divides us – like the struggle against jihadist radical Islam.
It also vital to recall that this so-called “unholy alliance” has served Israel well in its modern history. The path for the rebirth of the Jewish State in 1948 was paved, in large part, because of the support and activities of Evangelicals in Great Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Then known as Restorationists, they were most definitely the driving force behind the Balfour Declaration. Rev. William Hechler, a devout Christian, greatly assisted Theodor Herzl in the Zionist cause, opening doors for him to the nobility of Europe. It was Herzl himself who first coined the term “Christian Zionist” because he so appreciated their work! Their views on Christian mission and biblical prophecy were not so different than mine today.
Yet Herzl – considered a secular man – befriended them, and theircontribution to Israel’s modern rebirth proved foundational andcrucial. This is all on record and requires no defense. But apparently,David Newman has forgotten the honorable origins of this truly holyalliance!
The writer is the Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; www.icej.org.