Don't reject Christian friendship

There is something disturbing about saying, "We don't like your scriptures and we dislike you."

christians 298.88 (photo credit: ahmad gharabli )
christians 298.88
(photo credit: ahmad gharabli )
Sometimes the injustices we fight and resist in life can overtake our lives and forever distort our views and opinions. Some of my colleagues who joined with me in the 1980s in the struggle against Apartheid were never able to move on when the apartheid system finally collapsed in South Africa. They had allowed "the struggle," as it came to be known, to overwhelm them. Whites were always held in suspicion, and the new, non-racial South Africa was thus such a surprise that it took away their purpose in life, yet they were left with the prejudice. This prejudice said that people could never change. They would always be tied to the chains of their historical past. Therefore they should be mistrusted, rejected and guarded against. The "new day" will never come! Well, it did in South Africa. The scenario I have painted above applies to Ellen Horowitz's recent Jerusalem Post op-ed ("A Jewish mother's guide to end times," August 28). She is a prisoner of the past and will never accept the "new day" in Christian-Jewish relations. Christians who support Israel, no matter how genuinely or sacrificially, will always be a fifth column peddling some hidden agenda to subvert the Jewish people. For her, there can be no such thing as Jewish-Christian friendship, solidarity and collaboration. Christians are trouble - full stop - and we have history to prove it. We could also say that whites are trouble in South Africa, and we have history to prove it. Yet the courageous always move on. PREJUDICE is a very destructive thing. It imprisons the mind, alienates people and perpetuates the divisions of the past. It never believes that something new and exciting has taken place, and it ends up being the very thing it detests. We should all be on guard against this. For instance, Ms. Horowitz quotes from the Christian scriptures, Ephesians 3:6 to be exact, and then makes the irrational conclusion that this proves Christian support for Israel is a problem. Firstly, whether we like it or not, Christianity is a religion with Jewish origins. Its founder was Jewish, its early leaders and preachers were all Jewish and its first followers were all Jewish. It therefore has a very strong Jewish "root." When the Church abandoned this Jewish Root from the fourth century onwards, an era of anti-Semitism took root in the Church, the consequences of which we are all too aware. The modern-day Christian Zionist movement has challenged this anti-Semitism in the Church for decades now, with remarkable success I might add, precisely because it has laid a strong emphasis upon the Christian scriptures that teach the Jewish rooted-ness and context of our faith. Hence the ICEJ reference on its Web site to this biblical verse. Secondly, there is something very disturbing about a position that essentially says, "We don't like your scriptures and because we dislike them, we dislike you." Christians did this for 1,500 years to Jews, with all its awful consequences. Thirdly, it has often been said that the Christians were silent during the tragic years of the Holocaust. This is true, even though 1,500 Christian leaders and preachers did stand up in Germany against the Third Reich. They all paid with their lives! Now, however, when Christians have repented of this past and have stood up on behalf of Israel in their millions all over the world, this friendship is rejected, as if it were all a fraud designed to bring about a new spiritual fusion that will destroy the people of Israel. It is no such thing, and over a period of 27 years of the existence of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem no such case can be proven. NO, ELLEN Horowitz, you are wrong. Our dear friend Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is not unaware of anything, and he is not naïve. He is a wonderful rabbi, very well educated and very committed to Judaism. However, he has moved on from the prison of the past and he has, with courage and joy, accepted the genuine hand of friendship that has been extended to Israel by Christians. He has not compromised anything because he knows what he believes and is secure in his faith. Fourthly, Rabbi Riskin and others took the time to come and meet us. He wanted to find out for himself the credentials of these Christian friends. I note that, while Ms. Horowitz is very strident in her claims, she has never come in to see us. Isolation is always a good breeding ground for prejudice. One may say that this response is quite hard-hitting. Yes, but what alternative do we have when our genuine friendship and solidarity with Israel is described as "Esau's Revenge"? If one thinks this through carefully, the implications are horrific. It is nothing short of an accusation of anti-Semitism, i.e., stealing Israel's birthright! Christian replacement theology, which birthed much of the anti-Semitism in Church history, did precisely this. We have not only refuted it theologically, but we have resisted it wherever we have found it. It is extraordinary that Israel's friends are now being accused of seeking to rob her of her birthright. This is a very sad distortion. The writer is executive director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.