It's true: These Christians are our friends

Judaism does not need Christianity to explain its existence, but the opposite.

ATTENDEES OF THE annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Summit in Washington DC. (photo credit: Courtesy)
ATTENDEES OF THE annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Summit in Washington DC.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This sounds like the rhetoric of a hard-line rabbinic figure, trashing another faith to bolster his own. But it wasn’t: “Israel is a living testament to the power of hope over hate.”
These sound like the words of an Israeli leader, perhaps a prime minister or president: “The greatest nation that man ever made is the United States. The greatest nation that God ever made is Israel.”
Straight out of the extreme right-wing playbook: giving the United States its due, while laying claim to the Divine right that Jews have to Israel.
The above statements were made by Christian speakers at the recent annual Christians United for Israel conference in Washington, where Pastor John Hagee brought together some 7,000 non-Jews to pray for Israel, to declare their love and support for Israel, and to lobby members of Congress from every state to support Israel.
They prayed with passion for Israel’s security and for the welfare of its soldiers.
They sang the Israeli national anthem, with emotion that brought tears to my eyes. And they skillfully converged on Capitol Hill in order to pressure their representatives and senators to support and pass both the Taylor Force Act and anti- BDS legislation.
Israelis who were in attendance at the conference were swarmed by admiring Christians the moment they were identified as Israelis. The Christians shared how their trip to Israel changed their lives, or how they want nothing more than the opportunity to visit the Holy Land.
They expressed jealousy over the fact that we live in the land where their biblical heroes walked, and described how they pray for Israel and its security on a daily basis.
The 7,000 in attendance represent some 3.6 million members of this organization, who repeat the prayers, expressions of love, and the lobbying from their hometowns throughout the United States.
In one unforgettable moment, while enjoying lunch with Christian Zionists from Texas and Georgia, my son called me via FaceTime. I asked if he would mind saying hello to my new friends. When I turned the screen and they saw him dressed in his Israel Defense Forces uniform, they spontaneously called out repeatedly: “We love you!” “God bless you!” with deep emotion and in some cases with tears.
This was not the first time I was exposed to the depth, passion and sincerity of Christian support for Israel. As an active member of the Knesset Christian Allied Caucus, I have seen this up close for the past four years. After meeting with hundreds of Christian members of parliaments from around the world, staging events with Christian delegations visiting Israel, and visiting pro-Israel churches – including a raucous welcome from some 10,000 Israeli-flag-waving worshipers in Budapest’s Faith Church – it is clear that we have no greater friends than the Christian Zionist community.
So you can imagine how stunned I was when, in my meeting with Pastor Hagee at the CUFI summit, he asked for one favor: “Please help get out the word in Israel and among Jews worldwide that we are here for you.”
He explained the skepticism, suspicion and even fear he hears from the American Jewish community. And he asked for help.
To my fellow Jews and Israelis, the time has come for all of us to embrace our Christian brothers and sisters who love Israel and the Jewish people unconditionally.
To be clear: There is an undeniable history during our long and painful exile when Christians, in the name of Christianity, slaughtered Jews in the millions.
Our Christian friends do not deny these facts and do not seek to shirk their faith’s history in Jewish suffering. Just the opposite – they own up to it and seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
Israel doesn’t have many friends. We are hated and vilified around the world; sometimes based on outright antisemitism and sometimes due to a lack of education or simply misinformation. But here there is a group, potentially in the millions, that seeks our friendship and that is eager to help us thrive.
The onus is upon us, Israelis and Jews worldwide, to accept their embrace with open arms, and to work with them toward achieving a safe, secure and thriving State of Israel. We owe it to ourselves.
The writer served in the 19th Knesset with the Yesh Atid party.